Archive for November, 2015

Speaking Words of Love and Validation

November 30, 2015


Speaking Words of Love and Validation

My 9 year old teacher

I spent time with a nine year old this evening. What a joy!

This young person and I are good friends.
We care about and respect each other very much.

She has an amazing energy about her.
When I interact with her I can see
how deeply she feels things.
She is a very loving young person
with a bright smile and a joyous laugh.

My friend the Firecracker

She is also very high energy.
It is rare that she is not jumping up on something
or running across the room.
I love how wild and fun her energy is.

Her dad is an awesome guy

I also love the fact that
her dad never discourages her from expressing herself
unless she’s about to be a danger to herself or someone else.

They have a very lovely relationship.
It’s always a pleasure for me to
witness the two of them together.

Feeling Sad

When our time together was over and she was getting ready to leave
she became a little sad because it might be
a month before we see each other again.

Speaking Words of Love and Validation

She came over to me feeling a little down,
I put my arms around her and held her close.
I started to speak loving words to her.

“I know life can be hard and you are
going through a difficult time right now.
I am sorry for that my dear.

At the same time I know you are
a very powerful person.
You have a deep and loving heart,
you have an incredibly intelligent mind and
you have a wonderfully creative and capable body.

I know how strong you are my dear
and I know that you’re going to be ok.
I think you are a wonderful and amazing young girl
and I love you very much.”

Soaking it up like a sponge

As I was speaking this to her
she just melted into me.
She became very still and was
focused on taking it all in.

There was a group of people around and
all of them became still as well.

I think we could all feel how deeply the love and validation
was going into her and how important it was.

I myself was deeply affected by that moment

Partly because it is always an honour
to be able to give love to somebody in need.

We all have a desire for this kind of love and validation

Also because it has made me think about
the deep desire in each of us
to receive that kind of love, admiration and validation.

I have been feeling into my own self about this.
I can feel the empty space inside of me
that wants to be filled with recognition of who I am.

I know that even though my mother did her best
to make me believe in myself
she was working against a great amount of opposition.

You’re just not good enough Vivek

I can still feel the wounds inside
from years and years of being told in one way or another
that I didn’t quite measure up.

Even as I’m writing this I remember an incident from my childhood

I was probably eight or nine years old myself.
I was playing outside and
experimenting with how fast I could run
keeping my arms at my side.

My mom was encouraging me in this and
I was feeling really good about myself
as I explored how my young body worked.

At some point my dad came over and started saying
that I should be pumping my arms when I run if I want to run fast.

As soon as he said that I felt deflated.

I remember my mom countering with:

“He’s running pretty fast even with his arms down like that.”

At that moment I remember my mood perking up a little bit.

Then my dad came back with “Yes, but he’s not running as fast as he could if he pumped his arms.”

Forming a limited self-image

And that moment I just gave up and stopped running.
The joy was taken out of the experience.
I know at that moment I lost the connection
to the joy of my physical body and
formed a self-image that I couldn’t run.

Now that I think about it this image of
being not physically capable
followed me for most of my young life.

That belief was never the real me

Now I am a martial artist,
martial art teacher and a dancer.

I lead an extremely physical life and
I’m reasonably talented at what I do.

I believe that ability was always in me,
but for most of my young life
I simply didn’t believe it was possible.

I have many limiting self-concepts

I know there are many other areas in which
I do not believe in myself.
Where I do not see the real potential that I have.

I must speak kind and loving words to myself

Part of my journey of self development
is to speak the same kind, loving and validating words
to myself that I spoke to
my young friend earlier this evening.

Every time I do I can feel myself healing a little more.
I can feel the armor that has
been built around my heart
cracking a little more and letting the light in,
or is it letting the light out?

Tearing up in the Timmy’s

It’s so funny, I’m sitting in the Tim Hortons
and tearing up as I’m writing this.
It’s full of young people hanging out!

I wonder what they think of this old guy
with tears in his eyes
speaking into his phone.

Every one of them needs this love to pierce their armor

I wish all of them could read this blog I am writing
because as I look around I can see in their eyes
that they would also love to have
validation and encouragement spoken to them.

I can also see the armor that has been
built up around their hearts
because of how life has treated them.

Never waste the opportunity to lift someone up

So I encourage you, every time you have the opportunity
to speak encouragement and validation to a young person,
make the most of it.

