Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

This Works!

Thanks to those of you who were able to try the Mindfulness exercises and took the time to communicate back to me. Yes! It really does work and you only need a few minutes a day to expand your brain’s capacity to see, hear, and feel more deeply as you calm down your manic brain activity. (If you missed last weeks blog on Mindfulness just go to the archive on my website). I am choosing to elaborate a bit more on the topic of Mindfulness because it is the best thing I have found to accomplish more with less – to help us feel more calm as we go through our hectic days and learn to control our scattered thinking. 
Mindfulness is about tuning into the power of our minds by getting rid of the distractions. It’s rather like a radio station. As you gently turn the control you go from static to perfect reception – and everything comes in loud and clear. Our brains take in so much stimuli simultaneously that often we think, see, respond or understand – but at warp speed.
In conversation we often hear the words and think we have the jest of the point but frequently miss the deeper intent behind the words. Why? It’s quite simple really – most people are so busy thinking about how to respond to what is being said or thinking about how it applies to their own life that they are only partially engaged leaving the speaker to feel less valued or possibly misunderstood. Have you ever talk with someone who made you feel like you were the most important person in the world? I’ll bet they gave you their full attention. Well, that’s exactly what this thing called Mindfulness is all about. It’s about training our brains to be fully in the present – not thinking about the past or the future but being fully engage in what is happening at the moment. 
When you train your brain to focus more deeply on something you often eliminate the need to revisit it. Think about the last time you misplaced something. How long did it take to find it? Wasted time for sure. When you fully focus and take in what you are doing misplaced things are a thing of the past.
In the ’90’s in an effort to accomplish more the process of multi-tasking was introduced. From individuals to boardrooms it was viewed as the thing. But over time it was proven to be ineffective as the thinking process remained at a more scattered and superficial level. Mindfulness is directly opposite to multi-tasking.
If you haven’t tried it yet I promise you that you are in for a surprise. Close your eyes and take 5 or 6 deep breaths and as your mind starts to wander just think about your breath – in and out – over and over. Try this the next time you are getting ready for a meeting or about to engage in a conversation and you will bring more of your self to the situation. Over time you will be surprised when others start to compliment you on your listening and engagement skills.
You can go the the hov.com website and click on Mindfulness to be guided through the practice. You can choose any one of the options from 3 to 30+ minutes plus. Just remember because you are training your brain it is more important to practice it daily (even for 3 minutes) then less often for a longer period. Think about it…even the way we can practice it fits right in with our fast-paced lifestyle!
Give it a go – this one really works!
Have a great few days!

This Works!

How many times have you wished you could just slow down your brain as it flits from past, present and future thoughts at warp speed? You know what I mean…when you simply can’t seem to relax and pretty soon you are thinking or worrying about so many things that you become a bit overwhelmed or exhausted. You may even start one thing and get distracted as you move to another and another. When I was working I remember at times that I seemed to be making myself nervous! I often wondered if there was a way to slow down those brain synapses. 
Well, there is now something that works and it easy to do! It’s called Mindfulness Training which was developed out of MIT originally to help cancer patients focus on their healing. The actual course consists of 30 hours of training and can be a challenge to work into a busy schedule but… I’m going to share the essence of it and resources on the web so you can begin to use it in your life. Trust me you will be glad you did.
Basically, it’s about paying attention to your breathing. I know… It sounds to simple or basic to be real but stay with me on this. With eyes closed sitting in a relaxed position stay focused on each breath as you inhale and exhale. As each new thought pops into your mind (and at first there will be hundreds it seems) you simply let each thought go and return to the awareness of breathing. This will take a few times to actually get into the hang of it but sooner rather than later it will actually get easier.
This technique actually changes a part of your brain which increases your ability to slow down and focus. I have often wrote about neuroplasticity which is the brains way to change with new stimuli. The research on Mindfulness actually proves that is exactly what is happening when you practice this frequently. You are giving your brain the message that you want greater focus with a more calming approach to attend to your daily tasks. The amazing thing is that this doesn’t slow you down or lessen what you can achieve but you do so in a much more calm, positive and productive way. Just think… this is without any artificial stimulants!
To get started I suggest that you go to the HOV.com website (Hospice of the Valley) and click on ‘News and Resources.’ Scroll down on the page to ‘Mindfulness Classes’ and click on the text ‘Enjoy a Mindfulness sitting right now.’ You will see 12 different options. For each option you can listen to someone walk you through the exercise. I suggest the 5 or 15 minute sitting a few times each week. According to the research it is more beneficial to do a short exercise frequently rather than a longer one less often.
This is the first time I have ever discovered something that helps focus, calm and bring a sense of control in even the most challenging circumstance. Try it for a week or two. Once you get the hang of it you can sit quietly even in your car, breathe slowly for 3 of 5 minutes before going into your next appointment and center yourself. You will be amazed at the difference!
Have a great few days!

