The following copyrighted essay was sent to me by a friend and student. It may help you understand the concept of "mirroring" in relationships...
Partnering through Change
Guest article by Jodie Foster
In relationships, we have the opportunities to develop a deeper sense of ourselves through the mirror of our partner. If you have a generous, loving partnership, then you are possibly learning lessons related to creating a generous and loving relationship with your inner self as well. If you are in an abusive relationship, are you seeing the mirror of your relationship with your self?
Many people wonder why they keep attracting relationship partners that don't work out, or that repeat the same patterns as past partners. Often, relationships can bring out the worst in ourselves and in the other person. Understanding why these things happen and what we can do about it them is one of the keys to successful relationships.
Relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners can be a valuable "laboratory" for trying out new behaviors that can change our life.
However, when we go through changes or life transitions, it may put additional stress on the partnership by having little time for each other, being agitated and upset, etc. One person in the relationship isn't experiencing change, they both are. If one person in the mirror changes, then the other will reflect that change. These may be positive changes or can be a stirring up of old issues that haven't yet been healed or released.
In a partnership, we partner through change as well as through stability. Life is constantly changing around us and our ability to remain flexible and grow together make for a stronger spiritual relationship.
Choosing to look in the mirror of our partner, you see aspects of yourself that may be ready for transformation or release. Is there something that irritates you about your spouse? Is there a common argument that you have? Do you share similar views on many things, but have a particular stuck point on one subject?
Instead of leaping first to blame or lash out at your partner, look into the mirror and see what is there for you to see. Is there something attempting to get your attention? Are you faced with this same theme over and over again? Is there a deeper issue regarding change that you're avoiding or overlooking?
Change itself can be a scary experience for some. In partnerships, change can feel threatening to the solid foundation or nest that you have built together. When one partner is undergoing deep internal changes, the other may feel left out, neglected, no longer connected and unappreciated. If that partner refuses to reflect upon the mirror that he/she is presented with, and chooses not to undergo changes as well, the mirror becomes out of balance. There is no longer a reflection of each other. One person has changed more than the other is willing to change. This is when struggle appears in the relationship.
In a spiritual relationship, partners consciously work through these changes, each partner facing their inner feelings, looking in the mirror to see that which is ready for transformation. A spiritual relationship as such requires tremendous courage for both partners, trusting that the other will continue to transform and flow with the changes along with you. Any relationship requires courage and trust. Communication is a necessary aspect of partnership and courage is most valuable. Stepping up to the plate and facing yourself in the mirror everyday can be exciting, thrilling and challenging. Allowing it to be something you face together every day is powerful and is the cornerstone of a spiritual partnership. This intimacy can grow and deepen over years, decades and a lifetime together. And as it grows, new worlds of closeness open, love can reach its highest expression, and the highest in the human spirit manifests itself in your life.
© 2005 Jodie Foster
About this Contributor: Jodie Foster is an Intuitive Counselor who assists clients to create extraordinary transformations in their daily lives. Her work is uplifting, empowering and success-oriented. You can visit Jodie's website, Illuminations Network, for further information and to schedule a private intuitive session.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
The following copyrighted essay was sent to me by a friend and student. It may help you understand the concept of "mirroring" in relationships...
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:12 AM
Not Spielberg's masterpiece, but the man plays at such a high level that even his disappointments are better than most filmmakers' successes. And this is no disappointment. Filmed on a truncated shooting schedual, I occassionally had the vague sense of this or that aspect being rushed (I thinkthe script could have used one more polish, for intance) but, that said...
WOW! The performances are great. Yes, you needed a Tom Cruise. We are with him from beginning to end, and rarely has a single actor carried as much of a major film as does Cruise, here. No, you couldn't have cast more of an "everyman" without resorting to stunt castng in tons of extremely minor roles. Not unless you wanted to make the film for 1/10 the money. There is a reason that stars get the money they get--people turn out to see them. The built-in empathy factor. and in this case, a built-in confidence in their goodness or capacity for survival. Because, folks, this ain't your daddy's WAR. It's not the sanitized George Pal version, which kept an odd sense of fun through it all, or even my beloved INDEPENDENCE DAY, a thinly-veiled WAR that winked at the audience through the mayhem, right down to the "virus" that saves the day. No, this is grim, unrelenting, top-of-the-line filmmaking, filled with horrors no SF film has ever put on the screen in this magnitude. The story of a divorce dad (Cruise) coming to terms with the miserable man and father he has been, and learning just how far he'll go to protect his family is in one sense, simplistic, but it works. It REALLY works. And the SFX, by ILM, are in a few places utterly indistinguishable from reality.
Those Tripods! By keeping focus on a single family, we see only what they see. (Was Cruise the only civilian who could get his car going? Who knows? We're so tight on him there could be another thousand cars on the road, and we'd never see them) What do the alines want? We have only the vaguest, and most disturbing notion. This is one of the best disaster movies ever made, chilling and thrilling and hopeless and oddly optimistic, absolutely not for children, but just try to stop them. Wow. I wish they could have spent a little more time. But that said, it's a solid "A."
Posted by Steven Barnes at 7:37 AM
A question was asked about the performance of Hindu Squats and Hindu pushups. Here are links to a pair of animations showing exactly how to do them. The Hindu Pushup, which is in essence the mid-section of a Sun Salutation, is arguably the single best calesthenic in te world, when it comes to overall body involvement, or return on investment. Treat them as practise sessions for proper breathing, and remember to keep the abdominal muscles firm...and you'll get a fabulous workout. Start quite slowly if you're not already in shape.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 7:37 AM
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
In six hours I see WAR OF THE WORLDD--probably the movie I've been most excited about so far this year. Yeah! but a little note on working out first...
I Openly reccomend three sources of workout information. First and Foremost, Coach Sonnon at Rmax.tv. However, he's a graduate class, folks. You'd better be serious about body-mind integration. The man is absolutely for real.
A level down from there--but still superb, is Pavel Tsatsouline. His kettlebells are simply excellent.
And the most basic level--but still highly, highly effective, is Matt Furey with his Hindu Squats/Hindu Pushups. Just two exercises that can trash you within minutes. Yow!
Here's a way to use the Hindus effectively for beginners.
1)Block out a 15 minute period.
2) Perform as many Hindu pushups as you can. Two? that's fine to start.
3) Immediately do 2-3 times as many Hindu Squats.
4) Rest 30-60 seconds.
5) Start over, and continue for time.
This will wipe you out, believe me. I like to do 2X the Squats, but 3X isn't a bad idea for those who really want to stress cardiovascular. These are intense exercises, don't underestimate them or you won't be able to get out of bed tomorrow!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:19 AM
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
It's amazing to me that it ha taken so long for someone to finance a new zombie film by George A. Romero. He created the entire genre with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, back in the 60's, an instant classic so disturbing that Reader's Digest ran an article basicaly blaming it for the downfall of Western Civilization. He followed years later with DAWN OF THE DEAD, which was less frightening, with an almost satirical edge, and nose-dived with DAY OF THE DEAD, which was in most folk's view, a disappointing work. Now he's back with LAND OF THE DEAD, and folks, it just flat-out smokes. There is such a difference between Romero and all of his imitators. there HAVE been other decent zombie films (Dead Alive, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, etc.) but Romero has a vision of our consumerist, racist, classist society devouring itself that is unlike anything anyone else has touched upon, and it is in full flower here. Basically, it is some unspecified number of years after the dead have risen to devour the living. Most of society has fallen, but there are a few outcamps, barricaded cities, where life goes on. Mercenaries raid outlying towns in armored trucks, seeking resources. but there are problems--the dead are evolving, gaining intelligence and a sense of purpose (somehting hinted at in DAY. And for those complaining about 'Tool using Zombies"--they've been using tools since the original "Night." Remember the little girl and the trowel? No, you probably deliberately forgot that, and I can understand why. Yuck.) At any rate, the Upper Class in this armed paradise, "Fiddler's Green", is predictably white and rich, and they need the underclass as a buffer zone between them and the zombies. When one of the Mercs (an excellent John Leguizamo. Asia Argento is also outstanding) gets tired of his flunky status and hijacks "Dead Reckoning" the armored tank, the fun really begins.
Gory, sexy, funny, thought-provoking, suspenseful...but not really a horror movie, more an adventure film set in a universe of horrors, LAND OF THE DEAD is a bit abrput at the end--but set up perfectly for a sequel that Universal better get off their duff and make. It has the makings of the very best work of this important American fantacist. The Master is back, and he's got a lot on his mind.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:20 AM
Monday, June 27, 2005
And of course, your best Mastermind--your life partner. The following is a combination technique drawn from about four different sources. At some future time I'll break them down for you. For now, I'll just tell you what you NEED to know to understand the way this works.
