Reality Training

Why do I feel limited? Boxed in? Ineffectual? I’m being honest when I say that I sometimes I feel these thoughts. As though they are true. And when I believe something to be true, I have noticed that I soon act or become that thing. That feeling drives me towards a new and often, unwanted reality. Because the moment I notice the thought and feel the thought as mine, I make it my own. I attach my identity to that thing, that idea. I become what I believe. Beliefs are powerful building blocks which create the worlds each one of us inhabit…individually and collectively. They are the yellow brick roads which pave our journeys through the material world. Beliefs are the artistic tools I use to render the landscapes of all of my days.

To change circumstances, to make them better, we need to be working with thoughts that are aligned with our deepest sense of truth and with all our ways of knowing: body, heart, mind, spirit.

Martha Beck

But when I ask what is reality? What is real? I fall into the rabbit hole, and when I land, I must question myself. Surely, reality must consist not only of those things which can be sensed via the body, but also through the feeling of my inner being. Reality must be more than quantifiable materiality, because I am more than quantifiable materiality. When I believe I am limited, I am attaching myself to and loading myself down to the level of the material world. It is a heavy and unbearable weight to burden. And yet, this is what my culture has taught me to qualify as real…as success. To measure only with the hard currency of acquisitions, accolades and achievements. Is it any wonder then that when I feel limited, I feel heavy, depressed and utterly earthbound? I should know better…and I do! Because as soon as I question those thoughts, my deep inner knowing tells me otherwise.

Abundance has nothing to do with money. Wealth and poverty are internal. Whenever you think that you know something and it feels stressful, you’re experiencing poverty. Whenever you realize that what you have is enough and more than enough, you’re rich.

Byron Katie

How absurd is it for us as to base our esteem or the quality of our LIFE by the things which take up space with us? If I were blind, or deaf, or senseless would I be less than human? No! If I am less than capable in my mind or body, does not my humanity grant me the dignity of Being? Who or what should I measure myself against to become more real? Is not life more than eating or drinking or having fun? When I am quiet with myself, I know that I AM more than these things…these thoughts. When I am quiet, my deep knowing comes on line and it compels me to reject such thinking. Reality is aliveness. And it is all around us…and reality is made to be experienced….to be FELT!

There is nothing wrong with striving to improve your life situation. You can improve your life situation, but you cannot improve your life. Life is primary. Life is your deepest inner Being. It is already whole, complete, perfect.

Eckhart Tolle

Reality is BE-ING! Reality is CONSCIOUSNESS! To be human is to just BE. So just be…this I will! And I hope you will think about just Being you, too! There is no need to qualify or quantify what is between us. What makes me or you real and worthy is our un-equivocal human being-ness. Can you feel the depth and eternal truth of our Being? It is vast, it is immeasurable. It is so deep as to be undefinable and perhaps this is why, at times, we feel so out-of-touch with reality. And then, just like that, I realize that without my thoughts or stories of being limited, I am something else indeed! I am infinite possibilities. And so are you! There’s nothing more joyous than knowing and feeling that truth to the core of our humanity.


Can You Hear Me Now?

Telephone technology of the 21st century is truly amazing, practically magical, especially compared to the telecommunications I experienced growing up in the 1960’s. My father was employed by Pacific Bell Telephone (Ma Bell) as a switch office technician for all of his 30+ year career. And every once in a while he would treat me to a tour of his ‘office’. I was clearly an impressionable youth, because I would walk amazed and mind-boggled through the rows and columns of switch gear. The incessant cacophony of clicks and clacks, snaps and pops, was a symphony of sorts. And it perplexed me to no end to envision each noisy tapping of the switch gear as the result of one of Ma Bell’s customers ringing up and connecting with another person’s telephone. And these telephones where making their connections whether they existed in the same city or were ringing across the country! How was this possible? The mystery of hardwired telephone technology and its clumsy mechanical systems was something like voo-doo science. And yet, by the 1980’s my father retired early from the telephone company. He wanted nothing to do with learning a new technology…the switchover from the hard-wired analog system to smooth efficiently of the digital age. But wait, by the 1990’s, cell phone technology would go to outer space and beyond to make our chit-chat connections possible! This is why it always makes me chuckle whenever I hear that idiomatic saying, “Can you hear me now?” I mean really, call switch-science today is silent and wireless, so why do we still struggle to hear one another on our pocket phones? This seems ridiculously backwards!

