The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Our first virtual Screenwriting Workshop!

T woke up on Monday with the idea,
bubbling with notions, and I think it's
a fabulous way to explore the new
media potentials for a virtual classroom.
We can teach these things at UCLA
or The Learning Annex...but sharing
them with the whole world?
Wow. That's my baby!
Are you working on a screenplay, or do you
have a screenplay idea you’re not sure
how to start? Do you want input on your
screenplay or idea? Are you an author
who would like to learn to adapt your
own work to film?

For the FIRST TIME, hubby Steven Barnes
and I are offering a 30-day ONLINE
screenwriting workshop Nov. 1-Dec. 1.
Because this is an inaugural course,
we’re offering the workshop for the low
introductory fee of $200 for early
registration. Take this workshop from
anywhere. SPACE IS LIMITED. We
may repeat this workshop in early
2015, but not at this price.
Here's more info, or you can inbox me:

Monday, October 06, 2014

Using the Ancient child


I’ve been working and testing the “Ancient Child” technique for about five years now, and what people asked for was a fuller explanation, as well as a “plug and play” approach to using it.    I’ve done that, and it will be available very soon, on the new blog I’ve been creating with Wordpress guru Lorelle VanFossen.  

Let’s discuss one application of the technique: emotional abuse.  Especially if the abuse originated in childhood, this can be devastating.  A parent who damages heart and body, or fails to provide protection for same, changes the profoundly important relationship with your core self, affecting:

  1. Ambition
  2. Self-love
  3. Ability to find honest healthy relationships
  4. Self-discipline (why bother if you aren’t worth it?)
  5. Co-dependency
  6. Creativity
  7. Artistic success (which is a balance between “creative child” and “marketing/agenting adult)
  8. Body composition issues (obesity and anorexia)
  9. Self-damaging (cutting, etc.)
  10. Drug and alcohol abuse
  11. Sexual issues

And much much more.  The “Ancient Child” technique can have a powerful effect here, because the “child” image you create is, specifically, a representation of the child you were BEFORE the abuse began.   (Note: if you have serious abuse issues, please seek therapeutic assistance.   Your  therapist should be aware of what you intend to do here)

What you have to do is:

  1. Enter a state of deep relaxation.   Meditation or self-hypnosis.
  2. Connect with your own heartbeat and “source of love.”
  3. Visualize the child self.
  4. Connect with the child self: visualize holding, hugging, playing with.   
  5. Remember the first time you held your own child, or held a baby sister, brother, or cousin.    Find the “protective” door in your mind, even if it was only for a puppy or kitten.   It’s there.  You have the wiring.  Or: remember/imagine being held and nurtured in infancy.   EVERYONE was, whether you can remember it or not.  Human beings who are not nurtured in infancy DO NOT SURVIVE.  You may have blanked it out...but it happened. Find it.  Meditate and search within yourself until you can find this strand of love, unbroken through the generations, back to the beginning of our species.
  6. Commit to being your own mother/father.  To DIE before you let anyone else hurt that child again.  To protecting her dreams and hopes.    To spending every day loving and nurturing.  
  7. Tell her/him.  Say the words. Speak them aloud: “You are the most precious thing in all the world.  Daddy is here, and I will never leave you alone again.”
  8. Listen to what that “child” self has to say in  return.   See if there is a conversation to be conducted.
  9. After you have emerged from your relaxed state, use your non-dominant hand (your left, if you are right-handed) to write a letter FROM your “child” to your current, adult self.  Read it aloud.

This process can be of stupendous benefit.  Please, please--even if you are “healthy” you will find it useful to connect to your creativity and aliveness.  But if, like most of us, you’ve been banged up by life or have issues with parents, it is close to miraculous.

The process was given to me by a succession of phenomenally wise men and women.  And is yours.


Friday, October 03, 2014

Ancient Child: Evolution

About twenty-five years ago I adapted
Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey
to the process of designing your life.

 And called it “Lifewriting.”   Since
that time I’ve taught Lifewriting to
thousands of people in person and
through audio and video courses,
lectured on it at the Smithsonian, at
Mensa, on radio and television, at
universities and workshops, and
have been blessed to receive countless
letters and emails and hugs and
tearful thanks that the technologies
I grouped into that very special
pattern have changed and saved

But there was a limitation to “Lifewriting”,
something I always saw but wasn’t
wise enough to improve.  You see,
the limitation (I won’t call it a “problem”)
was that it was a mental technique,
a strategic syntax for organizing
resources into an optimal pattern.
It works, no doubt about it.

But...the greatest path in human
life is that of evolution, of awakening,
of becoming an “awakened adult”,
and my great spiritual teacher Sri
Chinmoy taught that that path can
be approached by opening your
heart OR awakening your body…
but never by creating mental models.

