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Archive for August, 2006


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By Stacy K. Waltman

Relationships are found in every area of our lives. Even when we don’t realize we’re having a relationship, one is being experienced.

We have relationships with our boss, co-workers, significant other, siblings, parents, committee members, church, and more. Some people say that we even have a relationship with our money, health and food.

Managing relationships well can be the difference between a company’s making a profit or posting a loss and a person’s ability to weather personal storm’s at home. It can also be the difference between having a healthy respect for money and food and having an unhealthy obsession with both.

I returned from a coaching workshop in Rhode Island a few months ago on the power of relationships. It was titled, “Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching”. In this class we developed our skills for successfully helping people interact with their various relationship dynamics.

One of the most interesting concepts I heard this week was, “In order to get to a healthier and more productive place, we need to give up our fear of conflict, turmoil and resistance.” ~ John M. Gottman

Even as I write that, my hand wavers a little. The idea behind this audacious statement is that where there is conflict there is a desire and opportunity to reach a greater understanding between people in business and at home. That’s not how we usually view interactions that tear at our current social fabric.

Sam Keen wrote, “Sometimes what looks like a fight is only the fierceness of love.” What a difference of viewpoint. You can imagine how differently you might react depending on how you view confrontation. What else do we miss when we push the auto-pilot relationship button?

In the workplace and at home, the three greatest saboteurs of strong, and healthy relationship dynamics are 1) the habit of blaming; 2) the habit of keeping secrets; and 3) lying.

Each of these tendencies keeps people separate from one another and never allows for a greater understanding to evolve between them. So much is lost when we over-protect ourselves and over-predict others.

When we eliminate the habits of blaming, withholding and lying from our interactions with others, we begin to become transparent with one another, and ultimately learn more about ourselves. Being vulnerable at this level is a life skill we need to re-learn.

Do your relationship skills need a tune-up? If they do, in addition to relationship coaching, I highly recommend this book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0609805797/wwwintegratio-20/104-9423782-7950333?creative=327641&camp=14573&adid=07SEGVRZ3M6GK1MMW8Q0&link_code=as1

Although the book title has the word marriage in it, the book’s premise is that all relationships are opportunities for new connections between us.

Most of the concepts outlined in this book outdistance prevalent beliefs about what is true and what is possible in all of our relationships.

Tune up your relationship skills with this enlightening book and if you want to integrate new relationship skills into your life, being coached is the fastest and most direct way. Your world and your relationships will open up and evolve.

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A mouse and a frog meet every morning on the riverbank.
They sit in a nook of the ground and talk.

Each morning, the second they see each other,
they open easily, telling stories and dreams and secrets,
empty of any fear or suspicious holding back.

To watch, and listen to those two
is to understand how, as it’s written,
sometimes when two beings come together,
Christ becomes visible.

The mouse starts laughing out a story he hasn’t thought of
in five years, and the telling might take five years!
There’s no blocking the speechflow-river-running-
all-carrying momentum that true intimacy is.

Bitterness doesn’t have a chance
with those two.

The God-messenger, Khidr, touches a roasted fish.
It leaps off the grill back into the water.

Friend sits by Friend, and the tablets appear.
They read the mysteries
off each other’s foreheads.

But one day the mouse complains, “There are times
when I want sohbet*, and you’re out in the water,
jumping around where you can’t hear me.

We meet at this appointed time,
but the text says, Lovers pray constantly.

Once a day, once a week, five times an hour,
is not enough. Fish like we are
need the ocean around us!”

Do camel bells say, Let’s meet back here Thursday night?
Ridiculous. They jingle
together continuously,
talking while the camel walks.

Do you pay regular visits to yourself?
Don’t argue or answer rationally.

Let us die,
and dying, reply.

~ Rumi

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 One poised owl

By Stacy Kamala Waltman

According to many spiritual teachers, events come into our lives in the form of “tests” in order to help us mature and become more balanced. In this light, events are neither good nor bad ~ they are simply occurrences which are structured to help us move past our mental and emotional blocks.

Tests are tailored to the only way we will understand and learn each lesson.  If we pass these “tests” by meeting challenges and then learn to further develop our life skills as a result of the events at hand, then the need for that situation ends and, as a result, the conditions of our lives evolve.

