Archive for August, 2015

Punishment Is Not Effective If Our Goal Is To Inspire Deep Qualities

August 31, 2015

Punishment Is Not Effective
Embracing a New Way of Parenting

Teaching good behaviour, caring behaviour and loving behaviour
through punishment is such a profound contradiction.

I look forward to the day that we all embrace
a collaborative, communicative and love based style of parenting.

Of course on the surface it seems like we’re teaching kids to do right
by making them afraid to do wrong,
but is that really the kind of adults we want to raise?
Adults who only do good on the surface so they can avoid punishment?

Do What Is Right For Its Own Sake

I prefer to create a world where people do what is good, right, just and loving
because they FEEL good, right, just and loving.
This cannot be taught with fear.

So many people advocate fear and pain as motivating principles
when dealing with children and this scares the crap out of me.

It is this kind of thinking that is causing the problems we see with kids.
It is not, as many people say, because we’re being too kind to them.

Respect Comes From Love

The appearance of respect born of fear is only skin deep.

When we think of creating a “well behaved child”
we totally miss the point of parenting.
Focusing on behaviour is superficial.
When you think of the qualities of really happy, fulfilled and successful adults
does “well behaved” come at the top of the list?

Hmmm… I think not.
I certainly hope not.

We Need To Create Powerful Inner Qualities

Let’s foster the qualities in children that we want them to have as adults.

Help them to be happy, healthy, self-loving,
self-confident, caring, creative
and powerful young people so that they will be
caring and powerful adults.

Clearly punishment is not an effective way to work with children
If our goal is to inspire these qualities.

Let’s use collaboration, communication and education.
Let’s lead by example and empower them to make their own decisions

The Balance Between Empathy And Responsibility

August 30, 2015

the balance between empathy and responsibility

We truly can never hurt another.
Everyone creates their own hurts
and their own joys

I create my own hurt
And my own joy

Knowing this I cannot take responsibility when someone else is hurt.
I also place the same responsibility upon myself

Avoid Blame – the Toxic Joy Killer

Both ways I avoid blame.
For when we blame ourselves for hurting others
it gives us unspoken permission to blame others for hurting us
Blame is an excellent way to avoid responsibility
And avoiding responsibility is a fantastic way to avoid change

For many years I held fast to the idea that I could not hurt another.
I worked very hard to give everyone responsibility for their own lives
And to take complete responsibility for my own feelings as well.

Allowing the Softness of Empathy into my Heart

Yet in the past decade or so of my development
I have felt that is too cold and distant a philosophy.
It is lacking in heart, it seems to dry and devoid of love.

So I allowed the feelings of empathy to re-awaken in me
I felt I had enough strength in the idea of independent responsibility
that I could allow myself to once again feel bad when I hurt someone
(or when I’ve participated in the process of them hurting themselves to be very accurate)

Honestly it feels better
Feels deeper
more connected
and loving

The difference is that I do it with the knowledge that they have really hurt themselves
And that I have really hurt myself.

I Feel Bad, But I Don’t Feel I Am Bad

This keeps me from feeling guilty
I feel bad, but I don’t feel I am bad
that is the great secret!

This is the power of the YinYang
to be able to hold opposite ideas at the SAME time

**You are completely responsible for your own pain**
and
**I’m sorry I hurt you.**

Still Working On Myself, Healing And Loving

And yet I blame of others and myself does creep in
For I am a work in progress.
I do have a feeling that “I am Bad.” at times

Here I do need some work
some healing
Give myself more love.

Isn’t more love always the answer to healing?
I rather think so.

Vulnerability and Softness is True Strength

I can’t allow other peoples issues with themselves
reflected/projected onto me
make me feel less than worthy
less than loved

The tricky balance for me is to feel this
without losing the softness of empathy and love
I’ve worked so hard to develop.

I don’t want to harden my heart in order to feel safe.
The more open and vulnerable I can be
The safer I am.

