Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

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Philosophy Tuesday

May 16, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

A friend of mine participated in a game a couple of years ago that I really find fascinating.  While on the surface the game seems quite simple, underneath, and why I find it so fascinating, the game ultimately was a meditation on the concept of “value.”

The game itself was straightforward:   Each of the players (something like 40 of them) had to select something they had to offer or give.  It could be something physical, like golf clubs or a blender, it could be something they could do, like massage or kung fu lessons, or it could be something both physical and transitory, like a 2 week stay in a timeshare in Maui.  There were no baselines, limits, or restrictions placed on what they could offer.  They just had to offer it.

From that starting point, the next 90 minutes they were to to walk around, talk with each other, and trade offers until – and this is the important part – they all got something they really wanted.

That was it.

And indeed, by the end of the game, each person had something they thoroughly enjoyed and wanted and were excited to have.

The nifty part of the game wasn’t the acquiring, though.  What was nifty was that through the actions and all those acts of exchange it got the players thinking more and more in terms of personal value.  That is, it had them examine and be aware of what was something worth to them – once again here is the important part – completely separate from the or any dollar amount attached to said thing/item/class/event/location/etc.

It had the players confront the degree to which the “absolute/real” $$ amount that was assigned to something had pervaded their thoughts and their choices.  It had them confront how much of themselves they had shoved out of the picture and how much they were letting the pervasive voices of the economic numbers guide the show.

They had to stop thinking only about “am I ‘getting a good deal’ here?” and instead remind themselves who this ultimately was for… and who it always is for, in the end.  “What’s the value to me?” was the question to begin, and continue, asking.  “Do I want this?”

The more time they spent within that space, the more free they were, the more trades went, and thus the outcome of at the end where they found themselves all beaming with excitement.  It didn’t matter if they had, perhaps, exchanged a high-pricetag item for something that might be considered low-pricetag.  What mattered was that they got something that they, themselves, authentically wanted.

We get all kinds of funny weird when it comes to money.  It’s all so easy to strategize and stalk this competitive field and get sucked into this zero-sum game where we absolutely must come out with the highest number value.  We can all to readily slide into a soulless mindset inside of which we so easily end up short changing ourselves.

But that question “what is this really worth to me?” can be such a switcheroo.*  It frees us to value things for ourselves, and allows us to choose where and how to spend those $$s we’ve worked to get in ways that light us up the most.  Without the filter of the so-called true “price” of something, we get the chance to guide ourselves towards what will give us the best experience and quality of our individual lives.

This can unfold even further… more next week.

 

* – This is one of the reasons why I’m so excited about the Kickstarter and Patreon models.  There’s no fixed cost… I can think and then pay exactly what something is worth to me rather than paying “what it is sitting there on the shelf.”  It offer the potential for a nice, unexpected, and hidden philosophical twist on our usual commerce model.  “This is a game/art/widget/etc that I reealllllly want to see in the world, I would be happy to pay $1000 to have it come to fruition.”  Not everyone approaches it this way I’m sure, especially with all the backer levels and extra perks for higher investments.  But it’s there, available (perhaps more so with Patreon than Kickstarter), and just allowing different levels of investment, and the more personal connection to the creators, I think begins to crack open the nut of returning our focus to “what is this worth to me.”

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Philosophy Tuesday

May 2, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Our lives are full of inflection points.

Life happens.  Things happen.

When something happens to us, or around us, we get very active.

We make decisions about things.

We make decisions about ourselves, about others, and/or about the world.

These are powerful decisions.

They form statements, certainties,  declarations.

They shape our view of the world and of reality.

In effect, they are reality.

We have little distinction otherwise.  They are the truth.

We therefore act and behave in a way that is fully consistent with that reality.

We touched a hot stove and we got burned: hot stoves are bad to touch.

Now we no longer touch a hot stove, and we’re even cautious around something that looks hot.

That’s pretty clear.  That makes sense.

We made a mistake on an art project as a kid and we didn’t do it right and kids laughed:  we are not good at art.

Now we no longer try to do art, and we avoid being creative.

Hmm.  Less clear.

“I suck at art.”  That’s one possible interpretation.

So we stopped practicing art, we avoided art, we never practiced, we don’t do it.

Today, if we try to create some art, sure enough, we continue to suck at it!

So much proof now…

Blam.  An inflection point that set our course of life.