If however, we have not yet learned from the situation, the tests are repeated – under different circumstances – until the necessary understanding has occurred.

By having a “neutral mind” as opposed to a “judgmental mind” that deems dealings as good or bad, we can interpret events as they are, unencumbered by an emotional overlay.

With a “neutral mind” that is neither positive nor negative we have a better chance of moving past the “drama” of a challenging situation. Having this quality or being in this state allows us to move forward to the lesson.

Here is a wonderful old story of a “neutral mind”:

Once upon a time a peasant had a horse. This horse ran away, so the peasant’s neighbors came to console him for his bad luck. He answered, “Maybe”.

The day after, the horse came back and was also leading 6 wild horses. The neighbors came to congratulate him on such good luck. The peasant said, “Maybe”.

The day after this, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses, but he fell down and broke his leg. Once again the neighbors came to share that misfortune. The peasant said, “Maybe”.

The day after that, soldiers came to enlist the youth of the village, but the peasant’s son was not chosen because of his broken leg. When the neighbors came to congratulate him, the peasant said again, “Maybe”.

Having a neutral mind does not imply being emotionally flat or non-responsive, it is actually representative of a capacity to develop the mental and emotional qualities of sensitivity and discipline.

These qualities allow us to hold a larger vision which is not inclined to make snap judgments. It is a more watchful than judgmental mindset. It is the ability to wait and see how things unfold in a larger context. 

This week, watch for the tendency of your mind to pass judgment. Notice when your mind jumps to conclusions, stereotypes, past episodes, and habitual thinking patterns.

Simply notice these tendencies of your mind without giving in to anger, judgment or frustration with yourself and begin to develop a neutral mind that is open to learning.

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Music to dance to 

Author:  Stacy Kamala Waltman

I met a woman in Rhode Island at a seminar who loved to dance. She loved it so much that even when she talked about dancing, her fact lit up with an infectious smile. She had an energy that made your senses perk up and there was a lilt to her voice that suggested a brewing giggle about to emerge – and we all wanted to be around when it bubbled up. 

She looked as if she was originally from the Caribbean dressing in bright colors: orange, turquoise and red that accentuated bronze skin. She was unique and a hug from her was like getting wrapped in a warm, soft blanket. Oh, and that bodacious smile!  It lit up the room.

She revealed to us that she loves to dance.  In dance all the trials and tribulations in her life are put into perspective and she is better able to manage life’s complexities.  For her, dance is expression, exercise, connection and beauty.

Over the course of our class we learned this vibrant woman is actually depressed. Being deeply religious she is surrounded by people from church who tell her she shouldn’t go out and move her body, gyrating to hypnotic music. These friends say that God really wouldn’t approve of her “sensual” dancing and they believe it is a sin to continue. 

To appease these friends and keep in line with the views of her church, she sometimes limits the amount of time spent on this form of art.

When not dancing, she has more time to become mired in her life; challenges with kids, health, work, and helping others with their life’s issues. But, without the ability to express her passion, the quality of her contributions to these people and “responsibilities” diminishes.  She becomes tired and depleted.

Eventually it is hard to dance at all ~ she’s too exhausted.  It become’s more and more difficult to find her natural rhythm anyway and even the idea of dancing is too much effort.  It’s all for the best, she says; her friends have started talking to her again – now that she isn’t dancing. 

When she spoke to us of these “responsible” times in her life – the times when she put dancing aside and ignored her passion, denied the freedom to feel deeply and express herself fully, her eyes became dull and her vibrancy muted.

If you asked her how she felt when she wasn’t dancing, she answered as if reading from a script. She said it was easier to focus on the more important things now.

Living on opposite sides of the country, I don’t have much occasion to run into this lovely woman and I often wonder how she is and if she has found balance in her life. Her passion, her love, one of the best expressions of herself was through dance and I wonder how she is coping without this freedom. 

I also wonder if she has found friends who are more accepting of her or if she has changed churches. But mostly I wonder if her neighborhood and children continue to be blessed with her smile.  I wonder if she eases someone’s burden just by being her warm and caring self or if she has robbed the world of her gaiety just to fit in. 

