The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Can Hypnosis Help You? FREE teleseminar tonight!

One of the tools I suggest for
 your mental toolbox is hypnosis,
both “self” and “directed” trance
 states.  Basically a hyper-suggestible
state usually accessed through
 deep relaxation, it is useful
both for programming beliefs,
changing the meaning of past
 experiences, implanting goals,
 and exploring non-ordinary
frames of thought.

The Soulmate Process works
to align beliefs, values,
behaviors, and emotions
with the “frequency” compatible
 with your desired future partner.
 So long as you’ve selected
wisely, a love partnership this
 is one of the most positive
experiences common to
human beings. 

My friend Terry Brussels
has been a successful
hypnotherapist for decades,
and is also a third-generation
 match-maker.  While our
approaches to love and growth
 are not identical, mine overlap
 with hers enough to make a
valuable addition to your

Tomorrow, we’re going to
have a FREE teleconference
call at 6pm PST, discussing
hypnosis, personal growth,
finding love and healing emotions.
  Terry and I will discuss both of
our approaches, and she will
perform a 20-minute inductive
 trance for centering, healing
emotions, and opening more
deeply to love.  

 Join us!

6pm PST Thursday, January 30th
 Dial-in Number: 1-712-432-3022
Conference Code: 474990

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Greatest Gift

Several times over the last week, I found myself in conversation discussing the changes in my life since living in Atlanta.    I thought I’d publicly mention the largest of those.  
I’ve used a series of vectors to describe a way of languaging what I see as the progression of human consciousness.   It goes;
Sleeping Child 
Sleeping Adult
Awakened Adult 
Awakened Adult with intermittent non-dualistic awareness  
Awakened Adult with sustained non-dualistic awareness…

And after that point language breaks down, although the state referred to as “enlightenment” is  a part of that territory.  My favorite definition of that state is one used by Sufis: “enlightenment is the door of awareness that opens at the moment of death.  The spiritual Seeker attempts to open that door before that moment.”

While still unable to quite “get there” do to the limitations of language, this addresses the cross-referenced hints on the topic as offered by the most advanced minds I’ve been able to study in multiple disciplines, and makes perfect sense of the literature and my own infrequent glimpses.  I’ll stand by it.
All right.  Bear with me, please.    We are born, and form our identities largely in response to the world. We need protection, care, tribe.  Have survival and comfort and approval needs. And form our ego cocoons in response to the world and people around us.  There is nothing wrong with all the labels and programmed responses—they keep us alive and allow us to communicate with the adults who control our world.  The problem is that we begin to mistake this avalanche of conditioned responses for “us.”  It is as if you have so many travel stickers on your luggage that you can’t see the luggage any more.

One of the things meditation does is allow you to peel back the stickers, examine the beliefs, values, sensations and emotions that construct the cocoon called “you” so that you can touch the original essence that began the journey.    If you want to know why Buddhism doesn’t tend to make Buddhas, or Christianity construct Christs, it is primarily because of an old expression: 
“Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”   In other words, the part of you that wants the experience of Truth will not survive the experience.

So…most religious doctrine is not about “waking up”, let alone achieving enlightenment, but rather how to live together in peace, with love and hope.   But woven into the doctrines of any major religion are the threads of a deeper path, and those threads can be “teased out” by a seeker determined to find truth.  That is a tiny percentage of people, and a tiny percentage of those have the ability to go “all the way.”   I would personally estimate that there are maybe a dozen of what I’m defining as “enlightened” people on the planet at any given time.    In a lifetime of studying these things, I MAY have encountered two of them.  That’s another discussion.

At any rate, as with many, many things in life, there are points of no return.  You do a certain amount of work, and reach the point where the momentum takes over, and “you” are no longer in control.  It becomes like roller-skating downhill.  All you can do is let gravity do what it will with you.  (No, the analogy isn’t exact.)

So…about six years ago, I reached the point in my meditations where the non-dualistic clarity was becoming more consistent.  Becoming the “base line”, with “dualism” becoming less and less frequent.  And I realized I was approaching a kind of summit, and that a few more pushes and the “I” that had begun the journey would begin to unravel.

And that I didn’t have the right to do that. (Yes, I know it is a dualistic contradiction to speak of “I” when discussing this stuff.  But we’re stuck with the language we have.)

The reason was…Jason.   You see, when I first held my son, I did that great ROOTS thing of taking him outside,  holding him to the sky and saying: “behold!  The only thing greater than yourself!” and that was wonderful. But more seriously, I promised that I would be his father, and do all in my power to deliver him safely to his adulthood, so held me God.

And, well…let’s say I turned out to be one of those few capable of actually completing the spiritual journey.  Such a thing unravels the “Steve” who began it (nice metaphors can be found in sacred text: Moses didn’t get to enter the promised land, now, did he..?).  And that “Steve” is the one who made the promise to Jason.

This isn’t a hollow concern.   The Buddha abandoned his family to complete his work, and the literature is filled with instances of people who, when struck by the light, change completely.  I believe that this happens when a person has not been prepared by a lifetime of work, such that the actions and values necessary to operate within society are as natural as breathing.  And as automatic.  Such a “householder yogi” generally conducts his worldly business until his children are of age to protect themselves, and only then wanders off to complete his inner work.  Whereas being “awake” has real benefit in the material world, “enlightenment”…not so much.   You are more likely to be crucified than materially enriched.  The only reason to pursue it is that you must.  It is your nature, and you cannot do otherwise.

I realized that the promise I’d made to Jason was sacred, but that I couldn’t be certain that, on the other side of such work, such an unraveling, what I would be would keep that commitment.  “Steve”, to the degree that that identity was incongruent with my true Self, would no longer exist.   

And I had no right to deny Jason the father I had promised him at birth.

Fast forward.   

I went to Atlanta because Tananarive’s mother was dying, and she had to be there.  And my place is with my son.  And my son needed a mother and a father, IMHO.  That gave me no alternatives, regardless of how much disruption it caused—and it was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most painful thing I have ever experienced.  There isn’t even anything in second place.  Not sure there’s anything in third.  Yeah, that bad.   Quantifying it on the scale of life stress, the only way I can describe it is that the stress level was equivalent to my mother dying every month for three years.