That was what I’d done, created
a wonderful mental model. That
meant that it was great for navigating
“the dream”, but not so much for
going beyond. What I needed was
something that did both.   Having
a great time in consensus reality
is no mean feat.   I may consider
that just the beginning, but it’s
nice to pay the bills, be popular,
win athletic awards and all that
good stuff.’s just the beginning.

What I needed was something
that rooted there but went way
beyond.   That healed but also
supported growth. That was
simple, very simple--or rather
that was “complex” rather than

In essence, something that was
smarter than I was.  And I couldn’t
“create” such a thing.  But began
opening myself to the possibility.
 Going more deeply into my
own process, listening to what
every teacher or  student taught me.    
And spent time every day for over
a decade going “into the silence”
to find something deeper and truer.

And the seed came.  I was the
beginning of the “Ancient Child”.
 Yesterday, I created the overview
audio explaining exactly how it
grew, and how to use it.  
Tomorrow, I create the visualization
that will root this in healing your
heart, and move from THERE to
loving self and others...and then
re-discovering your deepest
dreams and values...tapping
into your intuition on a level you’ve
never experienced...and using
all of this to support your daily
actions so that they have a power
and clarity that will carry you
as far as you are capable, in
alignment with everything good
and true within you.

It is my very best work, applicable
to every core aspect of human
life.  Generative, rather than
specific.   I did not “create it”,
I merely let my teachers,
experiences and meditations
point me toward greater truth.

And it is almost available.

I can’t wait to share it.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Wounded Child

I 100% agree with what this article says: that behavioral dysfunctions are a form of PTSD, often related to childhood trauma.   This is one reason that the “Morning Ritual” concept incorporates both the “Ancient Child”, heartbeat meditation,   physical motion, and focus.   Why I believe so strongly in dealing with the fear that lies at the base of all negative emotion.  Sigh.
I can tell you the first time I realized how bad it was, and how I needed to trust instinct rather than the surface or presenting stories.   I was a GOH at a convention in Texas, and teaching a morning Tai Chi workshop.  There was a lady on the periphery of the workshop, trying to do the movements.   She was extremely obese, and more, her teeth were rotted out.   My first impression was that she was like one overweight person pushed into the middle of a second one, a very sweet small face and bright eyes in the middle of a puffy cocoon of fatty tissue.   Over 300 pounds.
I am always very connected to the people in those workshops.   All kinds of odd subliminal information pops into my head about them, their emotions, sex lives, all sorts of stuff.   It isn’t esp.   It is that our bodies reflect our histories.They store our emotions.
I worked with her a bit, and in adjusting her body, something horrible happened, horrible because I didn’t know how to handle it.  Suddenly, I saw the sweet face as a trapped child within the massive protective cocoon. The bright eyes calling out to me from within a prison of flesh: HELP.   A fear of being seen sexually, combined with a deep, desperate hope that someone could see her, and love her, and help her free itself.    
And I knew.    The teeth.  The body.  This woman had been terribly, horribly, serially abused as a child.  And her brain had done what a brain is supposed to do: do everything in its power to prevent her from ever being seen as a sexual being again, to obscure the secondary sexual characteristics.  Yes, I know it is illogical.   But that’s what I saw.

Too damned clearly.
After the work shop I went to my room and cried.  Just...sobbed.    Something had opened inside me, and I felt like I was watching personal histories, not just physical bodies, in that convention hotel.   Millions of individual behavioral choices arising from values and beliefs connected to emotional and physical pains and pleasures.   If I respected them, I had to believe that they were doing the best they could.  There was no laziness, no lack of wish to be healthy and strong and happy.
This was something very different.  Post-industrial society has unteathered calories or immediate survival from physical performance for the first time in our evolutionary history, and we are seeing something extraordinary.    In a few generations we will have figured it out, but right now...dear God.
I wanted to leave that convention, and if I hadn’t been GOH I would have.  So I put on my face and went back down.
And...she followed me.   Showed up at panels and signings.   Always on the periphery.  Smiling shyly at me.   And finally, on the last day, she asked me if we could talk.
We had coffee.  She said that she didn’t know why she was talking to me.  Just...that there was something about me.   She felt that I had seen HER, not just her body.  And was driven to speak to me.
And there, while I sipped my latte, she changed my life.   With only a tiny bit of reassurance and coaxing she described a history of abuse that precisely matched what I had seen.  Her stepfather.  Her stepuncles.    A mother who pretended it wasn’t happening.
Abusive relationships.  And a near-suicidal threshold that led to a solution: to become invisible in plain sight.  Years of being unseen.  And now a heart-wrenching urge to find a way out of the prison she had built for herself.  Was it too late?  She wanted to know.
And I remembered something that Leo and Diane Dillon, the great, great artists had once said to me when I asked if I had lost my way as an artist: “if you can even ask the question, it’s not too late.”
That was twenty-five years ago.  I had nothing specific to offer this lady except hope, and love, holding her hands as we both cried.
But I changed that day.  I knew that I saw things that were contrary to social narrative, and needed to trust my instincts more than the popular wisdom.   And I knew that I had to find a way to understand what we are as human beings that we can be smart, and good and decent and still hurt each other and ourselves so badly, and remain in denial about it.
That was, in many ways, the beginning of my awakening.    
I don’t remember her name.  I don’t know where she is or even if she is alive.   All I can say is that I hope I touched her as deeply as she touched me.
Whereever you are, my love, I see you.  That perfect little girl who deserved to be loved, and held, and cherished, is still within you.  And I pray you found a way to both keep her safe, and let her free.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

