New video of Tom Best

I found an audio file on my iPhone this morning from April 17, 2011, that I didn’t know I had. What a sweet and unexpected joy it was to hear the voice of Tom Best leading a group of evolutionary NLPers on a hucha-clearing breath work journey, so much sweeter since Tom died the following April. (At least I think it’s been a little over two years since he passed.)

Enjoy this journey of lightening up the heavy events in your life!

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 prey 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.

Renewing my sitting practice, massage self care, oil pulling, and a 21-day challenge: Byron Katie’s The Work

I got away from my meditation practice. For many months.

It always seemed like a good idea when I thought about it, and I still didn’t actually do it more than occasionally. Committing to 20-30 minutes of doing nothing — well, it seemed like I didn’t have time. I had other things to do.

This is after years of meditating and a full year of daily sitting.

Hmmm. The mind plays tricks, takes itself way too seriously, makes excuses, avoids.

I missed it, and when a friend told me she gets out of bed and sits first thing every day, it inspired me to start again.

I was also inspired by the film The Dhamma Brothers, about a program in an Alabama prison where inmates did vipassana meditation, 10 days of silent sitting. It was profound to see peace on the faces of men who had committed terrible crimes.

One inmate said:

I thought my biggest fear was growing old and dying in prison. In truth, my biggest fear was growing old and not knowing myself.

Meditation has always been about facing my self, from the day I started, so tentatively, having realized that nothing else I had tried was taking my suffering away, so I might at least fully face it.

It didn’t take it away, but I quickly understood that my experience was larger than my suffering.

Aren’t we all in prisons of some kind? Fears, mindless behaviors, disconnections, denial, insane beliefs…

I want to know myself. And that in itself is such a koan, I felt inspired to sit with it.

Getting on the computer first thing in the morning is my worst distraction. I seem to have developed an affinity for my laptop, for Facebook, email, checking my blog stats, reading what interests me. Time can get away from me. It’s like an addiction.

So I realized that I need to sit first thing. Actually, I do a couple of sun salutations first. Otherwise, more of my attention goes to my aches and pains when I sit.

Yoga frees my mind to pay more attention to noticing my thoughts and sensing the subtle energies.

Today I experienced this:

Indeed, the ineffability of the air seems akin to the ineffability of awareness itself, and we should not be surprised that many indigenous peoples construe awareness, or ‘mind,’ not as a power that resides inside their heads, but rather as a quality that they themselves are inside of, along with the other animals and the plants, the mountains and the clouds. ~ David Abram

Tom Best would love that quote. Living inside of awareness. Sweet. I miss him.


I’ve been giving 15-20 massages a week, and my body is feeling it. I like the honesty of physical work, and I’m learning about remedies like rosemary oil for achy thumbs, trigger points on the forearm, wrist stretches.

Immersing myself in the cold waters of Barton Springs and snorkeling a lap is very, very good for aches and pains. I sleep well.

I’ve also changed up my mouth care routine. I’m brushing with turmeric (if you try it, be careful because it stains towels and possibly porcelain, but it whitens teeth and reduces inflammation in gum pockets), tongue scraping, flossing, oil pulling with organic coconut oil (sometimes adding a drop of peppermint or clove oil).

I do the oil pulling for 20 minutes most days.

So far, my teeth are whiter, my mouth feels cleaner, and my breath smells good throughout the day.

I’ve done this about a week now. I want to do it for a couple of months and see if it makes a big difference. Some folks claim that oil pulling has huge unexpected health benefits; some say that’s because it reduces inflammation in the mouth and body.

I’ll let you know.


Finally, I am planning to start a new 21-day challenge on Sept. 1, ending on the fall equinox. I will be doing The Work of Byron Katie, starting with her Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.

I will do at least one worksheet online so people can see how The Work actually works.

I’m also re-reading her book, Loving What Is (which she autographed for me last time I saw her!), and will add insights from that and the workshops I’ve attended.

If you’d like to do it along with me, here’s a link to the worksheet online.

The presuppositions of Byron Katie

My NLP practitioner training included the presuppositions of NLP. They are the central principles and ethics underlying the body of work that is NLP. I’ve found them to be very handy guidelines in life.

NLP training does not require anyone to believe them.

Rather, it invites you to try them on as if they are true and discover what happens. If you like the results, you continue to act as if they are true.