But in the middle of it all, I realized something: this wasn’t the first time I’d walked away from my life, my dreams, my hopes.    The first had been twenty years ago, after the 1994 L.A. Quake  when my first wife Toni decided she was getting the hell out of California, and I could come along if I wished.

I was in the midst of establishing a life-long dream, writing in Hollywood.  But knew that my daughter Nicki needed her daddy.  And I wasn’t going to put her in the middle of a war zone—that had happened to me, and it was devastating.  So I walked away.

And here, twenty years later…I’d walked away again.  For the same reason.  

Now, there are many things that can be extracted from this, and believe me, I’ve probably thought of most of them.  The “meaning” of the event, and its outcomes, and what will happen now that I’m on the other side of it, will be wrangled over endlessly by me and my eventual biographers (smile).

But one thing jumped out at me: despite the pain, and the fear, and the (perceived) destruction of plans and dreams I’d carefully constructed since childhood, despite the shredding of an entire map of reality that left me literally not knowing who I was or where I was, despite knowing I was heading into an isolation, an exile almost totally devoid of friends, teachers, relations, or business opportunities—the very things I’d constructed my sense of Self from, creating existential terror such as I’ve never experienced…

I hadn’t hesitated.  Jason came first.  As Nicki had come first.

In other words, whatever is true about me, whoever I really am, at the core of me…I’m a daddy.  That’s just the truth.  I’m a dad.   And I know that, no matter what else is true, no matter what I find as I, or if I, unravel the illusions, what I am would never, ever, hurt a child.  Especially my child.

I need not worry about it.  In other words, however much emotional or material discomfort the Atlanta Adventure caused/triggered/whatever, there was also a phenomenal gift of Self knowledge there, if I could see it.

Freedom.   Permission to continue my journey.  It is as if a gigantic stone has rolled off my chest.    Now it really begins, then.  Everything I do: parenting, writing, teaching, working out, loving, learning, giving…

All are in service to asking two core questions: “Who Am I?”  And…”What is true?”  Those two questions are the most important in human life, and all others connect with one or the other, are are beyond trivial.

I’d like to thank Tananarive, and Toni, for giving me the best, and most painful gifts I’ve received since clawing from my mother’s womb.

I have permission to seek the answers now.  The only remaining question is if I have the capacity.   No worries…I’ll eventually get there.

I’d just like to get there before I run out of time to enjoy the view. 


Friday, January 24, 2014

Out of the Cradle...

“OUT of the cradle endlessly rocking,

Out of the mocking-bird’s throat, the musical shuttle,

Out of the Ninth-month midnight,

Over the sterile sands, and the fields beyond, where the child, leaving his bed, wander’d alone, bare-headed, barefoot…” -- Walt Whitman

This is important enough that I wanted to share it again.  The traumas (or nurturance) we receive in childhood can affect us for a lifetime: aligning our values, limiting our dreams, degrading or elevating our self-worth, literally grooving our brains with pain or pleasure, contorting our bodies with trapped emotion…

Such simple reasons why I’ve been willing to sacrifice anything for my children. Twice, I’ve walked away from the career I loved, because there was something more important: Nicki.  Jason.

I see myself in them, that is all.  I feel the connection, that is all.  I know how badly, achingly badly, it hurt when my father was not there to raise me.

My mother and father divorced when I was about…what?  Five?  Six?   I’m not sure.  I do know that I have no memory of playing ball with him, or wrestling, or anything like that.  And that, for reasons I did not discover for another fifty years, he was never there for me afterward.

I was so hungry for that energy.  Being raised by my mother and my sister Joyce, I certainly had the love I needed, but not the…force.  The Yang.  The ability to respond.   When other boys bullied me, pushed against me, I just wilted.

So hungry that little boy I was.  So desperate not just to understand what it was to be male, but for a male to be willing to love me enough to teach me.

Despite the fact that she had been a professional model, mom didn’t date much that I recall.    And for all I know I was a part of that.  I remember one day when I was perhaps seven, when one of her few beaus was at the house, sitting on the couch, and I curled up on a chair behind the couch like a little kitten or puppy.  Trying to be as cute and adorable as I could be.

Won’t you be my Daddy..? Everything inside me screamed.  Am I so ugly, so stupid, such a twisted thing that no one wants to be my Daddy..?

What a hole in my heart.  One it took another twenty years just to BEGIN to fill.  One I’ll never pass on to my children.

Every day I deal with clients or students who are dealing with the consequences of a childhood of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or scrambled input.   Obesity, addictions, cutting, bulimia, abusive relationships, anger issues, PTSD and attendant stress/strain related disorders…it is killing people

And can offer two basic pieces of advice:

1) Heal your own heart, and heal the relationship between the “child” and “adult” parts of your personality.  The Ancient Child meditation was initially created for this mighty purpose.   

2) Find a child to care for.   Re-commit to your own children. Reach out to a niece or nephew, join Big Brothers or Big Sisters, adopt.  Get out of yourself to heal yourself.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nine Thoughts On Mastery

Yesterday, in a discussion concerning the “10,000 Hours” standard for excellence, the following post appeared in the discussion: 

many times I was better at things after getting a handle on what was going on than people who'd been doing it for years. But I get lazy and don't try to improve on that innate ability, I'm never going to be an expert at the thing.”

(I’m going to assume the person meant “IF I get lazy…”)

This touches on so many issues about excellence, life paths, emotional focus, and so forth that I wanted to re-visit this entire area.  I am hugely grateful to teachers, friends and role models such as Steve Muhammad, George Leonard, Dawn Callan, Mushtaq Ali Al Ansari, Larry Niven, and  Harley Reagan for components of the following observations: 

1) “Mastery” is here defined as unconscious control of the “basics” or elementary components of the skill, such that you can, under pressure, spontaneously create self-expressive actions.

2) Because an expert generally develops his capacity to criticize his work FASTER than his ability to flow and create, it is important to suspend judgement at times and just let it happen.  His work will never be perfect, and the self-critical faculty can be DEVASTATING, creating word stoppage (for instance: “writer’s block”).  

