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Remembering Mothering


Memory is a funny thing.  It is colored by emotion, and experience, and intensity.  When you think back on your childhood what stands out are the particular moments of intensity that seemed to sear into your memory.

Injuries of all sorts seem to dwell there.  And our mothers take on different characterizations based on what we are remembering and how we are remembering them or reconstituting those experiences.

Watching her dark hair as she bent over washing the kitchen floor as I was coming in from school in the afternoon – asking about my day.  Listening to her singing Opera and The Sound of Music with the stereo while doing chores, and listening to her spontaneous laughter at my father’s quick rapparte.  Sitting with me as we listened to Peter and the Wolf on the stereo with the characters being played out by various orchestral instruments.  Singing and talking about life, and the importance of giving back to the world and  staying close to family while cooking together or doing errands.

Those are my sweet memories.

There are other things that I remain confounded by in my relationship with my mother.  These are not sweet and yet they are not injuries per se, they are dissonances – dissonances in my and her personalities and skill at communicating.  When I put my mindful eye to evaluating these dissonances I seem to discern that much of what feels negative was just a disconnect or a mis-connect.

I think the everyday element of mothering is actually the thing that gives foundation to children.  The day in and day out responses and attitudes that seem to actually help children build resilience.  Especially because resilience is something built from the inside out.

So the ground (background) of what you take from mothering are these sweet memories and the figure (focal stuck points) are those dissonances that are unresolved in some way.

Both the ground and the figure affect us – they each affect our learning and the direction of what we develop.  How we respond to these is affected by our personalities too and what we each put precedence on in our picture of the world – what paradigm we apply to the events, and what attitude.

Synthesizing and integrating them is important for the most forgiving and compassionate response and the highest degree of health.  Utilizing a neutral eye to evaluate our experiences from the mindful perspective of paradigm shifting and seeing from the other’s point of view, not only our own – allows for integration and synthesis.

When I observe my mothering of my daughter and Max, I notice elements of my mother’s style – not the stuff so much that I thought didn’t work, although I’m sure there is an element of that too,  but a lot of the stuff that did.  The laughter, and singing and interactive play.

How we go about our daily routine is much more interwoven into who we are just because of the weight of time we are doing it.

In the Celestine Prophecy there is a theme that you choose your parents because they have something to teach you.

This theory identified the process through which we develop our personalities.  There are components of our style of communicating that we develop in reaction to our parents style, according to this theme, which I will discuss in a future blog.

But the part of this theory which I think is really an interesting structure to help to integrate what we experienced and learned in childhood is this:  Our driving internal force is directly related to the most important aspect distilled from our parents.

For me it was my mother’s intense spirituality (spirit) and my fathers brilliant analytical thinking (mind) together these two elements are the most basic elements of my personality integrated with the intense heart connection from both of my parents into my basic core.

I am certain this is why Grace is my picture of synchronicity because spirit is ever-present in everything I encounter and do – for me it can not be separated even from my mental and physical experiences.

I encourage you on this day of focus on Mother, to consider what the essential quality is that you incorporated into your being from your mother.

Consider what may be the essential quality you are passing on to your children if you have them.

It’s an interesting focus, because it allows the integration of the figure and ground of one’s life distilled to a single quality/characterization.

This is usually something positive and profoundly encouraging, so it helps to dissipate the dissonance that may be nagging in your consciousness.

And even if you only had your mother in your life for a few years – she brought something essential to you that is always there guiding your moves – what you are drawn to do and what matters.  If you can identify that you can feel less left and less lonely on this day.

See you tomorrow.


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Research is me-search


One of my favorite quotes from Richard Bach in Illusions is We teach best that which we need to learn.

To me it relates to the concept that research is me-search.

When people get involved in research often they have a passion to figure out something that has in some way touched their lives.  Talk to people who work on cancer research and often those on the cutting edge can tell you a story about how they lost someone to cancer and they wanted to find a cure.

In psychology and child development you find people who want to explain how they can see patterns in front of them.  Like Izzy Kalman and his development of an entire program to deal with anger management in response to the horrendous killings by children feeling victimized by other children.  He sees our current resolution as partly creating the problem of bullying and wants to re-create a new solution that allows for more peace.

We often find therapists who had early losses and went into therapy to help others through such circumstances.

In each of these situations the individual is beset with a difficult situation about which they want to discover a solution – research; I think of it as a soulution – it’s me-search.  They are not just investigating the big picture they are trying to resolve their internal conflict.  These are often spiritual traumas so that’s why I think of these as soulutions.

I have been writing this blog about mindfulness for several months now and teaching mindfulness in my practice for many years.  Yet, I still struggle with it.  I still react, and infer incorrectly what others say, and think uncompaasionately.  I still get angry.  I have not perfected this skill but I have developed a way to get on track and get back on track through the methods I have presented in the blog and my practice.  This has been the focus of my research – my me-search.

I have had to deal with anxiety, with debilitating negative self-talk and negative self-concepts, for all of my early and middle childhood long into my twenties, especially when stressed.  In addition, as a young person, I had a number of traumatic events in my life, emotional and physical.

Either of these experiences alone are typically debilitating for a person and greatly impede an individual’s opportunities and ability to create a successful life.

I have been able to create a great deal of success in my personal and professional life due to mindfulness, my strong spiritual connection, and my unending belief and love of humans even in the face of the trauma I experienced.  I credit the intensely strong parents that I was lucky to have.  Their values, beliefs, and styles of being in the world created a foundation upon which I could build a resilient character even in the face of my difficult path.

I also credit my unwavering ability to accept what I was feeling while arguing with it – applying the principles of mindfulness, with compassion, forgiveness and lovingkindness toward myself and those who hurt me.  To trust my inner knowing that the negative self-talk was not real but an anxiety reaction – through evaluating the figure/ground and facts in an unattached and neutral way.

