The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, April 30, 2012

Trip coming up...

In a couple of days, I'm flying to Phoenix to visit relatives and work with Mukee Okan, with whom I'm creating a new course on Sexual Transmutation. Then I'm driving to Los Angeles to hike with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle--a great time to brainstorm ideas, and then on Saturday I'm getting together with friends and family--especially my darling daughter Nicki--to see AVENGERS at Universal Citiwalk at 1:15 Saturday the 5th. Then back to Phoenix, and home.
Did you see it? Did you catch in the above comments the presence of the Mastermind principle?
Here we go:
1) My work with Mukee. While I've studied sexual magic, I'm not an expert. Mukee is. I am going to put everything I know about the project on a stack of 3x5 cards, and then brainstorm with her to fill in the lines, create new cards and create a "flow chart" of production of the product.
2) Larry and Jerry were and are two of the titans in the SF field. My career took a huge leap forward by working with them.
3) We must re-charge our batteries. The AVENGERS is a tip of the hat to my own younger self--deliberately seeking out an entertainment that makes the 12 year old Steve turn handsprings with pleasure. Seeing it with my daughter allows me to double this--she's 26, but can access that "child" space effortlessly. This is gonna be great.
4) I have family in Phoenix, and will probably see them the Monday before I return home. Sharing love with those who nurtured you before you had anything to contribute is a way of connecting to the source of life.
5) I'll probably see other friends and business associates while I am there.

Do you see the web of associations I'm nurturing? Business, creative, personal? Can you see where I'm acknowledging the fact that NONE of us can reach the heights of success without help? Friendship, family, business, creative, childhood, adulthood...I'm nurturing EVERYTHING.

And I hope you're doing the same.


Friday, April 27, 2012

A Warrior's Meditation

I know some people who have lived hard lives in the service of their country, or their community.    I can think of no stress equal to that of placing your life in jeopardy, and those who have emerged from that cauldron whole and healthy have lessons to teach.    In a recent email conversation with one of these "hard men with high mileage" the subject of his age (almost sixty) and "incredible BP rate" that boggles his doctor, he said that there is a "trick," that he "cheats."  And here is how:

"I need a minute to prepare, but then I close my eyes, think of a nice cloud, and picture myself around age 8-12 or so, and in the presence of my fraternal-grandmother, Maggie, the sweetest, kindness, most loving soul I've ever encountered in life to-date."

I mentioned that I found this to be a brilliant approach.  His reply:

"Brilliance?  Jeez.  I would have thought just plain common-sense.  Just go back to whatever point in childhood when you were the happiest, or perhaps I'm taking my own for granted and wrongly imposing my view on and towards others.  To me, inner peace is easy.  It's that external bullshit trying to make it's way in to fuck my game-plan up that's a bitch to deal with at times.  But, then too, old son, I haven't fared very far from my childhood and have been playing a kid's game most of my life.  Hell, I didn't do anything any different, just a tad more complicated.  My whole career had been nothing more than an extension of cops 'n robbers, hide 'n seek turned into hide 'n sneak, and all wrapped up in a overgrown Dennis The Menace suit.  I'd tell folks in a minute if I ever drew a crowd big enough...

Want to be happy, at peace, and content?  Go back to your childhood, or some point in your life where you were the happiest, and simply tweak and update that which gave you pleasure, and keep on keepin' on."
That was just terrific, and I recommend the approach heartily.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Avengers Assemble!

Avengers Assemble!

I'm going to attend the 1pm screening of Joss Whedon's THE AVENGERS on Saturday May 5th at the Universal City Imax 3d in Hollywood, with my daughter Nicki.
I'm inviting friends and students to join us, and come later to a nearby restaurant (probably Bubba Gump Shrimpworks on Citywalk) for rowdy conversation.

See you there?
But meanwhile, it is valuable to note some of the early response. Whedon has apparently found the emotional "hook" which will hopefully enable the film to rise above a collection of dynamic action sequences: the creation of the Master Mind. Yup.

How do you bring a team of super-powered beings together in hopes of saving the world? You have to get them to cooperate and stop fighting each other, to be willing to pull in the same direction.