3) If we define “Mastery” as a verb as well as a noun, there can be great advantage.    Consider a path of daily action, daily commitment.  A lifetime commitment to this path is a commitment to “Mastery.”  You are a “Master” when you have absorbed your basics, and commit to practicing daily (or multiple times a week) for the rest of your life.   

4) This doesn’t mean that you are the best.    Or even speak specifically to some objective standard of excellence.  There will ALWAYS be people further along the path.  But you know what?  They are the same distance from the horizon that you are, and probably excoriate themselves for flaws in their work that you can’t even see.  Get the joke, and enjoy the ride.

5) Some people have greater “natural” skill…or better teachers and opportunities…or better “timing” in terms of the doors of learning, performance and perception that open and close at different times in their lives.   Every martial arts student knows about the “born black belt” who walks in the school with athleticism and attitude that are just absurd, and whips through the curriculum at mach speed.   If you let this discourage you, you will never reach YOUR excellence, which is your only task.

6) If YOU are one of those who learn (initially) at Mach speed, don’t let it get to your head.  Sooner or later you will hit the performance wall, and progress will start coming more slowly.  Further, if you let your initial success go to your head, you will slack off on practice, and eventually be out-performed by the “tortoises” in the world who simply plod their way to victory.  The reason so few people reach true excellence is that most don’t have the emotional juice to keep going when they hit this plateau.

7) At some point you will transform.  If you work at any discipline deeply enough, honestly enough, you will learn new things about the world, and yourself.   The ego will resist this transformation: it means ego-death.    It will never give you direct warning that this is what is happening. Rather, it will distract you with “boredom”, repel you with “fear”, entice you with other opportunities, convince you that you never really wanted it in the first place.
IT IS 100% PREDICTABLE that you will be challenged in this way at some point in your journey.  Get ready for it.

8) In other words, a “Master” isn’t better than someone else.  They are better than they used to be, have absorbed the fundamentals of their art or discipline so that they can execute without thought (opening the doorway to emotional expression), accept the fears and doubts that stop others, and have embraced their discipline for life.  

9) I personally have seen these aspects in every discipline I have committed to: writer, teacher, husband, father, martial artist, yogi.
The same stuff. The same traps. One of the reasons it is critical to commit to multiple arenas of discipline is so that you can learn the ego traps, see them from multiple directions, and begin to recognize your demons no matter what reasonable guise they may appear in.

It is my belief that we should all aspire to mastery in some arena of our lives, to choose a mountain to climb and take at least one more step every day.  One more step along the path.

And although there will be countless others ahead of you, the others walking the same road will likely bid you welcome, and wish you well.

So long as you commit to doing the same for those who follow you.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Introducing a new word: "psychotensegrity"

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.” 

“No matter what you do in life, you’re going to have to work hard,” my Mom told me one day.  “So find something that you love to do.”

Maybe the single most important thing that she ever taught me.  

So, loving something gives you the motivation to keep going, keep pushing, even through the pale times.  And things will ALWAYS get sticky at one time or another: the “Hero’s Journey” promises us that: if you are engaged in an activity that has the potential to change you, you WILL hit the “dark night of the soul” at some point, and unless you have an overwhelming reason to keep going, you will retreat.

But there’s another saying: “Love and Fear compete for the same place in your heart.”    To the degree that this is true, then, the primal emotions, the most basic aspects of our emotional life, are these two (and their offspring, such as lust and anger).   And if you concentrate on what you love…what about fear?

Well, if you love enough, the fear retreats to the shadows.  But…what if fear is present?   And for most of us, especially those of us without a powerful connection to love, fear is a constant companion.

Well, there’s yet another saying: “put your fear behind you, your love in front of you, and run like hell.”

In other words, if you arrange your life, balance your focus properly, you can and should use both positive AND negative emotions to power your actions.  

In the 60’s, Buckminster Fuller melded the words “tensional” and “integrity” to create the term “tensegrity” which relates to a healthy structural tension between parts of a whole.  Everything is connected to everything.

Scott Sonnon introduced me to the term “biotensegrity” which suggests that every part of the human body relates to every other part, leading to brilliant, simple movements like “Be Breathed” which teach you to use the whole body together, to wonderful effect.  In essence, there is no such thing as “isolation training”: you can’t twitch your nose without wiggling your big toe.  

Today, here and now, I propose the creation of the term “psychotensegrity”: the conscious structural integration of the different emotional/psychological aspects of our personalities, such that we not only support our conscious intentions unconsciously, but have access to more of our innate potential.

The Ericksonian “Parts Party” where you imagine introducing aspects of your personality to each other (“courage? Meet Caution.   Ambition?  Meet Fear.   Intimacy?  Meet Freedom…”) so that they can resolve their issues and cooperate.   Psychotensegrity.

While the seven stages of the chakras are my favorite view of human development, and within the range of what we can juggle psychologically (seven plus or minus two pieces of information), considering that our egos will do anything they can to stop us from growing beyond them, one of the favorite tactics is confusion and…well…stupidity.  Literally denying you access to your full intelligence and memory to slow you down.

THIS is why I believe that the classic triad of “Body, Mind, and Spirit” was such a foundation—it was considered the generative minimum.  I generally avoid suggesting people aim directly at “spirit” because of the lack of measurable external results, or cultural agreement upon the meaning.  “Emotion” measured in internal and external loving relationship seems to work much better, but open the door to the exact same growth.  Likewise, the other two aspects each open the door to aspects of human existence such as finances, social commitment, athleticism, and so forth.    But if you choose things that are internally significant, generative, and externally measureable, balancing them so that they support each other, there is an emergent quality to their interaction that is more than the unbalanced can believe or have experienced.

You can know quite a bit about hydrogen, and oxygen, without having the slightest idea about the behavior and properties of water.

If you want to try applying “psychotensegrity” in your own life, start small and basic.  Take your goals in the three most basic areas, and interweave them.  Let’s say you have goals of:

1) Mind.  Increasing your income by 30%
2) Body.   Decreasing body fat by 20 pounds.
3) Spirit/Emotion.  Finding and bonding with your Soulmate.

Take each of these and develop at least five reasons why each is connected to each of the others.  For instance:

1) How will increasing my income develop my mind? (I’ll have to learn.  To gain greater clarity.  To develop a more accurate reality map, etc.  To learn to focus for longer periods of time, etc.