Let them know that you believe in them,
that you see wonderful things in them,
that you admire their qualities and their efforts.

Don’t forget to speak words of love to yourself as well

Of course, the way these things go,
the more you believe it about yourself
the more authentically you will be able to
express it to others and help them
to believe it about themselves.

Life really does flow from the inside out.

Pain is a Yin Yang Kind of Thing

November 29, 2015


Pain is a yin yang kind of thing

Pain can either be a
transformative force in our lives
or it can be a destructive one.

Often it is a bit of both.

Much of it is dependent upon
how we perceive and interact with our pain.

Different reactions to pain

For some people pain ends up being something that keeps dragging them down.

There are other people who will experience
a very similar type of pain
and yet it seems to stir something in them to change.

We are all right where we need to be

I am NOT judging one or the other particularly
because I believe everyone is at their own place on the path
and we all need different things at different times.

I do think though there are times when
we can choose our perspective and our interaction with pain.

The more we realize and take advantage of this choice
the more our quality of life can improve.

In a totally unexpected turn of events I will relate this concept to parenting

Everyone of us makes mistakes with our kids.
We all do things to hurt them and
we know they will carry those wounds with them
everywhere they go
for the rest of their lives.

Processing the pain

When this happens to me I engage in
two separate processes at the same time.

First, Love and Healing

It definitely hurts me when I know
I have caused my daughter pain.
Therefore the first thing I do is to
love and forgive myself.

I do not want beat myself up and condemn myself over it.

Take it out on other people

If I end up not liking myself because I made a mistake
I take out my negative feelings
on my child and everyone I interact with in some way.

The final result being I make myself feel bad
and everyone else too.
Not a very efficient system.

Feel the Burn

The second part of this is to  acknowledge
what I have done wrong and
do my best to learn from it.

Part of this process is to
allow myself to deeply feel the pain, remorse and
regret burning in my chest and stomach.

I do not push that pain away.
I do not try and avoid feeling bad
about hurting my daughter

The Pain Drives Me

I let that pain into me and feel it fully because
it supplies tremendous energy to motivate me to change.

Combine the opposites

It is in combining the two approaches:

1. deeply loving and forgiving myself


2. feeling the pain without avoidance or resistance

and pointing them both towards
having a determination to change,
that true holistic progress can be made.

Imbalance invites avoidance

I have found that when one or the other is stressed more
it is usually for the purpose of
avoiding the change that is required.

If I do the work to forgive and accept myself,
but I do it to avoid feeling the pain
rather than accepting the pain
then when I say something like

“I’m not going to feel bad for what I did.”
the subtext is
“so that I can continue acting the same way
without making a deep effort to change.”

Imbalanced Pain Paralyzes Action

On the other hand if I feel the pain,
even with the intense desire to change,
but I do not do the work on forgiving and loving myself
then I will be too deeply affected by the pain
and feeling bad about myself
to make real change.

Evolution is accelerated when we combine seemingly opposing approaches

When we love ourselves
and feel the pain at the same time
we can enjoy real progress.

This leads to continuous evolution as a parent.

The evolving parent

I often say it is important for us
not to think of ourselves as bad parents
nor to think we are perfect parents,
but to recognize ourselves as evolving parents.

Evolving means we can accept ourselves
where we are, as we are
and at the same time we can strive for something deeper.

Peering beneath the mask

November 28, 2015


Peering beneath the mask

I know that as I walk through the world
I wear a certain mask of personality.
There is a particular face that I show the world.
There is a deeper self that I
show to close friends and family.
There is also a large part of who I am
that no one else ever gets to see.

The desire to be seen is powerful

There is a part of me that wishes I could
expose my true and complete self
to everyone all the time.

I would like to feel that I am unconditionally accepted
and loved for all the parts of me.

The joy,
the anger,
the pain
and the love.

I have been hurt and so I trust less

The problem is I simply do not trust
that this will be the case.
In fact I have a mountain of evidence
that demonstrates this is not true.

There have been many times
when I have exposed more of my true self than usual
to people and been hurt as a result of it.

This causes me to close down,
protect myself and share less of
who I am with the world.

It also causes me to want to be around people less and be alone more.

I have a deep desire for connection with people

Yet I long for deep and fulfilling relationships.

I ache to be seen for who I am
and to be truly understood.

