The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My brilliant, award-winning baby is turning her head inside-out for you:
Tananarive Due's Secrets of a Writer's Life:

Sixty Minutes is Yours!

I really enjoy re-writing my goals every day, without looking at the previous day's list. I did this thirty years ago, at the beginning of my career, and took off like a rocket. Then...I got complacent and forgot about it. "I don't need that." Well...when I do this, several things happen:

1) I remind myself of my overarching goals (all current goals are to be accomplished by December 31, 2012.)

2) Because I don't look at the previous day's list, I have to struggle to clarify my mind, remember what is important to me. Later in the day, I might compare lists from different days. What keeps coming up? What drops out?

3) I can look and see how well my goals are balanced. Out of 10 goals, three are physical, three career and four are spiritual and family. That works for me--and I'd never want to have less than two in any of those arenas. If I didn't have at least one, I'm in big, big trouble.

4) Writing down a goal is an intermediate step between thinking it and doing it. It is an action, however small, and begins the process of bringing your goal from the purely mental domain into the realm of physical existence. It is revealing how people react to writing their goals out--I've seen it in countless workshops. Their hands will tremble when they do it, if there is any internal conflict. And friends, in my experience, there is ALWAYS internal conflict.


Every day, you need to know the three most important things for you to accomplish. If all you have that belongs to you is your "Diamond Hour" then you have to arrange things so that you are taking maximum advantage of those 60 minutes. Let's say that I'm talking about my own life. I can squeeze out 60 minutes of "my own" before I have to leave to catch a plane.

1) Re-write goals (10 minutes)

2) Meditate/Tibetans (10 minutes)

3) Read one scene of Shakespeare aloud (10 minutes)

4) Write 1000 words or 5 pages of script or rewrite same (30 minutes)

I know that if I do this every day, and if every day this is all that I do, at the end of the year I'll have made SERIOUS progress toward my personal goals. Needless to say, I want more writing time, more exercise time, more meditation time, more study time. But this minimum allows me to nurture my essence, and stay in touch with my childhood dreams, adult goals, and deathbed values. No matter how busy I get, I won't resent the time my family needs, and my body won't fall apart from stress. My writing is getting done, and I'm reminding myself what every day means in the overall structure of my existence.

I will fight to the death to get my hour a day. SIXTY MINUTES OF EVERY DAY BELONGS TO ME. It belongs to me. No one but me. And anyone who says different is trying to steal from the little boy inside me. God help them.


After TEN YEARS of pleading, I've finally managed to get Tananarive to begin the process of documenting the genius-level thought and action she uses to create her best-selling, award-winning novels and short stories. She approaches the dynamic sphere of creativity from a different perspective than I do...possibly because she's a woman, possibly because we're simply different people. But her depth of understanding is simply phenomenal, and until now, she just hasn't had the time or patience to do more than lecture select groups or work with a very few select and very advanced students. Now, she's created TANANARIVE DUE'S SECRETS OF A WRITER'S LIFE (

In coaxing this precious information out of her, I was once again reminded of how blessed I am to have her as a partner in writing...or life itself. For a VERY limited time, we're offering this at a reduced price, just to let our "friends" have access to it before the general public trips across the link. Maybe 72 hours...maybe a week. No more than that, before the price goes up. Check it out today!

Monday, July 25, 2011

‎"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." Frederick Douglass

Friday, July 22, 2011

My NPR article on Why Fathers Matter:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Aligning dreams, values, beliefs and actions is the fast track to double your energy. Misaligning is the sure road to massive stress.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Focused Flow

Focused Flow

In asking people for suggestions for my Writer's Block project, I realized that my perspective on the problem is an inability to freely shift between editing and flow modes. That "Focused Flow" is, for about 80% of people, the real issue--everything else is removing obstacles to this quality, and letting your best self issue forth.

Last Sunday I was speaking with the greatest martial artist it has been my honor to know personally, the phenomenal Steve Muhammad. And the topic of how to help students enter this critical mental/emotional state while maintaining technical precision was central to the discussion.

In martial arts, sexuality, driving, writing...countless disciplines the question is how to have the basic skills at Unconscious Competence so that flow can be entered, and you can just...well, enjoy the ride.

This "Focused Flow" is the lowest level of the esoteric mind, the doorway to your highest performance. To access it there must be a balance between challenge and familiarity, pain and pleasure, attention and intention. It is here that your instinct and education blend to create an artistic response...and I don't think it would be too much to say that every student I've ever had has, in one way or another, sought it.

The first step is to ADMIT YOU DESIRE IT. Then you can define how it would look and feel, and begin to identify the quality when and where it already appears in your life, and people who have greater amounts of it than you...and then begin to model them.