For instance, the first six presuppositions as Tom Best taught them are:

  1. People are like mapmakers.
  2. People’s maps are made of pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes, and smells.
  3. The map is not the territory.
  4. People respond primarily to their maps of reality, not to reality.
  5. If you change your map, you’ll change the way you think, feel, and act.
  6. Many of our maps are out of our conscious awareness.

I just attended a workshop with Byron Katie this past weekend, perhaps my fourth or fifth. I thought it might be useful to look at The Work and figure out what its presuppositions are.

This, of course, is a work in progress that I will be revising as I get more clarity, and I invite anyone to add to the list and to clarify anything that isn’t clear. Just post your thoughts in the comments. I am re-reading Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, and I will be clarifying these presuppositions as I progress.

  • Thoughts flow through the mind because that’s a function of the mind.
  • My thoughts produce my reality.
  • When my mind is silent, it experiences pure awareness.
  • My true nature is pure love.
  • Knowing what is true and real is important.
  • Only I cause my suffering.
  • Suffering is optional.
  • Just because I think a thought doesn’t mean it’s true.
  • When I believe a thought is true, I feel and behave in certain ways.
  • What I believe is what hurts me.
  • Questioning my beliefs is a way to relieve my suffering.
  • I can know whether a thought is really true.
  • I can notice what happens when I believe a thought.
  • When I drop a thought that causes me suffering, I can change my experience of who I am.
  • There are three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.
  • Suffering comes from living outside of my own business.
  • God’s business includes anything that’s out of my control, your control, and every else’s control.
  • Other people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are their business.
  • My thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and actions are my business.
  • When I pay attention to my business,  my life runs perfectly well on its own.
  • Everyone including me is innocent.
  • Everything that happens is for my own awakening, enlightenment, and joy.

More wit and wisdom from Byron Katie, and a 21-day challenge to do The Work

Byron KatieThis weekend I got to experience the wonderful presence and work of Byron Katie again. I’ve lost track now of how many times I’ve seen her. I love The Work, her four questions and three turnarounds that you can apply to any thought you have that causes you to suffer.

This time my friend Glenda drove down from the Metroplex to attend with me, and I reconnected with several friends who also hold Katie’s work in high esteem. I remembered to bring my copy of her book Loving What Is: Four questions that can change your life. She signed it for me, and we chatted a bit about using The Work in trauma recovery. (She says it works well.)

Glenda bought her book for children, Tiger-Tiger, Is It True? Four questions to make you smile again, to use with her young grandson as well as an audiobook of Loving What Is and some cards.

My dear late Neuro-Linguistic Programming teacher Tom Best included The Work in his master practitioner training. Even though The Work is not NLP, it is very NLP-like in that it uses questions to induce profound shifts at the belief and identity neurological levels of experience. Tom thought very highly of it, and I cannot think of any other non-NLP techniques that made it into his practitioner and master practitioner trainings.

I’m feeling inspired to start a new 21-day challenge: 21 days because that’s how long it takes to develop a new habit, because I would like for The Work so become so ingrained that as soon as I even start thinking a thought that is less than loving, I can ask “Is that true? Nope! What happens when I believe the thought? Who am I without the thought?” and immediately shift my state.

When I discard painful thoughts, I always feel “returned to myself” with a sense of peace, pleasure, wonder, and expansion. Imagine: We could live from that state nearly all the time!

Katie is onto something of huge importance, in my opinion, with her distinctions between what’s my business, someone else’s business, and God’s business. If what I cannot control is either someone else’s business or God’s business, then what is my business? It is being present in my own life, attending to my own experience, knowing and doing what is right for me, letting go of all stories about how things “should” be.

For my challenge, I need to make 21 copies of her Judge Your Neighbor worksheet (available online if you would like to participate too — I invite all readers willing to do the inquiry of The Work to join me). I plan to blog about it occasionally.

Here are some of her memorable words from the weekend (and here’s a link to the last time I noted her wit and wisdom if you want even more inspiration):

In my world…

Are you being thought?

You can’t feel my pain and vice versa. It’s a projection. I’m the only one who can hurt me.

We’re all innocent.

I asked with the intention of really listening.

They will or they won’t mind you.

I want to know what’s real and what’s not.

Nothing has ever happened, except I believe it happened.

I love everything I think. I’m the best company I know.

Who needs God when you have your opinion?

The ego loves to play.

Apologize to yourself.

You said thank you, so I’m thanking me.