I want to connect with people in a profound way
and share experiences,
share our struggles
and open my heart.

This will require me to find a way to stay open
even when I am hurt or rejected.
It means being willing to trust again
even after being hurt.
It means taking the chance that
there will be people who can accept all of me.

Staying open is terribly frightening and requires great effort

This is not something that will come easily because
my instinct is to protect my soft and vulnerable heart.

I know that in protecting it,
or at least over protecting it
I am actually denying it
its deepest fulfillment.

I am seeking joy and ecstasy

There is great joy in connecting with other people.
There is an ecstasy that deep relationships can bring.

If I want to allow this joy and ecstasy into my life
I must have courage.
It will take courage to
lay myself open and
let people see beneath my mask.

A deep process requires a deep patience

I know it will take time to reveal myself more and more.
I will have patience as I go through this process
because I know that the more open and
exposed I am to the world
and especially to the people in my life,
the more opportunity there is for connection and depth.

And I desperately want connection and depth.
So I shall keep plugging away.

Personal growth really is a never ending path.

It is also a never-ending battle
and a never-ending party!

The 4 Categories of Teaching by Example

November 27, 2015

The 4 Categories of teaching by example
Teaching by Example is a Deep Subject

I have written a lot about teaching by example.
It is the most powerful way we can educate and inspire our kids.

If we want to impart certain values, qualities and attitudes to them
they will pick these up more from what we do
than from anything we might say.

In thinking deeply about teaching by example
we can see that it is actually quite an involved activity.

Over the next little while I will write a few blog posts
that address this issue because
I would like to share what I have learned about it.

One of the main things
that children learn by observing us
is how to treat people.

There are four main categories to this important skill.

1. How you treat yourself.
2. How you treat your kids.
3. In a more than single parent family, how you treat each other.
4. How you treat others outside the family.

1. Treat Yourself Well

I put how you treat yourself first
because our children can feel
the relationship we have with ourselves.

If we are very loving, kind and patient with ourselves
they quickly learn to treat themselves this way as well.

If we eat well, meditate and do things that we love
and if our kids witness this on a consistent basis,
they grow up with this very positive model
for how they should treat themselves.

If on the other hand we are overly critical with ourselves,
if we put ourselves down
and ignore our own needs
this then is the legacy of self-treatment
that we pass on to our kids.

Therefore it is worth the time and effort it takes
to really be good to yourself,
to do a lot of inner work,
including healing old wounds and trauma.

2. Treat Your Kids With An Uncommon Level Of Kindness And Respect

How we treat our kids is the most obvious of the four categories.

When we treat them with kindness, patience and respect
They learn that this is how they
deserve to be treated and also how to treat others.

If they are used to being treated with respect
it is a natural extension to treat others this way as well.

If you want more detail about different ways
to treat your kids with more and more respect
you can pretty much browse through any of my blog posts
as I have written pages and pages about this over the past year.

Here is a good one to get you started

3. How You Treat Your Partner Sets The Tone For Your Children’s Future Relationships

The most consistent interaction our kids will witness,
especially in the early years, is with our partners.

The way you treat each other informs them
on the nature of adult relationships.

This is where learning to communicate well,
listen deeply,
have compassion and
respecting each other’s perspectives
becomes so vitally important.

4. Treat Everyone With The Respect You Want Reflected In Your Home

Finally the way we treat other people
outside the family has a profound impact upon our kids.

How do you treat strangers?
How do you treat people at work?
How do you treat the cashier at the grocery store?
How do you treat other members
of your family and your friends?

All of these are opportunities to
teach powerful qualities and positive relationship patterns.

Harmonize The Four Categories

Once we are aware of these four categories
we can then put work into each of them.
The best that we can offer our kids is
when there is a harmony in all four of these interactions.

If the way you treat yourself reflects how you treat your kids
and the way you treat your kids reflects how you treat your partner
and the way you treat your partner reflects how you treat strangers
then the message your kids receive is consistent.

It’s Especially Hard To Be Kind And Loving To Ourselves

For many people being equally loving and compassionate
to themselves as they are to others is very difficult.

Yet when we are able to be extremely loving and kind
to ourselves, that love will leak out all over the place.

Take a Personal Inventory

So take the time to review the four categories in your life.
Look deeply at where they are consistent or inconsistent
with each other,
with your core values
and with the values you wish to impart to your children.

