Monday, April 21, 2008

The Art of the Mundane....cure for addictions...

I was reading the Sunday, April 20th Parade magazine's cover story about Robert Downey Jr.
If you've followed his career at all, you'll know that his journey has been, despite his obvious genius as a talented actor, marred with bouts of alcohol and drug abuse. Serious bouts that have landed him in court, rolled him through three marriages and left him on the brink of self-destruct. But with this third marriage, something clicked--and he "chose" to care. Oh, others had prompted him before to change his ways--but it wasn't until something within him made a choice to change that it stuck.

The comment that stood out for me (sort of jumped off the page!) was when he said "Now its all about becoming rooted in the mundane, in the day to day stuff. Life is 70% maintenance....I'm learning the business of building a life. Instead of getting instant gratification by getting high, I push my nose as far into the grindstone as I can. The honey, the reward, is the feeling of well-being, the continuity, the sense that I am walking toward a place I want to go."

This could be the "mantra" of Life Puzzle making! As I say in the "finding meaning" chapter of the book, Life Puzzle...putting the pieces together, "great lives are the art of the mundane". It is about making the simplest of events--washing the dishes, cleaning the house, reading a book to your child or giving your partner a hug--that we find we are truly building our Life! Piece by piece to create peace--or as Downey says, "I am walking toward a place I want to go.

Downey was an addict for most of his life (he had his first drink at age 8). I've always believed that "addictions" are a choice. All addictions provide 3 things--instant pleasure, removal of pain and temporary quieting of the inner voice of self-dissatisfaction. They are tough to give up because once we've made the choice to release the 'quick gratification' of the addiction--we discover they are replaced with the "mundane of life'. And I think that's what stops most people from giving up their addictions--they are convinced the "mundane' will be so boring that they'll convince themselves its better to stay rooted in the addiction behavior because with it comes drama!

Only, as Downey has proved--the truly incredible drama of a great life is in the mundane--but you have to trust your SELF to go into it to find out! That is the best choice--but the hardest when you're stuck in addictive patterns!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Awakening and the Addictive voice...

I was watching Eckhart Tolle and Oprah discussing his book, The New Earth via Oprah's book club and the online program she is running. For me, much of what Eckhart is talking about in this book is a parallel to what I'm sharing through the Life Puzzle model. We use slightly different words, but the results that we both are encouraging our listeners/clients to achieve is high level consciousness.

This particular day I only had time to catch about 10 minutes before running off to another meeting, but it was the perfect 10 minutes! Eckhart was talking to one of the woman who had called in on Skype and her question was something about "how reactive I am to events and how that just takes over my life."

Eckhart nodded in his quiet way and then went on to explain--that yes, "life happens--events do come into our lives--and so that is step 1--the event. Step 2 is the "response or reaction" we give to the event--and for many people, this is where they start to go off track. They get caught up in the reactive/ego of the event and once pulled into the "drama", it spins out of control. Sometimes its short-lived--but for many others, its an on-going process that takes up their entire lives. (Think about people who get mad at someone and are still angry days later to the point that when they next see this person--they attack them phyiscally or verbally!)

But then Eckhart paused and said "but what most people don't realize is that there's a 3rd step in all this--and this is the step that those who have awakened recognize. When this process of event/response is happening--when you've awakened to your high consciousness/essence, you're then able to 'stand outside' step 1 and 2 and consciously 'see' what is going on and not get caught up in the event. In this way, they realize that the event/response isn't who they are or what they must do etc. It is separate from their "being"--and once they see it as such, then they can consciously manage or choose to not get completely caught up in the event/response drama at all.

As I listened to this, I was nodding my head. This is what I'm trying to teach my clients who are caught up in the repetitive dramas that keep them locked in the old 0-5 reactive patterns. Only, I use different words. I help clients identify the "addictive voice" --this is the voice that is triggered by the event (usually connected to fear, anger, pain). Once activated--the "addictive voice"--convinces you to 'respond' to the event through this fog of pain/fear/anger patterns that you've been doing for so long. The response is generally a drama or the "illogical logic" choices that show up as behaviors that seem like the only option in the midst of the drama--but often times later, must be apologized for.

In the "Addictive Voice" exercise that I use with clients--I am showing them Step 3--the ability to recognize the "addictive voice" as separate--the ability to standout side and 'see' the Addictive voice that is running the show--see it as "separate" from the true SELF...and once you can do that, then you/SELF have the ability to not only 'manage' the addictive voice--but with practice--eliminate it altogether. As you eliminate it--then the true SELF/Essence (Tolle's word) can be present at all times.