1) Remember the Mastermind principle. In order to reach goals unavailable to you as an individual, create a Mastermind group--at least one other person you commit to speaking to at least weekly, going oer your goals and actions. This person must be as close to perfectly synchronized with you as possilbe. Better one person who is in synch than a dozen who argue.
2) The best and most primary partner is your significant other. An incredbly disproportunate percentage of high-performing people have, throughout history, had intensely close marital/sexual relationships. It is further known that in a fascinating number of cases, when there were important decisions to be made, the high-performer would postpone the decision until after they could have sex. (Read the 1st edition of THINK AND GROW RICH. This information was removed from some later editions).
3) The first sexual magic technique I ever learned during the 3 1/2 years I was researching for IRON SHADOWS was the following: you and your partner agree on a common goal. Let's say you want a house. Find a picture of a house that you can both agree upon. Engage sexually. Hold the image of the house in your mind as you become more and more excited, all the way through your orgasm and into the post-orgasmic buzz. An insanely powerful technique, which creates a Pavlovian simulus-response loop between the desired object and the most powerful positive sensation your nervous system is capable of. Try it--you'll be amazed!
4) Here's where the FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE comes in. Sexual response, like so many other human qualities, is affected by breathing patterns. The 5MM is designed to train your body to move in such a way that your movement "breathes you" rather than you being in control of your breathing. One of the key aspects of it is to concentrate on the EXHALATION phase of the motion, allowing the inhalation to happen automatically. In other words, Conscious Exhale on compression, Passive inhale on expansion (See Coach Sonnon's work on the Breath Mastery Scale for deeper understanding). Once you have learned this...
5) Apply it during love-making. allow your motions to control the depth and pace of your breathing. IF you have previously mastered the technique (by slowing your motions down to 10 reps in 10 minutes), after an initial awkwardness, you will find that concentrating on the exhalation opens up a whole new level of intimacy between you and your partner. Amazing. And when it becomes automatic (practise makes perfect!) the quality of orgasm is absolutely astounding, a complete, whole-body, rock-your-socks-off, spiritual experience you may have never known before. when you learn to share your dream with a partner while in THIS state, it is absolute magic.
I can go into this more if you guys ask...but for now, I've gone a little closer to the "edge" than I usually do. I promised myself I would stay with the strictly logical stuff on this blog whenever possible. But it's not always possible. I have just described a step along another path. those of you who have sought a path to the mystical...well, just try this for six weeks and get back to me. I think you'll be very interested in the things I'm NOT saying about this technique. Heh heh heh.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:02 AM
Saturday, June 25, 2005
One of the most important factors in the achievement of any goal beyond your current capacity is the quality of what Napoleon Hill referred to as your "Mastermind Group." This is 1-5 people who are absolutley aligned with your goals, intentions, and values. This group must be consulted at least once a week, and all members conferr on the current goals andplans, and what has been done to move toward them.
The application of this principle to Lifewriting is clear,a nd simple. Remember the most important Mastermind principle: you must have complete harmony on the matter of our goals and intentions. therefore, it is better to have only one person who is actually aligned with you than four or five who bicker.
1) First start with YOURSELF. And here is another arena in which meditation is beautiful. Develop an internal scale for the "light" or 'warmth" or however else you represent an internal state which, when reached during your morning meditation, seems to provide you with greater balance during the day. Greater energy. Measure it from 1-10. Set a time frame, say 15 minutes. Keep a journal. In 15 mintes of meditation, on a scale of 1-10, how deeply into your "zone" did you get? if you keep track of other factors: diet, exercise, dreams, etc, your subconscious will, over time, start figuring out how to give you deeper and better experiences.
2) Once you have a "number" that represents to you a bedrock of emotional health (say, 8), see how long it takes you to reach that number reliably. You might take one or two days a week and go more deeply into your meditation: NOTE: for many people, the first 20 minutes are filled with garbage, and only AFTER twenty minutes are you in the actual zone. For these, you might need to set 30 minute blocks. However, even 1 minute, 5 times a day is infinitely better than nothing. Start seeing how swiftly you can get to a level "8", and then stay there for at least 5 minutes. YOu might try keeping a stopwatch by the side of yoru meditation mat. Meditate. When you reach a cool, clear (or warm--however you represent it) bright, light, whatever space, stop the timer. How long was that? Write it down, then go back to your meditation. Ask your subconscious to help you decrease this time.
3) When you are in this space ("8" or above) you should be able to detach from your ego a bit, and look at your life without the usual pain. Ask yourself: what were your deepest, best intentions about life as a child. As a young adult? To what degree to they align? To what degree are these goals healthy and appropriate?
4) if the beliefs are healthy and appropriate, then ask yourself to what degree your daily actions are in alignment with the goals. Short and long term goals, of course--we need both. It may be painful to realize how "out of touch" we are with our real goals. this is all right. Pain is good, if you pay attention to it. It teaches us. this is why drugs and pointless entertainments are dangerous--they anesthetize us to our pain, the very indicators that something must be done. what would happen if you lost the abillity to tell when your body was injured? It would deteriorate rapidly. And so will your life.
5) When you can clearly see your original goals, and your current goals, and your short and long term goals...all of this can be represented by your subconscious as, for instance, a golden braid. It may be knotted or tattered, but when you can visualize it, you are coming along beautifully.
6) See this golden braid (or however you represent it) flowing up your spine. Go one major energy center or chakra at a time: your goals in body, heart, and mind must all be in alignment, not conflicting with each other.
As you begin this process, you will find all kinds of dark patches, knots, hot spots-it is amazing the way your subconscious will represent emotional damage to you. As you start working in the direction of your goal, as you meditate what was once a clear area might turn into a garbage dump. Wow! What an incredibly literal symbol, eh?
but at this point, checking in every day, or preferably twice a day (what are my goals today? Aand later, "what did I do today?" Ask yourself how you did, and what you can do to improve 1% next week. Just one percent, folks, in each arena.) you can consider yourself genuinely in alignment with yourself. And NOW you can begin to seek that outside ally.
The most perfect one is your Significant Other. If you don't have one, a best friend, brother, sister, son or daughter (if adult) or business associate can work just great. but start with ONE, and one that you are sexually connected to is fabulous...
Want to know how to use sex, and the FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE to increase your income, health, and happiness? I'm about to start talking about some things some people might consider kinda woo-woo. sorry about that. Come on back Monday if you're ready for some serious magic. Otherwise...well, you've been warned.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:45 AM
Friday, June 24, 2005
One of the reasons I vacillate between left and right wings of the spectrum is my attitude toward the concepts lumped together under the umbrella term "Social Darwinism." Actually predating Darwin, and the creation of a guy named Herbert Spencer, the survival-of-the-fittest idea applied to social context (and later in economic context with unfettered Capitalism) is a great idea, and seems to hold true down to the protozoan level: those more efficient and effective organisms, social systems, individuals, methodologies or groups will thrive, and the lesser will fade away. and I think about 50% of me agrees with that.
The problem is that ol' debbo called the level playing field. I've seen incredible martial arts systems die out because they didn't know how to promote themselves. The McTaekwondo domnating the strip malls in the 90's were hardly "superior"--but man, they knew how to promote themselves. In fact, you could get our ass kicked rather roundly trying to make a lot of that stuff work (this is not to criticise REAL TAE KWON DO--a brutally effective and aesthetically astonishing Korean art--which barely exists in America). but there is this thing called Gresham's law that states counterfeit money will drive out good money...adn the same thing can happen in other arenas.
I've know a lot of people who believed in Social Darwinism, that basically, the people how are on top deserve to be on top, the people on the bottom, er...well, it's not PC to come right out and say this any more, but, well, they deserve to be there. And if there are a disproportunate number of the "others" there, well...too bad. Reality is harsh, ain't it?
Of course, I've always found it interestng that people tend to justify the positin of whatever social class or group they are born into. I.E.--wealthy people tend to think that rich people are rich because, well, they're better. Poor people tend to think that poor people are poor because they are more honest, and have better values. The people who believe that government shouldn't interfere in social process are those already at or near the top. those who think the government should get involved in every aspect of our lives, and "level the playing field" tend to have been nearer the bottom. And so it goes.