This is what you must do within yourself. It is what you must do when you create your primary partnership. It is what you must do, one person at a time, as you build your writing group or brainstorming crew.

ALIGNMENT. Someone was asking why some writers write and write and never build their careers or move forward. Lots of work, but little result. The answer is that they do not have internal alignment: their   inner "Hulk" too rambunctious, their "Iron Man" intellect is too cool and remote and ego-controlled, and their "Captain America" values and morality is in conflict with their passion and creativity. There is no leader. There is no agreement. There is conflict.

This is where journaling, meditation and even therapy can be useful, even critical. Remember that most of us are a ball of conflicts, with values, beliefs and emotional charges inherited from a dozen different institutions and role models. In order to move forward with elegance, we need to stop stumbling over our own road-blocks, barking our shins on every piece of emotional junk left in our inner work-space...or else we won't only fail to reach our goals, we're gonna be Mighty Thor!

Sorry about that. Just couldn't help it...


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Should I look for work?

A note from a student:


Hi. You've only met me IRL once, at a con in Cinci several years ago. I've commented on facebook posts a few times, but again, not recently because I've dropped facebook from my life (actually, Facebook dropped me, and I got tired of trying to fix it. Google+ was just emerging, so I thought I'd try it out). I'm trying to work through the LifeWriting program, but I'm finding I have some issues to resolve first, so I am considering switching to Mastering F.E.A.R. first, then trying LifeWriting again.

That's all background

My question is this. I have just been laid off (my job,random mandatory overtime, stress about my job, and stress about being laid off from my job were major excuses for not pushing through with LifeWriting). I am at a crossroads. I would love to plunge into writing full-time, but I have no discernible income or buffer for living on until I start selling my writing (I have a half a dozen half-written short stories, and the stereotypical trilogy in progress that I have been leaving on the back burner, mostly because of advice from every professional writer I have spoken to). That being the case, would you recommend searching like crazy for a job, or writing like crazy, throwing the dice, and trusting that there is enough good in the universe that I can survive? If the second, do you have a hint on how to survive while trying to shift careers to being the writer that I should have started out as?

If you have gotten this far, thanks for your time, and thanks for all the wonderful advice I've gotten from you over the years.

Dear XXX

ABSOLUTELY get a job first. There is nothing that kills creativity more than trying desperately to find a way to twist your work to make a buck. It is like putting your "inner child" out on the corner, turning tricks.

Your adult self MUST pull the plow to create a safe space for your child to play. Simultaneously, you should be writing 2-4 short stories a month and sending them out for publication. Have fun. Let them be your creative reward.

Trust the universe. But work your ass off.


PLEASE share this thought with your partner, and/or Mastermind group. It is quite possible to work your way to a professional career--I know many who have. But it requires planning, energy, faith, and luck. If that is your dream, I want you to have it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

11 Reasons to Mastermind

11 Things a Mastermind alliance can do for you:

1) It is the only known way to compensate for lack of intelligence, resources, talent, or education.
2) Striving toward a goal can be lonely.
3) A partner or Mastermind group is a fantastic sounding board for your ideas.
4) Brainstorming problems is the fastest way to a solution
5) A writing group gives you a sample audience to gauge reactions and offer critique
6) A mastermind group will give you a sense of potential market response
7) If your primary partner is also an intimate partner, sex is a fantastic way to work through disappointment, restore enthusiasm, and reward each other for a good day's work.
8) You can call members of your group for encouragement when you are feeling low.
9) Members of your group will also need help, allowing you the pleasure of contributing to others.
10) Members of your group will have already tested techniques, services, goods and personal resources, saving you time and energy.
11) Your "Diamond Hour" can include a conference call to members of your Mastermind. A five-minute check in of goals and daily "to-dos" can be a lifesaver.

The value of the "Mastermind" in creating a bountiful life cannot be overstated. If you have at least ONE person to share your dreams with, you probably double your chances of reaching your highest good. We're going deeper.

Creating a writing group? Have your friends
so you'll all be writing on the same page!