That means adding some behaviors, removing others, and modifying some. It will be a combination of emotions, mental focus, physical energy, and environmental design. It is your doorway to excellence.

Whatever your abilities, whatever your potential, whatever "mastery" means in your life...this is absolutely a component. Embrace it!

(And stay tuned for an announcement about your permanent solution to this problem...coming soon!)

Steven Barnes

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Unsound Intellection is false understanding, not resting on a perception of
the true nature of things" --Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

JULY 14, 2011

The lovely and talented J. S. has been successfully battling with her weight over the last months, and slowly it drops away. She has been smart enough to share her struggles on Facebook, including the depression that pops up if she gains a little weight during a week.

Note something important--this is TYPICAL backlash from our ego, which believes that it is us. Egos are not evil, and you cannot completely eradicate it so long as you have a body. But you can become familiar with its "voice" and tactics, and get the joke.

At any rate, on Facebook, one of her friends posted the following note:

"Losing weight feels sort of surreal, doesn't it? Like, I don't really believe in the weight loss 'til I try clothes on and I say, "Huh. These pants seem to have grown. That's weird."


What this person said is CRITICAL. We have to change our self-image, or the chances of self-sabotage are about 95%. The problem with shifting bodies is that our old concepts and emotions are FAR more slippery than the mere physics of the situation. I HATE it when people who do not understand prattle about 'laziness.' Jesus. No understanding of human psychology at all.

And while the dynamics of weight loss are photographable, the need to shift self-image is important in all three arenas. Do you believe you're worth twice the money you currently make? Can you see that version of yourself clearly? What do they do? How do they feel? How do they carry themselves? I promise it is different from the way you currently think, feel, and act.

How about relationships? It is so sad when people constantly blame their spouses and relationships for trauma and damage, without the slightest bit of self awareness that THEY CHOSE THEIR PARTNERS. At the very, very least, they have some waking-up to do. Maybe growing-up. Healing. Either you didn't know yourself, or you don't read other people very well. This can be fixed, but you MUST take responsibility. Who is the version of you who could have a healthy, happy, sensual, positive relationship? Unless you are currently in such a blessed union, I promise that person walks, talks, thinks, and feels different from you.

Now, I'm going to tell a story on my buddy Scott Sonnon. I've known fanatics my whole life. They can seem brilliant, talented, focused, and worthy of emulation and leadership. When I met Scott, I knew he was a singularity: his quality of motion was unique in my experience, and I have seen some extraordinary martial athletes. And charismatic? He dominated a roomful of Alphas so effortlessly you would have thought he was a Beta with a gun. I knew I wanted to get closer, but frankly, I was a little worried. So on one of my visits to train with him, I brought my wife, Tananarive. I told her I wanted her to notice three things:

1) His wife

2) The nature of his RELATIONSHIP with his wife.

3) Lastly, Scott himself.

You see, your partner is your mirror. You can't fake it for very long. You note the way the wife or husband acts when the partner is in the room. Out of the room. Moving in and out of physical space. Use emotional "soft focus" and trust your instincts. Keep your antennae WAY up. You'll figure it out. And by the way: the energy between Scott and his lovely wife Jodie was just phenomenal--you could feel both the childlike playfulness, the adult partnership, and the "oomph." The air virtually shimmered between them. She was his grounding, but also his guide. They clearly exchanged positions of leadership depending upon the issues. What we were seeing is the same healthy dance of male-female energy that should be internal in every human being, played out in a dyadic relationship. Lovely.

I knew I could trust him--Scott was the real thing.

To achieve that level of physical, mental, and emotional/spiritual success, you MUST constantly battle with your old self-image. It will strangle you, bind you, try desperately to limit you. Fear will be a constant companion (which is one of the reasons Scott's fear coping techniques are among the most powerful I've encountered.)

And I mean you will fight these battles DAILY unless your self-image is aligned with your goals. That "human laser" thing is tricky: self-image, goals, values, beliefs, positive and negative emotional anchors, support systems...ALL of this has to be aligned. Any "chink" in the armor has to be dealt with, or you will bleed energy.

Every morning, I start by finding my heartbeat. Then I do 100 "be breathed" style breaths in cross-legged position (similar to Kapalbhati breathing, with emphasis on exhalation with inhalation automatic as the diaphragm drops). Slow. As I do, and allow my kinesthetic awareness to drift between heartbeat and breathing, I visualize the youngest self I can access--usually about 5 years old (I can go much younger, but 5 seems to be about average in the mornings) and see if he's smiling at me. If so, he'll give me "light" and I connect that light between the "root" of my spine (where the 5 year old sits) and my heart (which represents my current state). What are my top three goals? Can I see and feel myself accomplishing them with joy? If so, great. If not, there is work to do. If all is well, allow the light to rise higher, until I connect with my Death Image.

