Nightwalking, New Mexico, tornado.

It’s been awhile since I posted, so I thought I’d put something up just to let you know I’m still here.

I’ve been on vacation, driving westward to Fort Davis, Texas, where I attended a Star Party (my third) at McDonald Observatory.

Then I drove to Silver City, New Mexico (stopping at a food co-op in Las Cruces), where I visited a beloved friend for a few days and explored this old hippie town with its own food co-op, a lot of artists, and craft stores. It rained every day, August being the monsoon season. (They were showers every afternoon or evening.) Picnicked in the Gila National Forest and enjoyed catching up with Laura.

I then drove to northern NM, passing through Albuquerque (stopping at yet another food co-op) and skirting Santa Fe (next time) on my way to Taos.  Continue reading

Come NightWalking with me in Taos, NM, in August 2018

Today is an exceptionally cold day in Austin, Texas. At noon the temperature is 27 degrees F (-2.8 C). It rained last night, then froze, sleeted this morning, and now it’s snowing. Schools are closed, and many people are staying in, staying warm, staying safe. People in cold areas may laugh, but most Austinites don’t know how to drive on ice. We don’t have snowplows. Sand on bridges is about it. So we call everything off and stay in.

Today (besides staying cozy in my pajamas and sipping hot bone broth), I’m daydreaming about an event I will attend this summer, August 10-12, 2018, when it will probably be over 100 degrees F (38 C) here. I’m going up into the southern Rockies where it will be cooler, to Taos, New Mexico, a legendary town in the high desert mountains. Continue reading

Core Transformation is a process that amplifies well-being

Sometimes we believe we have to do something (or not do something) before we can experience a sweet state of being such as peace, love, feeling one with everything, etc.

If only I wasn’t so nervous, I’d feel more confident about a troublesome situation.

Core Transformation is a process where you can learn to experience a pleasant, desirable state of being (maybe even more pleasant and desirable than you can currently imagine!) without having to do something to get there.

rainbow, The Well, ATXThat’s right, you can experience these states regardless of what happens (or doesn’t happen) because your mind creates states of being. You can learn to work with your mind and be way more than 10 percent happier! Continue reading

Seeing differently, peripheral awareness, Carlos Castaneda, joy, lessons

This post is to let you know that I’m doing a short presentation entitled “Seeing Differently” at Austin’s first Free Day of NLP tomorrow. The event will take place at Soma Vida, 1210 Rosewood in East Austin from 9 am until 4 pm. You can come and go as you desire.

I’m on at 2 pm. If you’re on Facebook and want an invitation or to see the whole schedule, send me a message!

Because I only have 10 minutes, we’ll do some exercises so attendees can experience seeing differently rather than go into the science and history of it. Afterwards, I’ll be available for questions and insights.

The basic premises are:

  1. Although we humans have two ways of seeing, foveally (focused) and peripherally, our peripheral visual capabilities are underused and can be developed.
  2. These two ways of seeing have different neurological wiring and create different states/experiences of awareness. Thus using peripheral vision creates peripheral awareness.
  3. Developing peripheral awareness can result in natural altered states of consciousness in which we experience less anxiety and more joy.
  4. Practicing peripheral awareness gives us more resources in life, whether it’s seeing a bigger picture than customary, feeling more centered/grounded/solid in your body, enhancing your other senses, being better at sports and martial arts, and finding your way around in the dark!

I believe this is what Carlos Castaneda was getting at with the following quotes:

Everybody falls pray to the mistake that seeing is done with the eyes. Seeing is not a matter of the eyes. Seeing is alignment and perception is alignment. Seeing is learned by seeing.

When you see, there are no longer familiar features in the world. Everything is new. Everything has never happened before. The world is incredible!

To perceive the energetic essence of things means that you perceive energy directly. By separating the social part of perception, you’ll perceive the essence of everything. Whatever we are perceiving is energy, but since we can’t directly perceive energy, we process our perception to fit a mold. This mold is the social part of perception, which you have to separate.

I first encountered peripheral awareness in my evolutionary NLP training with teacher Tom Best, who learned it from the master, Nelson Zink. Katie Raver (creator of Free Day of NLP) and I co-ran a meet-up in Austin a few years ago in which we taught people to do peripheral walking.