If you want to create your own partnership/Mastermind,
start by giving three friends access to these ideas. Just forward
them this email, or send them to

Monday, April 23, 2012

Return from Oddcon

Just got back from Oddcon SF convention in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was Guest of Honor. Lovely people, and a lot of fun, and Jason had more freedom of action and movement inside the hotel than we'd ever given him in the past...and he handled it well. After speaking to several people there about the ADD program I've crafted for him, I'm convinced to actually begin detailing it in a program I can I will.

Please let me know if there are specific issues or questions you want me to cover, but the thrust will be the creation of a daily ritual to provide the resources necessary for a boisterous child to learn to discipline mind and body. I'll address the best ones in the program, and the best five questions will get free copies.
The Five Minute Miracle is the idea of taking five very short (about 60 seconds) "breathing breaks" during the day to re-wire the body-mind stress response. It works wonderfully, but the very most important part of the process is NOT the physiological re-wiring but the fact thta you actually have to think about it. You have to actually stop and interrupt the process of coasting unconsciously through the day. That you have to actually take responsibility for your own internal process. That, in essence, you have to wake up. And this is what stops most people--they don't want to wake up. They wan tot have a nice dream. I'm not in that business.
An extraordinary thing happened at the convention. I had had a lovely conversation with a gentleman of Indian extraction, discussing life and spirituality. He took me aside and told me that he had, during a trip to Central Asia, visited a town in which there was a resurgence of interest in Buddhism, and had obtained a cutting of the tree beneath which the Buddha had sat to receive his enlightenment. He had brought back several leaves...and presented me with one. I was thunderstruck, and frankly didn't know quite what to say. I asked my good friend Charles Johnson, a devout Buddhist, what he thought, and he said the following:

"My thoughts? I think that gift is WONDERFUL. If I'd been given such a gift, I'd do everything I could to preserve it. Heck, I'd probably keep it on my writing desk (where I have a small 16th century Burmese statue of the Buddha that I bought in Thailand in 1997, a Tibetan prayer wheel, and a model of Da Vinci's "Flying Machine") so I could see it every day and be reminded about the real goal of life, which is awakening and liberation."

Beautiful. As fine a definition of the meaning of life as I've ever heard, and that sounds like a plan.
One of my favorite things about the convention was having the chance to see Larry Niven, my dear friend and mentor. One of the things I miss most about being in L.A. is the ability to see him more frequently, so I treasure the opportunities. We celebrated the successful release of THE SECRET OF BLACK SHIP ISLAND as an Amazon E-book, and discussed the possibility of playing a bit more in that world. Success, after all, breeds success.

We also talked about our next potential project, a sword and sorcery piece. Things look good. We've never done anything like this together, and I very deliberately wanted to create something unlike our previous efforts. That makes things fun.
Spent the weekend checking out Avengers reviews, and just can't wait. Again, I'll be catching the first show after 12 noon at Universal Citywalk on May 5th with Nicki. Hope to see some of you there! Afterward...I think Bubbah Gump Shrimp works. I'll be in line by 11am, I suspect. Avengers Assemble!
Creating a "mastermind" partnership with at least one other person can be the cornerstone for your success, and as I've said, is the only way I know to compensate for lack of ability. Strategic partnerships can be a life-saver. But it has to start with you, with being certain that you believe that:
1) You CAN succeed.
2) You SHOULD succeed
3) You have a clear idea of what success IS in the first place.

Remember: Clear Goals TIMES Faith TIMES Constant Action TIMES an "attitude of gratitude" equals success. And that means that if you "zero out" in any one category, you will destroy your chances of succeeding in life. It is not additive. It is multiplicative. A critical thing to remember. your "Diamond Hour"--have you taken sixty minutes to write out your goals? Clarify your values? Create plans expressed in continuous action? And in your "Five Minute Miracle" sessions--do you breathe dynamically and visualize some simple symbol representing your success? If not, you might be sabotaging your future!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mastering the Mastermind

If you lack knowledge or talent, there is only one thing I know of that can compensate for these things, if you desire success--and that is the Mastermind. A "Mastermind" is the coordinated effort of two or more people who are totally aligned in intent.