When do we stop expressing ourselves and stifle our uniqueness to mold into someone else’s concept of who we should be? How many times do we adapt ourselves to become just like everyone else?  Numbing and dumbing down.  Homogenizing ourselves ~ threatening no one.

Your power lies in your distinctness. Do things differently than they have ever been done before. Step out and shake a leg. Find your eccentricities and revel in them. 

When you see uniqueness in others, celebrate, learn from and enjoy their vibrancy.  Marvel at their courage.  Although they may be expressing their joy and authenticity now does not mean that they have always been supported or understood for their differences. 

Every time you support someone else’s efforts to be authentic especially if it goes against how you think things “should be” you get a little closer to accepting and increasing your own unique traits.

We are here for only a short time. Be an inspiration to others.  Live your life with passion! Dare to be unique and have fun.  Dance ~ Laugh ~ Breath Deeply ~ Express Joy ~ this is your life.  You have the power to bring your self into full view.  Be seen.

May your life be filled with lightheartedness and may you be an inspiration to all!

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Fresh Air in the Grand Tetons 

Author:  Stacy Kamala Waltman

With the proliferation of executive and life coaches and the coaching industry in general, I often wonder when it all started – the concept of coaching.

There sure are a lot of coaches out there.  What criteria should clients use when evaluating a coach’s ability to help them attain the life they want to lead?  Should clients consider hiring only coaches with certification or should they select a coach due to a referral from a friend or colleague?

Just as there are some doctors who are more skilled than others in spite of identical training, so it is with coaches.  A skilled coach is one who cultivates their client’s authenticity and who can ultimately help them expand his or her perspective on life.

In evaluating a coach, consider which one might ask you tough questions in the context of getting past roadblocks.  Which coach is more likely to have an impact on your life and how will you measure that impact?  Ask yourself which coach may be afraid of offending you and therefore may let you slip by because they want you to like them.  With which coach can you be the most transparent and which coach would you likely be trying to impress so you won’t be entirely forthcoming?

Coaches don’t have to lead perfect lives to be highly skilled in this craft, just as some good doctors do not have the healthiest of lifestyles or habits yet they exercise the best of care for their patients.  Great coaches though, do need to be professionals who are comfortable living within ambiguous contexts instead of pigeon holing their clients and they must have the ability to listen well and be able to hear what is not being said.

The best coaches are compassionate yet fierce, adept at seeing larger or different perspectives, insightful and forthright and have a great deal of intuition and compassion.  These skills can’t be taught but they can be honed and developed through training.

An effective coach navigates between stereotypes and helps their clients gain clarity.

I wonder, which airline first announced that in the case of a loss of cabin air pressure passengers should first put on their own oxygen mask before attempting to help their children or other travelers.

Was the policy of “putting on your own oxygen mask first” the first twinkle in the coaching profession’s eye or was it some other seemingly innocuous or serendipitous event that triggered this line of work?

“Putting on your own oxygen mask first” has profound implications for us all.  I don’t know which airline first taught this valuable life skill, but I doubt they realized at the time how profound this instruction was to the quality of our lives and safety on the ground as well as in the air.

“Putting on your own oxygen mask first” is a leadership quality that is developed during the coaching dynamic.  We need to care for ourselves first before we are ready to care for and serve others.

What action do you need to commit to in order to take care of yourself?  Breath deeply, listen for your answer and be allow yourself to be nourished with a commitment to go forward.

 To your unfoldment!


 

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Limited ediiton Jamaican chocolate bar 

Author:  Stacy Kamala Waltman

A group of us were bathed in chocolate aroma last week as we toured the Scharffen-Berger Chocolate Factory in San Francisco.

Our tour guide was an interesting man who had been with the Scharffen-Berger company for many years and had a lot of provocative stories to tell.  To me, the most interesting tidbit he shared was right before passing around the first of three plates of differing chocolate samples for us to savor.

Our guide encouraged the group to indulge our taste buds and experience how each chocolate bite blossomed into varying flavors.  He reminded us that our stomachs don’t have any taste buds and that by letting each chunk completely melt into our mouth before swallowing we would experience the truest and richest flavors of these tasty morsels.