I remember stories in the Science Fiction field like "The Marching Morons", takign the position that because smart people breed less than "less smart", we will be swamped by stupidity. Let's not note that, for the last sixty years, the average I.Q. (whatever the hell that is) has actually gone up (if anyone has contrary information, I'm sure they'll let me know!). What is interesting is how much of a classic this story is, how most of my friends and associates in the SF field nodded their heads sagely and agreed this was a classic piece of work, and basically agreed with it. I'm not sayign that they were wrong. What I AM saying is that they combined this with the comlete lack of non-whites in SF--either as writers, readers, characters, cover images...the comments by John Campbell (verified by two independant sources) that black Africans, even in the future, would not be capable of developing or sustaining a technological civilization AT THE SAME TIME Campbell is counted as the single most influential SF editor by a large chunk of the field...and yet SF readers like to think of themselves as being progressive and open-minded about racial issues. I can't tell you how many panels I've had to sit on and disabuse folks of that notion.
In other words: everyone wants to think that thier group is where they are because of their positive qualities. and every group likes to think that their group are oepn, loving, realistic, and the blessed of god. I'm telling you, put these things together, and ANYTIME you have a group with numerical or political or financial advantage, they will use it in ways large and small to keep and increase their power, simultaneously acting pious as hell.
There was a deifnition of hubris in Greece that went something like this: to rob someone, or beat them, is one thing. To then crow about the fact that you did it is a greater crime. But do you know what human beings do? Do you know what absolutley common behavior justifies the lower, deeper circles of hell? To rob someone, beat them, piss on them...and then tell everyone that the victim is just "naturally' smelly, broke, and crippled. THAT is what people do. They justify it because that is the only way they can live with themselves. Tall, White, upper-class, educated, Christian, lean-bodied, heterosexual males are pretty much at the top of the social pyramid in America, and oftimes sneer at the "special interest" groups tryign to steal tax money for their own pork-barrel interests. but you know what? Secretly, most of those in that group are part of a less-advantaged sub-group. Take any one of them, and make them gay, or non-white, or past 50, or take their jobs, or make them disabled Veterans, or women, or whatever, and suddenly they're screaming for help just like the people they castigate. In other words, human beings tend to take their blessings and consider them to be their due, just for being born. And to ignore any aspect of their history that goes against that.
so Social Darwinism works...to a point. Because human perception will promote inferior skills and goods into positions of power, and we will justify our advantages and consider them the grace of God--and permission to destroy the competition. but the opposite position is no better--if you hobble the most capable among us, and 'tax the rich until they're dead", I think you DO create a kingdom of the impotent, in which the one-balled man is king.
I remember talking to Jerry Pournelle once, and his positin was that society shouldn't provide basic goods and services. My position was that every citizen should be guaranteed a basic education, room, board, and medical treatment. He said: "why in the world should we do that?" I said, "We need to provide at least the level of social service one would get in a State prison, because all I have to do to get those things is kill you. " Jerry looked at me curiously, and said he'd never thought of that.
You want the lowest among us to feel enfranchised inthe system--otherwise, what motivatin do they have not to simply kill you to get heir basic necessities? On the other hand, anyone who knows me knows I believe in individual initiative and responsiblity. to the max. THIS is what we need to teach our kids in school--how to succeed. and in the twelve years of public school education, I received not one hour of genuine success coaching, the principles that actually lead peole to success. Not one hour.
if I was to do the 'Poor little me" thing for a minute (and I think I may be permitted. It's my blog after all) I'd also note that in those twelve years I never received an hour's teaching on African history. The white kids in my class received thousands of times more reinforcement about their blessed advantages and heritage. I had to search high and low for any scrap of self-esteem, and if my blessed mother hadn't brainwashed me with "the Power of Positive thinking" and "Psycho-Cybernetics" and "Think and Grow Rich", I'd probably be just as dead or broken as many of the kids I grew up with. and I had no role models in the Science fiction field, and they put a white guy on the cover of my book. And I was told that if I wrote stories about people who looked like me, no one would buy them. And had scripts turned down not because of quality, but because of the race of the characters. For thirty years I've struggled with this, while staying more focussed, more directed, more obsessively optimistic (and anyone who knows me will verify this) than any human being has the responsibility to be. And at every turn, what I meet are people COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS to the fact that this is what I've gone through. erpetually astonished when I tell them, show them, prove to them. "Wow! I thought we'd gotten beyond that!" No, we haven't. And women, and the elderly, and the poor,a nd the disabled, and gays ("does megastar XX really think it would hurt his career if he came out of the closet? What nonsense!") and any other group...and as individuals, that includes most of us...get screwed.
But if you can make it into that "upper" group. If you can talk the talk, and dress that way, and shut up about where you came from, and agree that "anyone who has what it takes" can make it, then you can get the goodies. there would be nothing wrong with Social Darwinism as a theory if combined with sufficient compassion and honesty. But while most of the people I know ARE compassionate, Honesty is hard to come by. We praise our birthrights, and rationalize away our personal failures. When will I believe we are honest enough for Social Darwinism to not be an excuse to simply steal and kill and piss on the people we've hurt while blaming them for their wounds? When the average person is in a healthy relationship, has a healthy body, and a healthy career, that's when. Because all it takes to have those things is honesty, clarity, and hard work over time. Gee--isn't that what the Social Darwinists say it takes to succeed?
It's harder than it looks, friends. It's harder than it looks.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 10:05 AM
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Well, it looks as if Tananarive and I have our first movie deal. More as it develops, but both agents, Nia Hill (our producer), Blair Underwood (our other producgn partner) agree that a particular deal we were offered looks best. So...we've given our representation permission to move forward. Like I said, more as it develops.
I put a sign up in my office that says the following (a quote from a self-improvement book I recently acquired): "the grateful mind is constantly fixed upon te best; therefore it tends to become the best; it takes the form of character of the best, and will receive the best."
There are, indeed, two different kinds of people in the world. One, when you suggest a project or an approach that might bring them greater health or happiness, will tell you all the reasons it won't work, and you will end up in an argument, trying to offer them resources and help them be more flexible. It's hell. The other says: hmm. How can I make this work? and starts looking for solutions.
1) I've never met a human being who didn't have a perfect set of reasons to be a failure. Too old, rich (!), black, poor, gay, female, short, whatever. Not one. Everyone has some set of reasons that life isn't going to work out. and you can always find a pity party ready to agree.
2) I've never met someone with nothing to offer, someone who genuinely had no path to success. I remember a woman talking about how she had a friend who was quite ugly. I believe there was fire scarring involved, and would therefore not be able to find a man. this, she said, disproved my idea that everyone can be happy. My immediate response was that if I was that woman, I would get a job at the Braille institute, and find a really nice blind guy. She was thunderstruck. How could I even SUGGEST such a thing? Because I play to win, that's why. I don't play to make other peole happy, or to salve my ego. I play to accomplish the goals that I've chosen and maintained over the years, and that means that I have to keep going no matter what.
When Tananarive, Nicki, Jason and I moved donw here to Southern California, my plan was to write for television until I found a route to work in film. My plans were COMPLETELY blown out of the water because:
1) my previous television credits were so long ago, they didn't help me.
2) the entire game in television has changed--they don't hire freelancers. The work is all being done on staff.
3) The television shows don't hire anyone for staff who is over 40.
I panicked. This was an unmitigated disaster. My entire strategy had to be re-framed, and I had to FORCE myself ot look for hte spaces between the trees, otherwise I would crash and burn. The first thing I had to do was resolve not to take it personally. This had nothign to do with me--it was just a situation.
Secondly, I had to be very clear on my intent. To win. To survive long enough to get into the movie business. This ran into other problems. I was unable to make contact with anyone who would hire me (despite interesting promises before I moved here. Hmmm.) and evey possibility for interem money seemed to fall apart.
Third, I had to have a great stress-coping mechanism. without it, I would have been crushed. Brothers and sisters, this was where the FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE was absolutely a life-saver. Five times a day, I used the breathing technique, and then kept barreling forward on my projects, keeping clear-eyed and sober, and progressing. Taking meetings. That was anightmare, because I couldn't let my partners, or the folks I was pitching to, suspect how desperate we were. for Five months I struggled with this. and then...about two months ago the clouds began to part, and the sun began to shine.
I would never have survived without the support of family and friends, and my ability to keep my mind on what I WANTED to happen, rather than the potential disasters. I couldn't directly control my career arc, but I coujld work on my spiritual/personal life, and my fitness. and I did. the two-thirds of my tripod kept me alive long enough to meet Steven Spielberg, long enough to get my first movie deal, long enough to be able to take a deep, deep breath.
and I wanted to thank all of you. Being able ot make a core dump of my thoughts every day is a life-saver. I don't know wht will happen from here, but I'll keep you posted, and say more as it is politic to do so. but thanks, guys. Hang on. It's going to be an interesting ride!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 10:17 AM
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Well, after 41 years, Edgar Ray Killen has been convicted in the murder of three civil rights workers. You know? there's a glass half-empty and glass half-full sense about the whole thing. In my upbeat mind, I think "Thank God! Justice at last" that things have changed enough in Mississippi, one of the most intractable states, racism-wise, to get a conviction. The other part of me says that, in essence, the man has been fined. I mean, if I could kill someone with a guarantee that I wouldn't be punished until my active life had passed, knowing I'd spend the last part of my life in, in effect, a hospital of some kind (he's obviously a sick old coot) I'd be FAR more likely to consider that a good deal. So he dies in prison in a couple of years. Wow. Meanwhile, he spent forty years eating at Burger King and getting laid and playing with his grandkids, and chuckling about the Northerners he put in their graves. Hardly seems fair.