“When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

Brenda Ueland

But like many things in our modern world, the more things change, the more things stay the same. And what is still true through all the ages, is the human need to be heard. “Can you hear me now?” It doesn’t matter whether we are relating over the telephone lines or through the ether of the Internet, or through words and deeds in the milieu of human relations. To be heard by the other, is to be seen, to be acknowledged, to be made real and necessary. To be heard implies that the words we speak are being received and deciphered accurately by the one on the receiving end. It is no surprise then, that our relations with one another break down so often due to a ‘lack of connection’.

“Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self.”

Dean Jackson

In my work as a personal trainer, I initially train and teach my clients from a place of not knowing. What I thereafter learn about my client I do so by curating purposeful questions and quiet listening. My knowledge, training, and practice in the art of physical fitness, does my client no good if I clone a one-size fits all program. The beautiful challenge I encounter with every client who comes to me for training is similar to that of telecommunications technology. When I make a training appointment with a client, I must be able to connect with them by listening and interpreting what they are telling me about their goals and/or outcomes. It is possible for me to create static in our communication if I over-ride their needs and desires with my own goals for them or I may get our lines crossed and misinterpret what they transmit to me. When I don’t ask the right questions, I lose an opportunity to tailor the best program for their specific objectives. Listening to my client’s words and watching their body-language helps me develop a plan to meet their evolving intentions. “Can you hear me now?” It takes two, willing, hearing and listening participants to make one healthy training relationship.

“The first duty of love is to listen.”

Paul Tillich

Curious isn’t it? That regardless of the basis for our relationship with others, the most respectful, helpful, thing we can do to elicit one another’s growth and understanding is first and foremost to engage this simple task: listen well to the words spoken by the other. This is a simple thing to do with our two ears, but it is not easy. I am learning that my best listening networks happen when I make sure not to lose the connection between my ears and my heart.


Chasing the Beautiful

This morning as I ambled the streets of my neighborhood, everything seemed dreamy and quiet under the heavy clouds from last night’s monsoon. The cool air, dank and heavy in the low lying streets and washes, lathered my skin with a mixture of goosebumps and sweat. And that shiver of goosebumps induced by the unseasonal chill, roused me awake. I had dressed expecting a warmer temperature. But now I was intrigued by the brisk cool I encountered. Surely this is a portent of cooler days to come…oh September!

Be brave enough to turn away from shiny objects, and toward the light that makes them shine.

Martha Beck

The specter of change was fresh and palatable this morning; and like the goosebumps rising on my skin, my senses were alerted to the beauty arising with every step I took. The morning’s landscape seemed to be emerging with radiant light even as the sun struggled to beam through the rain clouds of yesterday’s storm. And this is when it struck me that I was traveling through a sanctuary of magnificent artistry. Everywhere I looked beckoned my noticing. The morning’s light playing hide and seek with the waving wands of grass. The flowers opening big and bright and loud to capture the sun’s warm and drying rays. Is there no better medicine for one’s soul and happiness? And look this balm is free for all…for all who have eyes and ears open to noticing. Where is the light for you? Have you tried chasing the beautiful…putting your self in the Way of Beauty…Everyday? I hope you’ll find a way to make this a regular practice in your life…I think you may find it quite magical and life enhancing.


Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Phillippians 4:8-9

A Beauty-Full Life (Linking-Thinking #5)

Your life is waiting to be lived by You! It’s waiting for You to animate and enliven your body with your awareness. Does that surprise you? Do you not know that when you stay with yourself, in the physicality of your body and its senses that this is the way to experience the joy of your most Beauty-Full Life? Well that is the purpose for my writing this post today. I want to remind you, and myself, that our Presence of Mind, or by staying in the present moment, (rather than the past or future), is the place for our most peaceful living. Paying attention and noticing our bodily-presence, allows us to more fully experience our one and only wild and precious Life. If you doubt the truth of this sentiment, I challenge you to put yourself in the Present moment by purposefully setting yourself in the way of Beauty. Give it a try won’t you? It is easy and fun! Think of this exercise as a peace of mind interlude, a solstice and balm for the soul…an opportunity to play and know that Life wants to be lived through You.

To be a human who resembles the divine is to become responsible for the beautiful, for its observance, its protection, and its creation. It is a challenge to believe that this right is ours.

Cole Arthur Riley

The easiest way to connect with ourselves and our Beauty-Full Life is to go outdoors. In nature, we are able to wake ourselves up via our bodily senses. Using our senses intentionally will guide us into noticing. And noticing quiets mind chatter and allows us to enjoy Being. What do you see, hear, feel, smell? Notice what you will, without prejudice or preconceived context. Just let nature put you in its way, so it may pull you into herself and remind you of your own wild-nature.

The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.”

