The Best Gift You Can Give

The best gift you can give anyone is your full and true presence.

Distractions are everywhere, and who has the time for anyone, really?

I resolve from this moment forward to make more time for truer communication with those I love. This is what makes life more memorable.

Generous Listening

Inspired by Becoming Wise

I’m thinking about how important it is to listen generously. How to compassionately communicate and hear another’s soul, even through the most difficult conversations.

To listen with an awakened heart & mind. To listen openly, without trying immediately to fix the problem at hand or impulsively come up with an answer right now.

To drop the agenda.

I’m thinking about how improved my relationships would be if I just follow the emotion of the moment, if I let the conversation flow.

What if I tolerated more of them and watched my timing of words?  What if I made room for the difficult to pour out, for the pain to set itself free?  Dissipate.

How would the conversation go if I were more flexible with my speech? If I softened my tone? If I held out my arms?

What if I let the conversation move where it will, if I gave up control?

Imagine if I released myself of judging everything to not a single word. How would it look if I decided to just observe it all as if I had never heard it before. What would I see?  If I listened less guardedly.

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Healing Words

The next opportunity I have for a true conversation I will include words of kindness. I will believe that I am exactly what is needed to help heal the situation.  Everything needs a measure of healing, don’t you think?

I vow to not let  differences define what is possible between us. I can argue with your opinion, but not your experience.

I will try, yes I will try very hard, to understand why you are behaving the way you are behaving. Perhaps you are in pain. What can I say or do to help you soothe it away?

I won’t look with anger, but I will try to find the good in you, even during your worst of rage.

A More Courageous Conversation

Even more importantly, I will open up my vulnerable parts to keep the conversation real. It may feel raw, uneasy and probably very uncomfortable, but that is where we grow. I will admit my weaknesses and recognize that what I have done so far has gotten me here, not where I want to be.

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Feature Photo – Artist: Egon Schiele

The Art of Mindful Living and Challenging Your False Limitations

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Living mostly in our minds we notice that it travels constantly between the past and the future. It rarely ever stops for a visit in the present moment.

Questioning Your Limiting Beliefs
Training oneself to awaken to the moment right now, to just stop the  senseless, ruminating thoughts and mindless chatter in the brain for just a second can help us break through false limits we have created for ourselves.

How it Works

Here were some of my limiting beliefs this morning.

I can’t run. I’m just not a runner. (I have seriously told myself this my whole life).
During my workout on the beach I challenged myself to run 50 seconds at a time. Interval running. I did it.

By questioning my false limitations, I re-frame the story I am telling myself. Now I know,  I can run.

Second false belief, I’m not creative. I don’t have the talent. I can’t draw, paint or photograph to save my life.
I challenged myself again. I took out my phone and recorded some video and photographs and used a VSCO filter.

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Look at that, I can take a photograph.

Third  False Belief

I don’t have the time to do what I want to do today. I’m so damn busy.

And now, I challenge that belief. My plan today is to challenge the way I waste time. I am committing myself to asking the question about everything I have on my list today –

Will this activity bring me closer to my intention? One step nearer to my goal?  If not, I will replace that activity with something that will. As I become more mindful of what I am doing all day, I will find the time for what is most important to me.

Think about it. What limiting belief is holding you back from breaking through and becoming a better version of you today? I’d love to hear how you are challenging your false beliefs today.

Pro tip – As you challenge yourself, re-frame your questions –
Don’t ask Can I?  ask  How will I?

How will I find the time? How will I learn something new today?  How will I honor myself?

Inspired by the book Mindfulness by Ellen J. Langer

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Read more here – Mindfulness, 25th anniversary edition (A Merloyd Lawrence Book)

3 Questions for a Modern Day Shaman

unicorn meWhile I appreciate and follow the rational wisdom of stoics like Seneca and Aurelius, I have also been fascinated with the role of the Shaman, the healer, the medicine woman (and man) in tribes throughout the world. While throughout history these people have taken on the responsibility for the well-being and emotional balance of their villages, I ask myself, what is the role of a healer in today’s society and do we not all have the potential to heal each other?