Now, I got this from my father, on his deathbed. He died well. It is ancient, and weathered, and reminds me that life is finite. I am my own elder, and whisper of the values that endure. If the light stretches from Child to Elder with clarity, I'm in great shape. Everything is aligned. If not, I will either concentrate on the Child self and bring the light up, or on my Heartspace and allow it to spread. I never concentrate on my Elder unless I'm rooted in one of the other two.

Doesn't seem healthy. When I do that, I seem to accomplish externals while losing my sense of self. It's...odd. Maybe I'll talk more about that another time.

At any rate, if your goals and self-image fail to match, you'll want to concentrate on your heartspace, and visualize yourself clearly doing, being, having your goal with effortless energy and integrity and joy. See it. Feel it. Spend twenty minutes doing this a day, until it comes easily to you, and you will be astonished at the ease with which your goals just seem to "materialize."

It's not magic at all, of course. Most people probably expend twice the energy they need to reach their goals. That energy is just snarled like a Gordian knot. Emotional clarity, values, and self-love are Alexander's sword.

If you can't see it, you can't be it.


"Unsound Intellection is false understanding, not resting on a perception of
the true nature of things" --Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The physics of weight loss are simple. The biology is complicated. The emotions are a Gordian Knot.

Diamond Hour Today,
7/17/11 1:00 PM Pacific (4:00 PM Eastern)
Becoming a Human Laser
(724) 444-7444

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Be more concerned with "what's" right than "who's" right.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Second July Diamond Hour show!
Diamond Hour!
Sat , 7/16 1:00 PM Pacific (4:00 PM Eastern)​11
(724) 444-7444

Friday, July 08, 2011

The ultimate success: to align your childhood dreams with your deathbed values.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Intelligence is problem solving. If you are smart, and unhappy, you're concentrating on the wrong issues.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

What would your life be like if you were living in alignment with BOTH your childhood dreams and your deepest, most sacred values?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Cradle To The Grave

When I was working at the Moonview Sanctuary in Santa Monica, I had the chance to play with some of the most successful, wealthy, and powerful people in the world. It was an incredible honor, but I was forced to "up" my game considerably--there was no room for error at all when you deal with people used to getting results NOW, with access to the most talented and effective facilitators on the planet.

Experimenting, I developed a cluster of effective techniques I would routinely use with them.

1) Stress relief through the Flow State Performance Spiral, and the "Be Breathed" exercise.

2) The Five Tibetans

3) The Hero's Journey

4) Heartbeat Meditation

The first three I used for most of the time I was there. But the last year or so, I began to use something a little different in addition.

5) A pure "white light" meditation. Once the client had visualized the maximum light he could generate, I led them to condensing that light down to a child form. It works this way: you visualize the largest younger "you" you can create with whatever amount of light you can find. Most people could create someone about nine years old. A few could manage only an embryo, or a single cell. These were the most damaged cases. I would have them speak to these "younger selves" and often, what those "selves" conveyed was a reminder of the goals and dreams they had had early in life. Fascinating. I remembered Harlan Ellison's definition of success: "to bring into existence, in adult terms, your childhood dreams."

6) The next piece, the last innovation I devised at Moonview was to take them in the opposite direction, to their oldest self. Their "elder", their "deathbed" self. And have that Elder give them advice. This often was very similar to the "deathbed values," the things people most often find of real significance at the end of their lives. These usually revolve around intimacy, self-expression, contribution, honesty, love, and personal integrity.

Now then...the trickiest and best thing that I may have done in the entire time I worked at Moonview followed. I combined these with Tad James' "Time Line" concept, and had them visualize a line of light connecting their oldest and youngest selves. To see themselves on a journey between the cradle and the grave. The trick, I said, was to have both their youngest and oldest selves approve of the actions they take, their associations, and their goals.

It was unbelievably powerful. Powerful men and women were uplifted, or broke down and sobbed that they had betrayed their childhood dreams, or were on a path that would lead to deathbed misery. I was shocked at the quality and quantity of high-level advice, both spiritual and practical, that they generated, at an unprecedented flow-rate.

It made me want to add a second statement to Harlan's, one viewed from the other end of the equation: "Success means to live your life, in worldly terms, by the values you will hold on your death bed."

It seems to me that these to can be, should be, MUST be combined to create an awakened adult human being. I would like comments back from readers--can you see a flaw in this reasoning? Because unless I am convinced there is, I have just defined the next course I must create, and the future of my teaching.

Once these twin strands are combined, all else is merely perspective, or means to this worthy end.