Some Vivek Style Relationship Advice for the New Wife and Husband

August 29, 2015

Some Vivek Style relationship advice
My Neice is getting married tomorrow.
Here is the letter I sent her and her new husband.
Sharing some of my ideas for an enduring relationship.

Be A Mirror

Reflect the good qualities of your partner to them at least once a day.
Reflect to them also what they need to improve upon when necessary.

Being an effective mirror is a great gift to each other.
In an intimate relationship we can often see each other more clearly than we see ourselves.
If we trust our partners we will receive their reflections with humility and grace.

In both the giving and receiving of these reflections
we lift ourselves and each other up on a daily basis.

Be The Moon

Just as the moon reflects the Sun and lights up the world at night
so can you reflect the light of the Divine in your partner’s life.
You can shine a light for them in their dark times.

This of course requires that you develop the connection to the Divine light within you.
For you can only shine the Light to the degree that you are able to access it yourself.

This leads perfectly into the next point

Devote Yourself To A Life Of Continuous Self-Improvement

If you can find something in yourself to celebrate every day
and if you can find something in yourself to change every day
then you are truly on the path of self-development.

By doing this you develop your inner world so that
what you are expressing and sharing with your partner
is constantly being elevated.

Imagine the wonder and joy if both of you are doing this on a daily basis.
There is no limit to how far you can lift yourself and help to lift the other.

Consciously embarking on the adventure of mutual growth
is one of the greatest opportunities in your lives.

Communicate

Effective communication is the cornerstone of harmonious interaction.
It is not always an easy task especially when emotions are involved,
but that is precisely when it becomes most necessary.

Learning to communicate well requires both the acquiring of specific skills
and developing a deep willingness.

Learning to listen deeply, express yourself honestly
and include compassion in the mix is a good start.

Like any skill it requires continuous practice to become proficient.
So make sure you take the opportunity to communicate deeply with each other as often as possible.

Don’t let things fester in your subconscious.
The residue it leaves in your heart is difficult to remove years down the road.
It is better to open yourself to your partner and share what is on your mind in the moment.

Sometimes the moment is too charged with emotion
so it might make sense to wait a bit until everyone is calm
before trying to have an intelligent conversation about a situation.

But really, waiting a few years just doesn’t work out well for anyone.

Take Responsibility

In every situation between two people
both play a part in what’s happening.
It makes sense to evaluate your part as honestly and objectively as possible.
If you are able to do this then you will greatly reduce blame in your relationship.

Blame is a toxic poison that will eat away at the intimacy between you.

Be quick to apologize when you are able to identify something
you have done that was less than optimal.

In other words; when you screw up say sorry.

The acknowledgment of your responsibility
can make a huge difference in how you are received
as you work to resolve any situation.

Romance Comes From Connection:
Spiritual, Emotional, Mental And Physical
(In That Order)

Try and always remember that it is the spiritual connection between you that will allow your relationship to endure.

Seek to deepen it every chance you get.
All the other levels of connection flow from this foundation.
If it is ignored you will soon feel its effects.

From the spiritual will flow the emotional, mental and physical connection between you.
Each of these of course needs maintenance in their own way.

Take time to nurture your emotional connection,
put effort into your mental, intellectual connection.
And of course celebrate the joy of your physical connection.
It is a wonderful reflection of your spiritual bond.

Never be too busy to look into each other’s eyes
and remember why you’re together.
And if you ever forget,
take the time to remind each other,
through your words, actions and your hearts.

Be your best and bring your best

All of this can be summed up in this simple saying.

Be your best and bring your best

In every relationship in your life,
this philosophy can be the guiding principle.

It works with friendship and family.
It is the most important thing to keep in mind as a parent.
It is also pivotal in a marriage.

Continuous effort and attention on yourself and your relationship
will create the most beautiful fragrance
in the ever blossoming flower of your romance.

I hope these words can be of some assistance to you
as you begin this new phase in your life,
this grand journey together.

Blessings to you,
Love,
Vivek

Preacher Boy to the Rescue!