2) How will increasing my income be good for my body? (I’ll be able to afford insurance.   Better doctors. Eat better.  Afford a coach.  Have time to exercise because I’m earning more per hour.  Etc.)

3) How will increasing my income be instrumental in finding my Soulmate?  (Increased confidence.  Ability to travel and meet more people.   Ability to “feather my nest.”  To dress better, and find a fashion sense that expresses my personality.   Increased life satisfaction, which projects as joy and positive emotions.  Etc.)

People who complain of lack of motivation simply don’t have enough reasons to do it.  Do the above exercise with EACH of the three goals.  If you can’t interweave them, they are either trivial goals, or you haven’t thought deeply enough.

And what of fear? Well, in each area you can include thoughts relating to how the goal will allow you to move away from pain:

1) Money allows me to avoid the trap of debt. (Mind)
2) Allows me to heal sickness and injury.  Avoid crippling stress.
3) Money problems cripple relationships more reliably than infidelity.  Having money provides a safety cushion for children, mates, friends and family: with financial security I can lift my parents from poverty (etc.)
Weaving each of your goals into each of your areas means that every part of you begins to see how every action, every thought, every feeling relates to everything else.  You will begin to exercise, set goals, organize your time, meditate, make client calls, fulfill your deadlines, or anything else more automatically and without internal resistance, because on every level you know the costs and benefits of everything you do.

Psychotensegrity.  Hey—you heard it here first!   Thank, Bucky!


Monday, January 20, 2014

The Power of Connection

One of the reasons relationships are so important is that they take us out of ourselves.  You cannot have a relationship with another human being…without relating to them.  And you can’t have a good, honest, loving relationship without opening your heart, extending empathy and humanity, seeing the world through their eyes, and beginning to expand your own definition of “self” to include others.
We’re wired that way.   The fastest way to grow is to be in a relationship with a mature human being, to care about it enough to move beyond your self-image and perceived limitations.  To fear losing it more than you fear revealing yourself.
To be willing to let love in.  That vanquishes fear.  Vanquish fear and you automatically begin to expand to include others.
I remember my mother caught me playing too roughly with our kittens, swinging them around by the paws.  I was perhaps seven years old, and they were fantastic toys to me, more responsive than wind-up dolls, and warm and fuzzy, but that was about it.
“Would you want someone to swing you like that?”  She asked, after stopping me.
“Sure!” I said.
She smiled tolerantly.   “Did you notice that when you let go, little Sally ran away as fast as she could?”
Uh…yeah, I had.  I started to feel a little funny.
“So she didn’t want any more of that.  So…would you want someone to do something to you that would make you want to run away as fast as you could?”
Having been bullied, extensively, I remembered being slapped, choked, head-rubbed, hit, mocked, and other things that motivated me to run as fast as I could the first chance I got.  I remembered how I thought about those people.   And with sudden alarm I wondered if Sally, our kitten, felt the same way about me.
And that was a threshold.  I began to attribute INWARDNESS to the kitten. She wasn’t just an object, she was a living being with feelings and needs.   Once that connection was made, nothing was ever the same.
It hurt.  I wanted to close my mind to what Mom was saying, but she was the source of love, of food, of shelter, of all good things.  And she was telling me something from her heart, and I had to hear it, or suffer separation from the being I loved most in all the world.
That day I changed.  No more salt on snails, no more firecrackers in ant hills.   And the things I said to other human beings began to reverberate in my own head.    They weren’t objects.   Not shadows.  Not bit-players in my own personal drama. They were beings with hopes and needs and feelings.
And…I had said and done things that I would have considered hurtful, had they been done to me.
We learn by imitation. If we have been the recipients of love and kindness, we believe we are precious.  When we experience that deeply, we NATURALLY wish to share this with others.  We wish to replicate the sense of love and acceptance we found in childhood…or to satisfy our needs…or to express our inner nature…
Whether you want to look at it psychologically, physically, emotionally, or physically, the human urge to connect, to love, to share makes perfect sense, is in fact the natural consequence of growing beyond fear.
CONNECTION IS THE NATURAL STATE.  People who are closed, disconnected, unempathetic, manipulative and/or hurtful are displaying dysfunction, parading their wounds and lack publicly.  They are to be pitied, not hated.  They can hurt you, so they must be defended against…but they usually hurt themselves more than they can ever hurt others.
Our connection to others opens the door to understanding the unity of all beings, all reality.  Whatever shields we put up to defend ourselves, protect ourselves (and there is NO ONE more cynical than a romantic who trusted and was betrayed) we yearn for that connection, and will seek out either ways of fulfilling that need, or ways to numb and deny the drive.
Don’t believe this.    Instead, look at the people around you and ask: “what would be true about this person if it is true?”  If the more that they jump and scream and criticize and attack, the more they actually crave connection?  If the more they push people away, the more vulnerable they actually are, the more they fear rejection and betrayal?
If you look at the people around you, and this helps you make sense of them, then adapt it as a possible rule of thumb…until and unless it lets you down.
But meanwhile, look into your own heart. Ask yourself if you see yourself as a precious thing.   If you see other human beings as precious.  If you extend your own humanity to those around you.   Do you need to make people wrong?  Do you believe in “us versus them?”  Do you need to believe others are below you?
These are all ways to avoid reality. To be able to swing the kitten by its paws.  Hey, it’s not real.   It’s just a wind-up toy, a shadow on the wall of your inner cave.
Don’t believe, just ask: IF it is true that we are all connected, what does the way you treat others say about how you really feel about yourself, down in the secret depths?
The answer to that question may not save you, but it might very well save a kitten or two.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

All That Jazz

In 1979 I saw the film “All
That Jazz” for the first time. 
 I sat in the movie theater
watching “Joe Gideon”, Bob
Fosse’s alter ego, destroying
 himself in the name of sex,
 drugs, and musical theater. 
On the way home, I had
 much to think of.  Fosse
had done me a fantastic favor.
 Somehow, he had touched my heart, communicated with me in a
 way no one else had.  A core
paradox had been laid out
with surgical simplicity:

1) To achieve your full potential
requires monomaniacal focus.

2) Monomaniacal focus
creates imbalance.