Make It Happen! 

In the late 1970’s (yes, I am disclosing my age) I taught many classes on goal achievement from material written by Dr. Lou Tice. At the time it was looked upon as rather cutting edge – a way to show people how they could actually attain what they wanted In life. However, this approach was first taught by Robert Collier (1885-1950). His now famous instruction: “See the things that you want as already yours. Know that they will come to you. Then let them come. Don’t fret and worry about them. Don’t think about your lack of them. Think of them as yours, as belonging to you, as already in your possession.” Since that time books such as ‘The Secret’ among many, many others have utilized the concepts from Collier and Tice to help us understand that our thoughts are so much more powerful than we may think. We all remember the phrase – garbage in garbage out. Well it’s the same idea with goal attainment only in reverse with positive thought, word and action rather than negative. What you think about most often, WITH EMOTION comes to pass every time. 
In essence, you are sending out to the Universe a laser like beam of positive energy when you focus on something you want in your life. As with everything in life – like attracts like. So if you want something and you can feel with positive emotion how great it will be once it is achieved or received the Universe really does responds in kind. It works like a magnet to bring whatever is foremost in your mind to you.
It is important to be specific. When I was teaching that first series in goal attainment way back in the dark ages a person in the class wanted a patio set. Sounds easy enough right? But I pushed her further to describe the shape, size, color, and last but most important how much she was willing to pay for it. The cost is important. When you state the cost you then relax in knowing that you can afford it – it’s in your mental budget. That’s the essence of constructive motivation. Think of this approach as your personal ‘Amazon in the Universe.’ You see it, feel it, order it and it is delivered to you!
You might wonder why such specificity is important. Quite simply, with each detail you think about you are giving the goal more energy, more excitement. If it is a new house, for example, visualize yourself signing papers with a smile on your face, walking though it with tremendous pride and happiness and knowing in your heart that this is exactly what you wanted and for the amount you wanted to pay. Remember, the more you can feel it, see it and think it the quicker it will come to pass. 
At first, you might think that this approach is a bit far fetched. Trust me it is not. You are meant to have a happy, abundant life. All you have to do is believe that you are worthy, and truly deserve it and it will be yours.
Well, you might be thinking, if this is so easy why doesn’t everyone do it. Good question…the only thing I can think is that if you are a skeptic, don’t believe you are worthy, or have other negative emotions in your mind that type of energy forms a block to the Universe and your message to the Universe is short circuited. If you really can’t see it or truly believe it’s possible you push it away.
Goal attainment calls for a full on press to the finish line. Give it a try and let me know how it felt when what you desired was received. As with everything in life remember the importance of gratitude when you achieve it. Gratitude fuels the Universe. 
Have a great few days! 