The way I teach it, there are three parts: peripheral awareness, peripheral walking, and night walking.

I’m now offering lessons combining peripheral awareness and walking in my private practice, teaching 1-3 people at a time how to do it, using downtown trails. You can book a lesson online at http://thewell.fullslate.com.

No kidding: the power of negative intention!

Last weekend I was debriefed by my friend Katie Raver on some cutting edge NLP tools she learned about at the recent IASH convention in San Francisco.

One of them was so unexpectedly awesome that I just have to share it! It originated with a Japanese doctor, Masaki Kono, who works with children who have cancer, which you might imagine can be pretty depressing. He only has a few minutes with each patient, and he wanted to get the most out of his time with them.

We’ve all heard a lot about the power of positive intention. Sometimes it seems like a cultural bias or a meme that we need to be positive, that being negative is taboo or at least anti-social and unproductive.

In fact, one of the presuppositions of NLP is that there is a positive intention behind every behavior.

We also know that problems can have secondary gains, such as the caring attention we receive when we’re seriously ill.

Realistically, people get stuck. We set goals we never reach; we have problems that can persist for a long time. Something — an unconscious negative intention — is blocking us from being the person we say we want to be or doing the things we say we want to do.

If that something was conscious, we could probably deal with it. But usually it’s not conscious.

This process can help. It works best when you do it with a partner, one being the guide and the other being the explorer. Then change roles.

  1. Guide, tell the explorer to think of a problem, something that’s wrong that has persisted for a while. Ask what the fear is behind this problem. And what is the fear behind that?
  2. Keep inquiring until the explorer reaches the greatest or core fear associated with this problem. You and the explorer will be able to tell what it is because they will feel some emotion about it.
  3. Now ask the explorer to repeat the core fear this way five times, out loud: “I have been intending to ________________.”
  4. Ask the explorer what he or she is noticing now.
  5. Future pace by telling the explorer that he or she may experience new learnings and even substantial shifts about this topic in the days and weeks to come.

Several people who used this technique have reported back that it is a pretty amazing tool for getting new information about what’s kept us stuck, and just that alone is enough to create a shift!

Losing 155 Pounds: It’s Not About the Food

I want to share Katie Raver’s blog post about how she lost 155+ pounds in less than 2 years. Katie did some things differently than most people do who want to lose a lot of weight.

  • She sought out real people who had lost over 100 pounds and kept it off for 10 years or more and asked how they did it. She found a very few people who met those criteria and discovered that their methods were similar. She realized that no matter how weird or extreme their methods seemed, if it worked for them, it would work for her.
  • She decided to follow an eating plan that kept her from having to make a lot of decisions about what, when, and how much to eat. Before, she had a lot of inner turmoil about making food decisions. After, she just followed the rules because they work and produce results.
  • She had a compelling personal goal that was greater than (and not directly related to) health or weight that motivated her.

Check out the whole post here: Losing 155 Pounds: It’s Not About the Food.

Public speaking: how to get over your fears with warmth and ease

I used to have terrible stage fright. Having to give my first speech in the required junior high speech class was something to be endured, and when I finished, I didn’t care how well I did, I was so glad I had gotten through it and would never have to do it again.

If I recall correctly, I read it aloud and (this is embarrassing) stood with my legs crossed, as if I was holding it in. I’m pretty sure my voice shook. Afterwards, I slunk back to my seat. The topic may have been “seashells.”

I did not fail, to my surprise. The teacher gave me a C. The content was good, but my presentation needed work. (I am a writer.)

I watched the kids who presented well. I remember a girl who showed us how to make “hors d’oeuvres” (including how she “about died” when told how to spell it).

Then she passed them around. She’s probably a politician now.

That was a long time ago. Over many years, classes, jobs, and activities, I got more used to speaking to groups and felt more confident that I had something worthwhile to contribute. Sometimes it even happened on the spur of the moment, and afterwards I realized I’d been so absorbed, I’d forgotten to be afraid.

Several years back, I participated in “the Alan Steinborn experience” back when Alan lived in Austin. I cannot remember now what he called these gatherings, but he hosted people in his home where part of the experience was standing in silence in front of people (most of whom were strangers), not doing or saying anything, just standing there with all eyes on you for several minutes. People applauded before and after, and in between, whatever happened happened. Some were visibly petrified and gradually relaxed. Some were comfortable the whole time. Most were in between.

