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Mental Health

I came late to the Kai Chi Do party.  Charles was doing Kai Chi Do for decades before I got involved.  I enjoyed watching!  But I was afraid to try it.  I was afraid of exercise.

I was the kid who was the last one picked for teams in phys ed.   And, as a matter of fact, I skipped phys ed for the last two years I spent in high school.

When I was a teenager, my big exercise was walking.  I walked everywhere because I left home before I was old enough to get a driver’s license.  I sometimes rode a bicycle – because it was faster than walking.  And I enjoyed dancing (although dancing in public music venues was a little bit like high school – The singer in our favorite band nicknamed me “The Worm”.)

Once I got a driver’s license, all those big muscle groups started to, well, soften.  (They weren’t exactly firm to begin with). I prided myself on fine motor coordination skills – the little movements that take place mostly in your eyes and the tips of your fingers.  Exercise was too much like work.

Once I finally got up the courage to give Kai Chi Do a try, it was work!  I had to learn how to pace myself, so that I could enjoy Kai Chi Do without feeling strained.  Once I did that, it was a turning point.  That’s when I got hooked.

I have to admit that I’m still not fond of exercise – although I think there’s a lot of truth to “use it or lose it” when it comes to our bodies and my body feels a little tighter and more contracted if I miss a week of Kai Chi Do.  But it’s not the physical benefits that keep me doing Kai Chi Do.

I don’t do it for my heart or my lungs or my strength or circulation.  I do Kai Chi Do because I like what it does to my head.

My mind gets quiet and calm.  It lets me release thoughts that are causing me stress or pain and discover what’s left when those are gone.  (Do you know what’s left when those are gone?) It’s an altered state of consciousness for me, a shift in perspective that feels pure – without contradiction.  It feels open to receive.

Kai Chi Do is a tool for us.  It’s one of many that we use to follow a certain path in our lives.  A spiritual path – one that keeps us grounded and in Spirit at the same time.  A path of relationships.  We were on that path together long before I ever did Kai Chi Do.   The path is a feeling that we call Connection.

And that’s why I do Kai Chi Do.  Because it gives me that feeling.

Why do you do Kai Chi Do?  Use the comments link and please tell us:  How does it make you feel?

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Your glass isn’t half full or half empty

A few years ago, an engineer I was coaching told me, “The glass isn’t half full or half empty – It’s the wrong size container.”  I love it.

I’ve been getting some help the past few weeks from Ray Ortega, a web engineer.  We’re  preparing to make a few upgrades to the Kai Chi Do website.  The thing that has been so enjoyable about working with him is that engineer way of thinking.   I send him a long rambling list of questions and he gives me back a workflow.

“Do this.”

Not an explanation of why it works, which is something that 1) I don’t really need to know, 2) would only confuse me, and 3) would take me off track from what I really want – which is to fix the problem.

I think most of us could use a little more mental engineering.

“Do this” because it works.

Don’t come up with all the reasons why the glass is not full.  And all the reasons you can’t fill it.  And all the reasons why it’s never been full.  And how someone else’s glass is more full than yours.  How someone told you that you don’t deserve to have it full.  Or try to trace it back to who made this rotten glass.  Or even all the reasons that half full is good enough.  How this glass is all you’ve ever known and using it has become something of a habit.  Or why you are fortunate because there are so many thirsty people who don’t even have a glass.

Give up the judgment and analysis and just use the right size container.

Skip right past all the emotional charge.  Neutralize it.

Dissolve the avoidance and the procrastination and the internal debate.  Make a new container.

Think of your self-care as a workflow.

Ask yourself  “What works?”  (to take precious care of your mental, physical, social, emotional, financial, spiritual well-being).  Design the workflow.  And then follow it.

Don’t know what works?  Contact us!

Half full Half empty photo by William Burnett at Fotolia.com

 

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Resistance is futile

Try doing this while you are thinking about something else

One thing that Kai Chi Do has taught me is that you can’t simultaneously hold onto resistance and allow Life Energy to flow.  They can’t exist in the same space.   They’re mutually incompatible – like trying to whistle and eat at the same time.