The other day I read the following, ‘It takes only 13 muscles to smile but a whopping 64 to frown.’ The math could be slightly off but the point is well taken. Remember being raised with words of advice such as our expression is the most important thing we show to the world, because it tells a great deal about who we are inside and what we think about ourselves. Look in a mirror today. Do you see a face looking back at you with hope, belief in the future and positive intent or one of fear, anger or remorse? The point here is that you can choose…happiness or sadness – belief in tomorrow or regret over yesterday. Free will allows us to decide and to then act out our personal script to create our own reality.
Everyone has regrets. It happens. But it doesn’t need to ill effect your attitude or erode your confidence in yourself. I can’t imagine meeting a person who said they had absolutely no regrets in their life. Sounds rather delusional to me. The important thing is to accept what you cannot change and look for the lesson in it. What you learned makes you stronger and wiser for the future. Rather than beat yourself up over something from the past let’s use it as a stimulus for change – for a more positive view of ourselves.
It’s true, you have to choose happiness – it doesn’t choose you. As a case in point, I read about a bus driver in New York who had a full load of tired, stressed out passengers trying to get home from work at the end of the day. The weather was cold and rainy with traffic jams everywhere. The bus was barely inching along. The negative atmosphere in the bus was palpable. The driver who would also be home late due to the weather challenges could have simply turned a deaf ear or blind eye to the situation but instead he spoke through his intercom to the bedraggled travelers and said, ‘I can’t fix the weather or the traffic problems but one thing I can do is reach out my hand to you as you get off the bus and ask you to drop your troubles in my hand. Please don’t take them home to your families. I’ll be sure they get disposed of properly.’ Interestingly, as the story goes the passengers responded – some with smiles some with tears but they followed through on the driver’s request. This amazing man helped people by this simple but profound gesture because he choose happiness and decided to pass it on. 
Tomorrow if you run into an unsettling thing, just stop and remember the bus driver then check out your face in the mirror. What attitude are you displaying? Try smiling even at the absurdity of it all. Then extend your hand as a gesture to remind yourself that you have a way to drop your frustrations and troubles and believe in the power of personal choice to change your view of the situation. All it takes is a heightened awareness that you and only you have the power to ‘make it a better day!’

The other day I read the following, ‘It takes only 13 muscles to smile but a whopping 64 to frown.’ The math could be slightly off but the point is well taken. Remember being raised with words of advice such as our expression is the most important thing we show to the world, because it tells a great deal about who we are inside and what we think about ourselves. Look in a mirror today. Do you see a face looking back at you with hope, belief in the future and positive intent or one of fear, anger or remorse? The point here is that you can choose…happiness or sadness – belief in tomorrow or regret over yesterday. Free will allows us to decide and to then act out our personal script to create our own reality.
Everyone has regrets. It happens. But it doesn’t need to ill effect your attitude or erode your confidence in yourself. I can’t imagine meeting a person who said they had absolutely no regrets in their life. Sounds rather delusional to me. The important thing is to accept what you cannot change and look for the lesson in it. What you learned makes you stronger and wiser for the future. Rather than beat yourself up over something from the past let’s use it as a stimulus for change – for a more positive view of ourselves.
It’s true, you have to choose happiness – it doesn’t choose you. As a case in point, I read about a bus driver in New York who had a full load of tired, stressed out passengers trying to get home from work at the end of the day. The weather was cold and rainy with traffic jams everywhere. The bus was barely inching along. The negative atmosphere in the bus was palpable. The driver who would also be home late due to the weather challenges could have simply turned a deaf ear or blind eye to the situation but instead he spoke through his intercom to the bedraggled travelers and said, ‘I can’t fix the weather or the traffic problems but one thing I can do is reach out my hand to you as you get off the bus and ask you to drop your troubles in my hand. Please don’t take them home to your families. I’ll be sure they get disposed of properly.’ Interestingly, as the story goes the passengers responded – some with smiles some with tears but they followed through on the driver’s request. This amazing man helped people by this simple but profound gesture because he choose happiness and decided to pass it on. 
Tomorrow if you run into an unsettling thing, just stop and remember the bus driver then check out your face in the mirror. What attitude are you displaying? Try smiling even at the absurdity of it all. Then extend your hand as a gesture to remind yourself that you have a way to drop your frustrations and troubles and believe in the power of personal choice to change your view of the situation. All it takes is a heightened awareness that you and only you have the power to ‘make it a better day!’