August 28, 2015

Preacher boy to the rescue
Vivek The Travelling Monk

About 20 years ago I had nicknamed myself

“preacher boy”

Because I roamed around the country preaching my style of Spirituality
to anyone who would listen.

I talked loud
and charismatically
and emphatically
and often had crowds listen to me

The louder I talked
and the more people listened to me
the better I felt

Trying To Convince Myself

Now looking back I can see that I was trying to convince myself of things that I desperately wanted to believe, but wasn’t entirely sure that I did.

I just could not admit this to myself,
so I acted as if I believed them more than anyone.

Finding an Audience

Way back in 1995 I spent a couple of weeks in Nelson B.C.
At the time Nelson was a budding spiritual and arts community.
There were many people seeking spiritual knowledge
and it was a perfect time for me to be “preacher boy”.

I stayed at the youth hostel and interacted with many travellers there. I shared with them my ideas around spirituality and personal growth. I also went to Open Mic poetry readings and shared my writings and thoughts with a larger crowd.

After a few days people started to gather around me because they wanted to hear what I had to say. As the days went on more and more people were listening to me talk.

After a couple of weeks I had a whole group surrounding me and hanging of my every word.

2 Thoughts That Changed My Life

I can still remember a pivotal moment sitting on a couch in the lounge of the youth hostel with approximately 30 people sitting on the floor around me. They were listening to me talk and asking me questions.

As I looked at the faces of these people paying deep attention to me, the thought entered my mind that if I stayed here for a couple more months I could create a whole spiritual community with a center and followers.

Not even one second later another thought entered my mind with great force:
“You have to get the fuck out of here right away!”

Honestly I think in many ways that second thought probably saved my life,
at least my spiritual life.

I literally left the next morning.
People were absolutely in shock and pleading with me to stay,
but I said to them I just have no choice I have to go.

Recognizing The Reason I Study Spirituality

It’s not that what I was teaching was untrue in any way;
it’s just that the reason I study, learn and write about spirituality is because I want to develop. I want to lead a happier life. I want to heal. I want to be the best person that I can.
Not to create a centre or have followers.

In those days I was definitely trying to convince myself of these truths and also feeding off the admiration of others there is no way that would have gone well in the long run.

I No Longer Have The Need To Convince Others

Now I believe the things I used to preach more than I ever have before,
and while I enjoy sharing my thoughts and beliefs,
I no longer have the need nor desire to CONVINCE you
or manipulate you or simply overpower you into agreeing with me.

Of course sometimes those insecurities come back,
but I try my best to love myself and accept them.
I acknowledge that I’m on a long road with a destination
I respect the journey and acknowledge that I am where I am.

Celebrate Being Wrong

August 27, 2015

Celebrating Being Wrong
Be Open To Change

Perhaps if someone can argue long enough
they can convince themselves of the ‘truth’ they want to believe in.

Instead of engaging in an open minded and open hearted exploration of ideas
that MIGHT cause some change on their part.

I enjoy deep conversations because when I talk to others that have thought deeply
I run the risk that someone will find a hole in an idea I hold,
or share with me a perspective I have not thought of.

Then if the hole is serious then I can enjoy the great experience of change.
And if the new perspective is useful or challenging
I can evaluate it and add it to my own.

Change Is A Little Death

Something old has to die for the new to be born.
It can hurt.
This is why we often resist it.

It takes some practice to be able to embrace being wrong.
It also takes loving ourselves, for when we were young
being wrong was a bad thing.

Rarely are children celebrated for making mistakes
and yet those are the moments when the most learning and growth are possible

I Enjoy Being Wrong

After much work on myself I now enjoy being wrong.
Most of the time.
I like it because once I find out I’m wrong
and adopt a new perspective
it means my understanding is more accurate.

This can only benefit me.
Avoiding being wrong
and holding onto being right
does a disservice to my growth and happiness.

Peace

Respect For Authority Vs Fear Of Authority

August 26, 2015

Respect For Authority Vs Fear Of Authority

There is a difference between respect for authority and fear of authority.