If I go into a Kai Chi Do session with a bunch of grumbling and upset in my head, all that “stuff” dissolves as soon as I am willing to relax, do the breathing, and the movements, and the rhythm.  I can’t keep the grumbling going and also do the process.  It’s either one or the other – Which would you choose?

If I try to hold onto my upset – as if there’s something constructive in that – my body feels heavy and my mind feels out of sync.  The only way to  fully participate is to set those upset thoughts aside.

Then once I let go of the upset, the breathing gets in my head and I feel present in my whole body (not just in my head).   And I feel the tingly vibrating flows of energy.

All of a sudden it looks like how I feel really is my choice.  I really can regulate my own energy.

And I can pick up the grumbling again as soon as I stop Kai Chi Do, but who wants to?

Feeling better starts with that willingness to let the resistance go.  To just set it aside for a little while.  I’m not ignoring my problems, I’m elevating my view.

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Conquering Boredom

"Watching the World Pass By" Photo by Rachel Davies

Boredom is apparently one of the major reasons people don’t want to live forever.

So says Jonathan Weiner, the author of the book Long for this World: The Strange Science of Immortality. He raised this issue in a fascinating interview he gave to National Public Radio.  Weiner’s book is about physical immortality – and he’s not talking about old people living longer.  He’s talking about scientists who are working on extending vitality forever – scientists who believe, essentially, that aging is a disease that can be cured.

We’ve been talking to several people lately about resolving boredom, but it was surprising to hear boredom cited as an argument against immortality.  Or, put another way, an argument in favor of having an end – an end that is in the very distant future, to be sure, but an end nonetheless.

To be clear: We believe that Spirit is immortal.  So we don’t think it’s possible to really have an end – at least not in a spiritual sense.

But the whole idea that a person can get bored with living forever really speaks to how they are living their life right now.

Boredom is the suppression of two of our basic human drives – curiosity and creativity.  These are the qualities we should be looking to preserve forever.  Children are great teachers in this – They are curious because everything is new.  Everything is a novelty.  And their creativity is rampant – A cardboard box is a treasure!  It contains worlds!  It has more life and potential than toys you buy at the store for hundreds of dollars.

Some people keep that curiosity and creativity alive and it invigorates them.  But many people lose it along the way.  They become discouraged and impatient.  And bored.

Discouragement comes from holding beliefs that contradict your wants and desires –  Beliefs that limit possibility.  And impatience is the attachment to an outcome at the expense of the present moment.  It’s a belief that things are “not good enough” now.  It’s the fear that you won’t get what you want.  So you lose interest.  And the habits of thought that lead to boredom become pervasive.

You lose the habit of seeing the potential in things.

And that’s what you want to ignite again.

Resolving boredom isn’t just about doing new things.  It’s about seeing things anew.  It’s about having confidence in uncertainty, in order to explore the mystery of life.  It about renewing your belief in possibility.  Then you see beauty and novelty all around you.  And you feel the energy flowing through you.

That’s when life really gets interesting.  Maybe even worth living forever.

Photo by Rachel Davies on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

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Solve problems like Einstein did

Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

He was a smart guy.

How often do we “worry” our problems, rubbing them over and over with our mind like they were mental hangnails?  Rubbing them until our emotions are raw?  We keep looking at the problem from the level of consciousness that created it.  And getting nowhere.   Same thoughts, same feelings, same results.

So how do you change the level of your consciousness?

1.  You change the way you feel, or
2.  You change the way you think, or
3.  You bypass your mind.

Each of these consciousness-changing strategies has its place.  And it’s a great thing to know how to use all three approaches – you might not want to bypass your mind while you are driving, for instance.

  • Tips for changing how you feel

Abraham-Hicks talks about feelings as an emotional scale.  I like the image because it makes me think of a musical scale – each note is perfect. On the emotional scale, each feeling is a point of attraction, with access to certain kinds of experiences.

Have you ever noticed how when you feel anxious you can only access anxious thoughts?  And the more you struggle against the feeling, the more trapped you are in it?  You can’t shift the feeling by condemning it. You can only access the thoughts and images that match your feelings.