A Shaman at The Soho House

My first encounter with a modern day Shaman was in the private screening room of The Soho House in Manhattan. Ridiculously ironic I know, but true just the same. Barnaby Ruhe leads an east and west cost circle collective to Shamandome at Burning Man every year.

From Woo Woo, to Wow, Wow

Just recently, I have been fortunate enough to have benefited greatly from a life energy and power animal healing session with Jennifer , a Life Energy Coach with a Masters in Natural Health based in San Francisco. I met her right here in the world of Word Press. It’s interesting to note that Jennifer is also a brilliant business strategist by day. She brings a great balance to the land of woo woo, which is exactly why I think her work bridges the magic of mysticism into modern day living so well.

As a coach, Jennifer helps people identify and integrate changes into their life through a variety of shamanic practices and techniques and the guidance of helpful spirits.

If you are interested in learning about the details of my experience with Jennifer, please comment below and I will be happy to go into further detail.

For this blog today, I asked Jennifer to answer a few questions.

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MJ: Jennifer, please share some of the really amazing moments you had with the Mayan Shaman in the Yucatan that found you on your trip to Mexico. This, the beginning of your own shamanic journey.

JM: I had never heard of shamanism before my trip to Mexico a few years ago.  That all changed on my third day of vacation.  I decided to walk to the city square, but as usual, got lost.  One of the local residents offered to help me find my way.  We walked and talked, and when we got to the square, he told me that he needed to introduce me to someone.  That someone turned out to be a Mayan Shaman.

There was an electric moment when we saw each other, a knowing that we were meant to meet.

The first thing the Shaman said to me was, “You have a very big heart.” He asked me what I did to make the energy of my heart so big, but before I could answer, he took my hand in his and curled his fingers around mine in such a manner that our fingers made a spiral. He explained to me that this was the symbol of the shaman, and went on to tell me about shamanism and how it heals.

He then said that he was going to perform a shamanic healing on me.  He spent over 4 hours working on me – using stones, chanting, drumming and energy work.  I knew he was the “real deal” when he explained that my energy was blocked due to two traumatic events in my life, and then went on to describe those events to me.

At one point, he took two raw chicken eggs.  He had me shake them and then gently ran them over my body, many times.  He told me they would remove negative energy.  When he finished, he had me shake the eggs again.  They were very heavy and sounded as if they were filled with gravel!

As he continued his healing work on me, I suddenly felt a huge opening in me. A wave of emotions swept over me—anger, joy, guilt, sadness—and I saw a vision of a snake slithering down the side of a pyramid. I felt shattered, but also felt an incredible sense of relief and peacefulness.

By the time he was done with the healing, he was covered in sweat.  He told me that he normally would do this work over several sessions, but his spirit guides had told him I was coming and to do the work all in one night.

He began my shamanic training that first night and continued throughout my trip.  On my last night there, he came with a gift for me: an 800+ year-old stone carving of Itzamna, the Mayan god of creation, writing, and divination.  It had been carved from a million-year-old stalactite from a sacred cave and used in shamanic ceremonies since.  Many people had wanted the carving, but it was not for sale.

When I asked him why he gave the carving to me, he said, “Because you are to become a shaman.”

Since then, I have gone back to Mexico several times for more training with him.  We have traveled to many sacred archaeological sites together, where he has taught me how to increase my energy and power, read the energy of others, and how to heal.

MJ: Can you give an example of how your power animal has helped you discover yourself and grow with more happiness, self-love and power?

JM: My power animal works with me daily, for my personal healing and shamanic work.  He shows up in shamanic journeys, dreams and visions.  When I first became aware of shamanism, my power animal began teaching me shamanic techniques that were validated through training with the Mayan Shaman and others.

