Current Events

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Never Waste a Good Crisis" (Hillary Clinton)

On how a crisis is truly an intro to finally getting towards your dreams, towards your true YOU. It is a possibility to investigate what to let go of (the fake things) and what the next step towards more self realization is. Are you up for it? It is so rewarding to summon the courage to take a crisis on as GOOD. The rewards are beyond your imagination.
The quote came to me in the right moment in an unlikely way: Sitting in my office in San Diego California, I was editing articles for the Journal of Psychology in Austria. One of the authors used this quote as an opening. It came to me in the right time: It was summer and I had just returned from a wonderful stay with my family in Austria. I felt so close to them and thought that things went well - even with my Mum. My Mum and I have an ambivalent relationship. She had a pretty bad childhood and does her best. I love her - and do my best. Nevertheless, she is the ONE person who can send my day down a deep slope in a 5 minute phone call all the way from rural Austria to urban California: 10 000 kilometers! So it had happened that morning, before I got to editing those articles. I had cooled off enough already in order to notice: That quote was there for me! What a great way to look at it! Especially with family you know that breaking ties is not an option. So there has to be another way than no contact or constant emotional roller coaster rides (very exhausting and depleting). I accepted the challenge and truly listened to my heart for the next step, what would help us both the most in this situation. The question was always only "What is the next step?" Miraculously, the next step always showed up, while I could not see the outcome, the goal yet. Now, many "NEXT STEPS" beyond, my husband and I are about to purchase our dream vacation home in the beautiful basin in Austria, where I grew up. We are thrilled at the prospect of being able to build a relationship with the people there, with the individual family members. We will no longer try to please our hosts (my parents) and fit our whole schedule around them just to find out in retrospect that that still was not the right approach (my mother would NEVER express any desire of her own, leaving her environment to failure-doomed guessing). I am so excited! It feels like I found the right setup so we all have enough distance in order to be pleasant and be able to show our love. I am excited about honoring my roots in that way. It was still somewhat of a roller coaster ride getting there, but I remember the conscious decision to make use of the crisis and do something new, find that jewel in the whole mess, taking advantage of the already shook up situation. In retrospect, times of crisis were always a great opportunity for me to break free from what did not work (anymore) and to find the new something that I could only dream of before a crisis opened up the possibility to actually go there. You may say about Hillary Clinton what you want, but that quote is a treasure to be taken to heart!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Price of Saying Never or Going Beyond Self Imposed Limits

A coincidence challenges my prejudice against heated yoga. I take on the challenge and only afterwards I realize, how limiting the dislike had been, almost like a weight had been lifted. The thought, we set our limits way before the true limits, comes to mind. I am left with a feeling of relief and am scouting which other confining limits I can eliminate.

This is an ever so small event that it is easy to oversee and miss to appreciate and learn from it. I signed up for a trial week with Corepower Yoga. Knowing that they offer a lot of heated Yoga, I was careful to stay clear of the classes called "heated", "hot" and the like. It takes always a certain amount of willpower to walk into a new place and do a new class. Yogamat in hand I walked up to the receptionist and learned that the class I came for (Yoga Sculpt) was a heated yoga class and that handweights were part of the routine (Uff). Immediately I repeated a mantra I would keep telling people when the topic came to Yoga and my regular practice: "never heated yoga!!" I don´t do well with heat and tend to get the dizzies, sudden weakness, cold shudders, etc. Since I was already there I decided to give it a try and that I could still leave if I needed to do so (but Yoga etiquette would not be pleased about that). I entered the room and put my mat down on one of the last empty spots, next to one of the few men in class. We started chatting and he told me that this was their hardest class at Corepower Yoga. Oh Dear, now I really thought that I was in trouble! I had not been in a guided yoga class in a long time and had just been doing my own thing at home, usually not pushing myself as hard as Yoga instructors do. On top of that the scene around me proved what that man had just said: people had put towels on their mats in order to catch their sweat AND sprayed the towels so they would keep them as cool as possible. They all looked so fit! Now I felt a slight panic inside myself. I decided to keep my own cool and be open for the new experience. I felt the warmth of the room on my skin and noticed how nice and cozy it felt. I got my water bottle and filled it up. This I knew was going to give me energy when I needed it during the class. Was I going to be able to make it with the weights and all? This was so different from the Yoga I had been taught over years in Europe. I have never had water during class (in the Indian tradition you must not have water an hour before or after Yoga practice, not even think about bringing a bottle into class!) and certainly no weights (too body centered, Yoga is not about looks, didn´t you know?!). Of course the heat was knew as well for me - and much feared to be honest.

The class began, I did fine. I remember wondering, when the merciless drill would begin, but it did not come. It was intense, yes, but I had had much harder from my teacher-guru Shandor, who was known to single handedly throw people out of the class if they were not trying seriously enough. The man next to me was going through the hell he had predicted. He just was not all that fit, maybe in his mid 40ies. I looked around. Amongst the some 25 women was only one other woman than myself who was not in her early twenties. Maybe this men came for the view and was willing to be in pain for it :-). I was so glad I had taken the challenge and had stayed open to the experience. I had been so prejudiced against heated Yoga that I would never have tried it "voluntarily". Now, I might do it again - or not. But I know that I have one limitation less in my head and THAT was so worth it! So, what other things are there that I keep myself left out from because of prejudices that have no particular reason? It feels so much better to not always wince at the word BIKRAM Yoga or heated Yoga anymore but to feel proud, feel like the world is my playground and not a dangerous place to be. Amazing, what one ever so tiny incidence can change: My life quality.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Value of Criticism - Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Appreciation?