Yet.

What happened was that we made a mistake.  That happened.  Plain and simple.

Nothing more.  Nothing less.*

That inflection point, however…

That was us.  All us.

Not the mistake.  The inflection was us.

We made the decision.

A decision that influenced our view, our experience, our capabilities, and reality.

“I suck at art.”  That’s one possible interpretation.  But only one of a million possible interpretations.

And for all these years, we’ve been living the decision we ourselves made.

How fascinating!

We can return to that moment and re-evaluate things.  Choose a different interpretation.

We can re-inflect.

We can refresh ourselves back to that point, clear the canvas, and start anew.

We gain freedom.  We can create.

We can transform, build forward, develop abilities, and become who we want to be. **

Let’s play.

 

* And what is a mistake anyway?  Who defined the failure?  In the arts (including life, which is an art), what is really a mistake?  Or error?  Or failure?  Or good?  Or bad?  Who sa(ys)(aid)?

** This does not mean new skills and abilities will miraculously appear***.  It will not wipe out 40 years of not practicing, developing, learning… the work still needs to be done.  But it’s work that now can be done.  The barriers have been removed, the road is now clear.  And, inside of that clarity, the speed at which the skill develops can be fast indeed.

*** And sometimes it will feel as though new abilities have miraculously appeared.  Freed of the constraints the decision and the resulting inflection imposed on your life, inside of that new freedom, new capacities of performance for existing skills get blown wide open.****  The true extent of your skill can fully be expressed.

**** This includes interactions, conflicts, relationships, courage, conversation, perseverance, productivity, excitement, wonder, compassion, empathy, creativity, joy, peace of mind…

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 25, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Every now and again,

It’s good to get a little reminder,

To just,

Frankly,

Stop taking ourselves so damn seriously.

 

(as also noted by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander)

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 18, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Reality is what we take to be true.

What we take to be true is what we believe.

What we believe is based upon our perceptions.

What we perceive depends on what we look for.

What we look for depends on what we think.

What we think depends on what we perceive.

What we perceive determines what we believe.

What we believe determines what we take to be true.

What we take to be true is our reality.

Quantum Physicist David Bohm

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 14, 2017

Years ago, I helped edit Sifu’s first book (on Iron Palm training).  As I was passing along my comments to the team I said, “The description of the four strikes used in the exercise seems a bit thin to me.  I think they could be explained more.”

Sifu replied, “Ok.  Go ahead and write it.”

After mentally freaking out for a moment*, I agreed.  I wrote the expanded section, it was reviewed by others in the editing team, and into the book it went.  Boom, published, out into the world.

Fast forward a number of years.

We’re in class, having a conversation with Sifu, and the subject of Iron Palm and the training comes up.  “The palm strike is the most internal of the strikes,” Sifu says.  “Wait…” I interrupt, “isn’t the backhand the most internal?”  “No, it’s the palm strike.”

Cue more mentally freaking out.  This time because I was positive I had heard it was the backhand.  My understanding was that it was the backhand.  Which means… did I write it into the book wrong?  Did I screw up horribly, confuse and mislead everyone who bought the book (and maybe cause injury!), and above all that, make Sifu look bad?

I raced home as soon as class was finished, dropping all my stuff unceremoniously at the door to rush and grab the book from the shelf.  Flip, flip, flip, find the page and….

Sifu was, of course, right.  The palm is the most internal strike.  The backhand has more of an external component to it.  That’s exactly what it says in the book… and thus exactly what I wrote.

I was relieved.  And, at the same time, a whole mess of perplexed, angry, and weirded out.  How did I get it so wrong?

But in the next moment, I realized what a great example it was of just how fallible, of how malleable, of how downright unreliable our memories are.  I literally wrote (part of) the book on the darn thing!  And yet, somehow, somewhere, I’d twisted it around in my mind until I was rotely spouting something incorrect.  I let go the worry and laughed.

Ca-razy.

We like to think our memory operates just like a superdimensional audio/video recording system that perfectly and forever captures sights, sounds, our feelings, our views, and, if we really tell the truth to ourselves, we also think it captures other people’s moods, thoughts, and even intentions.  All accurately and that can play it back anytime with perfect fidelity.

Alas, no.