So let's lay down some rules:

1) ONE PERSON. If you have no external partnerships, you must have yourself, conscious and (as much as possible) unconscious as ally. This is where goal-setting, meditation and journaling comes in. You must be certain you have internal and external permission to succeed, as well as clear goals and a sense of the road ahead.

2) TWO PEOPLE. Your primary "mastermind" should optimally be your intimate partner. Such a person, with whom you interact on all seven levels, is perfect, and to the degree possible, you should aspire to this. Nothing touches it. But if you can't turn your husband, wife or S.O., into this primary person, a close friend, business partner, or family member will suffice.

3) THREE PEOPLE. If you have three people all aligned, all committed, all seeing the same goal for their own personal probably are on your way to success. But this is critical--don't add a third person unless you are totally aligned. Having Two aligned people is hugely better than three people who bicker, just as keeping your own counsel is better than sharing goals with someone who will try to tear you down.

4) FOUR PEOPLE. Brothers and sisters, if you can ever get to this level, you are entering the closest thing to a "sure thing" you can get. Frankly, I've never had a mastermind that large. It is foundational, and solid, and you can lose one person and still have a solid three-person mastermind. This should be your goal--not because you need it, but because IF you can ever get that far, you have soemthing extraordinary, and the process is purifying.

Those are the basics. We're going to apply them to family, writing, fitness, business...everything you want. Going right down the center of the issue: How do I create practical magic in my life?



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The best opportunity of my life...

Current project status:

1) "4189" (collaboration with Charles Johnson)

--story sold! Need to have Tananarive add

her notes, and make final tiny polishes.

Probably this weekend.

2) Devil's Wake (collaboration with my

wife, Tananarive Due). Have the galleys

sitting on my dining room table. Need

to examine the formatting. Probably

this afternoon.

3) "P.S." (initials of my screenplay). The

producer, who is currently working

on one of the year's most anticipated

films with one of the world's most

celebrated directors, loves my draft,

and is putting together notes right

now for the re-write. This is an

amazing opportunity, a chance to

model one of the best living screenwriters.

I KNOW they've had deep and

substantive conversations on the

creation of screenplays, and it

would be idiocy for me not to prepare

myself to absorb any wisdom I can

during this critical period.

What do I need to do to prepare myself

for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

1) raise my energy level to its highest state.

When energy is high, it is easiest to make

changes, as well as ignore the ego

voices in our heads.

2) Maintain behavioral flexibility. Lots

of yoga, as physical and emotional

flexibility have always, for me, been


3) Concentrate on core values. What

is most important about this story,

and this moment in my career? To

hold to the core aspects without

being controlled by them is essential.

4) Optimal input. Reading Aristotle's

POETICS and Shakespeare daily.

Right now, I'm reading Macbeth, and

am having fun comparing thematics

with my previous read, HAMLET.

5) Clearing my schedule. I have to be

certain that I have the room necessary

to feel relaxed, centered, open, and

aware. From this position it will be

easiest to hear what I'm being told,

and respond to it gracefully.

6) Deal with the fear. This is a

growth opportunity, and whenever

there is real growth, the ego is

threatened, and will respond with

paralyzing fear if you aren't careful.

So I have to be centered enough to

interpret the emotion as excitement.

7) Remember that Goals X Faith X

Action X Gratitude = Results. A

zero in ANY category will crash

the entire system. This is one of

the moments I've trained for my

entire life. No matter what happens,

it is a heck of an opportunity to

learn, if nothing else. And if things

go well? The sky's the limit.

8) Get plenty of rest.

I'll keep you posted, every step

of the way...



For writing, I'm using the tools found


to prepare myself, and stay on track.

For general balance and centeredness,

as well as preparing myself to move

to the next level, the tools in the

101 PROGRAM are invaluable,


going to keep me from chewing

my fingernails to the elbow.

Both the 101 and LIFEWRITING

help with the critical aspect of


and MASTER-MIND groups.

You can compensate for any gaps

in your own ability or resources

with the right allies! Turn your

friends on to this newsletter, and

recruit them into your personal

Mastermind circle--critical to

your success.