Thích Nhat Hanh

If you can’t go outside, give your senses a delight indoors by listening to the rhythm of your breathing, in and out. Does this remind you of the unceasing cadence of waves expiring and inspiring upon the breast of the shore? Or perhaps you might sit in a favorite quiet place inside your home, then close your eyes and let your imagination curate those places, people or memories. And as you conjure the beauty of these remembrances, you may soon notice only stillness and quiet as you journey along the imagined path of Beauty-Full presence. Or perhaps you could venture into the realm of textures. What might you find in your home to nudge you towards beauty? Is it the feeling of sitting in your favorite chair, wrapped in a cuddly blanket; or do you have a pet who delights in your stroking its impossibly silky fur? Or does enjoying a mug of hot or iced tea transport you into relaxed ruminations and peaceful reverie? Whatever you have at your disposal…whatever triggers a twinge or twinkle of delight, go towards it and reconnect your life-light.

This assumption that beauty is an accessory, and dispensable, shows that we don’t understand the importance of giving the soul what it needs. The soul is nurtured by beauty. What food is to the body, arresting, complex, and pleasing images are to the soul. If we have a psychology rooted in a medical view of human behavior and emotional life, then the primary value will be health. But if our idea of psychology is based on the soul, then the goal of our therapeutic efforts will be beauty. I will go so far as to say that if we lack beauty in our lives, we will probably suffer familiar disturbances in the soul—depression, paranoia, meaninglessness, and addiction. The soul craves beauty and in its absence suffers what James Hillman has called “beauty neurosis.”

Thomas Moore – Care of the Soul

I hope this little post has been a gentle reminder, an eye-opener for you, so that whenever you find yourself sleep wandering through your day, try waking yourself up with this simple movement…and put yourself in the way of Beauty. Take a Beauty-Full interlude and intersperse as needed any time you feel lost or far away from yourself. Use this practice like exercise. And just like exercise for your body, these practical movements of noticing and imagination will breathe Life and Joy into your Living and Being. It is from this place of alive awareness wherein you’ll experience a most Beauty-Full Life.


Living Inside Out (Linking-Thinking #4)

Have you ever witnessed two people experiencing the same event and they each have completely different or even opposite reactions to that event? In today’s post-Covid world, polarized reactions and behaviors among groups of people exposed to a similar experience seems commonplace and practically normative. For many folks, myself included, these equal and opposite behaviors amidst our family and peer groups is hard to reconcile when the reactions are opposite our own.

Perhaps, we could reduce the discord and negativity we feel towards others who think differently from ourselves if we would pause to consider that the reason we react differently to a shared experience is because we each have a lifetime of past experiences. And none of our experiences will ever be exactly like another’s. If we could only hold back judgment and condemnation of the others, and instead consider that ‘reactions’ are nothing more than each person acting out their own true story as written from the script by the author of their each and every past life experience.

The truth lies within you—as does all the power you will ever need to change the direction of your life and the course of human history.

Neale Donald Walsch

Consider this example set in this ‘neutral’ setting from a day at the beach. Observe two opposite reactions which two people might have as a result of their past history. The first person goes to the beach and expects to enjoy the day playing and swimming in the ocean. Whereas when the first person invites their best friend to join them at the beach for a day of fun, the friend experiences anxiety and declines the invitation because they witnessed a drowning and/or nearly drowned in the ocean when they were a child or young person. So this same, neutral place, creates for these two people, two opposite reactions. Isn’t it a little easier to accept that this seemingly neutral place, the beach, may cause differing reactions among all people when we realize that it is each person’s past history or experience which informs their present perceptions about a place or experience?

”There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

William Shakespeare

Again, we all know what it feels like to live in a world of either/or belief systems. Taking sides with or making decisions based on how closely others feel like we do about ‘neutral’ events, places, or activities gives group think its ability to steal our most precious super-power: CHOICE! Each and every life situation we encounter is an opportunity to make a conscious practice of our choosing. What if we were to neutralize our thinking about every day events before making value judgments about them? Could we teach ourselves to take a moment to re-view or re-frame a situation by placing it in a judgment free box and acknowledging that the event or situation IS WHAT IT IS? How would that feel, in our body, and in our emotions If we took a moment to be still and quiet ourselves when encountering difficulties, and simply give these things a time out from our thinking? Might we reduce our anxiety, stress and anger by simply acknowledging that it is our own thoughts about a situation that causes us to suffer?

“When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life.”

Eckhart Tolle

I am by no means suggesting that taking a pause or neutralizing our thinking is an easy behavior to master. We are human, and human nature is positively wired to behold and attach negative meaning to things first and foremost. It is partly why we have survived the eons. However, because we are human, we have capacity to evolve and improve upon our base instincts and nature. And I am neither so naïve as to suggest or believe that the presence or experience of evil in this world can be positively negated by our good thinking. Rather, what I am asking us to grapple with and wake up to for ourselves is this: A life well lived, is lived from the inside out. And as Eckhart Tolle so succinctly teaches, “Life is primary (to life circumstances).
Life is your deepest inner Being. It is already whole, complete, perfect.”