I was grateful for the reminder.  I might have missed the full intoxicating experience of each chocolate piece because instead of being present, I had been living in the future – rushing the occurrence by wondering how the other chocolate samples on the plate were going to differ from one another and how long it was going to take before he passed the next sample around.

My mind was also observing the entire process:  how the company was marketing its business, our tour guide’s skill at remembering details, how adept he was at delivering jokes, and more.  If left unchecked, my mental chatter might have dulled the full sensory enjoyment of each individual chocolate mound only allowing the first delicious layer of sweetness to register before swallowing so that I could resume my mental analysis.

But with my mental prattle now quieted, I returned to the lesson of chocolate and was amazed to find that the rich thick goo in my mouth actually tasted different the longer it remained on my tongue.  And as the treat oared through my mouth, there were a variety of different flavors that blossomed – just like he said they would.  I am forever in our tour guide’s debt. 

We miss so much by rushing through our lives and allowing our minds to overtake the rest of our being.  Whether it’s a morsel of chocolate or slowing down to enjoy our children, the rewards of life are found in taking the time to experience the richness of each and every moment.

Where can you slow down?  Where can you turn up the quiet?  How will you savor the day?

Enjoy a virtual tour of the Scharffen-Berger Chocolate Factory in San Francisco:  http://www.scharffenberger.com/vtour.asp

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Swami Satchidananda and our family

By Stacy K. Waltman

If I asked you what you considered to be the most difficult yoga pose, you might answer “Standing on my Head” or “Full Lotus”.

For those of you who have little or no knowledge of yoga, if I asked you what the most difficult thing was to do during your day, you would, more than likely reply, “Getting everything accomplished” or “Finding time to relax”.

It has been said that because we are a highly adaptive species, we assimilate actions that we repeatedly do into our lives, creating habits that re-route our day-to-day activities.

Sometimes we forget what life was like before our new habit took hold. What is “normal” to us shifts and evolves over time.

In this day and age of over-exertion, over-extension, a coffee hut on every corner and over-stimulation by the media, the most difficult thing to do is the exact opposite of how we spend most of our day. Can you guess what the most difficult thing to do is?

We have forgotten how to deeply relax. In the world we have created for ourselves, it takes great effort to resist turning on the TV or to turn it off once it’s on. For those of us who aren’t suffering from insomnia, we remember how to sleep but we have lost the art of how to truly rest.

For many yoga students the most difficult yoga pose in class is Shavasana or the Corpse Pose. Shavasana is the least physically challenging pose in the spectrum of yoga postures because you don’t have to do anything physically. In this position, the mind quiets down; the body sinks into itself and the internal organs have a chance to unwind. Breathing becomes slower and stress tends to evaporate.

The Corpse Pose can be mentally challenging though – the mind wants to, “get on with it” and believes yoga should be an effort because striving is what it knows.

Students who practice Shavasana over time begin to notice and relish the cumulative benefits of this restorative and rejuvenating yoga posture. They find that because their minds are relaxed they tend to make better decisions during their day and spend less time fixing mistakes at work.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you are experiencing a great deal of stress in your life you need to make time to relax and just a few minutes a day isn’t enough to provide the stress reducing benefits of deep relaxation.

Daydreaming is also a relaxation technique which has many benefits but is different from Shavasana. With daydreaming the mind is relaxed but engaged, whereas with Shavasana the mind is quiet and observing without judging.

Deep relaxation allows for fewer headaches and less body pain. Other benefits include fewer bouts of anger, crying, anxiety, apprehension and frustration.

Additional benefits of deep relaxation include: improved concentration, reduced fatigue, elimination of insomnia, and the lowering of blood pressure.

How often do you daydream? How often do you truly relax? Let your mind rest, your breathing slow, and make time to restore your self.

The Corpse Pose (Shavasana) and daydreams are ways to get your life back into balance. Turn off the TV and marinate in the quiet.

Notice how the quality of your life improves with Shavasana and the peace of deep relaxation. Turn down the noise and turn up the quiet ~

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