Then think about how you can
increase the level of consistency across the board.

Achieving Inner Harmony and Consistency is a Full-Time Occupation

This is not something you will achieve instantly
just by thinking about it,
it really is a lifelong effort.
It is a full time project.

Just by engaging in the project however
you will uplift yourself,
uplift your family and
everyone with whom you interact.

A Little Connection Goes A Long Way

November 26, 2015

A Little Connection Goes A Long Way
Meeting Grumpy and Sorry at the No-Frills

I was standing at the checkout line in no-frills
waiting to pay for my groceries.
There was a mother with her 10 year old boy in line behind me
and a few other people behind them.

The boy was looking very morose and grumpy.
He had his face in his hands and was
staring at the screen of his portable DVD player.

An Apologetic Mother

His mother was apologizing to the crowd that was around
saying that she only bought him this player because
she is on the road a lot and needs to keep him quiet.

She seemed very apologetic and almost embarrassed
by her child being so engrossed in his video
and also because of his surly mood.

Here Comes the Stomach Punch

I think at some point the kid must have had enough
of her apologies and he lifted himself up off
the conveyor belt that he was leaning on and
punched his mother full force in the stomach.

Now keep in mind this is not a three year old punching,
it is a 10 year old and that is going to hurt.

I’m guessing this is not the first time this is happened
because she seemed ready for it and kind of jumped out of the way.
The punch just glanced off of her
and I don’t think she was too badly hurt.

Back To Business As Usual

He then turned around and sank his face
back down into his DVD player ignoring everybody.

I think the crowd was kind of in shock at this
odd display of aggression and violence.
Everyone averted their eyes or looked down at their phones.

To her credit the mother did not get angry or yell at the boy.
She did however resume apologizing to anyone who would listen.
The whole thing was quite a spectacle.

Initiating Connection

As the mother and I were each bagging our groceries
I ended up standing next to the kid.

Now in a situation like this
I just cannot resist interfering
if I have the option to do it in a
respectful and safe way.

So I turned to the young man and asked him
what was he watching?
At first he just grunted at me,
but I asked him again saying that I really liked
his DVD player and was interested in what he was watching.

My Sincerity Came Through

He kind of looked at me and I think at that moment
he could feel my sincerity and genuine interest.
Suddenly his eyes lit up and
he started telling me all about his show.

Then he started telling me about the DVD player
and how much he liked it.
He told me where he bought it,
how much it cost and
he encouraged me to get the extended warranty
if I ever buy one myself.

He was showing off a bit that he managed to get
four different DVD players when something
went wrong because of the warranty.

Thirsty for Connection

It really only took a moment of non-judgemental,
genuine connection for him to open up to me.

I could tell he was aching for attention.
He wanted someone to see how special he was.
He was deeply nourished by the experience
and his armour cracked open at the slightest prodding.

He Wanted To Involve His Mom In The Connection

When his mom noticed us talking she came over.
He started telling her to tell me more details about the warranty.
(He really loved that warranty!)

She was quite shocked to see him suddenly
in such a good mood and I’m guessing she didn’t
want to waste it so she did.
I got the whole lowdown on this wonderful warranty.

The two of them then walked out of the store
and I watched them make their way to the car.
She had her hand around his shoulders
and they were laughing and chatting.
It seemed like both of their moods were transformed.

Kids Want Harmony

Young people do not want to be
in conflict with their parents.
They want harmony, connection and love.

In many ways we force them into situations
where are they feel like they have to be
aggressive in order to protect themselves.

A Little Effort Can Produce Dramatic Results

This example in the No-Frills really highlighted for me
how little effort is required to deeply connect
with kids and open their hearts.

If you are having struggles with your young people
and it feels like there’s a disconnect between you
try to keep this in mind.

Try focusing on building connection
through acceptance and validation
rather than being concerned about controlling their behaviour.

The Challenge of Change

This simple and very difficult change in focus
can produce miraculous results.

A shift in priority is not easy because
we must be continuously re-evaluating
our thoughts words and actions.

If we can do this however, we are making a big step
towards transforming our relationship with our children.

Writing the Story of Your Life – The Ten Year Rule

November 25, 2015

writing the story of your life

Writing the Story of Your Life – The Ten Year Rule

The Black Belt Test

A number of years ago I was helping my friend Jason
prepare for his black belt test.