On the other hand, sometimes you don't get fair. Sometimes, you have to settle for justice. So I guess I should grit my teeth and smile.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 10:09 AM
Well, THAT was frustrating. I actually went down 1.5 pounds by last Friday. I worked out with a student on Saturday morning, helped friends move, and then did a kettlebell workout yesterday. Ate very well, and judging by the mirror, was noticably leaner...but my weight was the same! My pants fit looser, as well. Ah well--I was trading muscle for fat, no doubt, and muslce weighs more cubic inch for cubic inch. But still, the goal is weight loss, and if I don't get it, I have to be honest about it--I don't have a really reliable fat loss measure right now. Arrgh. but an important lesson--if fat loss is your only measure, it can seem as if nothing is happening.
Daughter Nicki is down a pant size, and her shirts are looser. So we're both making progress. Be interesting to see if her weight has changed!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:07 AM
Sunday, June 19, 2005
I was recently asked to be more specific about meditation and Dream Diary work, and how they fit into the Lifewriting program.
"I would say that I’m the same way when it comes to talk of meditation or other activities that are intended to circumvent just that left-brained over-rationalizing bit of my personality."
(STEVE)That is a perspective on what they are intended to do. A way of looking at it, in other words. Other ways of looking at them is to BALANCE the right and left brained modes. Another way is to teach you to differentiate between your self and your thoughts. Another would be to teach you to remain calm under stress. To focus or unfocus attention. To, in other words, learn to operate your brain/mind/spirit/body in more effective ways. but then that, too, is just a perspective.
" In other words, when I’ve tried to sit down for an hour of heartbeat meditation, I usually end up being fairly analytical about it, and am never quite sure if I’m doing it right, and actually progressing in the fashion you intend. As a result, I usually find myself frustrated at the whole activity, and end up finding reasons for not quickly trying it again. "
(STEVE) I would suggest that you begin with shorter sessions...say 15 minutes morning and night. and five times durin gthe day (9, 12,3,6,9) you stop and breathe for sixty seconds, or listen to your heartbeat.
"Unlike a good exercise period, or a visible progress of 1000 words in a story I’ve written, I have trouble seeing what I’ve accomplished after a meditation session."
STEVE: There are meditations where it is easier to measure progress. For instance, pranayama breathing exercises where you slowly extend the inhalation/exhalation cycles, or the period of breath retention or expulsion. The measurable changes in time should satisfy the analytical part of you. And you can understand the accomplishment in terms of "pushing back the lactate threshold", "learning to override the limbic response" or other stuff. The most important thing is that you are teaching your mind to do what YOU want it to do, not what IT wants to do.
"Perhaps it is counterproductive to try and wrap a rational layer around an activity intended specifically to circumvent the rational mind, "
STEVE: The rational mind is great. It's just not as smart as it thinks it is.
"but I for one would find it helpful to hear more about the mechanics of the process, where we’re supposed to ‘put’ our heads. I think we’re supposed to be allowing the chatter of the ‘monkey-mind’ to be suppressed, but are we to be striving for our minds to be completely blank as a successful meditation? Should we be trying to focus on some specific element of our desired development process? To me, such a focus seems more like giving carte-blanche to the chatter to hang around. "
STEVE: There are so many forms. One is to sit quietly and listen to the chatter. Don't associate with it, just watch it without attachment. And you might ask yourself: who is listening? And who is speaking? The more you realize the voices in your head ARE NOT YOU, the closer you are to a breakthrough. Yes, it is possible to reach a clear mind devoid of chatter--that is the "Mushin" state samurai train for, the state from which you can respond like sound and echo, because you are perceiving reality without all the filtering garbage. this takes years.
"Are we tying to achieve some sort of a waking dream-state in which we have coherent thoughts or a dream-like storyline? What, in other words, constitutes a productive or positive achievement in any given meditation period? What are we striving for in this effort?"
(STEVE): To expand the moments when we are not distracted by the chatter, and are "just" paying attention to the breath, or the heartbeat, or the space between the breaths or heartbeats. As we do, we are developing our ability to filter out the chatter. If an irritating or stressful task is to be done, there is the task, and then there is all the grief we give ourselves about it. The two interfere with each other. All the power in the world, all the power we have, is found in our ability to stay in the present moment. All the chatter in your head relates to the past, or the future. If someone pulls a knife on you, thinking about what MIGHT happen will get your butt killed. If you're making love, thinking about the job tomorrow, will screw up your ability to enjoy the delicious NOW. The psychological aspects of meditation involve the capacity to optimize the noise/signal ratio, reducing stress, enhancing communication and mental function. There are spiritual aspects as well, but believe me, you'll find those out for yourself.
"And to make the discussion a little broader, you have often cited both the meditation process, and the keeping of a dream diary as tools to help begin to address one’s (for want of a better term) [/b]mental and psychic life injuries. And while you do describe the process of the heartbeat meditation (or at least, the external side of it), I’m less clear on how one is to apply either of these tools to do the actual work of improving one’s subconscious health. Is it merely the pursuit of the activity itself that makes the contribution to the repairs? "
STEVE: To a degree. But learning the language with which the subconscious communicates is important to developing a coherant mental state. keeping a dream diary will put you in touch with the map of your internal world, as well as be an endless source of creative inspiration.
"Once I’ve got months of dream diaries, should I be looking at them with some sort of analytical lens to glean some sort of meta-message from my subconscious? If one (or one’s Lifewriting partners) suspects some sort of long term psychic damage from childhood, how does one make this the focus on one’s efforts to repair, or at least establish the need for repair, of such a suspected clot of mental detritus? Indeed, how would one tell if this suspicion is real, or perhaps a red herring hiding some other, better hidden damage? And at what point, if any, should someone start thinking about calling in professional help, or do you think most problems can be addressed with these self-administered tools?"
STEVE: Look to the external aspects. If you are healthy in body, relationship, and career--the chances are pretty good you're in good shape. It's possible to be healthy without having these three, but it is damned hard to be sick and have these areas in apparent balance. Man, that's rare. If there is a persistent problem in one of those arenas, begin to work with it, taking responsibility. taking responsibility will put pressure on the structure of your subconscious. If you have wounds, this is when they will bleed. If your dreams develop into night terrors, complete with monstrous transformations of ordinary objects and situations, there is a very good chance that you are dealing with serious damage.
Now...does that mean you should call in professional help? that's the safe approach, and I suggest it. But it IS possible for most peole to deal with these challenges without it...but that takes more strength. The safe bet is to seek counseling, if for no other reason than to have a committed ally who is, in a very real sense, not invested in your damage.
STEVE: As you work on your damage areas, your subconscious WILL begin to churn up the pain. You have to have a way to process it. Bringing things from subconscious to conscious awareness is one such way. You can speed and enhance the process by applying the FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE to the "Fear Removal" technique, starting with small anxiety problems before you attack bigger ones.
STEVE: But as coach Sonnon said=-if you have any doubts about your ability to handle it alone, trust that intuition and get help.
Great question. keep 'em coming!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:27 PM
Steve, I believe stongly that a polyamorous group family is likely to provide an even better environment for children. Certainly SF writers, notably Mr. Heinlein, have explored this possibility. My father's father died when he was only three years old; his mother died about five years later. He and his younger brother were taken in by an aunt and her husband who (it seems to me) did not really want them. If there had been several other adults in the household, being orphaned in such a way would not have been so traumatic. (My great aunt in question was childless, and clueless about children, much as I adored her as a small child. She died when I was eight years old.)
I have never been in a group relationship, so this is just an ideal for me, not something I can talk about from experience.
the above letter was posted in response to my previous comments, and I thought it might be interesting to address them directly. Remember that, in terms of relationships, my primary question is one of the healthy of children. Yes, you might be beyond the age for children, have already raised your children, or have no intention of having children. There will always be exceptions to any principles you try to lay down. Nonetheless, I'm addressing things from that POV because it is most critical that relationships work during this period. Frankly, if you're not dealing with kids, you are pretty welcome to have any kind of relationship you want, if both of you are consenting adults.
