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Attitude of Gratitude


Have you ever walked around all day in the attitude of gratitude?

It’s kind of a weird thing to do.  I have done this to increase my mindfulness.  For me it looked like this – something frustrating would happen and then I would try to be grateful for that thing.   I had to look at how the frustrating thing was a gift.

It was stilted and foreign but I made it through the day.  The interesting thing I got out of it was to focus on how negative things can be beneficial.  Which is paradigm shifting.  Sometimes it was an issue of increasing my understanding of another person or myself, and sometimes it really increased my availability to patience.

It definitely allowed for me to re-frame situations and choose to respond to the situation and people differently.

The most revealing aspect of this was in my relationship to myself and those really close to me.  I found that I actually felt happier with my place in the world and how I went about my days – and I found that it really strengthened my relationships because I was not just pointing out what wasn’t working but I was aligning with, and identifying, and really acknowledging what was really fantastic about what was working.

This gave me a background of gratitude and connection for the foreground or figure of what wasn’t working.  It allowed a space for the not-working thing to be addressed within a more positive context.

I think, through this action, more collaborative work can be accomplished because people don’t feel defensive, they feel connected.

In order to help in re-framing your world, part of what you have to do is stay cognizant of what is working.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that people have a tendency to focus on what isn’t working rather than what is.  I think that has something to do with wanting to catch things before they get out of balance.  And it is good to be vigilant about such things, but what helps us maintain balance is being aware of both at once in their proper perspective.

This is especially true in parenting.  We need to be pointing out what our children need to work on so that they can be more successful in their lives – BUT we also need to be vigilant at pointing out what they are doing well.

This is essential to keep their self-esteem strong, to teach perseverance, and to help them see the whole picture, their strengths and their limitations.

Too much praise and not enough critical direction and they are selfish, egotistical, unable to tolerate any normal defeat, and unwilling to work hard for success.  Too much critical direction and not enough praise and they have problems believing in their skills and will give up easily, and not be able to stick to things through defeat.  Erring on either side is problematic.

Practice having the attitude of gratitude; and see what you learn about how much you really do have going for you.  Teach it to your kids it helps to normalize their everyday trials and tribulations.

Start out by just noticing everything in your work, life, family, and children that is working, that is right, or that you are grateful for being/having that way.

And then, comment out loud about how grateful you are about those positive things.  It’s also a good place to begin to build or re-build connections.

Try it for a whole day.

See you tomorrow.


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A little more patience, please


What happens when you need more patience?

This is a crisis situation in relationships and parenting.  It’s Not a life or death kind of crisis, but it is a potential reaction habit patterns and un-mindful choices kind of crisis.

This kind of crisis event is such a great opportunity for changing your patterns and for creating innovation, if you can just stop and not react.

Practicing mindfulness activities everyday will help to give you think time to not react.  Remember what they are?  Yoga, meditation, focused breathing, and slowing down communication so that it’s not jumping from habit reaction to habit reaction.

But then once you can stop yourself from reacting the next step is to figure out what the best action is for the situation.  This requires figure-ground understanding of the whole picture and a degree of paradigm shifting to create an innovative change in action or behavior.

I have been talking about de-stressing how you live which includes nutrition, exercise, hydration, and sleep.  I think it’s hard to wrap your brain around how these obviously physical issues de-stress your thinking because they don’t logically seem connected.  Our logic tends to compartmentalize things into groups; and body-needs and thinking-needs don’t get sorted into the same group.

Spirit, mind and body are interconnected.  Being rundown physically can exacerbate an already difficult situation.  Just as feeling burned out can make a person feel lethargic and fatigued.

When you are stressed cognitively and/or physically is when you need more patience but have less; laughter and singing or just changing the mood of a situation increases your access to breath and then because of your mindfulness can really increase your own availability to patience.  And, having a mindful routine in your life helps to keep your body de-stressed and increases the level of patience available to you.

How to change the mood when you are at the end of your rope requires a deep level of mindfulness; an ability to actually see the figure ground from inside.  That’s one of the hardest perspectives.  It requires a kind of 3-D perspective from the inside out and an ability to step outside yourself while containing what’s going on inside yourself.