It was a very intensely physical and mental experience.
We spend a few months working on all of his techniques to get him ready.

The Obstacle Appears (as it always does)

On the day of his test he had a severe headache
and could hardly keep his eyes open from the pain.
He came to me and asked me if I had
a Tylenol to take the edge off the pain.

Do I Take The Blue Pill Or The Red Pill?

When he had the pill in his hand
he suddenly started to question if
he really wanted to take it or not.

He was wondering if he should persevere through the pain
or lessen the headache so that he could perform better on his test.

He asked me for my opinion and I told him
that I couldn’t make that decision for him.
What I could do is share with him
how I often make decisions in situations like this myself.

The Ten Year Rule

What I will do is employ what I call the 10 year rule.

I picture myself 10 years from now
telling the story of this moment and
I imagine what I want the story to sound like.
What kind of story will be the most fulfilling for me to tell?

Usually the answer is quite clear to me when I do this.

Obviously this approach doesn’t apply in all circumstances.
It could probably work against you in some situations!

I Know What I Have To Do

When I told him about the 10 year rule
he looked me in the eye and said:
“I know what I have to do.”

To this day I don’t know
if he took that pill or not.
I honestly didn’t have a preference
for which decision he made.

I just wanted him to make the one that
was the most authentic for him in that moment.

I could see by the look on his face that he did.

We Write Our Own Stories

I do find however that seeing my life as a story
that I myself am writing helps me to make decisions
and feel a sense of creative control.

What kind of story do I want to write?
What kind of life do I want the main character to have?
What kind of ending am I hoping for?

In all aspects of my life,
artistic pursuits,
and professional experiences
I am writing the story.

I Want To Write an Inspiring Story

When I look back upon all of this
I want to feel it has been a good and worthy story.

Hopefully a story that also helps and inspires others
to write glorious tales of their own lives.

Undercover Empathy

November 24, 2015

Undercover Empathy

Empathy takes many forms

I had a beautiful opportunity to
offer empathy to my daughter yesterday.

Empathy takes many forms and can be
expressed in many different ways.
It is a powerful force and when used well
can heal wounds,
bridge distances
and ease tension.

Empathy does not always mean saying something like:
“I hear that you are angry and I acknowledge your pain.”

Reflect And Connect

Sometimes this is the right approach,
but it is only the basic level of empathy.
There are many ways to reflect and connect emotionally
and experientially with people.

It takes time and practice

Like with any form of communication
or interpersonal relationship skills
it takes time and practice to make them natural.

Many people back away from these type of things
feeling like they are artificial, but really all skills are artificial at first
until we attain a certain level of proficiency.

Have patience

So have patience with yourself
as you work on this important skill.
Don’t give up even when it feels awkward,
keep practicing because it can make
a huge difference in your relationship with your children.

Let me tell you what happened yesterday as an example.

If you know me or if you have been reading my blog
you are aware that I am a martial arts teacher.

My daughter the ninja

I have been teaching my daughter martial arts
pretty much from the day she was born.
She’s very skilled and very tough.

Often when I am preparing for a class
I will use her as my training partner to practice.
Yesterday I was doing a technique from one of the ancient scrolls
and it required me to strike in a particular place
on the body that causes great pain.

My daughter doesn’t really mind getting hit,
being a seasoned martial artist it’s natural for her.

You hit your daughter?

I find it funny when I write something like that
because I am so adamantly against spanking
or corporal punishment of any kind,
really I am against punishment of every kind,
and yet I talk about hitting my daughter.

In the context of martial arts it is fun and educational!

Respecting my daughter’s sensitivity

So with this particular technique the place I need to strike
is a place that she has a particular sensitivity about.

For some reason she does not like to be hit there,
she does not even like to be touched
on this particular nerve point.

So what I do is I just pick another point
that is close to it but
where she doesn’t have that sensitivity
and it’s not a problem for her.

We Always Have Fun When We Train Together

So we got through the whole training session
without an issue which is always lovely.
We laugh and laugh while we’re training because it’s a lot of fun.

Feeling Judged

After it was over I asked her:
“Do you still have that sensitivity just as strong as always?”

She told me that she is still sensitive there.
As she said this I could see a glimmer in her eyes
and a slight change in her expression
that made me feel like she felt
I might have been judging her
or disapproving of her
for still having that sensitivity.