So...what do we know about tribal child raising? Generally, they operate in a relatively isolated environment. Everyone knows everyone...intimately. Everyone is responsible for everyone else's health and upbringing. Children are touched and loved and supported to an amazing, and healthy degree. It would be truely interesting to try to replicate this in the modern world.
But however difficult diadic relationships are, triads and larger groups are less stable by an order of magnitude. I've watched too many of them try to start, and watched them blow up, and seen children shuttled back and forth between states and parents, and torn apart because they have no primary associations...something that I will take the position that children need.
So, then, how might such a thing progress? I would suggest starting with a mated pair. They have a child, and the child is theirs. As they bring another person (or couple) into their circle, the child now has "aunts and uncles" who are committed to her welfare. The arrangement should be formalized. I believe Heinlein had strong marriage contracts that protected property and spelled out reciprocal obligations. The trick here is that, if things break down, you can retreat to the most basic unit--the primary mother-father-child unit, allow the others to spin away, and still have a healthy family.
Unfortunately, that isn't likely to happen cleanly (again, watching actual situations.) I have most certainly seen some where it seems to work, and the kids are happy and healthy and grow strong. But I've also noticed that, in a statistically suspicious number of cases, the children of sexually adventurous adults tend to have more problems with body image and forming pair bonds (even if they want to). This is VERY informal sampling. But remember that my concern is with the kids, not with adults interested in sexual variety. Have all of that you want--but the instant you bring kids into it, your hormones mean less than nothing to me...my only concern is whether you've put those kids first. I'm not saying that's right, just being honest about the way I am.
Paleoanthropology makes it pretty clear that such groups can exist, and survive. Are they better than the diad? Well, that's probably an impossible question to answer without a lot more precision in the question. If the maturity, intelligence, flexibility, and awareness of the adults involved is phenomenal, I suspect such a poly-structure might be the very best way to grow up, surrounded by love and support on all sides. I wouldn't mind that at all. Just remember that it's far less stable, and children need stability during formative stages, or it can have long-ranging effects throughout the rest of their lives. Tread carefully here. Children can't chose the families they're born into.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 7:54 PM
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Just came across another piece of the reason I stress that triad of Relationship, Fitness, and Career (service). One of my friends is a guy who has been stuck in a loveless relationship for twenty years. His "girlfriend" rarely sleeps with him, has never said she loves him, they live in the same house and barely see each other. For years he confessed to being miserable, but couldn't break it off. He is now involved with a married woman, which he rationalizes in a way that would have horrified the ambitious, intelligent, vivacious young guy he was twenty years ago. Sad. And he believes that nothing is wrong with him, he just made "choices" and was "too loyal" and other self-deceptions of that kind. You know somehting, he may be right. I'd say there's about a 10% chance I'm wrong in what I see. My friend is quite competant physically, and gainfully employed, so 2/3 of his triangle is in great shape. I could be wrong. But you will find that you are right more often than not if you assume that everyone wants intimate loving relationships, financial security and freedom, and a lean healthy body. Assume these things, and let your alarm bells go off when people give you their justifications why they don't have one. If they don't have two, let the alarms go louder. A person out of whack in all three is almost certainly sinking in an ocean of self-loathing and self-denial.
why are relationships so important? For one thing, I always ask the question: what would happen if the entire world operated by the standards of person X, or accepted behavior Y? What would happen if all children came from broken homes, or were raised by single mothers? For instance, I think that single mothers can be absolute angels. I was raised by a single mother. She was married, and then divorced, and never married again. I may believe there were some personality problems there, but I know she gave us everything. I also know women who got pregnant accidentally (they say), and raised the child themselves, never marrying. It's a struggle, but it can be done. Kudos there, as well--if they are telling the truth. But women who deliberately get pregnant without partners, I find to be incredibly selfish. They have never managed to heal themselves enough to have a relationship with another adult human being, but want little pet humans to fullfill them. These strike me as being blind to a terrible degree. If they want to raise children, they should adopt. Or heal themselves to be able to have and hold a relationship with another man or woman (I could care less). But children need two parents. I happen to believe that boys, especially, need a father, but I'm willing to be flexibile about that. Two mommies or two daddies could probably be pretty interesting. But I've known too many women who just screwed around, picked some guy for good genes, were in "love", or were honest enough to say: "I just wanted a baby." And so far, every single one of them that I know of had struggles that healthy married women didn't have. Not that the married (or widowed, or divorced) women didn't have problems, but they were qualitatively and quantitatively different. There is probably no condition more constant among felons than the lack of a strong father in a healthy home. To try, and fail to create a home is honorable. to set out from the beginning to do it alone is a crime.
And what about the men who have children and don't raise them? Who walk away from their responsibility? For them, I reserve a special circle of hell. They are beneath my contempt. The deliberate single mothers may have made a mistake, but I honor their efforts, and grant that human beings have flaws and wounds--they succumbed to them. but the men who abandon their children are simply scum.
I read a statistic recently, that may help convince those who think that marriage isn't necessary, partners aren't necessary for the raising of children, or the maintenance of a healthy family. Again, there are many strong women who persevere anyway, but by now you know my attitude is that if they would look within themselves, they'd find the flaws they need to heal to find a healthy partner, instead of rationalizing about why there are "so many wonderful women, so few good men." Feh.
Here' the quote, from a New York times article June 12, 2005: "Of the small number of poor single mothers who marry, 56 percent are lifted out of poverty, according to a 2002 study conducted by Signe-Mary McKernan and Caroline Ratcliffe for the Urban Institute. Getting a job is more common, and 39 percent of poor people who are hired rise out of poverty, as against 35 percent who get at least a two-year college degree." What? "Just" getting married is about 70% more efficient than getting a job OR an education in lifting one from poverty? Come again?
when I look at the phenomenal damage done to children by poverty, and the fact that, form my perspective, almost everyone wants a relationship, it seems like a no-brainer to concentrate my attention there. Yes, social factors can complicate rising from lower to middle class. Yes, in some social strata, there are more women than men. but that has NOTHING to do with the relationship history of a particular woman. If 2/3 of the population is out of work, does that give ME an excuse not to have a job? As my dear, dear ex-brother in law Patric says: "If there are only two jobs left out there--I'm getting one of them!"
Who CARES that there are 10% more women than men in a particular classification.? That has nothing at all to do with your particular odds of success in finding a partner. The problem is that we attract our mirrors. And too many of us don't like what we see in the mirror.
Because of these and other factors, with apologies to those men and women who are genuinely happy being broke, fat, or living alone, I HAVE to assume that these represent dysfunction, because we lie to ourselves about our pain and fear. This is what humans do. and I have failed friends in the past because I believed their lies. I will never, ever do that again.
Anything less would be a disservice to the world's children, and that would be not only a shame, but a sin.
so I state my position clearly: every person reading this blog CAN have all three: a healthy career, a healthy body, a healthy relationship. It requires positive thinking, hard work, flexible life plans, appropriate role models, and lots and lots of energy. And NO, you don't need to buy "The five Minute Miracle". I just strongly suggest it, that's all.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:06 AM
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Let's discuss diet a bit here. both for maximizing energy, and weight loss, it is a serious consideration. A few basic points:
1) In general, I aim at an inverted food pyramid: 3 parts green leafy vegetables to two parts complex carbs to one part lean proteins. If I'm not working out a whole lot, I cut down on the carbs (which function primarily as fuel), 'cause I'm not burning as much. Up the protein a bit, because the body doesn't use quite as efficiently for fuel. And stay away from simple carbs, especially table sugar in all its forms.
2) I don't mind a bit of fruit sugar. Fructose doesn't trigger the insulin response quite as much as table sugar (glucose and sucrose) and therefore you don't get the energy crashes that make you munchy.
3) I like the Warrior Diet approach (check it on www.dragondoor.com) which is basically undereating during the day and overeating at night. You're basically training your body to burn fat for fuel (this approach is recommended for people who work out a lot. If you're hypoglycemic, forget it.) I love it, because I only have to really think about one meal a day. But brothers and sisters--when it comes time to eat, you'd better have a really good meal ready, or you're trashing your body.
4) I like wide-spectrum nutrients rather than worrying about specific supplements. In other words,
a) a good multiple vitamin
b) a good Ayervedic herbal complex like Amrit Kalash
c) a "supergreens" product like Ultimate Meal.
5) One day a week, I eat anything I want. This "cheat day" is a family tradition.
Aside from that, freshly squeezed vegetable juice smoothies in the morning are great. I also like the Spirutein ready-to-drink meals. Great quick breakfasts!
Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, eight glasses of water a day, and that's about it for the overview!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 10:59 PM
Good enough to make you realize that none of the other four "Batman" films really touched the essence of the Dark Knight at all. Tim Burtin had a great art design, but Michael Keaten projected only Bruce Wayne's angst, not his intelligence, and certainly not his physicality. Batman was supposed to be the greatest athlete and the greatest detective int he world. While "Batman Begins" misses the mark a bit with the "detective" aspect, the emotion and the physicality are here, finally, full-out. Christian Bale is hands down the only screen Batman we've ever really had, and this story of his origin is a fine, fine piece of popular mythology, certainly as good as the original "Superman" (better when you stop and realize how they trivialized Lex Luthor!). Man, they've finally figured out how to do comic books onscreen--and I, for one, am happy as hell. An easy "A."
Posted by Steven Barnes at 7:57 AM
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
So the autopsy is finally released: no signs of abuse, a pitifully inadequate brain weight, and no evidence to clarify the original cause of the collapse. According to the doctors, no therapy would have helped. Hopefully, reasonable people on both sides can breathe a sigh of relief. But not all of them are resasonable.
I had a conversation with a friend on the other side of the political aisle. He basically took the position that if the doctors came back with a verdict he didn't like (such as the one just released), this is just evidence of conspiracy. Sigh. It is dangerous as hell when you back into positions that cannot be disproven. The world becomes a very dark and unfriendly place. Such people are the victims of political hacks on the Right and the Left, preying on their sense that the world has gone wrong, and that "They" are responsible. it is so sad, and no logical arguments work with people once they are in such positions. All you can do is try to help them heal, and feel stronger, so that they won't feel so threatened and small. From that position, it is easier to admit that they and their side--whichever it is--doesn't have all the answers.
Rest in peace, Terry. Your fight is over. The rest of us still have to make our way in the world.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:00 AM
Again, we're clustering the ideas I've been talking about around a specific issue: losing weight as a sign that an emotional trauma is being healed. Because of the massive amount of buried negative emotions, I strongly suggest both deep meditation and professional therapy, as well as a circle of supportive friends, and a dream diary. Much, much stuff is going to be processed.
Even if you don't have a massive load to process, remember that living systems will reach an equilibrium, and resist change with everything they have--they think change will affect their survival, and in a sense they are right. Your ego, thinking it is you, associates with your current state, and any serious attempts to change will be viewed as approaching Death itself. This is why fear management is so vital.
My personal efforts to lose weight (10 pounds by July 14th) kicked off yesterday. Because I don't have strong emotional issues around the subject, it will be easier for me. Not EASY, but easier--hopefully what I experience will be of some limited use. First blip--Tananarive is going out of town today, and I playfully suggested celebrating our recent good fortune with a couple of buttermilk bars...no, we didn't do it, but I could feel the part of me that doesn't want to lose the weight saying: Yeah!! Buttermilk bars! You can afford one...
No, you can't.
Your subconscious is a tricky thing. Your body will try to maintain its current weight. the only way to come face to face with your issues is to change the physics of the equation--physics supercedes biology or emotion. In other words, if you increase the caloric output (exercise) at the SAME time you decrease caloric input (food), your body simply has to lose weight. Consider this a two-headed snake--you have to control both heads, or the other one will bite you.
Remember--the point of the exercise is to force your issues to the surface, where they can be processed and dealt with. To find out what is really going on. So the dream diary, meditation, and therapy are important. The more traumatic the reasons for the weight gain, the longer the weight has been in place, the more vital these support systems will be.
Remember also that you will experience massive stress. You must keep it from turning into strain. The FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE is perfect for this--if you don't have a copy, get one! If you do, practise the BE BREATHED exercise, and slow it down so that each rep takes 60 seconds. Doing just the lower body half may be necessary if you are carrying a lot of extra tissue.
Five times a day, at 9, 12, 3, 6, and 9, stop and breathe for sixty seconds. Breathe properly. Close your eyes, and use your spinal flexion and muscle contraction to create an exhalation. Then simply recover to your original posture and allow air pressure (and diaphragmatic partial vacuum) to fill your lungs. Become more sensitive to the way your body moves when it is breathing healthfully. Try to catch the difference between this and the way you breathe during stress. Become more and more sensitive to this.
Breathing is your first line of defense on stress, and to increase energy. Start researching the breathing techniques that increase energy--there is a ton of information on-line and available for inexpensive purchase. Start with the breathing. It will trump any trauma, any other problem. The only downside is that you have to have your fear and emotional damage coping mechanisms in place to drain that psychic pus when it boils to the surface. And you will need to keep these mechanisms in place until your weight has normalized. At that point, you can use the scale to determine whether you are doing enough. If your weight creeps up--more meditation, diary-work, and therapy. If it crashes down into anorexic territory--the same thing (remember that your mind is sneaky--being too skinny is functionally the same as being too fat--both obscure those horrible secondary sexual characteristics!)
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:55 AM
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Let's apply what's been called the "Ultimate Success Formula"
1) identify the goal. Set specific time limits and standards.
2) identify the behaviors and beliefs that would have to change in order to accomplish the goal.
3) Identify people who have accomplished the interem goal. Model their beliefs and behaviors
4) Raise your energy level
5) Proceed toward your goal, using behavioral flexibility to try several different approaches.
6) Fail successfully--that is, note what you learn from the inevitable missteps (remember the Dark Night of the soul?)
7) Start the process over again until you achieve your goal.
In Sam's case, it would be the healing of old wounds. A good short evidence of healing would be the loss of weight. Another would be the establishing of a healthy sexual relationship with a smart, foxy guy. Cool. so let's say that the first step might be losing 10 pounds. Losing that much wil push some buttons--remember, her body is trying to protect her from further pain! So she's inching up on the real damage, without tromping all over her last nerve. Believe me, the first ten is a perfectly good starting point.
Assume that her body obeys the laws of physics, on a PHYSICAL level, the amount of fat-burning exercise needs to increase, as well as something to jack up her metabolism (weight training). Simultaneously, caloric intake, especially carbs, need to drop sufficiently to trigger fat burning. Water intake needs to increase to detoxify.
but that's just the external stuff. Far more important is dealing with the emotional sewer that will open when you start to process this. I would suggest going all the way:
1) A therapeutic relationship with a licensed professional.
2) Meditation (minimum 15 minutes a day)
3) Dream Diary
4) A circle of friends and supporters on whose shoulders you can cry. Someone you can call if you get night terrors. Establish this support network NOW.
5) Without guilt, blame, or shame, take responsibility for the results you've gotten to this point. Yes, horrific damage took place. But your only way out of the box is absolute love of self, and absolute commitment to take responsibility for future growth and change.
6) find a new way every day to tell yourself that you are loved, and lovable.
Begin to meld the body-mind connection so that the pain and fear that has been locked in your body can begin to surface. this is where the FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE's "Be Breathed" technique will be superb. Buy it, Learn it, and SLOW IT DOWN to the point where you are doing only ONE REP PER MINUTE for TEN MINUTES. that's sixty seconds per rep, absolutely no faster, understand? for ten reps. When you can do this, you have reached the first level of understanding about how to move your body so that the movement "breathes you." It is the first step of discipline, and the door to opening the subconscious mind.
If I have more "first step" thoughts, I'll add them later.
And just to make things interesting, I'm going to lose ten pounds. My weight today? 193.4. Let's see how I do. I'll talk about how I apply all of these things, until I'm down to 183.0
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:49 AM
The note to a "Nice Girl" still rumbles around in my head, partially because it raises the question again of why change can be so difficult. In some cases, of course, it's easy, but in others...years of thearapy, coaches, promises, courses...anything you can mention, and the desired changes simply don't appear. Is it even possible to change our basic nature?
If you've been reading these words over the last months, you'll know that my answer is: No. On the toher hand, that's not bad news, because our real basic nature is divine energy--everything else is just the way we present ourselves, the way we manifest. And on that level, no matter what kind of change you're talking about, there are examples of it.
The lady who sent me that note (Let's call her Samantha) was sexually abused, terribly, in childhood. The subconscious has a mandate to protect us, and in her case, it chose weight--to build a fortress around her, to minimalize her secondary sexual characteristics, to, in other words insure that unwanted sexual attention would never be directed at her again. The problem, of course, is that she minimalizes the degree to which she broadcasts healthy sexual energy. She is attracte to healthy, lean-bodied, intelligent, handsome guys (of course), and, (of course) has terrible trouble getting past the "friend" stage. And the only healthy way to look at this is that she is simply broadcasting her damage. That on a subconscious level, people know who we are, and what we've been through. And, until or unless she can heal herself, she will only be able to attract a man as damaged as she is...or one healthy, but of lesser attributes (not as smart or successful or handsome). And of course, that doesn't float HER boat--and why should it? So we're stuck with this human delimma: that most of us, or too many of us, don't like what we see in the mirror, and want the mirror to cut us some slack.