This is an internal paradigm shift that allows for a personal re-balancing.  Once you have done this, then you can see more clearly a path to the best action to the situation.

You have to personally re-balance before you can see and do that.  So patience is an outcome to all these actions.  It’s not that you need patience to get to mindfulness – it’s that you need mindfulness to get to patience.

Seeing more clearly allows the best course of action to present itself.

Try catching yourself in the act of needing more patience and see how you can both align with your frustration while turning that frustration on its head through a 180 degree shift in perspective.  If you know you are physically stressed – Just stop – See if you can get some food, water, sleep, exercise on board before you take an action.

You’ aren’t denying the situation you’re trying to view it differently.  It’s the adage of getting the same result when you do the same thing – to get a different result you can describe the thing differently therefore redefining it, or you can do a different thing to get a different result.  Mindfulness, figure-ground, paradigm shifting are required for both of these.

Try to catch yourself before you react and if you have the presence of mind just laugh and see if that doesn’t shift the situation.  (A great hint that you may be out of balance is if you have lost your sense of humor!)

See you tomorrow.



Energy, Breath, and Balance

Ever enter a space and all of a sudden feel angry or sad?

Or have you noticed that when you are feeling depressed you start to feel physically sick?

In Chinese Medicine Qi (chi) follows Shen.   Qi is vital life force energy in Chinese Medicine.  Shen is the most insubstantial of energies and represents the energy of spirit. Shen is an energy that is more insubstantial than Qi.

If Shen – spirit goes out of balance it follows that Qi will go out of balance and this can then lead to physical disease.  Emotional instability can lead to an imbalance in the movement of Qi which may result in some physical disturbance.

As an example, what happens while in-utero can have effects on the development of a child in his early years.  Medically we know that early nutritional issues or the introduction of drugs in-utero can affect the child’s emotional and physical development.

I have seen an effect on the child due to emotionally significant events occurring in-utero as well; mostly as a result of my work in adoption.  Over a 5 year period I worked with several hundred birthmothers who were considering placing their children for adoption.  For some of those babies that were placed with adoptive families, as well as some that remained with their birthmothers, I was able to observe the children as they matured through various developmental stages.

One of the anecdotal themes that I noticed concerned those children whose birthmother made a loving connection to their children.  The birthmothers who communicated that they were giving their children to an adoptive mother to raise because they perceived this as an act of mothering love, to best serve their children, made a real connection.  They said hello and goodbye to their children.  The children from those situations seemed to have less adjustment issues in their adoptive homes and through their developmental growth stages than those where this did not occur.

I think this is directly connected to the idea that energy is dynamic and has some degree of substance.

Intense fear emotions affect energy and can create internal should equations that can lead to habitual reaction patterns.

Strong emotional outbursts can leave leftover energy in a space.

If you go outside after having an argument with someone, you seem to have a better sense of yourself and may be able to even think more clearly.  When you return to the space where the argument happened you may find that the energy of the argument spins that cleared mindspace away, and you may feel a sense of resentment you didn’t have when you were outside.

Why is that?

The leftover negative energy has charged the space in some way.

If you are sensitive you may actually feel the change and be able to identify it.  This will allow you to get mindful and make a choice to follow though with your positive reconciliation with the person.

When you pay attention to habitual reaction patterns, you can use our mindfulness skills to

  • get into the moment,
  • be mindful,
  • and focus on the figure and  ground perspective to see the whole picture.
  • Then you can use this information to help you shift out of these patterns and act mindfully in the present moment.

The issue with energy breath and balance is to use your breath and mindfulness to reset the way energy flows through your body.  This is the philosophy behind acupuncture to reset the balance of the channels and the levels within your multi-level spirit, mind, body (shen, Qi, and xue).

From a therapeutic perspective I have observed how the energy of the original situation, (the story, beliefs, and thinkings behind why you act in these habit reaction patterns) that developed the coping strategy holds the reaction patterns into place.  Much like the way a muscle can hold a trigger point.  Being mindful is a way of seeing more clearly, just as changing your environment changes your mindspace.

Cranial sacral energy-work actually works with energy that may be holding a person physically in a certain pattern; it’s like bringing the concept of mindfulness to the muscle and energy system so it can let go of the held pattern.  It’s really interesting to witness, and experience, such a release.