Nothing could be further than the truth of course.
I know that these kind of things get into our subconscious
and aren’t easy to change.
In fact some of them last for a lifetime
and that’s just the way it is.

I wanted her to know I wasn’t judging her

It certainly isn’t something to feel bad about
and I wanted her to know that.
The thing is I knew if I just came out and told her that
it wouldn’t really have a deep effect.

She might not even have been aware
that she was feeling judged.
It is also possible that she judges herself
for that particular thing
and that feeling was reflected
when I questioned her about it.

Undercover Empathy

So in response I started to talk about
the idea of these kind of sensitivities in general
and then shared my own experience with it.

I said:
“Isn’t the mind and body such an interesting thing?
I find it so fascinating how we can all get
these kind of sensitivities.
Sometimes we know why, sometimes we don’t.

It’s like me with how creeped out I get
when people scrape a fork across a plate.

I have to tell everybody around me not to do it
because it just sends pins and needles
up and down my spine and I just can’t take it.

Or it’s like how I can’t watch anything
that has first person video on it
because of watching The Blair Witch Project.
It makes me dizzy and nauseous and
I always have to close my eyes even if it’s just for a second.

I guess we all have these kind of sensitivities
and it’s just something that is part of life,
part of being human.”

Then I asked her:
“I wonder why I have such a strong
sensitivity to this fork on plate thing?”

Helping Her To Feel Accepted

She already knows both of these sensitivities that I have
because they come up all the time.
She does her best to be caring about them
and occasionally encourages me to work on them.

Bringing them up in the context of her own sensitivity
made her feel I could relate to her experience
and also normalized it because she could feel
how I was accepting myself and her at the same time.

Asking Her To Think About Me Encouraged Her To Think Of Herself

When I asked the question about
why I had the sensitivity of the fork on plate
she replied saying that probably I had some kind of
bad experience with that sound when I was younger
and it has a negative association now.

Asking her about my own sensitivity
was a way of getting her to reflect on her own
and this also added to her understanding and acceptance of herself.

Sneaking in Past Her Defenses

In talking about myself and the concept in general
without actually telling her I was trying to connect with her
and offer her empathy, she received this acceptance and
understanding from me with no defense.

It made her feel understood,
it made her feel like we were the same,
and that it was a natural experience.

I could immediately see the tension wash away from her
and in fact she felt better about it then she had before.

All Skills Are Awkward In The Beginning

When I first started to work with empathy
it was definitely more awkward and obvious.
With practice, like with any skill, I have gotten better at it
and found more subtle ways to express it.

Sometimes the more blunt and obvious way
is still necessary and appropriate,
but it is good to also have a wide range of ways to express empathy.

I Encourage you to look for moments
when your kids might feel that you are judging them
or setting yourself apart from them in some way
and find ways to help them feel connected and accepted.

I hope this example of my experience can help you with this.

The Disconcerting Deliciousness of Not Knowing

November 23, 2015

The Disconcerting Deliciousness of Not Knowing

Martial Arts and Dancing

I am a martial artist and a dancer.
I have being dancing for approximately 10 years,
doing martial arts for almost 30 years and teaching for over 10.

I am certainly not an expert in either but
I am reasonably skilled in both.

Even though both movement forms are very similar
I am able to keep them quite separate and distinct.

When I do martial arts I am not tempted
to twirl my opponents around in a dance like fashion.
When I am dancing I am similarly not tempted
to break people’s arms or poke them in the eye.

It Can Be Hard To Keep Them Separate

Often when I dance with martial artists
they express to me how difficult it is for them
to keep the two separate and they have to think quite consciously
so that they don’t suddenly throw somebody
or put them in a lock of some sort.

I seem to be able to keep the two separate quite easily.
Whichever art form I am practicing at the time
I have learned to be fully present in.

An Interesting Question

This morning one of my dance friends ask me
how I’m able to keep the two related but different
movement forms separate and distinct.

I gave her an answer,
then I reflected on it and realized
it wasn’t quite right.

Then I gave her another answer which felt deeper,
but then realized that it also wasn’t quite accurate.

So then I sat with it for a few minutes
trying to figure out the honest answer to this question.

I Don’t Know

At a certain point I realized that I actually
didn’t know the answer to the question.
I told her that I would have to sit with it for a time
and see if I could figure it out.