This difference is very important to understand
both as an individual and as a parent.

Fear as a Motivator does not Teach Self-Awareness

Fear of authority has very little independence or critical thought connected to it. It arises from wanting to avoid the pain or punishment
that comes with rebelling against or disobeying authority. It puts us in our animal brain, fight, flight or freeze. It is not connected to values or respect.

Respect is Stable and Resilient

In contrast, respect for authority necessarily has critical thinking attached to it. We respect authority when it makes sense to do so. We respect people in positions of power when they have demonstrated qualities that make us want to trust them.

We are also always free to disobey the same authority when it no longer serves a positive purpose.

This is very important because our individuality is dependent upon
the ability to think, evaluate and make choices based on that evaluation.
If we follow blindly then we are no better than computers.

Don’t get me wrong I love computers!
I just prefer not to be one.

When I press a key on my computer it does not have a choice of whether or not to follow the program.
If I press A it will type A.

This is what fear of authority is like.
I do not want to have that kind of relationship with authority.

Nor do I want that for my child.

When they are faced with someone in a position of power telling them what to do, or a system of authority imposing a rule upon them, I want to empower children to evaluate the:
integrity,
ethics,
values,
justice and
compassion of the situation.
Then to make a conscious and well considered choice of whether or not to follow. Balancing emotion, logic, values and intuition we can be most effective in discerning what response is appropriate in a given situation.

This is a complex process of thought. It’s not something that can be taught by telling someone what is right and what is wrong. All that really teaches is what you think is right and wrong.

Building a respect for authority means respecting that people in certain positions have a responsibility to perform. Teachers, police, bosses etc. Yet they are also people, equal in every way to them. Equal in rights, equally deserving of respect and kindness. The person in authority is NOT deserving of more respect than my child, or any child, or any human, no matter what the context.

The concept that context and hierarchy have anything to do with worth or how deserving of respect we are is a dangerous one. It leads to all the ‘isms we face in society.

It is Empowering to Inspire Young People To Stand Up For What They Believe In

This makes me think of the situations like young women in high school complaining about the sexism of dress codes. Dress codes that are often in place because the adults in power have determined that when girls wear shorts, boys get distracted.

This is clearly the reason for these dress code and yet much backpedaling has occurred and redefinitions have happened to try and justify the measures these schools have taken.

dress code 1

dress code 2

Every time there is a post about this on FaceBook there are numerous people talking about respect for authority, how are kids going to learn if they don’t have to follow rules in school, it’s not really sexist it’s just about decency – and on and on.

Clearly these people have not studied the difference between respect for and fear of authority.

I Want My Child To Follow Her Heart, Even In The Face Of Adversity

If my child felt an injustice was occurring I would very much want her to follow her heart and speak out against it if that is what she felt called to do.

I want her to respect intelligent authority, sensible rules and be good part of a functioning community.
But this does not mean shutting off her mind and her good sense, her moral sense, ethical sense and her sense of justice.

In fact a functioning and hopefully evolving society
requires people who are evaluating the systems and situations they encounter.

I Encourage Her To Say NO To Me

So part of my parenting strategy has been to inspire my daughter to speak out when she feels something is wrong. This means that since I am the first authority she encounters then I must be willing to receive her criticism and actually encourage, it foster it and celebrate it.

This is so wildly opposite from the traditional mindset.
It took me a while even to convince myself of the benefits.

And yet every time I would think about it with a clear and rational mind,
with an open and loving heart
I realized this was the only way that I could treat my daughter with integrity.

Focus On Long Term Effects Rather Than Immediate Obedience

The reason for this is that the focus of my parenting has always been
to develop productive skills, attitudes and knowledge in her,
to enhance the power and confidence of her personality,
to help her feel self-love and have a positive self image.
For her to know that she has a place in the world
and that her opinion and thoughts matter.

When I focused on these things I soon realized that obedience, manners and generally the traditional idea of a well-behaved child is not terribly desirable.