It was wonderful to get up there, breathe, relax, and experience connecting with others. It became a sort of communion where fear fell away. I became curious, looking into the eyes of each member of the audience.

Also in recent years, I’ve taken a two-day class in public speaking through Austin Community College, for work. The class had a lot of lecture and required three brief presentations…and the main thing I recall now is the professor exclaiming (after my first presentation, in front of everyone) about my “charisma”.

I still don’t know exactly what charisma is and whether to be pleased or embarrassed about it. But perhaps my experience with Alan’s gatherings had something to do with that.

After all, if you can be comfortable standing silently in front of an audience, you’ll probably be okay speaking.

Recently I’ve been considering developing my public speaking skills. I could talk about health practices to counteract sedentary jobs, the benefits of massage and bodywork, self-care for massage therapists, trauma and recovery, meditation — you know, the topics that I’ve blogged about that are so close to my heart.

It’s not that I’m bad at public speaking any more. I deliver good material, include some fun stuff, and connect with the audience.

But I could be even more at ease.

A few weekends ago, I attended a workshop called “Authentic Public Speaking” from NLP Resources Austin. The presenter, Keith Fail, is a friend and teacher of mine. I’ve studied and later coached/assisted at NLP training that he co-taught, taken advanced NLP classes that he taught, and heard him speak at the NLP meetup multiple times (indeed, when I served as program chair and a speaker didn’t show up, he was able to wing it with ease, he’s that good). I’ve hung out with him and his wife, Katie Raver, a lot. We’ve traveled in Maui together. They are ohana to me: family of choice.

Keith is a warm, friendly, lovable, perceptive, smart man. He is familiar with Alan’s work and includes it, adding his own substantial and unique stamp to offer a public speaking class like no other.

He’s also an accomplished public speaker. Keith shared a story that illustrated his aplomb with public speaking even while in high school. It involved walking in just as he was being introduced and needing to pull up his zipper, with all eyes on him. Ask him about it! The man just knows how to tell a good story!

This class is not an NLP class. You don’t need any NLP training to attend, although a few of my fellow students and I had training in it. If it’s new to you, you will come away knowing more about NLP as it applies to public speaking. You may then be drawn to take NLP training — who knows?

The 11 students met in a comfortable North Austin home. (One student couldn’t make it; class size is limited to 12, and it usually fills up.) My fellow students came from a variety of backgrounds — software engineer, entrepreneur, new board member, several in real estate, insurance adjuster, academic adviser, musician/hypnotist/coach — all with an interest in improving their public speaking skills.

Our time was spent on a good mixture of Keith sharing information and stories, exercises with partners, feedback and discussion, a worksheet, a little homework, several very useful handouts, and, of course, getting up in front of everyone several times.

Yes, everyone does get up in the front of the room and stand in silence, and Keith will share how to make this easy. One woman (who said her business partners made her attend) balked at doing it, but she decided to do it anyway and was glad she did. By the end of the class, she was giving good presentations with apparent ease.

We did extemporaneous speaking illustrating one of our values. Whoa. That makes it sound very formal. Let me rephrase that: We got up and told a story about something important to us, and after everyone had spoken, we discussed what worked.

On the second day, Keith talked about the different energies that speakers experience and utilize. Keith led us through some experiential work developing and drawing on these energies. This was delightful and new to me in this context, and very useful.

Toward the end of the class, Keith pointed out that rather than being just a class about public speaking, it was actually training in perception and attention.

Keith videotapes your last presentation and afterwards, he emails it to you. Then does a follow-up call with you.

All I know is that by the end of the class, we students all felt much more at ease with each other and in the front of the room, thanks to Keith’s personal warmth and well-developed teaching skills.

It might even have felt like love, acceptance, and compassion for ourselves and for each other.

Just imagine. I will have that to draw on the next time I give a presentation. I can hardly wait!

If you are interested, Keith offers this class several times a year. You can get the details at NLP Resources Austin.

Photos from Tom Best memorial

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the right column and click the More Photos link (or just click this link) to view the photos I posted from Tom’s memorial service yesterday.

If you didn’t know him, maybe you can tell from the pictures how special he was.

I am happy I got to have him for a teacher and a model.