I could have been tempted to be satisfied with
the first couple of answers because
they were reasonable and sounded good.

However I knew that they were not
entirely the truth so I wanted to dig deeper.

Even now as I’m writing this post I do not know
the answer to that question.
I do not know why I am able to keep the two
movement forms separate or how I learned to do so.

Disconcerting And Delicious

The feeling of not knowing is quite an interesting thing.
It can be both disconcerting and delicious at the same time.

Not Knowing Can Feel Like Failure

We are young we are often made to feel less worthy
when we don’t know something or when we are wrong.

Certainly the entire school system is built
to make us feel less worthy
when we don’t know something.

This is where the disconcerting feeling comes from.
I have noticed that often people will run from
this feeling of not knowing.
It doesn’t feel good to not know
because of the context we have been given
for this feeling through our upbringing.

There Is Infinite Potential In Not Knowing

The delicious part of not knowing something
is the feeling of potential.

There is an openness and emptiness
that exists in the mind when we do not know something.
This is like an empty canvas waiting to receive a work of art.

So much learning and growth is available to us
if we can sit comfortably in the feeling
of not knowing something.

That same growth is inhibited when
we avoid the emptiness and openness of not knowing.

In order to become more comfortable with this feeling
there are two major changes that we must make within ourselves.

Healing Inner Wounds Makes Us More Comfortable With Not Knowing

The first one is to heal the wounds inside of us that were given to us in our youth and childhood around not knowing. This means retraining our mind to enjoy the experience by celebrating the moments when we do not know. To celebrate and enjoy something reframes it from a negative to a positive.

Doing this consistently will make a difference in our experience.
It will take time because any inner change
requires a certain amount of repetition before it takes hold.

Don’t be concerned with what others think

The second is learn not to be concerned about
how others will perceive us in our ignorance.

When I’m teaching my martial arts class
if I do not know the answer to a question
I will always simply say that I don’t know.

I’ve seen many other teachers create answers on the spot
that sound good when the truth is they don’t really know.

They are concerned about what their students will think of them
if they admit they are lacking in certain piece of information
or that there are things they just don’t understand.

People Will Respect Your Honesty

I have found that most people are inclined
to respect me for that honesty.
It also helps them to trust when I say
I do know something because
they know it is not coming from a place of
trying to appear knowledgeable,
but it is coming from a genuine desire to help them.

Love and Acceptance are Key

When we can love ourselves and accept ourselves enough
to sit with our ignorance and not be concerned
with how other people will receive us
we can learn and grow so much more
than we would otherwise be able to.

Meditation is a Sword

November 22, 2015


Parenting is an all-consuming project

Parenting is an activity that requires us
to involve every aspect of our being.

It is mental, emotional, physical
and deeply spiritual experience.

It is ecstatic and challenging at the same time.

It can test us to our very core
and lift us up higher than we knew was possible.
Navigating all of this is truly a major task.

Conscious parenting is doubly challenging

Adding on to that trying to be as conscious, positive
and nurturing as possible to our children
makes it even more challenging.

A duel to the death

Any task that we perform becomes easier
if we have better quality tools.
In fixing a car, playing sports or doing any kind of art form, the tools we have can make a big difference to the quality of the outcome.

For example in the old days when samurai would
duel to the death the victory was not always
decided by skill, speed or strength.

Victory was decided by who had the better sword

Often it was decided purely on the basis
of who had the better quality sword.

If your sword cost $200 and mine cost $2000
there was a better chance that I would slice you in half.

Parenting is much the same.
It may not be a duel to the death,
but it does often feel like it!

The sword of parenting must be strong, flexible and sharp

Therefore if our sword is strong and flexible and sharp
we have a much better chance at emerging victorious.

The difference between the dueling samurai and conscious parenting is that in the duel your opponent ends up dead,
in parenting our kids, end up being enriched and empowered.

In our situation as parents the sword that we wield is our mind and emotions

Of course the body is important too
because we need the physical energy necessary
to keep up with our kids!

The mind and emotions have a profound effect on our bodies as well and that is why it’s so vital to nourish them as much as possible.

Sharpen your sword with meditation

One of the best ways that we can
sharpen and strengthen that tool is meditation.

Meditation calms the mind, focuses it
and helps us to be conscious in the midst of chaos.