3) Imbalance leads to skewed
 values: Gideon was a man
turned inside-out, putting
his priorities on the very
things most likely to destroy him.

4) Premature self-destruction
prevents you from reaching
your full potential.

I don’t know about anyone
else, but that movie was a
 wake-up call on a massive,
soul-shaking level.  I was
determined to be the absolute
 best I could be, and the
path I saw to it was so rife
with peril that it was obvious
I’d be riding  a unicycle over
 a pool of sharks.   I puzzled
over this one for days, and
finally came to a life-changing
 conclusion: the safest thing
to be obsessive about was
BALANCE.  I would care
equally about all three basic
 aspects of my life: body,
mind, and emotions.  Then…
let the chips fall where they may.
I was twenty-seven years
old when I saw “All That
Jazz.”   Thinking about it
as deeply as possible,
whereas I’ve read books
and seen films that taught
me interesting things about
the world, works of fiction
stopped changing me on
any deep level at that point.
 NON-fiction continued to
 do so strongly until my
40’s, and from time to time
 I still get a little “bump”
from some piece of philosophy
 or physics or history.

But fiction?   No.  

On that level, stick a
fork in me, I’m done.  
I hear people speaking
 of fiction, books or films
or plays, that shakes them
 and changes their world
view or transforms them.
 I was wondering…what
was the last (or most recent)
 work that changed you, and
 how old were you when
that happened?

If YOU want to reach your
maximum without the risk
of destroying yourself, I
 suggest the same approach
 to balance.

The “101 Program” teaches
 this, as do all of my other
offerings.  But the crown
of it all is personal coaching,
 which is available on a
very, very limited basis only
 to those who are totally
committed.  I don’t want to
waste your time,  and I won’t
 let you waste mine.  Make
 no mistake—when we
talk for 30-60 minutes a
week, phone or Skype,
miracles can and do happen.

If you’re ready to take
your game to the next level,
I would suggest going to
and checking out the
terms required to work
with me personally.    I
recently had two positions
 open up in my coaching
schedule (I have to limit
 the number of people,
or I won’t have time for
my own work!)

If you have the passion
for change and are prepared
 to invest in yourself, drop
me a line, and we’ll have
a conversation about

Love, health, success. 
And all that jazz.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Prices We Pay

She sat alone and looking miserable, a pretty girl maybe eighteen years old in the midst of a busy Science Fiction convention.  “Sherri” was the niece of a good friend, but I didn’t know her well.  As I recall, I merely asked her if she was all right, and what was going on with her: her body language was so sad.

We just talked for a few minutes, and I sensed that there was a great depth of pain that I couldn’t reach, but that she’d been glad I’d stopped to speak to her.  Over the next years I encountered her several times, and always extended courtesy.   When I learned she was in emotional trouble once, I asked my wife (at the time) Toni if it was all right if Sherri came and stayed at our house for a couple of days.  Because she was related to a friend, Toni agreed.

I picked Sherri up from the bus depot, and took her to the house up in Canyon Country California.  Nothing very special happened, just family time.

Years passed.   I lost touch at times, but occasionally Sherri would reach out and ask if she could talk to me.  I always said yes, and was happy to.  Sweet girl.

I love Facebook.  It lets me peek into conversations other people are having.  A few months back I happened to come across a stream where Sherri was speaking of her life.  She had been horribly molested by members of her own family, never able to trust anyone.  She married and her lack of self-image brought her to a husband who did not honor and protect her, and after hard  years she separated.

In her conversation, the subject of how you find strength came up.  What hurts us, what helps.
And my name came up.   Steven Barnes, she said, was the only man she had ever known who had helped her, been kind to her, without wanting sex in return.

This guy “Barnes” was the closest thing to a real father figure she’d ever known. And knowing that one man, somewhere, was like that, could see her preciousness without demanding part of it in return for simple support and affection gave her hope.  Made her see herself differently. Gave her the balance she needed to move forward.

Dear God.  I’d had no idea.  I was just filling a gap I saw: a nice girl who was sad.  Who had a lovely smile, when she could smile.   Who extended trust, and needed something I could gladly offer.
We never know the impact of our actions.    The arena of sexual contact is so deep and wide and filled with crazy energy, tied to everything from our animal to our spiritual realms.    There is no way to make it a simple transaction like shaking hands, no matter how much society might encourage us to believe birth control and condoms and Liberation and Equality and all the rest of it has spun gold into flax.

What is the price that you have paid to fulfill yourself on this level?  Have you held yourself as precious?   What is the price you have extracted from others to share this space with you? Or…what have you withheld or offered others in exchange for access to their sexuality?

To what degree have you treated them…or yourself…the way you would want someone to treat your sister, your mother, your daughter?

If there is any tension in you when you consider that question, it would be wise to ask yourself where you got your ideas about this arena. Whether they are beliefs or values that support a healthy life and world.

Whether, if more people were as you are,  the little girls of the world would be safer.  The little boys stronger and happier and healthier.

You just never know what people are offering for kindness.   Too often, it is more than they can really afford, and it is up to YOU to set the boundaries, if you would be an awakened adult human being.

Only adults can keep the children safe.

You’re up.

Namaste, Steve

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Join Us Today!

One of my teachers, the late Harley  "Gunnie" Reagan, taught me about direct and indirect attention, and the different qualities of mind produced by each.   I would be trying to master a throw, say a Tai-Otoshi and my opponent’s resistance would foil me every time.

“You’re trying to throw him,” Harley would say.  

I would lay on the mat, sweating, and look up at him with irritation.  “What was I supposed to do?  Kiss him?”

“Whatever floats your boat, but if you want to learn judo, more listening and less smart-mouth.”

I shut up.  He went on.

“You don’t want to throw your opponent.  You want to perform Tai-Otoshi. Your opponent cooperates.”

“What if he pulls back?”

“Then you go with it and surrender to a higher intent—completing a flow.  If he pulls back, help him.  Get there first and flow into an Osoto-gari.”  Roughly, the opposite throw.
Intention: completing a flow.

The partner who fights the flow will be thrown cleanly.  You can put your intent upon a particular expression of the flow, but attachment to it makes you vulnerable to resistance from the opponent.  So…no opponent.  No throw.  Just…flow.