The other day I read the following, ‘It takes only 13 muscles to smile but a whopping 64 to frown.’ The math could be slightly off but the point is well taken

.

R

emember being raised with words of advice such as our expression is the most important thing we show to the world, because it tells a great deal about who we are inside and what we think about ourselves. Look in a mirror today. Do you see a face looking back at you with hope, belief in the future and positive intent or one of fear, anger or remorse? The point here is that you can choose…happiness or sadness – belief in tomorrow or regret over yesterday. Free will allows us to decide and to then act out our personal script to create our own reality.
Everyone has regrets. It happens. But it doesn’t need to ill effect your attitude or erode your confidence in yourself. I can’t imagine meeting a person who said they had absolutely no regrets in their life. Sounds rather delusional to me. The important thing is to accept what you cannot change and look for the lesson in it. What you learned makes you stronger and wiser for the future. Rather than beat yourself up over something from the past let’s use it as a stimulus for change – for a more positive view of ourselves.

It’s true, you have to choose happiness – it doesn’t choose you. As a case in point, I read about a bus driver in New York who had a full load of tired, stressed out passengers trying to get home from work at the end of the day. The weather was cold and rainy with traffic jams everywhere. The bus was barely inching along. The negative atmosphere in the bus was palpable. The driver who would also be home late due to the weather challenges could have simply turned a deaf ear or blind eye to the situation but instead he spoke through his intercom to the bedraggled travelers and said, ‘I can’t fix the weather or the traffic problems but one thing I can do is reach out my hand to you as you get off the bus and ask you to drop your troubles in my hand. Please don’t take them home to your families. I’ll be sure they get disposed of properly.’ Interestingly, as the story goes the passengers responded – some with smiles some with tears but they followed through on the driver’s request. This amazing man helped people by this simple but profound gesture because he choose happiness and decided to pass it on. 
Tomorrow if you run into an unsettling thing, just stop and remember the bus driver then check out your face in the mirror. What attitude are you displaying? Try smiling even at the absurdity of it all. Then extend your hand as a gesture to remind yourself that you have a way to drop your frustrations and troubles and believe in the power of personal choice to change your view of the situation. All it takes is a heightened awareness that you and only you have the power to ‘make it a better day!’

Have you ever noticed that you can read something a million times and all of a sudden during the next reading a thought or phrase jumps out at you and seems to be giving you a personal message – just something you needed to hear at that exact moment? The poem, Desiderata written by Max Ehrmann in 1927 does that for me. Maybe it’s time to inhale and exhale slowly and reread it and see if it speaks to you. 
” Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing forces of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not bind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world, be careful. Strive to be happy.”
Have a great few days!