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Observe your thoughts, don’t believe them.”

Eckhart Tolle


Towards the Light? (Linking-Thinking #3)

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

Og Mandino

Literature, poetry, science and spiritualty are rife with evidence and anecdote comparing our material bodies and lived experience as infused with the same energy and essence as light. Yet to be human is to live life in the experience of the equal and opposite energy of light, which is felt and intuited as dark. Almost everyone has heard it said that if you are having a near death experience, then you should go towards the light. But consider this: going towards the light may also be a life giving experience! In fact, you essentially obeyed the imperative of going towards the light on the day you were born. On your birth-day, you were forced out of the darkness of your mother’s womb and expelled into the light of Mother’s Earth.

“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but…life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Where or when in all creation has anyone or anything been able to parse, sever, or obliterate this cycle of dark to light or death to life? And yet a great human desire is to resist the dark of night and separation. Why do we so strongly desire to experience living only in the light? Can you not feel the strong connection we have, to the cycles of dark and light? To death and life? To the the cycles of our Mother’s Seasons?

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

Carl Jung

The cycle of death and life is an infinite loop. And if we consider all created things, might we soon realize that LIFE always finds its way back from death? Can we eschew gloom over those things which look and feel like death or darkness to us; might we forgo assigning the dark things to the ‘pits of despair’? Perhaps then, we may remember, again and again, that the dormancy of darkness is required to recharge, reinvent and reinvigorate life’s energy and light. Let’s flip dark thoughts to life with this reflection: it is the absence of light which points to the promise of an eminent birth experience. If we could embrace the vitality of the dark, then we might realize it is only from this place where we may go forward towards the light.

“I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”

Barbara Brown Taylor

For consideration/meditation:
What looks or feels like darkness and/or death to you?

setbacks; defeats; difficulties; misfortunes; failures; misunderstandings; shortages; loss; reversal; obstacles; illness.

When you’re in the dark, what can you do to go forward towards the light?
Reframe your perspective; rest; refrain from judging yourself or others; accept; forgive; ask questions; seek answers/counsel; test your beliefs.


BELIEVING is SEEING (Linking-Thinking #2)

to believe (verb) – to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.

to see (verb) – to have the power of sight; to understand intellectually or spiritually; to give attention or care; to find out; make inquiry; to consider; think; deliberate; to look about; to observe.

THE AMERICAN HERITAGE® IDIOMS DICTIONARY

If you have known me for any amount of time, you know this one thing about me: I like to run, and I really feel like a runner when I run fast. However, this one thing is also true: I am not a fast runner. But I am a runner none the less, no matter how slow or fast I run, simply because I run. And because I run, I believe that it is possible to achieve my goals of running longer or faster when I follow those training plans designed to prepare and adapt my body to go the distance.

What you believe has more power than what you dream or wish or hope for. You become what you believe.

Oprah Winfrey

This belief of mine is essential to my productive running life. If I did not believe it possible to become the marathoner I desire to become, then my doing would be disconnected from my thinking and believing. In other words, I believe I can complete a marathon distance race, because I have trained my body and my mind to adapt to the increasing stresses of marathon training. Every day I perform the exercises prescribed in my training plan, I am a marathoner. These BELIEFS I have about myself and my running, make it possible for me to SEE (realize) the results and accomplishments of my training and of my believing. Truly, I become a marathoner even before I toe the line of any marathon race.

“In running, every step you make and every push forward changes you – it transforms you into a different person. Every single run adds something to you and then it also takes something away. You are not the same person you have been at the starting line and by the time you come to the finish your inner self has been reinvented and reimagined.”

The Zen Of Running

And now it has been a one week since I completed my third marathon. Two weeks ago, I felt fully trained and prepared to complete the 26.2-mile distance within my targeted finish time. And thankfully, race day weather conditions under the giant redwood trees were absolutely perfect. Yet within the first three miles of crossing the starting line, my legs were feeling heavy, tired and less than energized to meet the challenge of running a marathon that day. And of course, upon my less than optimal body scan, my mind began streaming all matter of unpleasant, unacceptable possibilities for me to consider as I braced for a day’s worth of suffering; last but not least, my spirit was straining to grasp for reasons so as to play the ‘name and blame’ game. Surely someone or something is responsible for this unexpected waning on my most important day to be a runner.