Meditation gives us a way of perceiving our experiences
without getting totally lost in them.

Meditation helps us find the calm in the center of the storm

It also connects us to our center.
If you have ever been upset with your kids
you know that in those moments your Center can feel completely lost.

Meditation is in part the act of discovering and becoming familiar with your center, it becomes easier to access the place of inner stability and connection in difficult moments.

Meditation helps us connect to our children

The deeper we are able to connect with our own spirit
the more effectively we will be able to connect with our children’s spirit.

This is where connection, love and empathy come from.

Find a form of meditation that works for you

There are as many forms of meditation
as there are people walking this earth.

At the most basic level meditation can be as simple as
focusing on the breath or saying a mantra.

Meditation can also be dancing or painting,
it can be even listening to music.

There are many more complicated methods as well.

The key is to find something that feels good to you,
that attracts you and that you are able to do it consistently.

You don’t have to meditate a lot to see the positive effects

Even just a few minutes a day
can make a huge difference in the way
you operate in the world
and in the way you relate to your kids.

In case you hadn’t guessed by now I am encouraging you to meditate

I am not a meditation teacher
so I’m not going to teach you how to meditate.

I do just want to encourage you to
try a simple meditation on a regular basis.

I will talk more about meditation and mindfulness in future blogs.
I will go into more detail on how
the spiritual component of our lives plays into parenting.

Share your own meditation parenting experiences

If you have any experiences with
meditation and parenting I’d love to hear about them.

Feel free to share it in the comments below
or you can also email me from the contact page.

Conscious Parenting is a Transformative Practice

November 21, 2015


Developing as a parent requires developing as a person

In conversing with a friend afternoon
I realized that much of my self-development over the past 20 years
has come from my determination to be the
best father possible to my daughter.

What kind of person do I want my kid to be?

One of the methods I used to create my parenting philosophy
was to think about the kind of skills and attitudes
that I wanted to pass on to my daughter.

I spent time thinking about what attributes are
present in successful and happy people.

Then I would think about how to
impart those attributes to my child.

Traditional parenting focuses on behavior not personal development

This is a very different outlook than the traditional parenting concept of
creating respectful children who behave well
and listen to their parents.

Honor yourself young padawan

For example one of the main things I have always
encouraged my daughter to do
is to honour herself.
To listen deeply to her feelings,
to trust them and follow them.

I realized that in order to truly inspire her
to follow her own heart
I have to be willing to do the same.

For if she witnesses me honouring myself consistently
she will pick up on that behavior
and adopt it as her own.

Children learn about life from how we live more than anything we say

Kids certainly learn a lot about how the world works
from their parents behaviour.

They learn from how we treat them,
they learn from how we treat ourselves
and how we treat others.

I had to work at being consistent with my values and behaviour

Knowing that she was learning about life
from how I actually existed in the world
meant I also had to have a strong value around
other people honouring themselves.

Doing this requires me to not hold on to
any particular agenda too tightly.

I must be willing to accept it when
other people honour themselves
even when their choices and behavior are different
from what I would want them to do.

Consistency requires enthusiasm

Actually it’s not enough for me to just accept it when other people honor themselves, it has to be my preference. I prefer to be inconvenience knowing that someone else is being true to themselves.

Honoring self is a solid foundation in my kid’s life

My daughter has grown up with me treating her this way
so she knows that I mean it
when I tell her to honor herself.

This has resulted in her truly being able to
know how she feels and
have the courage to state her needs when necessary.

I do my best to share this feeling of validation and acceptance with everyone

Another benefit of this is that when I interact with other people
they are usually also able to feel my sincere desire
for them to honor themselves.
This helps them to feel
accepted and validated by me.

Feeling accepted and validated is such a deep need in us

It touches something in our core.

Very few people are given unconditional acceptance in their childhood.

Our acceptance is largely based upon our behavior.
It’s based on pleasing other people and
meeting their expectations of us.

Therefore we often grow up
not really knowing that we are
perfectly lovable and worthy.

I wanted my daughter to feel unconditionally worthy

My journey as a parent has led me to consistently give this feeling to my daughter.
In order to do this I have to also give this feeling to myself.
The outgrowth of this is that I naturally offer this feeling of acceptance to other people in my life.

Conscious parenting is truly a transformative practice.