Many, many people helped make this happen, especially Katie Raver and Linaka Hana. Kudos, you two!

 

Toxic stress, school discipline, and unconditional love

Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85% « ACEs Too High.

Thank you, Katie Raver, for sending me this blog post about a principal at a high school for troubled kids who changed the approach to discipline — with amazing results.

Here are the numbers:

2009-2010 (Before new approach)

  • 798 suspensions (days students were out of school)
  • 50 expulsions
  • 600 written referrals

2010-2011 (After new approach)

  • 135 suspensions (days students were out of school)
  • 30 expulsions
  • 320 written referrals

It’s a long article with a lotta good info about chronic trauma and family problems and how they affect learning. It describes a measure of toxic stress called the ACE score.

The two simple rules for creating a school environment that doesn’t retraumatize already-traumatized kids:

Rule No. 1: Take nothing a raging kid says personally. Really. Act like a duck: let the words roll off your back like drops of water.

Rule No. 2: Don’t mirror the kid’s behavior. Take a deep breath. Wait for the storm to pass, and then ask something along the lines of: “Are you okay? Did something happen to you that’s bothering you? Do you want to talk about it?”

I want to learn how to do this.

Meeting Tom Best, who became my teacher

Whew. I can tell this is going to be some blogging that will take a few days to write, as my experience sifts itself into lasting words, and I’ll probably reread and retouch it a few times after posting as the clarifying process continues its magic. I don’t know now how it will come out, but it’s time to start writing.

Someone who has been important in my life, a teacher primarily and also a friend, since 2007 died, shuffled off his mortal coil, transitioned to a higher plane, passed away, left the planet, shed his body, entered the clear light, or however you like to put it.

I like how my friend Katie broke the news to me:

MaryAnn, I have some sad news to share, but not really.

She told me that our teacher, Tom Best, had had a brain hemorrhage on Monday afternoon. He took a nap, and when his wife Bobbi went to wake him up, he was breathing but didn’t wake up. Their dogs licked him, and he still didn’t wake up.

It sort of gets garbled here but he was taken to two hospitals because the first one couldn’t do a brain scan or something like that, and he looked like he was just sleeping and could just wake up at any moment, and with his wife and dearest friends gathered around him, the doctor didn’t hold out much hope but agreed to leave him on a ventilator overnight to see if his condition changed (it didn’t), and on Tuesday afternoon, he left his earthly body surrounded by loved ones.

People who were there said that as they stood around his bed as he was leaving his body, it was as if they sensed someone entering the room, and that energy seemed to be above them, and then it was gone.

I really want to thank Katie for telling me like that. This has been a really different experience of processing a death/absorbing a loss than I’ve experienced before, and much of it has to do with the person who died, and some of it has to do with me.

I first met Tom Best in 1998 or 1999, when I went to visit my friend Linda in Prescott, Arizona. She was close friends with Tom and Bobbi Best. We went to their place to borrow their new adorable white German Shepherd puppy Dakota and take him for a frolic in the forest. Linda introduced me to Tom, and I remember meeting a slight, wiry man with gray hair, kind of average in beauty, greeting me with a gaze that was really different from what I’d experienced before.

His eyes were very blue, a warm blue, and his attention was totally on me for those few moments of introduction with the best eye contact I’d experienced. I felt that he was genuinely interested in me. I felt an openness, a curiosity, a direct energetic connection, and a feeling of caring emanating from him in those few moments of the typical greeting ritual we all know so well in which names are exchanged and hands shaken.

I felt seen. I felt engaged. I felt cared for. Wow, all that in just a few seconds!

As I would later learn from him, I had just experienced news of difference.

I am pretty sure that was the first time I met anyone who transmitted his presence so clearly and directly to me, and I could not have described our first meeting like I just did had I not had him for a teacher later on.

I tucked that memory away, and in 2007, I was dating a man, Norm Sternfeld, who had studied NLP, and I thought of Linda who had studied NLP, and I thought to myself,

Hmm. People who study NLP use their minds well. I want to study NLP.

So I enrolled in practitioner training here in Austin, Texas, and when I showed up the first day, there was that same guy, Tom Best, whom I’d met in Arizona eight or so years earlier, at the front of the classroom, and in a very short time, I knew I was in the right place.

to be continued…