Where the opponent stops the flow, a “throw” is created.
So where do I put my attention?

On the flow.  

In writing, if you concentrate on being the best you can, the most honest that you can, over time you develop style and skill, and those enable you to communicate whatever is within your heart.  And regardless of what the voices in your head tell you, if you simply speak the truth of your life with skill, you will rise to whatever level of success you are capable of achieving.

 John D. MacDonald, bestselling creator of “Travis McGee”, wrote 800,000 words IN FOUR MONTHS, working eighty hours a week,  without selling a single word.

Have YOU got what it takes to write a million words, and read ten million, without selling a word?  Then dollars to donuts you have what it takes to fulfill your dreams of being a writer.

But you can’t focus on the fame.  Or the money.  Do that, and you’ll lose your sense of self, and that is all that makes you unique.

In relationships, the SOULMATE PROCESS suggests that to find the person your heart yearns for, you have to stop chasing after them.  Be who you were meant to be, with sufficient amplitude and engagement with the world to send a strong mating signal, like a bird singing in the forest.   Out of those who respond, you learn to recognize those singing on your channel, at your frequency.  


 Terrifying if you aren’t actually attracted to your own music.

  You CANNOT fake this, no matter how dearly you long to.  
You can’t look directly at the sun.  What you are seeking will come from your peripheral vision, not your foveal.

Concentrate on the throw, the fame, or the seductive chase and you will miss your excellence, lose your life, never experience the flow of simply being yourself and watching the world respond to you.

Today on THE DIAMOND HOUR we will speak of this, as touched on in THE SOULMATE PROCESS (bring your questions!) and THE SECRET FORMULA.

Two ways of looking at the exact same thing.   It is hard to talk about things that have no words.

But dammit, it sure is fun to try!

Join us, won’t you?

Diamond Hour January show. - Saturday, January 11, 2014 1:00 PM Pacific Standard time (4:00 PM Eastern)
Connect via phone or VoIP (Skype, etc.)
(724) 444-7444

Friday, January 10, 2014

Only one childhood, only one chance

Bonding to another human being, creating family, means taking on their history as yours.   Last year we traveled to the site of the notorious Dozier school in Florida, where a secret burial ground for abused boys was discovered, and unearthed by forensic archeologists.  The question of how and why this happened remains an academic one.
For Tananarive, it was personal: her grand-uncle Robert Stevens was one of the dead.  It was a solemn occasion, and as is my wont, I protected my emotions by speaking with the forensic team of the various technologies employed to “speak” to the dead: gas chromatography, entomology, and so forth.  Hiding behind my intellect.
T had her reporter’s eye, and concern for her father.  But Jason…for Jason…it is hard to grasp what this must have been for him.  The boys might have been his own age.  The world is both harsh and beautiful, and the love of a mother and father can be all that protect them.   On this day, nothing could remove the essential truth: you are standing in a place where children, much like you, were, if not murdered, discarded like garbage.
He is a warrior cub.  A worker, a mover, one of those who interprets the world by interacting with it rather than thinking about it or studying it at a distance.   And the way he chose to cope was to pick up a shovel and help the forensic team dig.  To help them sort through the dirt.  To ask hard questions and listen to hard answers…with his fingers black with Florida soil.
Somewhere in the simple coffins, the unmarked graves, the sarcophagus beetles and fragments of bone are the clues of what happened to his great-grand-uncle.  He cannot help but wonder how it all happened, and what stands between him and such a lonely, terrible fate.
My love stands in the way.  His mother’s.  Our love for each other.  We stand against the night, or no one does.
Please, my friends.  Be gentle with your children. Be careful with whom you make love, for our bodies don’t speak “birth control.”  To our hind-brains, such engagement is about forever. About the creation of life.   So much of the confusion we see in modern relationships is because we are designed through millions of years to bond, to breed, to protect and now we think we can just play games with this energy.
Bring genuine caring to your search for pleasure and companionship.  Ask yourself if this man, that woman, would be someone you’d want to help you protect your son or daughter from the coldness of life, the reality of death.  
If every time, you remembered you MIGHT be creating a Jason or a Jane, wouldn’t you hold your heart, your sexuality, your time and energy more sacred?   For the child Jason is now mirrors the boy I was, still within me. And the Elder Robert Stevens would have been is my own deathbed self, whispering to me of truth:
Soon enough, this child will be a man.  Let him enjoy his childhood, but plant the seeds that will grow into wisdom, now.   Cultivate carefully, or weeds will grow.  And chose those who will hoe and water and fertilize and harvest at your side with great care.  They only have one childhood.
Give him one better than yours was.  Certainly, than mine was.
Oh, Jason.  I love you so.  I would protect you from everything in the world, as I tried to do for your wonderful sister Nicki.  I will fail so heart-breakingly often, I fear.
But I will never, ever stop trying.  Thank God I have a woman like Tananarive at my side.  Thank God she chose me to stand at hers.
We will shelter you.  Or die trying.


Join us tomorrow!

Diamond Hour January show. - Saturday, January 11, 2014 1:00 PM Pacific Standard time (4:00 PM Eastern) Connect via phone or VoIP (Skype, etc.) (724) 444-7444

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Year's first Diamond Hour show!

Diamond Hour January show. - Saturday, January 11, 2014 1:00 PM Pacific Standard time (4:00 PM Eastern)

Connect via phone or VoIP (Skype, etc.)

(724) 444-7444

Tananarive, Aristotle, and Me

We must no more ask whether the soul and body are one than ask whether the wax and the figure impressed on it are one.
- Aristotle  "De Anima"

The wonderful reproductive biologist Jack Cohen once told me that if modern translations of Aristotle had been available to Rene Descarte, the Cartesian “error” of the body/mind division would never have taken place.

That to Aristotle, the “soul” was the expression of function, as in “sight is the soul of the eye.”  To view “soul” as “natural or righteous function of an organ” is fascinating, and reveals an entirely new aspect to the concept of “Soulmate.”

What was “love” to this great thinker?   “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies,” he said.  (He may have been referring to more of what we call “friendship”, but the same idea applies.)  This then would be similar to the West African concept of “Num” which is “a single soul looking out through many eyes.”—The unity of mankind, or life itself.

