The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

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.



coxcrow said...

Good stuff. I've seen NLP timeline therapy work wonders and had some really good experience with it myself. I like your version of it and will be sure to use it in the future.

Anonymous said...


The only flaw I can find with your line of reasoning is that my deathbed values will most probably be formed and determined by my successes, experiences, and failures as I live and age; and as such, those concepts will most probably undergo additional changes and modifications throughout the years.

I know who I was, I know who I am, and I most certainly know who I would like to be at the end of my run. I do however expect and hope that many of my current values will evolve further. So to me it seems a bit of a shot in the dark to take the "imagined" end of self me and try to base todays actions and thought processes on that person's thinking, instead of just using the existing set of experiences and knowledge and striving for the 1% better at every opportunity. I think the step by step approach is much more likely to be understandable and touchable hence allowing me to more easily recognize and modify my actions and thoughts in realtime instead of trying to use a more amorphous value base. Just my middle age thought process.

Thanks for having contributed so much time and effort in your books, blog, and Tacfit efforts. I have greatly enjoyed and benefited from them. Aubry was a brother and a dad. Happy 4th

Bennett said...

I would loosely hypothesize that a lot of this has to do with letting people roleplay in such a way that they can be completely honest. Kids are unvarnished, as we all know, and when we're dying, we're freed from mortal BS as well. How well or poorly someone does with this exercise would seem to be in direct proportion to how genuine they can be with themselves, even if it's only in the context of an 'exercise.' Even in mini-cycles, I find that I'm most sincere about what I want when I wake up in the morning and plan my day, and when I got to bed at night and reflect upon it. In between, when I'm in the thick of things, it's much more difficult not to get caught up--the Five Minute Miracle is exactly what it's name promises, from that respect, letting me slow down and remember how I felt before I started, and how I'll feel after I'm done.

Maybe it ties into the Hero's Journey. You only have the perspective to see the Road of Trials before you step on it, or after you've stepped off it. While you're on it, all you can see is the next step.

Anonymous said...

I think may the process of Self Realization would enhance this exercise. Because without realizing the self, one is not much good at picturing any image, young or old.

Anonymous said...

Anyone interested in hero's journey should see and