Breathing through these experiences helps to release and move the stuck or held energy.

Qi follows Breath.

In fact, breath has a unifying quality for spirit, mind, and body.   That’s the great thing about meditation, yoga and other forms of focused breathing.  Because Spirit, Mind, and Body are interconnected, Breath has the ability to shift the flow of energy and bring balance to these energies.

Sound is another great container energy releaser, especially in spaces like your home or office.  That’s one of the reasons that practitioners of Feng Shui, a Chinese art of creating balanced energy in spaces, use wind chimes to shift and keep energy moving.  I use bells, toning bowls, and chimes to clear the field of my clients as well as my office and home.  It has an immediate effect to clear-out negative, stuck energy.  It is a great way to clear out negative energy after disagreements.

You can set this up in your own environment as an effective clearing ritual.

Smell is another way to shift the energy of a space.  Rose, lavender, and chamomile have wonderful calming, centering, and clearing actions to bring a person into their own center and release left over, negative energy.  Frankincense, sandalwood and myrrh help with painful emotions  and various citrus essences help clear away anger.

This is my daughter’s favorite ritual at night to bring balanced energy to her room so she can have sweet dreams.  Sometimes after a disagreement she will request to ring the bells and spray her special spray to clear out the bad energy.

Singing is another wonderful way to shift energy in one’s personal energy field.  This is a function of the words of the song in some instances, however, the sound of the notes can have a healing effect on our chakra system, clearing out stuck energies and assisting you to align yourself energetically with strength.

So breath, sound, smell, and mindfulness are wonderful sensing rituals to bring you to neutral, offering a feeling of reset so that you can relate in a mindful, present moment, balanced way to your environment.

See if you can create rituals to help you with clearing out the negative energy and bringing balance to your life.  Remember to use your senses to guide you. in love and light, bg

(reblogged from 3.11.2010, on june 22, 2014)

You can find out more at  Even More outlined in Beth’s upcoming book, 6 steps to transcending conflict and elevating consciousness, due out in 2014.  You may participate in seminars to learn these techniques through her website.  This book is the HOW TO companion book to Turning Me to WE: The Art of Partnering with Mindfulness(2013).front cover.me2we Discover where you are in the Temperament and  the MAAPS section.  You can see how you see the world, and whether you have an attachment that is creating problems in your relationships.  MAAPS will help you to discern your insecurities and understand how and what underlies how you developed your insecurity driver (Money,  Achievement,  Attachment, Power,  Structure). You can find ways to simply connect to yourself in a loving forgiving way through theTurning No to ON: The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness Book (2011). beth's book No to ONIf you want to change your life, see how you can bring mindfulness to your parenting and relationships.  One being at a time you can elevate the way in which you treat one another and elevate the consciousness on the planet so that equality, balance, and freedom BEcome the norm for all.  in love and light, bg


Don’t let your garden go fallow


Several years ago when I worked in an Eating Disorder Day Treatment Program one of my co-workers used the phrase Don’t let your garden go fallow as a way to redirect individuals to focus on their own work.  She told a story about the importance of having a balanced relationship toward helping or you may forget to focus on your own garden.  Without proper attention and nurturing a garden will go to seed and die.

It was a metaphor; it isn’t always that a person doesn’t have the skills to succeed but sometimes it is a matter of improper focus.

I have this friend.  She is smart, and talented.  She is supportive of her friends, and partners, and is great at seeing ways to help them move forward in their lives, while she seems stuck in hers.  Even when she wants to make a change she always ties the change to someone else as if she can’t tolerate the role of standing on her own.  And yet she has always been strong; weathering difficult times alone.

It isn’t that she hasn’t created success, she has; it’s that she hasn’t created her own happiness.

I think it’s because she is caught in one of my identified survivor scenarios.  She helps others as a way to survive and so doesn’t put energy into her own real life.

In fact I see this with a number of women; they connect their success with that of another.  They give support with an unspoken understanding that the other will return the gift in the future but often they end up catapulting the other into success and that other does not return the favor or give credit to them.

No it’s a survivor mentality – life requires this action or imminent death is the feared result. But how does an internal should action, an unconscious habit reaction pattern, get set up in an individual?