In life, we would seem to begin with this essential “sameness” at birth, and perhaps to return to it in death.  But between those times, there is near-infinite variety of expression.  And relationships are much like keys and locks—people have to fit together to form a whole that can endure.
To this end, it is vital to “know yourself.”  To have either an instinctive or conscious knowledge of your values and emotions, goals and dreams, wants and needs.   From a world of billions, how else are you to determine who might fit your life?   Raw attraction fades.  Selecting solely for beauty or power leads to some of the most unsatisfying relationships imaginable.

What we want and need is someone who “gets us”—is similar enough to us to share those core values, but different enough to “fill in the gaps” in our own emotions and psychology.  Personally, I don’t want someone who is always “up” when I’m up or “down” when I’m down.    I’d rather have a slight mis-match there, so that if she is down, I am “up” and able to support and coax and nurture her back to emotional balance.  And vice versa.  Of course, if you’re NEVER in sync you don’t have much basis for relationship.  There is a balance.

The point here is that you must know yourself, must express yourself in words, actions, intonations, and so forth.  See the impact they are having in the world.  Adjust.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  To a huge degree, who we are is,  what we do, and the meaning of what we do is the effect it has on the world.   Every infant knows this: they act, they observe the effect their actions have, they adjust and act again.

If your “soul” is the function of your mind and organs and actions upon the world, and love is a single soul in two bodies, then a “soul mate” would be viewed as someone whose values, beliefs, emotions, and actions are in sufficient alignment that in their presence you become MORE of what you are rather than less. They take you move deeply into your own essence.

Tananarive does this for me.   She and I have similar commitments to teaching and writing, to health, to family.  But she approaches these things from a different direction.  I’m something of an ally cat, having pieced my psyche together from hundreds of different teachers and experienced, while she was nurtured by her family and community in a way I never dreamed of.

There are ways that I “lead” her, and others in which she “leads” me, forces me to think, to evaluate my approaches to life or writing or parenting or love itself.   She is different, but her life works, and in many ways works spectacularly well.   I cannot deny it when I see it in close-up on a daily basis.  I am watching, from Aristotle’s point of view, her “soul”—her expression of function.

I first saw her “soul” in her basic, honest expression of interest in my life and career when we first met.  Saw more in her interactions with fans and new friends.  More watching her dance, seeing her healthy animal expression—seeing that she had emotional permission to “tap into” that basic energy and allow it to express itself through her body.  And then when I heard her express her tactical path to getting Stephen King’s quote on “My Soul To Keep” I saw a vast number of separate steps aligning to create a specific effect.  I glimpsed the pattern: energy, talent, work, creativity, courage, artistic expression, physical grace and perception all combining to create an opportunity to operate in King’s circle, catch his attention and create an invitation to let him see her work. And if she hadn’t had the chops, hadn’t been ready, that created opportunity would have amounted to nothing.

In that moment, I saw her soul. Saw the creative little girl she had been, guided by a woman’s discipline and focus, creating opportunity.   Life doesn’t give you a single chance at the Gold Ring—there are many chances, perhaps endless chances, but you have to recognize them, be ready for them, and also be working your @#$$ off so that you don’t need them.

I saw her.    And recognized my own soul, in her body.  I was lost from that moment.

Know yourself.   Deeply.  Make no excuses for your failures, have no false modesty about your successes. Without this knowledge, you won’t recognize a kindred spirit, nor will you detect  predators or walking wounded wearing  masks.

How can you know your Soul Mate if you don’t know your Soul?


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Art and Truth

“An unbelieved truth can hurt a man much more than a lie. It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times. There's a punishment for it, and it's usually crucifixion.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”
― Warren W. Wiersbe

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner

It is probably safe to say that there are probably as many definitions of “art” as there are artists.  One answer that makes intense sense of the arguments and perspectives is that “Art is Self expression.”  Note the capital “S” there, meaning “true Self” or to put it another way, “Art is expression of truth.”
“Craft” is another thing, of course, chiefly skill in communication, related to style, technique, structure, and so forth.  Deep subject, complementary to but separate from the first.
There was recently a Facebook discussion that suggested that the purpose of art is to confront, upset, destroy the status quo, and so forth. Consider the possibility that these things are NOT the purpose—they are the effect.  Human beings slide into a “dreaming” state rather rapidly, a place rife with mythologies and justifications.  Any real truth—about relationships, politics, spirituality, actions, or whatever, will conflict with much of these illusions, and be uncomfortable to those comforted thereby.
An artist, from this perspective, has the obligation to have not only craft (to express) but a point of view (something worth expressing—a perspective on “truth” the artist is willing to defend or express during his career.)
Because it will require fantastic energy and focus to dig deep enough to find a truth worth sharing, it is valuable to focus on something that is deeply meaningful to you: a pain, hope, dream, fear, love…something that engages the passions so strongly that you won’t stop with the easy answers, but keep digging, and digging, throwing away the “easy” answers your mind and ego will frantically throw at you to distract you from reality, drag you back down into the dream.
Another trap the Seeker encounters is external reward.  Ooooh!  Shiny!   When you’ve spent your life trying to get people to look at something (whether it is something about us, or something about the world) when you start getting fame, money, sex, or adulation because of some perception you’ve offered to the world, it is tempting to offer some version of that same perception again…and again…and again…until you’ve forgotten the process that led you to that awareness in the first place, and have lost your way.
In the arts, this might be writing book after book about the same situation, or set in the same universe, or exploring the superficial aspects of some theme.  Hell, you have to pay the bills, right?
And of course it’s true, you do, especially if you have a family.    It might be wise to question the values of any artist who places his ego need to create or seek “truth” above the legitimate need of a child for food and shelter and security.
Navigating these waters is difficult, but necessary because we are ALL artists in one way or another, and our primary work of art is the lives we live. The artistic works, careers, physical bodies, and relationships are just external expressions of the lives we live from day to day, our day to day actions are the result of our beliefs, values, and emotional charges, and these things are the result of our relationship to Truth—whatever actually “is” and the degree to which we are in alignment with it.
Milton Erickson achieved miracles with his clients because he believed that, no matter what people said, what they really wanted were simple things in alignment with basic human nature: safety, security, sensual comfort, maturity, love, connection, success, health, a thriving family, self-possession, and graceful aging.    It is reasonable to suspect that he regarded any denial of these things as lies the client told him, until proven otherwise.
“I don’t want a relationship.”
“I’m satisfied with my body as it is.”
“I don’t want money”
“I’m not afraid of anything.”
It is reasonable to look at Erickson’s pattern, or the Chakras, or Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as normal, healthy, and typical, and divergences from them as extraordinary and potentially maladaptive.
That that is truth, and that the stories people tell about not wanting those things are mostly interesting lies.
And as we explore the lies we tell ourselves, the lies others tell become more obvious, and an entirely new level of human understanding opens.
But by the way…confronting people with what you see is the FASTEST way to destroy relationships, unless you have permission.  There is nothing harder than finding companions genuinely committed to the truth.  Trust me.
This search, the quest to learn “what is True” or “who am I” are universals.  All human knowledge can be subsumed under one or the other category.  And the further you get from the core questions, the more trivial the answers become, the more likely that these are mere  entertainments, side-lines, distractions for children.  Cotton candy.  Nothing wrong with cotton candy, as long as you don’t mistake it for genuine nutrients.
Nothing wrong with lies, as long as you don’t mistake it for truth.
If you want to deepen your art, your life, your search for love or protection of the relationships you currently have with others or Self, simply ask “what is true” and “who am I?” and continue to ask until you run out of language and arrive at answers of deep elegance and calm simplicity.  And then go deeper.  
Dreams are sweet, but they burden us, and morph into nightmares without warning.
The Truth will set you free.