So when my daughter said NO to me I never pushed back
(well almost never).

I encouraged her to share her thought process and feelings with me when she wanted to do her own thing, to follow her own direction, and then I always honoured it.

Just for those who are inclined to ask – no this does not include when she’s going to touch the stove, run out into traffic or eat poison! The Holy Trinity of the unthinking, reactive argument to positive, conscious parenting.

An Atmosphere Of Freedom Produces Natural Goodness And Authenticity

The wonderful thing is that, even though my daughter does have that sense of her place in the world, even though she knows that I respect it when she says NO and even though she was never forced to be polite and obedient, she is one of the nicest, sweetest and easiest people to get along with.

Part of the reason for this is that she has nothing to prove for she knows who she is.
This is the greatest gift that I could have given her,
given to myself and honestly given to the world.

Conscious Parenting Can Save The Planet

Just one person that knows themselves and loves themselves is a treasure for our planet.
Imagine if we revolutionized how we parent and brought forth a generation of people like this.

Guaranteed our world would soon transform.
Conscious parenting is not just about this one moment,
it’s not just about one child,
but in a way it is truly about the future of humanity.

That may sound grandiose,
but I deeply believe it is the truth.

There Is Divinity In The Young

August 25, 2015

what is it like where you just came from
There Is Divinity In The Young

They haven’t made the transition completely from where we came from
to this crazy place we call normal.
So they still have residue of the Divine vibration.
That’s part of what enchants us so about them.

We can feel our authentic selves in their eyes and smiles.
In their innocence is a wisdom we crave.
In their outspokenness is an honesty we’ve forgotten.

Learning From The Wisdom Of A Newborn

My niece is now 5 years old and as cute as can be.
From the time she was born we were best friends.
I first met her when she was just 12 hours old.

I held her in my arms and asked her
“What do you remember?”
and she asked me
“Where the heck am I?”

I asked her this every time I had her in my arms.
As did she.
We did our best to answer each other.

I don’t think many people in her life will talk to her like that,
nor listen to her like that.

Becoming Human From Pure Spirit is a Difficult Transition

I told her to make the transition as carefully and kindly as she is able.
To try and retain as much the memory and feeling of who she is.

I asked her to teach me what she can about my own transition.
What is it like where you just came from?
She told me I’m limitless and free under all this skin.

Now that she’s older I still ask her these questions
And still offer her supportive comfort for her transition
I just do it undercover.
(like a Ninja)

Deep Recognition of Profound Wisdom

One of the reasons that babies respond so deeply to me
is because they can feel how I respect their wisdom.
I learn from them in every moment.

There is a knowledge they have
that I can only dream of.

My Daughter, My Teacher

That’s how I was with my kid as well.
My great teacher, my learning partner.

Having this level of respect for her has also resulted
in her being my best friend.

Sugar is meant to be played with – part 2 – I forgot the picture!

August 25, 2015

Hello friends,

Yesterday I wrote about making sugar art on the table at the pizza place.
It was a way for me to express the play that another child was being denied.

After posting it I realized I forgot to include the picture of the sugar art I created.
So I’m posting it now to share with you.

sugar art

Sugar Is Meant To Be Played With, Not Eaten – or – We Teach More By Who We Are Than What We Say

August 24, 2015

sugar is meant to be played with
Where did we get the idea that it is our responsibility as parents to program the minds of our children through lectures, punishment, guilt and other coercive techniques?

Collaborative Learning Produces Deep Results

It’s much better to engage in collaborative learning with our children. It is more effective to lead them to their own learning and allow them to draw their own conclusions. When kids learn from reflecting upon their own experience, what they learn goes deep inside and can last a lifetime.

When we teach this way we are doing a double service to our children.

First we are teaching them values in a way
that integrates them into their whole being
and not just parroting what they are told.

Second we are actually teaching them the skill and art of
analysis, reflection and critical thinking.
This they can apply to any situation in their lives.