For the most part we act in ways to best support ourselves unless we have some sort of psychological illness that interferes with us doing so.  That is human nature.  Therefore individuals who are not ill, act in this way to benefit themselves.

These survivor scenarios are set up early in individuals as coping strategies, that’s why I choose to call them survivor rather than victim scenarios because for the most part they are coping strategies that really do help the individual survive a difficult event.

But the event gets survived and the pattern remains. It’s a short-circuit in our internal structure because it is so closely tied to a fear of death.

I am not suggesting that someone is threatening to kill all these individuals in their early childhood.  I am suggesting that events are interpreted such to directly tie the success of the other to their own life and in response their first goal was to harness their forces to support that individual above their own self-needs.

The development of the coping strategy is a mindful present moment response to their environment which is healthy.  The continued unconscious habit reaction pattern after the event has passed, is no longer a present moment mindful response; it is unhealthy.

Since it is unlikely that any of us have made it through to adulthood without some degree of adverse events, it is likely that we all have developed some unconscious habit reaction pattern, some internal should action equation that no longer serves us.

Figuring out what it is, how it served you and how it no longer serves you so that you can be free to act differently and create your own happiness is a great focus of internal work.  My example above is more typical of women but men have these too and they have the same basic components of giving up self for survival.

Here’s how to begin the process. Be mindful.  Use your senses to guide you.  Use your feelings especially those of anger, defensiveness, depression, or an internal pressure to act in a certain way to help you focus in on the potential strategy that you developed that may no longer be of service to you.

One thing I have noticed is that when it’s happening I actually see myself doing things, or divulging information, or acting in ways that I feel pressured to do and say and I feel sick to my stomach afterward or really angry.  Another thing to look for is an indecisiveness regarding what to do or trying to take back what you did do.

Once you increase your awareness and mindfulness regarding this you will begin to get an outline on what strategy you may want to change, let go and transform.

See you tomorrow.


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One’s true nature


A leading psychotherapist James Bugental (1965) suggested that the goal of therapy was to help someone discover his true nature, to become his most authentic self.  He focused on existential therapy and developed a theory and type of therapy that encouraged a type of personal transformation that entails letting go of specific patterns of relating with oneself and others.

Changing personal paradigms and personal expectations within oneself regarding how one is to feel, act, and interact with those in their environment is a difficult process as one take’s for granted the way in which he sees himself.  This sense of self feels like it is instinctive because it is second nature and an instantaneous reaction; indeed it’s just a habit.

The work in parenting is to remain connected to the authentic self, to decrease the unconscious habit reactions to the individual’s environment and to increase more instinctive, mindful, present moment responses to the environment.

The greater a parent’s ability to do this, the greater her positive effect upon her children to create this behavior as a way of being in the world.  This would result in present moment analysis of situations and interactions, mindful moment-to-moment decision-making.

Over the years those interested in discovering the authentic self have dabbled in Yoga, Qi gong, focused breathing, and meditation to increase their ability to remain in the present and let go of their attachment to specific outcomes to find their true, undiscovered, self.

The integration of Mindfulness and psychotherapy is a rapidly growing field as a way to address stress, anxiety, disease, and various negative coping strategies.  There is new evidence that these together can provide real benefit in these health arenas.

So what does it mean one’s true self, one’s authentic self?  This refers to a true inner nature that is covered by the roles and expectations layered over each of us as a result of living in society.  Unraveling and un-layering these to get to one’s authentic self requires focused, mindful attention and for many is one of the foci of therapy.

Of course if we could teach our children to not cover over their authentic self they could begin to develop it earlier;  find their right labor and right action in their lives before Jung’s Individuation period of the 40’s or Freud’s midlife crisis when one usually re-discovers what he has given up to meet the expectations of his environment.

They could directly develop it rather than have to re-discover it.

I encourage you to investigate these various mindful behaviors to see if you have an attraction to any of them:  meditation, focused breathing, yoga, Qi (chi) Gong,  or you can practice meditative walking, playing music, or singing.