I had to learn this.  In order to survive I had to learn this – I was a pioneer – my parents could not show me the way and there were no guideposts available for me – there was just my me-search with my particular set of tools.

I have developed this program, this theory, this application from the inside-out.  It can and does help others deal with their various kinds of anxiety.   You teach Best that which you NEED to learn.  I can teach this because I have had to walk it, be it, fail at it, and find my way again.  It is part and parcel to my whole being

I have been able to weather the storm waters of my life due to my strong centered, focus on mindfulness, paradigm shifting, and figure-ground concepts.

It is no surprise that I was drawn to existential writers, phenomenological philosophy, Gestalt therapy and Jungian Analysis; no surprise that I developed practices in mindfulness meditation, prayer, physical breathwork and athleticism; all of these together were the practices required for dealing effectively with debilitating anxiety which was a product of mind and experiences.

For me it’s about language and meaning, figure and ground, the idea of paradigms as ways to order your world and the need to shift those to create mini-internal, cultural revolutions using mindfulness and making connections and seeing how to integrate disparate views and disparate actions.

Mindfulness offers the process to observe, notice and stop habit reaction patterns.

In psych there is the “aha experience” it’s like a strong insight or epiphany,  where someone has an internal feeling of “aha, that’s why I do that or that’s what this is about “- it’s a coming together of a whole and a  paradigm shift at once.  These are profound experiences and the more one uses mindfulness to approach their interactions and situations the more opportunity for these quantum-like shifts in perception are possible.  I think mindfulness is less of an “aha” experience and more of a “huh, or Hmmm” experience.  It opens the door to look for and create a soulution to a problem or conflict.  Mindfulness leads you to the “aha” experience.

Think about what really matters to you; think about what really bothers you; think about what situations you keep finding yourself in from which you have to extricate yourself.  These will give you a sense of what your me-search may be about and how to get yourself focused on your path of soulution creation.

See you tomorrow.


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I remember in college I came across something called Creative Visualization, by Shakti Gawain.  It was developed from a concept that through meditation you can create the world in which you want to live.

There is a strong mindfulness component to this process.  You have to be able to clarify your creation from the inside and then take the required actions to formalize and concretize that vision externally – on the outside.  I thought of it as a Platonic concept, that things are created twice, first in our minds and then in the physical world.

Visioning is a process where an individual or a group creates a picture either physically or imaginally of where they want to be in a future space and time.

I really like the practice of this for individuals because I think it increases a person’s awareness, observational skills, and mindfulness.  It develops the skills of attention and intention, perspective and perception, as well as a course to get where you want to be.

Leadership consultants are always talking with corporations and professional groups about the concept of visioning; using Mission statements and developing a verbal/written description of the guiding principles and vision of their purpose and outcome.

In theory this idea is GREAT, but in practice I have some concerns about how to maintain and create from a visioning perspective in a group.

There are several steps in the process of visioning.

It needs to be intentional and collaborative if it affects a group.  First there is an evaluative process where one gathers information to develop the vision.  This is a process of development – many pictures will be developed and refined until one feels they have created the fullest and best picture – their vision.

Then there is an identification process where one describes and makes tangible the vision. This too is complicated and requires thoroughness, stick-to-it-iveness or perseverance, and a combination of strength and flexibility.  Working through this step and the first step, requires an inner knowing of what Has to be there and what is negotiable.

Then there is a group or an individual who acts to hold the vision as various steps are taken to put into place the tangible aspects of the vision – the concretization of the vision.

Holding the vision actually is the most difficult job.

This is because as the vision is translated to the whole of your community  – whether that be your family or a larger community – there is a reaction and reverberation to it which causes a change to the vision – the holder of the vision has to be standing in the center of the vision in order to keep the vision clear.

When a consultant comes into a group to develop the vision, the consultant is often the best holder of the vision but she is often not part of the group – she leaves after her job is finished in developing the vision.  The vision is then given to someone to hold its clarity.

This transition from one vision-holder to another is where I see a natural and often debilitating break down of the vision.

Any lack of centeredness, or minor confusion or dissonance with the original vision-holder can begin to reverberate out and cause a distortion in the vision.  It’s like static electricity and how that can affect or distort your TV picture – sometimes eradicating it.

The holder of the vision must maintain a stabilization of the picture through their own being.  If that person is not wholly standing in the center of the vision, clearly, she will be thrown off by the many small differences of opinion regarding the meaning, intent, and description of the vision.

This spin-off can feel really disconcerting and the reaction of others toward the vision-holder can include feelings of anger and frustration.  This then, can derail into a negative set of interactions further degrading the vision – all as a result of normal static to the vision when the vision-holder is even slightly unclear or slightly unable to describe effectively the vision.

I suggest you practice creative visualization – creative inner picturing of what you would like to create in the future – individually first, before participating in a group or community visioning process.  In this way you can develop your skill at vision-holding: standing in the center of the vision.

If you would like to embark on a visioning process.  Start with developing a basic description of what you want to create, or where you want to be, or how you want to be described, in the future. You can do this with writing out goals or a description of what you want to create.  Make  a collage or drawing of the different aspects of how, what, where you want to be.

Then refine that through writing, evaluating and investigating it from all perspectives.

Keep the idea/picture close to you.  Do not share your idea/picture until you feel you are standing in the center of it and have a good handle on how to create it.  This allows you to remain in the center of the vision without being thrown off by others’ mis-perception or disagreement with you.

This can be a very educational process – have fun with it so that your joy can infuse the visioning process.  You can use focus on figure/ground, and paradigm shifting and mindfulness to help you in discovering and re-discovering the vision.

See you tomorrow.