Moving from one level of human efficiency--whether it is weight control, changing a career, or improving our relationships, is just as difficult for many of us as it is for Sam. It requires that the desired change match our self-image (you can't become what you don't believe you already are), and it requires honest self-expression (I think Sam is holding back MASSIVE anger at her father, who should have protected her), and it requires dumping baggage, and a huge boost of energy.
Objects at rest tend to remain at rest. Objects in motion tend to remain in motion. that's simple physics. I think in the realm of deep human change we're working on the Quantum level, however. Incremental doesn't always help. I remember in "Think and Grow Rich" Napoleon Hill says that "Riches, when they come, if they come, often come in such an unexpected flood that we wonder where all the money has been all this time" or some such comment. In other words, you push and push and push and push...and get no apparent result, and then all of a sudden BANG! Huge change. How in the hell do you sustain your will, your drive, your belief, over such a long period? How do you build up your energy to take you over that hump?
One thing is that you have to commit to raising your energy massively, and then to being as efficient and coordinated with that energy as possible. This will involve exercise, meditation, rest, focus, visualization, proper use of emotions, nutrition, and a host of other factors. Without energy, we fail. "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Sam is no coward--I can vouch for that. But she is rolling a giant rock up a steep hill. I honestly believe that she has the resrouces to find the love and satisfaction she wants--without "settling" for less than a man who mirrors her healed self. I believe that the resources are within her, and that given the right context, she can find that healing she seeks.
But no one outside Sam is smart enough to help her do it. Only Sam is (and she is a brilliant lady). I believe that the answer will be found in the I.D.E.A. concept from the Five Minute Miracle--Instinctive Designation of Energy and Attention. So for the next little while, I'm going to do a core dump on energy and instinct, and a theoretical model that my intuition tells me can help people who have sustained deep, deep emotional bone-breaking damage. It might get a little esoteric, but I don't care. By this time you either think I'm crazy, or you're along for the ride. And I love Sam, and all the Sams, dearly. I'm going to relate all of this to the Five Minute Miracle, so if you don't have a copy of it, please get one now.
Again, in short, we're goign to talk about how to
1) Raise energy
2) Enhance creativity (you must find your own answers)
3) Know the inner territory
4) Deal with deep fear issues
5) Clarify the goals (end point)
6) Sustain effort over long periods.
and more. In other words, if I were writing a story about a lady with Sam's specific issues, what resources would I want her to find? Most importantly, it would be to connect her deepest, youngest self--long before the abuse took place--with her highest, most mature and strongest and most spiritual self. These two aspects MUST connect. They are two ends of the same Source, and together can make an "end run" around the damage.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:35 AM
Monday, June 13, 2005
You know, I find myself very conflicted about this case, and in the odd position of wishing the man would be found guilty--even if he is innocent. Terrible, terrible, awful thing to say. But I'm just being honest. Why? Because I think this decision is an aid and comfort to child molesters everywhere. If I liked to diddle little boys, I would be jumping up and down. Can you imagine? I can now sleep with little boys, and have them accuse me of touching them or performing oral sex on them, and point to that court decision as proof that there is nothing wrong. I don't know...maybe I'm just crazy on this one. But that "To the Nice Girls" letter was sent to me by a lady who was badly sexually abused. As a result, she has built a defensive wall of flesh around her, and from within that castle she screams out, hoping that someone will see the princess she really is, and love and cherish her. God, I could so kill the people who hurt her. They might as well have burned her face with acid. She has worked with her issues with a level of courage and commitment I have rarely seen, and still has hope. But the thought that those bastards took her childhood in such a manner, and that it continues to hurt her today, thirty years later, makes me almost homicidal.
If you are guilty, Jackson, I respect you more than if you're innocent. If you're guilty, at least you knew what you wanted and went after it. I'm sure you would have thought you were providing pleasure to the children. After all--you never denied sexual contact with children. What you said was: "I'd never do anything to hurt a child." And sex feels good, doesn't it?
If you're innocent, and just slept with them, after years of being told by family and friends and lawyers that your behavior was suspicious and legally actionable...I just don't know what to say about you. I think you've weakened the fabric of protection for children by showing that enough fame and money can allow you to act pretty much any way you want to. And the molesters are watching. I honestly believe children are less safe tonight. Because of you, you sick and twisted thing.
Once upon a time you were the most talented performer in the world. I honestly believe that you were told that fame would dwindle as you matured--that white America would reject you. So you tried to erase your ethnicity. Somewhere along the way, you lost touch with reality, lost in whatever inner world you've constructed to protect that fabulously talented child you were. Now, you're just lost. God, I feel sorry for your children. And for the child you were. But the man you are? If you even looked crosseyed at my boy, I'd break your neck for you.
Sorry. I'm in a bad mood tonight.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 11:08 PM
Sunday, June 12, 2005
I got this post from a long time friend, a lady of grace and charm, who has struggled with issues related to an early abusive history. That history has left her with some problems that would kill the ordinary mortal, but she's struggled with them like a true warrior. One arena that the scars have damaged is her personal life--an arena in which she has not been able to find the kind of relationship that she deserves. I talk a lot about the male-female thing, and the beauty-power thing. It would be simplicity itself to create a male version of this. But that would be a distraction from the very real pain in this piece. Just remember how vulnerable we all are, and try to be a little kinder, and a little more honest with yourself and others. And oh, yes...a little more loving.'
Her note went:
"This is my tribute to the nice girls. To the nice girls who are overlooked, who become friends and nothing more, who spend hours fixating upon their looks and their personalities and their actions because it must be they that are doing something wrong.
This is for the girls who don't give it up on the first date, who don't want to play mind games, who provide a comforting hug and a supportive audience for a story they've heard a thousand times.
This is for the girls who understand that they aren't perfect and that the guys they're interested in aren't either, for the girls who flirt and laugh and worry and obsess over the slightest glance, whisper, touch, because somehow they are able to keep alive that hope that maybe... maybe this time he'll have understood. This is an homage to the girls who laugh loud and often, who are comfortable in skirts and sweats and combat boots, who care more than they should for guys who don't deserve their attention.
This is for those girls who have been in the trenches, who have watched other girls time and time again fake up and make up and fuck up the guys in their lives without saying a word.
This is for the girls who have been there from the beginning and have heard the rite words of advice, from "there are plenty of fish in the sea," to "time heals all wounds." This is to honor those girls who know that guys are just as scared as they are, who know that they deserve better, who are seeking to find it.
This is for the girls who have never been in love, but know that it's an experience that they don't want to miss out on. For the girls who have sought a night with friends and been greeted by a night of catcalling, rude L0VESzs and explicit invitations that they'd rather not have experienced.
This is for the girls who have spent their weekends sitting on the sidelines of a beer pong tournament or a case race, or playing Florence Nightingale for a vomiting guy friend or a comatose crush, who have received a drunk phone call just before dawn from someone who doesn't care enough to invite them over but is still willing to pass out in their bed.
This is for the girls who have left sad song lyrics in their away messages, who have tried to make someone understand through a subliminally appealing profile, who have time and time again dropped their male friend hint after hint after hint only to watch him chase after the first blonde girl in a skirt.
This is for the girls who have been told that they're too good or too smart or too pretty, who have been given compliments as a way of breaking off a relationship, who have ever been told they are only wanted as a friend.
This one's for the girls who you can take home to mom, but won't because it's easier to sleep with a wh0re than foster a relationship; this is for the girls who have been led on by words and kisses and touches, all of which were either only true for the moment, or never real to begin with.
This is for the girls who have allowed a guy into their head and heart and bed, only to discover that he's just not ready, he's just not over her, he's just not looking to be tied down; this is for the girls who believe the excuses because it's easier to believe that it's not that they don't want you, it's that they don't want anyone.
This is for the girls who have had their hearts broken and their hopes dashed by someone too cavalier to have cared in the first place; this is for the nights spent dissecting every word and syllable and inflection in his speech, for the nights when you've returned home alone, for the nights when you've seen from across the room him leaning a little too close, or standing a little too near, or talking a little too softly for the girl he's with to be a random hookup.
This is for the girls who have endured party after party in his presence, finally having realized that it wasn't that he didn't want a relationship: it was that he didn't want you. I honor you for the night his dog died or his grandmother died or his little brother crashed his car and you held him, thinking that if you only comforted him just right, or said the right words, or rubbed his back in the right way then perhaps he'd realize what it was that he already had. This is for the night you realized that it would never happen, and the sunrise you saw the next morning after failing to sleep
This is for the "I really like you, so let's still be friends" comment after you read more into a situation than he ever intended; this is for never realizing that when you choose friends, you seldom choose those which make you cry yourself to sleep. This is for the hugs you've received from your female friends, for the nights they've reassured you that you are beautiful and intelligent and amazing and loyal and truly worthy of a great guy; this is for the despair you all felt as you sat in the aftermath of your tears, knowing that that night the only companionship you'd have was with a pillow and your teddy bear.