Any focused ritual of quieting the mind to allow an empty space for information to present itself will provide an opportunity to rediscover or discover your authentic self.  We built a Native American style Medicine Wheel in our front yard and filled it with treasures from our walks in the mountains near our home.  At night we look for the patterns in the sky above as the constellations change, and sit in the moonlight and meditate on the problems of the day.  It’s a peaceful experience and my daughter has taken to it like a duck to water so to speak, especially when she feels out of sorts.

Often just paying attention to your senses in a mindful way; how things, taste, feel, sound, and smell can assist in developing a mindful approach to being in the world.

It’s the beginning of identifying our true nature.

See you tomorrow.



The Tower card


The Tower Card, how cataclysmic change can bring about transformational growth.

In the Tarot the Tower card represents cataclysmic change.  It is a symbol of something that happens in an instant, after which everything is changed forever.  I think of it as an aha experience, a powerful paradigm shift.

My first experience with the Tarot was in college.  My friend read my cards and predicted a horrible event.  She said that sometime in the next three years my boyfriend would be killed in a red car and that it was undecided but that I might suffer the same fate with him.  She went on to say that if it didn’t happen in the next 3 years then we had avoided the accident.  Pretty intense for an 18-year-old to hear.  I had no previous experience with psychics or Tarot.  I thought it was just a story; I owned a red car at the time which I traded in for a beige car the next year.

When I was 20 years old I had a profoundly difficult experience.

The man I saw as holding my future in his hands was killed in a car accident.  We had a fierce argument the night before he died.  Silly, ridiculous, unnecessary mean words with stomping off….  I left to visit a friend in another state the next day and was not with him when he went off-roading in his red truck that he had just bought several months before.  While away I had decided to take him up on his desire to get married and create our life together.  When I returned my Dean of Students told me he had been killed.  As you can imagine, I was in shock.

In one weekend I went from seeing my beautiful life in my imagination going on into infinity of joy and happiness to seeing nothing but eternal gray and all of that future falling off a cliff into nothingness; a powerful mini-internal cultural revolution.

How I incorporated this experience into my worldview is what could be interpreted as transformational.  My innocent belief in the perfectness in the world changed into an understanding of my own strength to weather the im-perfectness of the world.

First, re-entering the world to develop a new view of my future required forgiveness of myself and my boyfriend. Forgiveness of myself for the things I said just before he died.  Forgiveness of him for dying and leaving me.

Second, I had to make sense out of this bizarre change in fate.  I incorporated the concept that life is connected.  Recognizing that the fight we had may have been what saved my life – I would have stayed and been in that truck if it had not happened.

Third, I had to understand the experience such that I could trust enough to love again without or at least through the fear of loss, with an understanding of the impermanence of life and the permanence of love.

I have written about how we should try to learn from joy and that suffering isn’t required for growth.  I have written about how we don’t need to look for adversity to teach strength to our children that adversity will find us regardless.  This is an example of adversity finding me and teaching strength.  It happens.

For me it was the connection to the joy and the desire to create positive meaning out of the experience that was transformational, not the horrible event.

How we choose to respond is what allows for the transformation – that is where the issue of choosing joy, and forgiveness, and seeing the figure/ground perspective is useful.  The transformation is to reconnect with a deeper connection to oneself and one’s internal strength with increased wisdom.

I read this and I sound like I am always going for the positive and it is true but don’t be fooled there is a place for aggressive protectiveness too.  It’s the focus on the positive within yourself that keeps you sufficiently connected to observe true evil that must be eradicated when identified.

I invite you to look at your own adverse experiences and see what wisdom you have derived from them.  If it is something that makes you less strong then look at how you can re-frame and reorganize how you incorporate the truth of that event.

It can help you to change your relationship with your own power so that you can change how you teach about power to your children.

See you tomorrow.


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creating mini-internal cultural revolutions…


So we’ve been taking about stop, look and listen, language and meaning, figure and ground, and paradigm shifting.  These are all ways to increase mindfulness to act in a present moment way within the context of authenticity and internal strength toward connection and the development of one’s best self.

When I was in college I read a landmark book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, first published in 1962.  It developed a theory that truth in science was a function of one conceptual world view being replaced by another.  This was the basis of the concept of paradigm shifting that was later taken up by Steven Covey 27 years later in his powerful book on change, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

I experienced a mini-internal cultural revolution.