There is a Foundation for Inspired Learning. I liked the sound of that. What that truly means can only be conveyed through experience. I had the pleasure to experience that within my Coaching Training from Coach for Life. Until then, I had been exposed to all sorts of criticism in the name of teaching, improvement and meaning only the best for me. I have always felt the impact of criticism: it is stagnation, shame, the feeling of not being enough, not being okay, not yet being valuable.... The school system solely works with the focus on mistakes and what is yet MISSING. Then came, what looked like an improvement, but was just a more tricky and harder to disarm version: POSITIVE criticism; the "Great, BUT...". Wanting more and feeling that these kinds of feedback were counterproductive and not helping, I felt doomed until I came upon INSPIRED LEARNING. I had tears in my eyes and goose bumps on my skin, when I learned how illiterate adults got the experience of reading their first own words after decades of desperate failings without being shamed and called stupid, all through the power of inspired learning. I can feel how the energy stagnates and retreats after criticism, after pointing out what is missing, after the "great, but...". Inspired learning however creates a safe learning environment. It highlights what IS there, what is going well. It kindles interest and natural growth. The energy expands naturally from there.

I myself have become a different person, when I am walking through my days, pointing out at people what they do great as opposed to looking for the things that aren´t going well or are missing. MY life improves through that. And people are always so thankful for not getting criticized, belittled. Also, it does not elevate me through putting others down. That is not what the human spark is made of.

It is true that this concept is best understood on the receiving end, but it can also be simply believed and hence applied. This will bring the convincing and stunning results, 100 % guaranteed!!

Now I finally get it why I always felt sorry for critics: Would you like to spend your life always looking for what is missing and what went wrong? Eeeeek! I much more enjoy waltzing through life and being on the receiving end of all that is working wonderfully and that is already there in abundance. And the perspective of taking on the earlier or the latter is a choice that everyone has the freedom to make. Go for it....!

Oh yeah, and the saying that too much appreciation spoils people, well frustrated and self-denying people made that one up. Sad. But getting out of being a frustrated and self-denying person is only one appreciation away...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Running or How Little Habits Can Help Create a Life in Flow

Do you already zone out when you hear the word RUNNING, because you don´t think you have the stamina or willpower for it or it is boring? Or are you one of these people who have done marathons already and running is a staple in your life? Well, in any case I believe you might enjoy this text:

I had a somewhat blue weekend, where instead of enjoying my time out I was mostly unaware and somewhat restless and watched online TV shows and ate unhealthy “comfort” food. Worst of it, I was getting down on myself about how I could give in to it, truly wanting to life a conscious, happy and healthy life. Finally, on Monday morning, I gave myself a shove out the door and went on an hour long run on the beach! Immediately the blahs were gone and my thoughts started to get in some kind of order; the things I am grateful for and things I like started to stick out again. I knew I was myself again! How wonderful. The moment I started running I was in my own power again, was the creator of my own life, saw all my hopes and dreams and the many blessings in my life, a 180 degree shift in perception.

So I started thinking about how I got started running. I was pretty much a coach potatoe as a child and a little chubby at times. In my teenage years I tried running in order to lose weight, but did not get very far. I was terribly bored and DID NOT HAVE THE STAMINA, or so I thought! Finally, in my college years a friend convinced me to go running with him. I was rulctant but came along. I was stunned! Out of nowhere, we were running 20 minutes straight!! Okay, it was probably more jogging, hence really slow. But it impressed me that I could do it right away. And ever since I LOVE it! It is so empowering!! I am certain, that anyone who is reasonably healthy (not necessarily fit!) can do it, if I could! There can´t be many people out there who are less fit than I was then. At my first attempt that failed I was 1) starting out way too fast and could not keep it up and 2) listening to music, because everyone was doing it. It turned out that I started to appreciate the meditative aspect of running on top of physical exercise, so the music would distract me. The amazing part here is that if you find out what works for you, wonderful things are starting to happen.

Now I have been running pretty much regularily for about 15 years. I had ups and downs, did 2 half marathons and realized that my knees would not want to go for more. I also learned how to strenghten and stretch certain muscles of my legs in order to protect my joints. But most of all, I have discovered a part of myself that I did not know existed before. Today, when I finished my run strong, I thought about how good it feels to be aware of my physical strength. It also gives me mental strength. Running tought me that I can make it, that even if it gets hot and tiring in the middle, it is no reasong to stop, just one step more at a time and it gets easier again. And it feels so great to finish! Running has formed my character, like nothing throughout college.

Today it is not only keeping my weight down and my body strong, it is an important tool for me in dealing with stress. I use running also, whenever I need to ponder a small or large question. Usually an answer comes up that I had not had before. It often surprises me and comes from a very creative place inside myself. It also helps me to focus, because I need to remember the idea until I get home to a pen and paper. And today, I was in that famous state of flow. Complete ease and contentment. The time stands still and yet everything is moving. I could even see all the Endorphins, the Happyness Hormones, running all through my brain, creating the state of being that we are all after: BLISS!

When my life feels stuck, I go for a run and set it (my life) in motion again. It is such an invaluable tool, such a part of my life. What is your life safer in tough times? I hope you have one, we all need it and so deserve it!