It's Never Too Late

In the last 24 hours, I’ve dealt with four different students or clients where the core issue is one of self-love.  Deservement.  The following things were triggers:
1) Childhood abuse, both sexual and psychological.   Being touched inappropriately, told they are worthless, used as “things” rather than people before the full development of ego walls.
2) Perceived betrayal of childhood ambitions.   Either giving them up, or doing things to achieve them that were in violation of core values.
3) Abusive adult relationships.   “Crazymakers” who bond to you powerfully economically, emotionally, or sexually.  And then...gaslight you.  If you don’t know the term, see the movie.  Basically these are people who are either emotionally imbalanced or have some drive to unbalance you, keep you from leveraging your intelligence and emotions, with an end to domination.  To do this, they either criticize or terrorize you, until you have twisted yourself into a knot to please them, and no longer know where “north” is on your personal compass.  At that point, you are infantalized, willing to do whatever it takes to keep them happy so that you can escape the pain.  Brutal.
4) Physical injury or dysfunction.    A serious injury or disease, or your body “not working as it is supposed to”--inability to perform in some expected fashion.  Inability to sustain a pregnancy, sensory or motor issues, chronic pain, sexual non-performance, etc.
5) Making terrible relationship choices.    Our relationships are mirrors--they were the best we believed we could do, at that time.   When our partners turn out to be crazies, monsters, abusers, habitual liars, druggies or alcoholics, rage-beasts and gaslighters we fear our own judgement.  How could we have..?  What does it mean about us..?  Will we ever find happiness..?   Are we too broken for anyone to really love us..?
There are more, of course.  But this will get you started.
For two years now, I’ve worked on a “Morning Ritual” with Jason.   A year ago I decided the results were so impressive that I decided to create one for myself.  It was a matter of creating a complete daily practice that touches on every aspect of raising, directing, clarifying and refining our emotional, mental, and physical selves.  And it had to be healing and generative--had to deal with issues you don’t even know that you have.  But in addition, it had to be capable of focusing in on a specific problem once you have detected it.
The above problems can be addressed with the “Ancient Child” technique, your “set up” behavior done the moment you wake up in the morning.    It is a way of “wiring around” whatever damage has happened to you in life.  The theory is simple: there is a part of you that is still untouched by the pain of existence, whatever it has been.  Make contact with it, and you are connecting to the best and healthiest part, and can receive its “aliveness”.   But also, by making contact with the symbol of this “inner child” you can affect a healing process just by imagining holding, hugging, playing, and soothing, as you would with a “real” child.   Simply saying “I love you.  You are beautiful, and wonderful, and as perfect as any star in the heavens” again and again, will have a cumulative positive effect in the same way that saying the opposite (or hearing it said to you, especially in an emotionalized context) has a negative effect.  The feedback loop goes both ways.
If you see a parent screaming curses at a child, you KNOW this is damaging.  Why, then, do we resist the notion that positive words and deliberate positive thoughts and images can have a POSITIVE effect?  Why?
This morning, I started by connecting with my heartbeat, and then gathered the light within me to create my usual 8-year old boy.  We sat on the edge of a pier, fishing together (oddly, one of the few memories I have of good times with my Dad was fishing.  Hmmm) and while we did, I asked his opinion of my current activities and progress.
He was happy.  Felt I needed to put more time into the book I’m finishing, and that I needed to be sure to tell Jason how proud of him I am.   “I’m happy to be home”, he said, and leaned his head on my shoulder.   We watched the sunrise together.    “Another day, daddy.   I love you.”
The sun melded into my heartbeat.  The light contracted and then diffused.  I was ready for my day.
Decades ago I ruptured my relationship with that little kid inside me.  It took me a year of constant, daily work to rebuild the connection, and it was the best invested effort of my life.    If I’d had the technology I have today, I suspect it would have taken about a month.
Whatever happened to you in your past, whoever hurt you, however you may have sold out your dreams, I invite you to spend thirty days, just one month, to see if this approach works for you.
1) Wake up.  Sit up.   Listen to/feel your heartbeat.  Find the light inside you and dwell within it for a few minutes.  
2) Form the light into the largest human form composed of solid lumination.   Be very quiet, and see if it has words for you.
3) At the crown of your head, imagine the “older” you on your deathbed.   Listen quietly to see if he or she has something to say.
4) Draw a line of light from the “Child” to your heart.  Then, down from your “elder” to your heart.  Sit quietly and listen if they have a conversation.  When they are done you may ask questions.  Thank them
5) Take five deep breaths and get up.  All of this can take less than three minutes!
6) Perform your Daily Ritual.  While moving dynamically (walking, sun salutations, tai chi, Flow Fit, calisthenics, running, etc) speak four incantations, each for 2-5 minutes:
a) “Every Day in Every Way I’m getting better and better”
b) “I’m so grateful for--” (past and present blessings)
c) “I’m so grateful for--” (future goals)
d) “All I need is within me now.”