Better rest? The WARRIOR SLEEP

program is peerless.

I really created these resources for

ME! You know...when you care,

really care, it never gets any easier!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Diamond Hour tomorrow!
April 14 1 PM PST
(4:00 PM Eastern)
(724) 444-7444
My ADD program, Jason, and me.

A little equation

Continuing study for the Sexual Transmutation project, there were a number of things that I wanted to do, including looking more deeply into Think And Grow Rich, ts most popular successors (arguably books like "Psycho-Cybernetics", "Unlimited Power", "the One Minute Manager" and "The Secret" and so forth) and what the critical path might be. Simplified sufficiently, you get down to that "pure energy" that masters of success are referencing when they make it sound "easy" to achieve at high levels.

After all--everyone knows how to win a fight: don't get hit, and hit the other guy really, really hard. Simple, right? Well...yeah, after a life-time of study of all the component parts.

And hey, writing is easy, right? Just read a lot, spend a few hours a week tapping at your computer, send it off to the right people and cash the checks, right? Well...yeah, after 10,000 hours of work, study, and savvy marketing, as well as flow-state management.

And nothing could be easier than love, right? Just meet Mr. or Ms. Right, speak your heart, and live happily ever after. Right? Well...after a lifetime of honest hard work (or zen-like heart-centered flow) you might accept your humanity, embrace your mirror, and neither aim too high or accept too which case love can be as easy as rolling off a dog. So to speak.

But for anyone who hasn't reached the level of "unconscious competence" in the core disciplines of clarity, habit, keeping your word to yourself, telling the truth no matter how it hurts, and separating yourself from the voices in your head, these "easy" things can seem impossibly complicated.

All I can do is present different models of what "the thing" is from my perspective, and offer ways to maximize chances of success--because nothing can guarantee success, while there are plenty of things that will pretty much guarantee failure.

To that end, boiling down a huge amount of this stuff, a way of looking at that "guaranteed failure" thing came up when I realized that a particular equation was very useful in communicating the process (I experimented with this over the weekend.) Basically, the equation goes:

C (clarity of goals) x F (faith) x A (ceaseless action) x G (an attitude of gratitude and joy)= maximum chance of success.

Each of these can be broken down into countless sub-strategies. But the most important thing to grasp is that this is a multiplicative, not additive, equation. That means that if you give yourself a "0" in ANY of the four categories, you totally screw your chances of reaching your dream.

There is a lot of truth in this, and from the perspective that we are looking for the simplest ways of expressing complex concepts, I think I want to play with this a bit more before moving on.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jason still on green! Not a cure, but...

I am more than cautiously optimistic now. Jason had Spring Break with his cousins, came back after I'd taken off for Norwescon, and went to school Monday and was on green. Tuesday, green. Wednesday, green. I am attributing the massive shift in his (ADD-linked) behavior to three things:

1) The "Om" exercise with little pinches.

2) Reading aloud every night

3) The punishment of "no speaking without raising his hands" on any day he has been on Yellow or Red.

The reasoning is this:

1) The "Om" exercise is direct transmission with Dad. I have to hold the space of clarity myself. Matching body language tends to guide internal states. He must remember the numbers, which causes a problem if he lets his mind wander too much, and I can watch his eyes shift as he seeks the memory, giving me insight into what is happening inside him. If his eyes shift during the "Om-ing" sequence, I communicate directly with his nervous system with discomfort. If a light pinch doesn't work, I increase the pressure until he pays attention. I'm quite certain he is unaware of how inattentive he is, as if wandering in a house with too many rooms. The combination of visual, auditory, and simultaneous kinesthetic feedback and input allows him to access any possible open door.

2) Reading is such a wide-spectrum activity I barely need to comment on it. But in addition to the obvious, there is the fact that again he is getting my attention, that if we alternate reading sentences he gets to model my own diction, pace and emphasis, and that he is currently reading the second Harry Potter novel, which he saw as a film. Therefore, he is creating a nice digital-visual link in his mind.