  • Making connections and seeing how to integrate disparate views to incorporate a vision that life is connected.
  • How we connect/disconnect and how we view life has more to do with our experiences and how we interpret those experiences than something objectively real.
  • Empowerment is a function of personal will-power and the terms intention, attention, perspective, perception.
  • Responsibility is the ability-to-respond in the present moment; and, freedom, rights and responsibilities are interconnected.
  • Unconscious habit reaction patterns require shifting to create mini-internal, cultural revolutions, paradigm shifting using mindfulness.

Hermann Hesse’s literary work The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi), which describes an individual’s search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality was a pivotal source-work for me.  I  suspect this has something to do with my affinity for existentialism and phenomenology as conceptual worldviews.

Existentialism is a philosophy that focuses on how all actions are choices, even no action, and that an individual has power as she has responsibility for her choices in the world, and through this responsibility is free.   Jean-Paul Sartre best describes this philosophy; I like many of his literary works but my favorite is Being and Nothingness.

Phenomenology incorporates the effect of the interface of energy, spirit, mind, and physical components in the development of self and meaning.  Georg Hegel:  The Phenomenology of Spirit and Martin Heidegger:  On the Way to Language and The Question of Being were strong contributors to this philosophy.

From a psychological perspective, I like the contemporary work by James Hillman and, the transformational work by Heinz Kohut who developed the concept of dynamic self-psychology which focuses on the development of a sense of worth, well-being and self-object relationships, primarily in early childhood but continues throughout all stages of development and focuses on internal conflicts and important relationships.

A contemporary author who incorporates these philosophies to promote mindfulness and integration of spirit, mind, body and action is Ken Wilber:  Integral Spirituality and A theory of everything.

These worldviews applied to parenting have to do with increasing mindfulness, and choice-making in the now.  Increasing internal strength via connection to self and internal will-power and the capacity to navigate internal needs and external expectations to promote optimal growth.

There is a fascinating educational curriculum that has been used in Canada and in some areas in the US to help children and adolescents succeed emotionally and academically in school by increasing their mindfulness, from The Hawn Foundation started by Goldie Hawn, called MindUP, developed by a Harvard psychologist who is part of the foundation.

So there’s a lot of references for the ideas about which I have been writing.

Check them out if you’re interested.

See you tomorrow.



Seeing in 3-D


So my friend has been giving me a hard time about the words intention, attention, perspective, and perception.  She thinks it’s too many words to describe be present or pay attention

Here’s the thing, I think being mindful is like seeing in 3-D, seeing in several dimensions at once. 

When I first started to do injections into joints I had to learn all the anatomy of those joints.  When it came time to do the injection it was as if I was seeing in that 3-dimensional space in order to get the fluid exactly where I wanted it to go. 

When working as a therapist with families or couples seeing in 3-D is fundamental to being able to get the whole picture from the two (or more) skewed perspectives offered.  You have to be able to interpret what is and isn’t said as well as the energy and force of what matters to the various participants. 

And when I started taking pulses in my oriental medicine training, I was taught to feel depth, quality and speed of each of the 12 channels but I also felt the emotion that went with the pulse.  One of my teachers told me that wasn’t typical.  So this concept of seeing or receiving information in 3-D may be a natural one for me. 

I think seeing in 3-D is essential for real, full communication and right action.  And unless it’s natural it’s something that requires awareness about how to do it and lots of practice. 

The words intention, attention, perspective, and perception increase your awareness and focus you onto the space in a 3-dimensional way. 

Intention focuses you in on what you intend, what you want/desire or what the other intends, wants/desires. 

Attention focuses you in on the tone, loudness, word choice, meaning and emotion as well as whether you and the other have the same meaning for words and/or actions – it pulls you into the present. 

Perspective gets you into the figure/ground aspect of the interaction and allows for paradigm identification and paradigm shifting. 

And perception has aspects of all of the other three but in a more whole-istic fashion.  It allows for mindful understanding and mindful action.

It’s like looking at a situation, relationship, or problem from a 360 degree perspective, breadth as well as depth.