Be  sure that you are covering all elements of the “Secret Formula”:  Goals X Faith X Action X Gratitude = Results.
You have done two steps of your “Five minute miracle” practice.   Three more times during the day become aware of your breathing for sixty seconds. Quickly visualize/emotionalize your goals and actions.  Just “check in”.
Total daily practice: about 10-30 minutes.  If you believe you don’t have the time, start with just the “Five Minute Miracle” of five sixty second “breathing breaks”.  Chance are very very good that you won’t be able to discipline yourself to do this without heroic effort.  You have found your ego resistance.
You can’t control what happened to you in your past, but as they’s never too late to have a happy childhood.


Monday, July 07, 2014

Stress and the 30-day

In life, they pay you for how much stress you can take without cracking.  One of the participants in the Challenge mentioned that stress is increasing in his life as he hits his 14th Day.  Some thoughts:

1) 100% predictable that you will hit stress points.  Moving from one level to the next in your life requires energy, and piercing any veil of illusion frees it...and some of that energy will spin you.  The better balanced you are, the easier it is to “roll with it” and in fact you can actually measure your balance or lack thereof by the amount of dizziness or stress you feel.

2) It isn’t stress that hurts you, its “strain”.   Stress is just the amount of pressure you’re under, while “strain” is the degree to which that stress warps you out of true.

3) Psychological stress causes physical effects.  The good news is that physical motion controls psychological stress as well.  The Triad of “Breath, Movement, and Structure” is one way to look at this: if you breathe as if powerful, move as if relaxed and hold your posture as if confident, you will begin to feel that way.   There’s more: your facial expression, your self-talk and the things you say aloud, the things you focus on, ALL influence stress level. How you use your body, what you focus on.  

4) Your “Morning Ritual” branches into the “Ancient Child” (connection with core aliveness and deep values, self-healing) and the “Five Minute Miracle” (five sixty-second `breathing breaks’ during the day).  That means that, ideally, you begin your day by getting in touch with your instincts and values, then take that energy into your day.  You move your body, connect with your belief that today can be better than tomorrow (Heck, sing “Tomorrow” from “Annie” if that works for you!), fill yourself with gratitude, seek that same feeling in connection to your daily and future goals, then reinforce your confidence that you can and should do these things, and have all the ability you need.  Then at least three more times during the day (the ‘Ancient Child’ can be 5MM #1, the “Morning Ritual” #2) you check your breathing.   IF YOU BREATHE AS IF YOU ARE CONFIDENT, YOU BEGIN TO FEEL THAT WAY.

5) Infusing all of this is the Secret Formula: Goals (did you connect with your childhood dreams and deathbed values?) X Faith (do you see that you’ve already accomplished wonderful things?  And have the internal resources to accomplish more?) X Action (do you see what you need to do TODAY to take another step toward your goals?) X Gratitude (are you happy for another day to seek, to strive, to live, to love?).

Can you see how all these things are wrapped together?

6) Have you chosen physical motion that is nurturing, invigorating, and will take you to your destination?  Yoga, Tai Chi, a good calisthenic program, Sun Salutations, Five Tibetans, Joint recovery, FlowFit...the possibilities are almost endless.  TWENTY MINUTES OUT OF EVERY DAY BELONGS TO YOU. If you think not, check to be sure you are taking your Five Minute Miracle.  If you aren’t, and think it is because you lack time, YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF.

7) Separate what you “need” from what you “want.”  OMG, is this important.  Our “wants” are endless.  Our “needs” are relatively simple and sane.  The inability to do this relates to an imbalance of the Child and Adult personalities, and can be addressed with the “Ancient Child”.

Which takes us back to the beginning.   Are you grasping the shape of this?  The way the different pieces fit together?  The redundancy built in?  The infinite uses and applications?  I hope so...this is your life, and you deserve to create one filled with passion and joy, contribution and growth.

Life is not a dress rehearsal.  And you’ll be taking a bow all too soon.