Monday, January 06, 2014

Intermittent Fasting

If I had to lose weight with maximum speed and I had minimum time (either daily or time to weight loss target…say, a wedding) I would do four things:

1) Intermittent Fasting
2) Tabata whole-body sprints: Kettlebells, Club-bells, or Bodyweight (say, Burpees) four times a week, 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest, for 20 minutes.
3) Drink a gallon of water a day.
4) Journal my dreams, thoughts, emotions, and actions.

About five years ago, I started Intermittent fasting, after accidentally encountering the topic while researching caloric restriction.  It is the easiest, simplest, most effective means of weight control I’ve ever heard of.  It has the advantage of being a life-time regime with the effectiveness of a temporary crash diet, of requiring infinitely less thought that eating “six times a day” and instantly giving you up to ten extra hours a week.

It turns out that many of the health, longevity, and weight management effects are reaped not only by people who restrict calories overall but for those who “wave” the number of calories they take in on a daily basis.  Here are some thoughts on the subject.

1)   The list of positive effects for Intermittent Fasting is so wide that I must suggest that you do your own reading, and then discuss them with your doctor. Some are controversial, but they include positive effects on insulin sensitivity, cancer, obesity, sleep disorders, cognitive function,  growth hormone release, and more.

2) There are numerous ways to approach it: eating only after 6pm, eating only between 7-9pm, eating only fresh fruits and vegetables every other day, eating every other day, taking three days a week off (I generally do Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or Saturday), etc.

3) It is not a religious observance, but does have a fabulous reputation in spiritual circles, referred to as “The Fast of David” in Biblical times, and thought to be one of the very highest practices.  

4) You will DEFINITELY make contact with the “voices in your head” that try to tell you who you are and what is true.    They will lie like you won’t believe.

5) Hunger is an odd duck.  If you eat NOTHING it is a low-level growl.  But the instant you eat something, it seems to “wake up” fully and start to devil you.  This is referred to as “limbic hunger.”

6) You will save both money and time.  It will also sharpen your taste on the days you DO eat.  Food tastes amazing.

7)Here are a couple of links to get you started researching:

Please take a look, discuss with your health professional, and ask anything you want.  This is real, and it works.


Friday, January 03, 2014

Soulmate's Commandments #10: Thou Shalt Take Daily Action

10. Thou Shalt Take Daily Action To Become Thy Best and Truest Self.

And now we’ve come to the final dictate, the 10th statement in the Soulmate’s Ten Commandments.  Let’s take a look back at what we’ve done: clarified who we are and what we desire, committed to paying the price to be our true selves, demand that we settle for nothing less than a true expression of Self, and decide upon indirect action.  Now what there is is to find the flow within our lives, to spend our days being who and what we were born to be.    Finding a partner?   First find yourself.

Years ago, Tananarive went to a fortune teller on a lark.    She was told that she would find the love of her life AFTER she had evolved to the next level of excellence.  Specifically, after she had become a writer.  And so it happened.

One doesn’t need to be a fortune teller to know why this was excellent advice:

1) Even if she never met her future partner, she is engaging with life and fulfilling her dreams.

2) Being happy and engaged radiates positive “vibes”.   It makes us more attractive.

3) Writing exposes your name to the public.  People meet you, read you, and talk about you.  The name “Tananarive Due” was in the public consciousness, and a mutual fan eventually asked me if I’d heard of her.  In the same way, she watched one of my “Outer Limits” episodes and wanted to know who had written such a wierd, twisted, sick story.  Ahem.

4) Writers associate with other writers.  Eventually, our circles overlapped and we had the opportunity to meet, at a black SF conference in Atlanta.  The rest is pretty much history.

But if she had moped around waiting to meet someone…

If she hadn’t operated her life so that her actions and presentation revealed her values…

If she hadn’t been unwilling to “settle” in relationships with men who did not love her, cherish her and see her genius…

Both our lives would have been very different.  It takes courage and faith to walk alone in the world, while maintaining an open heart.  To keep faith that love is not only possible, but a natural consequence of living in a particular dynamic way.  To keep your eyes on the couples who commit for a lifetime, rather than the pity parties of men and women convinced that the opposite sex is worthless.

To see that, to a remarkable degree,  we create the world we experience.  What you do on a daily basis, and the way you do it, will determine who you are, and how the world sees you…and who you attract into your life.  Your emotions will determine what you are willing to accept. Your clarity will decide whether you can recognize what and who you are dealing with.

There you have it, in most basic form: The Soulmate Process.  It says that YOU are responsible for your relationship history, and that only you can change it.

The choice is yours.