So when you are thinking about a situation or a relationship start to use these words as guide posts to increase your mindfulness awareness of yourself and the other(s) involved and see if you don’t get some surprising answers about what may be going on in those situations. 

You have to use your intuitive sense, your observations, questioning skills, and willingness to listen and act in a mindful present moment way.  Practice applying the whole picture to the situation.

See you tomorrow.


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Trusting Intuition


So what do you do when your intuition says hmm this doesn’t seem right but you can’t really prove your intuition instinct?

I’ve been talking about getting out of unconscious habit pattern reactions and focusing mindfully on the present and the whole picture – seeing the figure and the ground.  Developing your intuition, and trusting it, is key.

Intuition is that quiet voice that says bring the umbrella it’s going to rain when the skies are clear and blue.

My running partner is my dog.  We have been running together for a long time.  Then just before Christmas he hurt his knee and had to rest.  After three weeks of resting he went into what the vet called congestive heart failure.  Crazy, how does that happen, running everyday for 4 miles then boom congestive heart failure?  Well we knew he had a valve problem and a slightly enlarged heart so it’s understandable  from that perspective; and he is 15, so there’s that, but still it was surprising.

Many difficult interactions with various vets for a number of ridiculous reasons ensued.  His heart was triple enlarged with a slight degree of fluid in his lungs by ultrasound and x-ray; his pulse was between 150 -170 (120 being the high end of normal for dogs).  He had a serious mitral valve prolapse; he couldn’t get the blood to his brain and he was having syncope;  finally we’re at a specialist and she was following her statistics and numbers and based on these she wanted to put him on a high dose of lasix.

I sensed something was wrong with this medicine, because his kidneys were weak and I knew it could make his kidneys fail and he didn’t have that much fluid in his lungs.  I know a lot about alternative medicine for humans and I tried to get her to give me fuller information to help me decide the best course of action.  But she took the I’m the expert position and wouldn’t fully communicate with me.  I found that instead of her relating with me in a collegial way, my expertise was challenging to her.

When it came time to treat him I decided to trust my intuition that this medicine was the wrong medicine for my dog and I gave him 1/4 of what she suggested.  It turned out even that amount ended up creating a further destabilization for my dog.  Luckily, I found a much more amenable vet who seemed to understand the subtleties of intuition in treating patients.

But here’s the kicker- if I had ignored my intuitive sense of my dog then it would have killed him.

Intuition is a function of a mindful approach to living.

Knowing yourself, knowing the environment and acting on that knowing in a mindful, present moment way.

Even though the studies indicated it was a reasonable choice I had a bad feeling about the medicine.  And the vet was caught up in the ego of being the doctor and couldn’t compute the intuitive information that I brought to the circumstances.  I had a knowing that there was some piece of the puzzle that wasn’t being interpreted correctly – I didn’t now what that piece was – but I knew that the medicine was not the best medicine for him.

Intuition is some part knowledge from the universe like Jung’s collective unconscious, and some part observation of how something is out-of-place, and some part knowing.  It has an imprint quality and it comes in wholes – it is the answer with the picture and the explanation all at once.

It’s a knowing not a feeling.

Learning to trust your intuition requires a few things. First, you have to hear the quiet inner voice.  So if you’re good at ignoring those nagging voices/senses you have to shift that so you listen more acutely and more often.  Practicing some type of meditation or breathing exercise like Qi Gong, or Yoga is helpful to develop this.

Second, you have to be able to distinguish between fear/anxiety and intuition.  Fear/anxiety internal voices tend to have an intensity and loudness to them – they break through whatever is going on.  They push through to the front.  These are usually not intuition; these are unconscious habit patterns.  If you feel immediately triggered it is more likely that rather than any sense of intuition.

Intuition is quiet and not forceful and it usually doesn’t have an urgency or any other emotional imprint with it.  It’s like a quiet whispering that has substance and neutral certainty to it.  It can have a nagging quality to it.  I know I have used the statement I have a bad feeling about this as a reference to intuition but it isn’t really a feeling it’s a sense/knowing without emotion.  It’s a quiet certainty.

Practice listening for that quiet inner voice and taking action based on it.  And conversely practice not acting on those fearful/anxious impulses.  See how you change as a result.

See you tomorrow.