In that moment, book in hand, I got just how even something as straightforward as a simple piece of instruction or information could get miss-remembered so much that I’d built an entire body of understanding around it.  This freakout-inducing potential-mistake opened a whole world of inquiry for me, because if I was capable of doing that with such a simple event, what did that mean for my other well-held beliefs based on much more complicated events in my past… ?**

The answers to this question have been most fruitful, almost always leading me to greater freedom and peace of mind.

And, as a bonus, I now have a much deeper understanding of Iron Palm.

 

* I freaked out because I was still young at the school and didn’t expect to be brought into this important a project even as an editor, let alone asked to write what amounts to generations of distilled knowledge (and this was all before I got my start down my path of mindfulness, transformation, and ontology, so I was waaayyyyy more prone to freaking out).

** This has been made even more profound as modern neuroscience research continues to show us just how hilariously not-fixed our memory is

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 28, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Our minds can so easily be hijacked.

Really, there are so many ways, avenues, and hooks out there that lead us astray that, when you can stand back and realize it, it’s actually kinda funny.

We have our righteousness buttons.  We have our biases and our views.  We have our pithy sayings.  We have our stories, both personal and those we’ve heard from others.   We have brains that automatically filter things.  We have our identities fighting tooth and nail to survive.  We have the sense that we are the centre of the universe.  We have that inner monologue that often goes for the most cliché write-up it can muster.

And it’s almost always completely unconscious to us.

We’re… really not, at most times, all that great at this.  Hilariously bad at keeping ourselves from being commandeered by some already always decided or automatic thing.  We might as well be sailing with blinders on and a big “hijack me” flag flapping in the breeze.

There’s a reason mindfulness – or being present – is at the heart of nearly all philosophical traditions, and a reason why it’s first practice to put in place.

Mindfulness and ontological inquiry is what gives us the awareness* to see just how eff’n easy and often it is that we get hijacked.

As we start to practice and develop our mindfulness, we get to recognize how much our perception of things shapes our experience of the moment, of who we are, and of how the world is.

Being present gives us the ability to reconnect to the present.

Being present lets us awaken to what’s so, that is, to what’s actually, physically happening in the universe.  It lets in the evidence.

It gives us access to making the best choices.

Through inquiry and being mindful we can avoid our brain being so easily hijacked.

We can see how crazy often it happens.

We can laugh at our foibles.

Gain control.

We can take stock of what’s so.

We can consult with our authentic core.

Listen, see with open eyes and heart, and choose.

And step boldly forward towards a future we truly want.

 

* And the visceral experience that comes with it.  There is a feeling that comes with realizing and recognizing that you’ve just hoodwinked yourself, that your own mind has taken you down some path that is far away from the truth of what’s actually so in reality.  The feeling is, really, quite shocking and disorienting, and maybe even sickening, at least at first.   Then, as you get settled with how silly we humans are, the shock and the uncomfortable feelings pass quickly, you shake your head at yourself with a smile, and you get to work in apologizing, adjusting, creating, and taking action.

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 14, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

“Standard social and business practices* are built on certain assumptions – shared understandings that have evolved from older beliefs and conditions.  And while circumstances may have changed since the start of these practices, their continued use feels right and true to us, regardless of whether they have evolved to keep up with the pace of change.  In just such a way a business culture arises and perpetuates itself, perhaps long after its usefulness has passed.”

Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander (emphasis mine)

 

* And personal practices too…

I really like the way they put it up there:  …their continued use feels right and true to us.  Because it just does, doesn’t it?  “This is how it’s done” or “this is how it is,” we think/say, and off we go on autopilot to follow down the same well worn, known, and comfortable path.

We’re born into a social world and inherit all this ‘common’ knowledge and ‘truths’, and we decide many more things as we go along, and soon things are chugging away quite handily on their own without our involvement or attention, carrying us for a ride.  We’ll even do things we know don’t produce the outcome we most desire because it’s comfortable and known (which is a wild topic for a whole other post).  And so on we all go, from our personal selves to society, through household to country to – for some things – the world.

When we roll our eyes at work for some perceived inanity we have to deal with, it’s birth was no different than the unseen and unexamined inanities we hold and act out in our own lives.  When we see them, we can slap an expiration date sticker on them, let them phase out, take stock of all aspects, and create anew from intentions.

It may be little tweaks.  It may be wholesale transformations.  But it will now be worthy of guiding our action.