A Parenting Lesson at the Pizza Parlour

The other day I was with some friends at a restaurant and a father a few tables away was giving his maybe 5 year old son a lecture. The lecture went something like this:

“Don’t play with the sugar packets.
Sugar packets in restaurants are not for playing they are for using in drinks.
How would you feel if you needed some sugar and there wasn’t any
because some kid was playing with them before?
I’ll tell you how you would feel you would feel very bad.
This is what you are doing to someone else.
Do you really want to make someone else feel bad
because you played with the sugar packets?”

It went on in this fashion for a while.

I could literally feel the child’s spirit shrinking as the father spoke.
I could also feel him learning the opposite lesson from what his father was intending.

Set a Good Example of The Values You Want To Teach

I’m sure the dad wanted him to learn to think of others, to be considerate and respectful.
The problem is he was not doing those very things as he was talking to his child.

He was actually being disrespectful to his child
and not thinking of his feelings.
So this is the example his child was receiving.
The words themselves do not hold as much weight
as the actions he was performing at that time.

Let the Kid Play!

On top of that, I believe the father was dead wrong!
I think of sugar packets are equally for play as for food.
In fact playing with sugar is a lot more healthy than ingesting it.

Of course there is a part of me that wanted to go and talk to this man.
I wanted to explain to him that he was alienating his child
and not actually teaching the lessons he thought he was teaching.

He Was Creating Distance Between Them That Will Last a Lifetime

I wanted to tell him that he is putting a distance between him and his son that he may not see right now, but when his son is a bit older he will certainly feel. Then he will wonder why his kid acts so disrespectfully and doesn’t listen to what he said. He learned it from you Pops.

It is interesting what a mystery teenagers are to their parents though.
They don’t realize they have had a huge hand in making them the way they are.

I also know well enough that it would be useless for me to do that
and probably even harmful to the child.
So I stayed put.

I Was So Full Of Emotion I Couldn’t Stand It

I could not shake the emotions I was feeling though.
I felt for this young person who was being told
his natural inclination to play with his environment was wrong.
The frustration was building up inside me
until I couldn’t take it anymore,
I had to do something.

Sugar IS Meant To Be Played With

So I reached for a sugar packet,
opened it and dumped the contents all over the table.

YES!

I then proceeded to play with the sugar and created a lovely design.
I took a picture of it so I could share it with you.

sugar art

Sending a Message of Acceptance and Love

As I was making this “Sugar Art” I was sending the young boy love and healing energy.
I was sending him the message that

‘It’s OK to play, it’s wonderful to play, and even necessary to play.’

I was sending him the message that
his intuitive understanding of the world was correct.
His parents version of the world,
created by their own pain and life experience,
is actually less accurate.

I really believe that in some way he received this message.
I believe we are all connected
and that every thought we think,
and every act we perform has an effect on others.

Playing with that sugar packet helped me to lighten my load a little.
I was able to bring my attention back to my friends
and enjoy interacting with them for the rest of the meal.

Conscious Parenting Requires Deep Thinking And Feeling

It really is a worthwhile endeavour to think deeply about
what values you want to impart to your children
and also what is the most effective way to do so.

We Teach More By Who We Are Than What We Say

I maintain that the example we set through the way we behave,
the intent behind our words, thoughts and actions,
and really the very kind of people that we are
has more of an effect on our kids then any lecture we can give them.

Therefore when thinking about the lessons you want to teach your kids,
and thinking about the kind of people you want them to be
it makes sense to think about the kind of person you yourself are.
It makes sense to be continuously working on the kind of person that you are.

It also makes sense to teach them the lessons of life experientially.
Help them to learn from their own experiences and draw their own conclusions.

See The One Within The Many

August 23, 2015

See The One Within The Many
Water, Fire, Earth, Plants, Stars…

and Me sitting in the middle of it all.
Hands folded
Offering a silent prayer of gratitude
to have been included in this drama of creation

Beloved Divine,
grant me the sight to see the One within the many
and within myself

My blindness is my only disease
Cure me and I will soar through the cosmos

Peace