He will also bring in other power animals when I am dealing with a situation that would benefit from that animal’s strengths and wisdom.  As I’ve been transitioning to doing shamanic work, my power animal has brought in Snake (transformation), Hawk (vision), Bear (strength), Vulture (purification and rebirth) and Crocodile (power and awareness) to share their life lessons with me.  Years ago, my power animal brought Fawn in to help me through a difficult personal time in a beautiful, gentle way.

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MJ: Why do you think more and more people are interested in Shamanistic healing now?

Shamanic healing has been around since the beginning of humankind.  Society moved away from this type of healing with the advent of modern medicine, which typically has focused on the body part and not the whole person.  I think more and more people are becoming aware of the fact that the body is a complete system that includes mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects.  Shamans focus on all these areas when working with clients.  I also think that modern medicine is becoming more open to including holistic approaches to healing.   In California, one hospital combines modern and shamanic practices for healing.   While it is the first hospital in the country to do this, I would expect to see more integration between different healing approaches in the future.

Intrigued? Learn more about power animals, soul retrievals and energy healing on Jennifer’s blog  and website. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @SpiritEvol

Learn more about the meaning of your power animal – Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small

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Are You Destined for Greatness?

violin-newHave you ever wondered what make some people wildly successful, others just middle of the road mediocre and  some just, well really bad at what they do?

Are the super successful achievers bestowed  some special divine gift? Some inborn or innate ability? Is there such a thing as a natural born leader? Have you ever wondered what category you fit in?  Are you destined for greatness?  I could be wrong, but I imagine that any of us putting ourselves out there want to achieve some level of success, giving our greatest performances.

The Reality and Great “Secret” of Success

I was so lit up yesterday by an interview that I heard on the Unmistakable Creative podcast with Geoff Colvin who wrote a few books on the topic. His questions began with  . . . What makes Tiger Woods great? What made  Chairman Warren Buffett the world’s premier investor? We think we know: Each was a natural who came into the world with a gift for doing exactly what he ended up doing. As Buffett told Fortune not long ago, he was “wired at birth to allocate capital.” It’s a one-in-a-million thing. You’ve got it – or you don’t.

Well, it’s not so simple. For one thing, you do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don’t exist. (Sorry, Warren.) You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.

Read the entire Fortune article here and it turns out that Colvin was inspired by a study about daily demanding deliberate violinist practice  that pushed them just a bit each day. Just a bit. You can read the original study on deliberate practice here.

The take away for me (and I would love your opinion). You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful. Great performances are available to all of us with daily deliberate practice.

Two books on my list to read this month –

Geoff Colvin  Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else and Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will

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Monday Motivation and The Art of Taking Action

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I’m challenging myself to shut off the autopilot switch on this brain of mine and and move forward with deliberate and intentional steps today. This can’t be done if I’m always “future-ing” – constantly thinking about my fears and concerns about the future, sinking into the trance of troubles to come and not focused on what must get done in order to get where I want to be.

It seems so simple, but it’s not that easy. Why? Mel Robbins does a great job of explaining how to activate your energy with the intentional force required to change what you are doing on autopilot to do something new. We need to do the hard stuff we don’t want to do, so we can be everything we are suppose to be. Watch Mel Robbins 

I’ve been enjoying Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes channel on YouTube. His short summary  of Greg Krech’s book The Art of Taking Action (25 years of self-mastery Japanese psychology) is excellent. This is definitely on my must read list. 
The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology

Going after something you really want? Listen and take action on those ideas, those impulses that float into your brain and than immediately jump on them. In her Ted Talk, Mel explains that you will be even more successful in the long run if you do something (no matter how small) within 5 (five) seconds of having an impulse or idea. The action of making that idea happen is what will get you closer to your goal. So go ahead, write that email, craft that tweet, go for that fun, prepare that meal, make that call, send the text. Just do it. Now.