A Life of Meaning

‘We are gathered here together to get through this thing called life.’ This line from the musical icon Prince says it all. We have chosen this time to learn our life lessons and celebrate along the way. Prince showed us the power in diversity, acceptance and love. His message of unity is perfectly juxtaposed in a world of discord and division. He stood for social justice and lending a hand to those in need. The timing of his death seems to serve as a signal to all of us…to think, do and love. 
Prince challenged us to feel something bigger, deeper within ourselves. You could feel the Universal light force in him. He did not allow himself to be bound by time, race, gender or profit. He was beyond, above all of that, and pushed us to celebrate the importance and magic of life.
What causes a performer to be able to reach audiences spanning from their 20’s to their 80’s – beyond genres and generations? Simply, the universal values of truth, caring, acceptance and love – the ultimate wins in life. His songs, a true inspiration in themselves, were paired with a quiet philanthropy that only a few of his closest friends were even aware of – ‘just quietly do from your heart’ could have been his tag line. 
His spiritualism was evident from his famous 3 lens sun glasses (the middle lens designed to emphasize his third eye – the eye of enlightenment and higher consciousness) to the famous lyric, ‘I never wanted to cause you no trouble, no pain, only wanted to see you laughing in the Purple Rain.’ When we think of the words in that hit song we can imagine the rain as a cleansing element. When paired with the color purple which represents imagination, strength and integrity it signifies the union of body and soul in spiritual fulfillment. Faith in something bigger than himself gave him the personal power to carry on and on and on to produce 39 albums in 35 years – an unheard of accomplishment. 
Prince literally had his name taken from him (at birth he was named Prince Rogers Nelson by his mother) early in his life as both his music and name were hijacked by the music industry – all in the name of profit. He was also challenged by personal choices of escape. Yet through it all he continued to work to show us that no matter how grim things appear, we must never give up seeking truth to become a better person. 
The mark he made on our world was evident. Last night the entire New Orleans Super Dome was awash in purple light, the streets closing in Brooklyn so people could dance to his music and the emotional tributes offered by so many including the President. Kind just takes your breath away.
It’s not just his music but his message of inclusion, acceptance and celebration of the life force within us that will help us survive, thrive and evolve as we face tomorrow.
I visualize Jimmie Hendrix, Michael Jackson and David Bowie, among others, extending their hands to him as he passed on and with a nod and smile simply saying, ‘Welcome home brother, thank you for a life well-lived.’
Have a meaningful few days.

Why Don’t They Stop?

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” This quote from Sigmund Freud says it all when we see people who seem to say or do things that are counter productive to their own growth and happiness. We may wonder why they can’t see that what they are doing is harmful and just stop doing it. We may even judge them to be ungrateful, selfish or weak. The operative word here is ‘judge.’
When we fall into the trap of judging others everyone looses. But when we really try to learn more to understand what is truly happening to someone we know and love an entirely different world opens up to us. Hopefully, it causes us to feel more deeply as our empathy begins to kick in. With knowledge we become more proactive rather than reactive.
Compassion causes us to ‘see the me in you.’ We may at first feel sympathy for someone when we see their suffering but we can only feel empathy when we try to understand and relate by putting ourselves in their shoes. You may be wondering how it’s possible to do this – good question!
By taking the time to observe, listen, read and involve ourselves – even from afar- to really understand what another person is going through it causes us to become more thoughtful, wise and caring human beings. Rather than dismiss a particular behavior as bad or unproductive we push ourselves to try to figure out the ‘why’ behind it.
Maia Szalavitz, author of the recently published book “Unbroken Brain” takes us on a journey that helps us understand the why in addiction and explains the brain changes that take place. We learn that primarily psychological needs rather than just physical desire truly drive addiction but can be changed with learning. She explains why the majority of rehab programs simply don’t work yet gently guides us with first hand knowledge to find those approaches that do work to heal and move forward. 
The topic of addiction is actually more common then we might first believe. Whether we are talking about drinking, using drugs (both legal and illegal) gambling, eating, shopping even cleaning the evidence of addiction is all around us. Some folks with addictions are able to harness their overactive brains and manage their lives. But for many others who have as Freud points out deep seated unexpressed emotions of early trauma they need more time, help and understanding. Approaches that help them see their value rather than their deficits are crucial to overcoming their need for an emotionally escape. It’s obvious from reading her book that Szalavitz has experienced the world of addiction and has devoted her life to helping us understand more deeply and therefore put our tendency of discounting or judging to rest.
When we run across someone who can explain, inspire an educate us so that we become more caring, thoughtful human beings it’s important to pass it on – pay it forward. One thing’s for sure, if you take the time to read this book you will never be the same again. You will never again think to yourself ‘why don’t they just…’ because you’ll be better than that.
Please pass this blog on to anyone you know that might benefit from it. Let’s commit to helping each other on our life journey as we remember ‘A friend walks in when everyone else walks out.’
Have a great few days!