What does this all mean? Why, after fulfilling every detail of training and preparation of the past four months, did I feel so flat and impotent on this most anticipated race day? I could conjure no plausible explanations; though as the miles passed I came up with a few theories which might explain my less than stellar performance. But in the present moments of my race day, reasons were not helpful… only by dealing with the current controllable items could I maintain a peaceful mind. And what were those controllables? I gave up on what I believed I deserved that day, and resigned myself to doing what I had trained myself to do for the last four months: move forward, whatever the pace, keeping the highest, most positive mindset possible.

Every response you make is determined by what you think you are, and what you want to be IS what you think you are. What you want to be, then, must determine every response you make.

A Course in Miracles

Accepting the reality that everything was as it should be, I let my mind be bathed in the peace of the shimmering light filtering through the vast array of the redwood forest; and I reconciled myself towards enjoyment of the day, no matter the outcome. I would embrace this unexpected difficulty and practice my Linking–Thinking techniques, namely: give no matter to the thoughts swirling in my head; and there was a considerable amount of negative thinking streaming past my eye screen. So the work of the day was to distance my Being self from the negativity, and turn my Doing self towards awareness. I had everything I needed to cue me towards peace: the sound and tempo of my footsteps and breathing. And no matter what else was streaming through my consciousness, the one thing I hung onto throughout the 6-hour wog (i.e. walk/jog) to the finish line was this: I AM a runner!

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.”

Norman Vincent Peale

Indeed, I have much to learn yet about myself and my chosen sport. And though I am disappointed with the outcome of my third marathon finish, I am grateful for the experience and learning it has provided me. If this was easy, I would already have lost interest in the doing of this sport. And most importantly, this lesson has led me to the point of my writing this post. I hope you too might know that Believing is Seeing. I challenge you to try it on for yourself; perhaps you will discover that standing in this belief, truly transmutes the im-possible things into I’m possible.

What about you? Have you ever felt like Seeing is Believing rather than Believing is Seeing? I would love to hear your thoughts!


We Need More Betty’s!

Betty Marion White Ludden, died peacfully in her sleep on December 31, 2021. She would have been 100 years old on January 17, 2022. Honestly, I am in shock…I thought she would live forever. And I know I am not alone in this sentiment. But what better way to keep Betty alive and close to us than to emmulate her beautiful life and soul force. Shortyly before she passed, People Magazine interviewed Betty about her life on and off the Hollywood scene. I’ve included some of Betty’s own thoughts about her successful longevity. I think she has left us a very clear road map for navigating our own lives through the days we have yet to live. Perhaps we can continue her legacy…of long lived grace and cheerful optimism? I’m all in for that…How about you?

According to Betty:

being “born a cockeyed optimist” was the key to her upbeat nature. “I got it from my mom, and that never changed,” she said. “I always find the positive.”

Her secret to long life:

“Having a sense of humor” is the key to a long and happy life: “Just looking at the positive side and not dwelling on the downside. [It] takes up too much energy being negative.” and also, “I try to avoid anything green. I think it’s working.”

Her great passion in life: was always animal welfare; the dues for her fan club, Bet’s Pets, went to animal rescue charities, and she received many accolades for her work for animals.

Her motto for life: make the most of every day.

“You better realize how good life is while it’s happening,” she said. “Because before you know it, it will all be gone.”

Betty White

Before we know it, our lives will become like the vapors…so let us be alert to the gifts wrapped up in the minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months of this new year 2022. Let’s remember to ask ourselves, whenever we think of Betty Marion White Ludden: What would Love do? What would Betty do?


October Ode

Impatiently we await your arrival,
October, most favored month of the year.
September teases, foreshadows,
Your brilliance; your orangeade gold.
Luxuriant, intoxicant, provocative,
Deeply we drink your medicine; we steep ourselves,
In splendored awe, whenever our gaze looks upward,
Into impossible spaciousness, your blue canopy, your crown.
Our breath draws deep, full of you,
Your essence, fragrant, brash and bold,
Pricks our affections, our sensibilities.
October air crisp, awakes us, awakes possibilities,
Like so many autumn leaves cast adrift,
Frees us from Earth’s hold.


Not-Knowing

Cast your cares for the stones they are,
Cast away, cast away, cast them near or far,
Throw away, far away, small, medium and large,
Worry not where for the stones may land,
The power of casting comes from the hand;
Now cast away, cast away, cast away all,
So feet may trample over stones carefull cast; now
Trod across, trod across, yes, trod across brave,
Across stone path trusting heart has paved.
Brave heart, true heart, pure heart behold,
Mystery perceived, embraced, and imbued,
Life lived not-knowing is knowing life true.
~DEBreen