3) Raising his hand is great, because it forces him to think about something that has been spontaneous. When he makes a mistake, he must do pushups (kinesthetic). If I add that he must call me "sir" instead of "Dad" he just hates that formality, and is an additional aversive conditioning.

So there it is at the moment, the three things I think are responsible for 80% of the results. If he were more severely ADD I would concentrate on the kinesthetics, engaging rapport through matched breathing. I have no idea how that would work, but offer these thoughts for feedback and experimentation.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back From Seattle

Back from Norwescon. Almost recovered--for some odd reason, traveling East to West is more stressful jet lag-wise than traveling West-East ever was. And I'm not totally sure why. Any ideas?


I was tickled to hear an old friend had referred to me as "obnoxiously exuberant." What a lovely phrase! I should have that put on a t-shirt.


Finished my run on "4189", the story I've been working on with Charles Johnson. And after a foul-up last Thursday, I spent five solid hours (well, almost solid--it was interrupted by a couple of friends) with Chuck poring over the story again and again. It was this moment I'd really been waiting for. I wanted to compare our process for re-writing. I'd assumed from the the get-go that Chuck had a superior process, and that it would be educational (if not embarrassing) to would be to go through the process with a National Book Award winning author who has his own #$%% postage stamp. Some thoughts on the process, in no particular order.

1)I read the entire story aloud, so that we could hear the language and dialog. I was able to give him my interpretation of the characters and their emotions, which varied a bit from his, and we debated every difference.

2) His sensitivity to poetics was certainly superior to my own, and it was great to hear his thoughts on different word choices, and the reasoning behind them.

3) Do not mistake agape for philos when talking with a Phd in philosophy. It isn't pretty.

4) It was hysterical how often we took breaks to watch the Avengers trailer. He is a serious comic book fan, with anecdotes about the history of Marvel and DC I'd never heard. And is excited about May 3rd as I am.

5) The question of "how much" to show and tell in an SF story is a tricky one. Enough to give a flavor of the world, and provide the readers with confidence in the writer's extrapolative capacity. Not so much that you feel you're being lectured, or that the writer is showing off. Questioning what information will come to a character (or authorial voice) at a given moment. This can range from "the car's autopilot made the Washington-NY flight in twelve minutes" to a 12-page dissertation on the history of internal combustion engine yielding to power cells, aeronautics adapted to passenger vehicles, cybernetic systems automating driving and air traffic control, and the mathematical theory of traffic jams. Trust me, I've seen it. The reader needs to know enough to maximize their emotional response to the story. No more. But no less, either.

6) Chuck's evaluation (and reasoning. And anecdotes) of what we could sell to New Yorker as opposed to a genre outlet was hysterical. No, I ain't telling. Stalk your own damned MacArthur Genius.

7)The collaboration process worked out as it has in the past: we evaluated ideas until coming up with one we both liked. Then fleshed out an outline until we both liked it. Then one of us wrote the first draft. We bounced the draft back and forth until we were both happy with it. Then got together in person for the final polish, followed by a touch of bouncing and buffing.

8) The story will now be offered to the gentleman who originally requested a horror story. This is a nasty piece of work. I wouldn't want to read a novel set in this world, but a 4000 word story is a fast enough in-and-out that I think it works well.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Terror of Inner Stillness

Just lost a client--a highly successful, driven person who earns over 250k a year. I offered a standard exercise: the creation of a "Future History": the story of your life from today until the day you die.

They could not do it. Did not know what they wanted, or their own values. I offered a dead minimum program of a daily FIVE MINUTES of meditation and journaling. They couldn't do it. Could not.

The human ego is a phenomenally powerful force, and confronting it will generate fear on a level most have never experienced. I could have jollied this person along and kept a very nice cash flow there. Could not do it. I have to live with myself.

There have been suggestions that perhaps dance or some other movement activity as a substitute. Not everyone has the same path. And here I must agree--it is true.

However...a teacher has to trust his own instinct and experience. It is all we have. And mine tells me that all the people...ALL the people I've met personally who have the quality of personal integration and centeredness necessary to progress in a balanced manner CAN be still and quiet, in meditation and journaling. They may have mastered that, and moved onward to the more dynamic and advanced moving systems (still inside, dynamic outside) but they CAN be still.