So its clear that this isn't an easy process--millions of people are watching Oprah and Eckhart--and each week the questions are pretty much the same--how do I get out of ego, how do I stop being so reactive and how do I live in the Now/presence. To my clients reading this blog--hang in there--we're all trying to build our edges/create SELF/essence--and its worth the effort.

I honor what Eckhart and Oprah are doing--and hope that the Life Puzzle can be one more way that people can 'awaken' to their SELF/essence and create a world where we understand--everyone on this planet is a Life Puzzle under construction--we all have the same 16 core areas, 5 edges that create the SELF (essence) yet no two of us will put those pieces together in the same way. Thus, we all have a common bond--while maintaining our unique soul essence. In this knowing--we can stop 'reacting to others as if they're different from us' but understand that we're all on a path to consciousness! Tolle's New Earth is one way to learn on this path--and Life Puzzle is another way--all heading to the same place--a world of consciousness!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How do I do it?

Because humans are such notorious copy-cats, one of the dilemmas that many people have once they decide to head towards the 6-10/proactive/conscious, Life Puzzle-making side of life is how do I do it? If I'm not going to keep copying--something I've been doing since I was a young child--how do I know how to do the new way?

In reflecting back on my own journey as I walked away from the fast-food, mile a minute, do what everyone else is doing, rat race--I too can say I had that question. It felt awkward to eat healthy foods, to turn off the television and turn on exercise, to sit in the "anxiety of being different" and not let those emotions convince me to go back and be the reactive/unconscious/status quo person I'd been in the past. I did a lot of reading, exploring and internal questioning--and little by little I discovered that the world doesn't end when you step out of status quo. In fact, what I discovered is that there's quite a few others who deep down inside also want to break out of reactive/unconscious/status quo and are happy to find someone else who is doing it. I met a lot of new people who were relieved to be able to talk with someone else about the challenges of designing new, healthier, balanced ways of living.

At this point though, what I try to encourage people to do is to use the Life Puzzle 'wheel' as a morning exercise to help them get themselves centered for the day. First thing in the morning, before getting out of bed--take just 5 minutes to go through each of the 16 core areas and do a quick check in with each piece:

Nutrition--what will I eat today--where will I be for breakfast, lunch, dinner--and how can I use this knowledge to take steps to ensure that I eat healthy today?

Exercise: is this a day for exercise--and if that little voice says "I don't want to exercise"...override it immediately and determine what you're doing for exercise. That's how exercise becomes a life-long experience.

Feelings--what am I feeling today? Is this going to be a challenging day? A happy day--what's in store that will trigger emotions--and then center yourself and say, I can be at peace.

Thinking: what will you need to learn or use your thinking for today. Will you think out side the box or follow along?

Communication--what is your Self-talk doing today--positive/proactive or negative/reactive. Get a handle on it before you get out of bed!

Relationships--who will you encounter today and how will you respond.... literally think of who will cross your path today and how you'll respond.

Sexuality--well, you can figure that one out...

Family/parenting--how will you be a model for helping your kids build their Life Puzzle?

Community/environment--who will you interface with today to build a healthier community; what steps can you take today to honor the environment (ex. remember to take your own coffee mug to the coffee house--save paper)

Work--what will you add to your work today? Can you be more proactive on some decision that needs your attention vs. wishing it would goa way?

Play--what will you do for play today?

Financial responsibility--are you in charge--what bills need to be paid? Be conscious of how money will flow out of your life and into your life today. Be willing to confront money issues that are needing your attention instead of avoiding them.

Special challenge--are you dealing with your weight, depression or some other personal challenge. Will you acknowledge it and know that you will get through this challenge?

Spirituality--what can you do today to practice love?

Finding meaning--recognizing that you're only on this planet for a short time--what will you efforts today do to add meaning to your life--and those you encounter.

By getting in the habit of reviewing all the pieces of your Life Puzzle--you start the day with the knowledge that you are conscious/aware of waking up and taking on the day from the standpoint of being in charge of your life/SELF. Little by little it breaks you out of old patterns. You'll be in the middle of your day and someone will say, "Let's go see a movie tonight"--but you've already determined its a day for the gym--and you say, "Thanks--I have other things I've got to get done". Or your kids come home from school, make a mess in the family room--and because you checked in early that morning with thoughts about 'modeling Life Puzzle making" for the kids--instead of the old blow-up, you choose to stay calm, get centered and then go in and talk with them quietly about cleaning up the room and working together as a family to keep the house straight.

How do you do it? One day at a time, one piece of awareness builds to another--and one day, living consciously as a whole person is as easy as the old rat-race, mile a minute, maintain status quo was!