Once you feel differently, you can barely remember what was so compelling about your fears.  It’s like you’re standing in a different room.  And really, you are – because each emotion is its own level of consciousness.

Here’s just a few of the infinite variety of healthy ways to change how you feel:

Switch tasks – do something different, give your mind a new job for a little while.
Practice mindfulness – being present in the moment instead of being in the past or the future.
Distraction – watch a movie, do a handicraft, do art, read a good book, clean the closet.
Play – go geocaching, play Scrabble, wear a funny hat.   (Years ago, Charles and I successfully defused several arguments by trading shoes). And if you don’t know how to play, we’d suggest you check out www.zefrank.com and try some of his free interactive toys online – the guy’s a genius.
Listen to music – and we recommend you sing, especially if you are tone-deaf.

(Eating, drinking, drugging, shopping and off track betting are noticeably absent from this list of healthy ways to change how you feel.  They may give you a temporary lift, but they won’t help you solve any problems.  They just make more problems.)

  • Tips for changing how you think

Your thoughts and your emotions are all tied up together.  You can change the way you feel by changing the way you think.  It gets a little tricky though – because you can’t fake it.  You can’t pretend to change your level of consciousness just like you can’t pretend to fly.  You’re either flying or you’re just flapping your wings.  So you have to be willing to be honest with yourself.  Be honest and ready to change.

Find a thought that feels good. This sounds easy, but it takes a little bit of work at first.  It’s a mental staircase, not a wish.  You start where you are and you think around on the subject that is bothering you.  You think around with the clear intention of locating one single thought that makes you feel just a bit lighter.  Just one single thought – that’s all you are looking for.  You know it when you’ve found it because your muscles relax a little, your forehead gets smooth, you take a momentary sigh and breathe a little deeper.  Once you find that thought, nurture it.  Start to think about the thought that made you feel a little better.  Once that thought feels strong, start looking for the next thought that feels a little better, and the thought after that.  Pretty soon, you find yourself looking at the problem from an entirely different perspective.
Honor the messenger.   Your feelings are reliable, even relentless, messengers.  They tell you how your thinking feels.  It’s your thinking, not your circumstances, that activate your feelings.  If you treat your emotions as the honorable messengers that they are, they can guide you to a new level of thinking.  They give you direct feedback about where your thinking is taking you.  Use that feedback to guide you to thoughts that feel better.
Brainstorm –  Talk about solutions and consider every possibility, even wild and crazy ideas.  Some of our best ideas are wild and crazy.  Brainstorming is about breaking free of mental constriction.  Tearing down the walls and letting your mind loose.
Prayer – This is prayer, not begging, pleading, bargaining or defending.  Exercise faith.  Pray as if your prayers have already been answered.
Appreciation – Find something beautiful.

  • Ways to bypass your mind.

We love practices that change our level of consciousness by bypassing our minds.  It’s so direct.  So elegant.  So fun!  And sometimes – when we’re really stuck – it seems to be the easiest route.

Sleep – Everybody changes their level of consciousness every day.  They go to sleep.  Sleep lifts your resistance off your problems temporarily.  Even if the moment is brief, when you first wake up, there’s an instant – before you engage your mind in your problems again – when you feel relaxed.   Sleep can also bring inspiration, even if it comes in symbols that you have to decode.
Exercise – Take a walk. Run. Bicycle. Do yoga. Take a mental vacation – Sweat and forget.
Breathwork – Conscious connected breathing. Pranayama.  Let the breath clear and uplift your mind.
Meditation – It’s been said that meditation is using the mind to get beyond the mind.   Eckhart Tolle teaches that meditation is experiencing the gap between thoughts.  That gap is pure awareness.
Kai Chi Do – We saved the best for last.  Kai Chi Do uses the body to raise consciousness bypassing the mind.  It combines music, movement, breathwork, meditation, exercise, prayer, appreciation, play, mindfulness.  Wow!  Some combo, huh?  I love how – when I’m doing Kai Chi Do – my mind drops into my body and I feel calm and clear.

What would Einstein say about that?

Photo of Albert Einstein posted by BlatantNews on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

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