This is similar to writers who want to start with novels, when beginning with short stories is hugely more efficient. Every successful novelist I know CAN write short stories, even if they choose to concentrate on novels at this point in their careers. Every writer I personally know who avoided this step has failed. Every one of them. I'm sure there are exceptions, but of those I had the opportunity to observe personally...every single one.

Because my commitment is to being the best coach I can be, I can only trust that instinct and experience. I've no other tool to use. And in this case, it told me that this person needed inner quiet. They have always filled their lives with noise and activity, and it is clear to me that their ego removed a potential soul-ally.

Please. Do the work. Take that minimum time to work on your deeper silence. Take the time to connect with the wisest, and most powerful part of yourself. It is far below the surface.

And tragically, your ego will fight to the death to convince you that deeper part is unnecessary, or unworthy, or doesn't exist at all.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

"The Confidence of amateurs..."

"The Confidence of amateurs is the envy of professionals"

A recent viewing of the classic film "It's a Wonderful Life" triggered both tears (every time) and an even deeper respect for every creative mind associated with the project. I mentioned it on my Facebook page, and a gentleman suggested that the creation of such a film is "easy"--just "follow the template created by Dickens" and voila! Instant classic, fame and fortune.

Of course, I'm willing to bet that the person who said this has never published a single thing. His comment is like a couch potato saying "winning the Heavyweight championship is easy: just hit the other guy and don't get hit." Or "winning the Indy 500 is easy...just don't crash, and cross the finish line first."

Yeah, right. No. Being the best, in any field, is a matter of faith, endless work, raw ability combined with ruthless discipline, and a sublime transcendence of "ordinary" mind, the kind of transcendence that one can only achieve by mastering all of the individual, component pieces of the puzzle, and raising them to the level of unconscious competence. There is no other way.

And that path can guarantee improvement, but not superlative performance and public acclaim--that is sort of like getting struck by lightning as you cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. But your chances increase drastically if you commit to life-long improvement of your skills...and yourself.

Don't be scared. Throw off your confidence and step into the realm of the proficient, if not the professional. Master your life!


Monday, April 02, 2012

New post on meditation:

The first fifteen minutes

The first fifteen minutes of my morning meditating today, my head felt like it was filled with peanut butter. Let me list the crap that came up:

1) Old resentments

2) Feeling tired

3) Impatience

4) "What's the point"

5) "I can skip just this one day"

6) "Nothing is happening today."

7) "This is great! I'm done!"

8) Images from movies I saw last week.

9) Snatches of songs

10) The urge to trim my neighbor's cat's toenails

It really is insane, and even after thirty years of practice, the first 5-15 minutes of practice is filled with this nonsense. I just have to remember that my ego is, as always, fighting for its life. It's going to lose, however. The real "me" is just stronger than my ego, no matter what obstacles it throws up at me. It's going to lose.

Sex is a great motivator. Most of the cultures that have looked at sexuality in a non-smarmy way have come to a conclusion similar to the following: "the intensity of an orgasm is in direct proportion to the amount of ego that is released at that moment." Think of your ego-walls as if they are composed of pure, solidified orgasmic energy. In painting, writing, martial arts or any creative activity, the ability to "dissolve" the ego, represented in the "subject-object" relationship, creates flow, focus and the ability to access deep skills.

In other can use sex to teach you how to "focus and flow" and ANY activity where you experience this quality to teach you deeper surrender in any of the other arenas. They are all the same, interconnected.

I repeat: find clarity, focus, flow, connection and release in ANY arena of your life (for instance, morning meditation) and then ask yourself:

1) how am I breathing during that moment?

2) what is my internal dialogue during those moments?

3) what is my posture during those moment?

4) how long does the focus/flow state last, and what happens as it begins to return?

5) what external factors affect the quality of this experience?

And on and on. Journal your results. Keep track. Study your own mind and body, and never ever ever let your ego fake you out. You are stronger than your illusions!