This is for the girls who have been used and abused, who have endured what he was giving because at least he was giving something; this is for the stupidity of the nights we've believed that something was better than nothing, though his something was nothing we'd have ever wanted.
This is for the girls who have been satisified with too little and who have learned never to expect anything more: for the girls who don't think that they deserve more, because they've been conditioned for so long to accept the scraps thrown to them by guys.
This is what I don't understand. Men sit and question and whine that girls are only attracted to the mean guys, the guys who berate them and belittle them and don't appreciate them and don't want them; who use them for sex and think of little else than where their next conquest will be made. Men complain that they never meet nice girls, girls who are genuinely interested and compelling, who are intelligent and sweet and smart and beautiful; men despair that no good women want to share in their lives, that girls play mindgames, that girls love to keep them hanging. Yet, men, I ask you: were you to meet one of these genuinely interested, thrillingly compelling, interesting and intelligent and sweet and beautiful and smart girls, were you to give her your number and wait for her to call... and if you were to receive a call from her the next day and she, in her truthful, loyal, intelligent and straightforward nice girl fashion, were to tell you that she finds you intriguing and attractive and interesting and worth her time and perhaps material from which she could fashion a boyfriend, would you or would you not immediately call your friends to tell them of the "stalker chick" you'd met the night prior, who called you and wore her heart on her sleeve and told the truth? And would you, or would you not, refuse to make plans with her, speak with her, see her again, and once again return to the bar or club or party scene and search once more for this "nice girl" who you just cannot seem to find? Because therein lies the truth, guys: we nice girls are everywhere. But you're not looking for a nice girl. You're not looking for someone genuinely interested in your intermural basketball game, or your anatomy midterm grade, or that argument you keep having with your father; you're looking for a quick fix, a night when you can pretend to have a connection with another human being which is just as disposable as the condom you were using during it.
So don't say you're on the lookout for nice girls, guys, when you pass us up on every step you take. Sometimes we go undercover; sometimes we go in disguise: sometimes when that girl in the low cut shirt or the too tight miniskirt won't answer your catcalls, sometimes you're looking at a nice girl in wh0re's clothing - - we might say we like the attention, we might blush and giggle and turn back to our friends, but we're all thinking the same thing:
"This isn't me. Tomorrow morning, I'll be wearing a teeshirt and flannel shorts, I'll have slept alone and I'll be making my hungover best friend breakfast. See through the disguise. See me."
You never do. Why? Because you only see the exterior, you only see the slutty girl who welcomes those advances. You don't want the nice girl.. so don't say you're looking for a relationship: relationships take time and energy and intent, three things we're willing to extend - - but in return, we're looking for compassion and loyalty and trust, three things you never seem willing to express. Maybe nice guys finish last, but in the race they're running they're chasing after the wh0res and the sluts and the easy-targets... the nice girls are waiting at the finish line with water and towels and a congradulatory hug (and yes, if she's a nice girl and she likes you, the sweatiness probably won't matter), hoping against hope that maybe you'll realize that they're the ones that you want at the end of that silly race.
So maybe it won't last forever. Maybe some of those guys in that race will turn in their running shoes and make their way to the concession stand where we're waiting; however, until that happens, we still have each other, that silly race to watch, and all the chocolate we can eat (because what's a concession stand at a race without some chocolate?)
Posted by Steven Barnes at 6:53 PM
One of my readers commented that the charge that "Lefties are traitors", often said by right-wing pundits, is roughly equivilent to the "Bush voters were idiots" comment from the Left. Hmmm. You know, I think the odious stereotype is "Traitors on the Left, Bigots on the Right." There is, I think, a whiff of truth in it--in the sense that if you hear someone complaining about America being the worst country ever, it derves to be destroyed, 9-11 was justified, etc, etc, your money would probably be safe betting that the speaker has Leftist politics. Conversely, if you overheard someone complaining about Race Mixing, saying Segregation was "a good idea", that blacks were natural slaves of substandard intelligence, etc....your money would probably be safe betting this person's politics were on the Right. Why this might be is another conversation--I'm just talking observable reality, and public perceptions. But to tar an entire group with the sins of a few (on either side) is just as closed minded and bigoted. We're all Americans. Some of us just look at the flag from different directions.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:58 AM
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Looking at the recent tabloid explosion of Tom Cruise stories, it's fun to watch them accuse him of being gay without coming right out and saying it. (Is his relationship with Katie Holmes real? Why didn't he know how to make love to Nicole Kidman on the set of "Eyes Wide Shut"? etc.) After he sued a London Tabloid and a young man who claimed to have had a torrid affair with him, I remember one cultural critic commenting on the fact that Cruise felt that the young man was attempting to damage his reputation and career. This critic, somewhat disingenuously, I thought, suggested that Cruse was overreacting, that "in this day and age" being gay wouldn't be a disadvantage to an action star, and that therefore the suit was baseless. Wow. Was this guy blind, or deaf, or dumb, or overly optimistic, or am I completely misreading the culture?
If Tom Cruise was "outed" (and I'm not saying he could be. None of my business) suddenly, his movies wouldn't be as popular. Oh, no one would say it was because he was gay--any more than black movies fail "because" the star has sex. Suddenly, they would be "over the top", "not credible" his "shtick" just "wouldn't be as appealing" and his "boyish charm" would have "worn out it's welcome." None of it would be because he was gay. If you want to know hwere his popularity would be, well...take his current popularity (#3 all-time movie stars according to Entertainment Weekly) add the popularity of Phillip Seymour Hoffman (probably the most popular openly gay actor. Is Hoffman in the top 100? Maybe he's around 105. Now divide by two. Let's be generous and say that Cruise would find himself at around #50, suddenly out of fashion for reasons that have nothign, nothign at all, you see, with his sexual orientation. But what about Ellen DeGeneris, you ask? Look at the relative acceptability of Lesbian and gay male images and you'll have all the understanding you need. There is simply no comparison to the level of social acceptance. None at all.
So...in terms of social power in America you want to be straight, male, lean-bodied, tall, white, Christian, 18-40 years of age, wealthy, intelligent, and healthy. If you change any one of these variables, you're likely to have problems making money or getting elected to public office. Wearing the protective coloration of the dominating group (one might as well add "of English extraction" to that list) is a safety factor. The number of Jews, Italians, Lebanese, etc. who changed their names to "Martin" or "Thomas" or Darin" to be able to function in show business is legendary. Getting noses bobbed, concealing religious preference, etc. is just part of the business. If you CAN pretend to be a white Christian heterosexual, the rewards are great. How many women hid their identity behind men's names in order to be published? How many obese people have starved themselve to try to be skinny? Micheal Jackson wasn't the first black person to actually try to turn themselves white--he was just the most notorious failure.
the joke, of course, is that I've known lean-bodied, heterosexual males convinced that women or blacks or whatever have all the advantages. These poor deluded specimins must have such contempt for the "out group" that on any occassion when they succeed, they attribute that success to an unfair advantage. Yes, I know a few whites who say that they've lost jobs because of an unfair advantage some black person had socially. But you know what? EVERY black person I've ever talked to can say exactly the same thing about white people. Am i supposed to believe all of them? None of them? Or just the stories that make me, personally, feel superior and justified in prejudice? Tell me, please.
On the other hand, I know that EVERYONE has a perfect set of reasons to feel screwed over, tropmed on, disadvantaged. yes, we've all been hurt, and every member of the human race is a minority group of one. But if I don't admit that there are advantages to being intelligent, lean-bodied, and financially successful I'm simply lying to myself. If I were white, I'd admit there were advantages there. There are advantages to being male--but then I believe there are very real, statistical disadvantages as well. I'm not asking anyone to feel bad about themselves or what advantages they may have. Just to be realistic and clear-eyed about the fact that (if they're not careful) everyone is oppressing someone, and we want to be compassionate.
If a man worth half a billion dollars is right, that merely admitting that he loves and is attracted to membrs of his own gender would destroy his business, that is hardly a thing for us, as a society, to be proud of. Not necessarily something to be ashamed of, either. It is something to look at calmly, and clearly, and ask if that is who we want ourselves, and our children, to be. Be very certain who it is you are committed to being in this world. Because you are voting with every word, every step, every glance, every movie ticket you buy. It's your world. Own it consciously.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:14 AM