Smoking quit me as I became sane.

Live in your own business.

Prior to thought was pure awareness, joy, the unnamed.

Inequality is not possible when the mind is right.

We’re a human race. We need your help.

Would you hold me now?

I’m always asking what I want.

The mental produces the physical.

Videos: Visiting the Q’ero Indians of Peru with Tom Best

My dear, late teacher Tom Best every year took people high into the Andes to visit the Q’ero Indians of Peru. Tom translates from Spanish to English for Don Americo Yabar.

I believe Tom, a cultural anthropology major who had studied (and studied with) Native American and Hawaiian shamans), fell in love with the Q’ero and their concepts of energy, love, reciprocity with the earth (Pachamama), and healing.

More than most indigenous communities in Peru, the Q’ero have maintained their traditions from pre-Hispanic times. They strategically integrate only the new developments that are useful and adapt old traditions to the present day.

I did not get to visit Peru with Tom, who died in April. I hope to make the trip with his wife Bobbi when that comes together.

Here are some videos from a trip in 2007:

From the Map… 6:14

Connecting with Energy 3:13, and something interesting happens around 1:25!

Heavy Energy… Hucha 2:29

Mihui…the art of ‘eating’ heavy energy 1:59

Miguelito…Peruvian Master of Stones and Coca 2:12

Beyond the ‘Social Mirror’ 4:08

Dance of the Nauopa…Andean Ceremony 2:08

Ceremony with the Q’ero Indians 3:17


Book reading: Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree, stories of compassionate communication, July 7

Mark Andreas, son of the eminent Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) innovators Steve and Connirae Andreas, has published a book of stories called Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree. He’ll be in Austin on Saturday, July 7, reading from his book. You’re invited to attend. Details are below.

Click the link above to read a couple of stories on

NLP and story-telling go hand in hand. We study two different language models (meta and Milton) in practitioner training, and of course, NLP arose in the mid-1970s from modeling the influential, effective linguistic patterns of Milton Erickson, Fritz Perls, and Virginia Satir (hypnotherapy, gestalt, and family therapy, respectively), none of whom were slouches at using a good story to great effect.

Sweet Fruit includes 61 stories by numerous authors, including Erickson, Steve Andreas, Robert Dilts, Tom Best (my dear late NLP teacher), Marshall Rosenberg (Non-Violent Communication), Muhammed Yunus (banker, Nobel Peace Prize winner), and many more.

These are real-life stories, not fiction. They are stories about people experiencing conflict both with others and within themselves, about how to stay connected through difficulty, about drawing on creative inner resources to resolve conflicts.

The book has received all 5-star reviews on One reviewer says:

This book is a moving page-turner that brought me to laughter and to tears, but the best thing about it is the way the stories settle into your consciousness and keep surfacing over the days and weeks after you’ve read them. I’ve found myself applying principles I read about in the stories to situations in my own life without even noticing until I’m reflecting back later. “Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree” isn’t overtly trying to teach anyone how to live peacefully, but it goes ahead and does just that through its artful sharing of such varied human experiences of connection and conciliation.

Another reviewer wrote:

As a bodyworker, a big part of my job involves communication, so I started telling all my fellow bodyworkers about this book. Then one of them mentioned to me that no matter who we are or what we do for a living, our lives depend on compassionate communication. Good point. These inspirational stories help me think of different ways to view potentially harmful situations, and re-define what can lead to peaceful conflict resolution. These stories will make you laugh, make you cry, and above all get you thinking about your fellow human beings in a different way.

A friend of mine who got the book on Kindle says it reminds her of Rachel Naomi Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom. Every story expands your capability of being a more resourceful, generative human being.

There’s not much I love as much as listening to someone read a really good story aloud or tell a great story from their own experience. My parents read stories to my siblings and me when I was a child, and I’ve loved it ever since. I’ve been blessed to hear some really great storytellers tell some really great stories.

I’m going to an afternoon of readings from the book on July 7 sponsored by NLP Resources Austin. There will also be some exercises and discussion, followed by a book signing.

If you’re interested in attending, click here for details. You can bring your own book, buy one at the event, or just listen.

Hope to see you there.

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!


One happy introvert

I just spent three days—from Friday afternoon until Monday afternoon—with other people, on retreat, then preparing for and holding a celebration of the life of my dear teacher, Tom Best, who died about a month ago, and cleaning up afterwards.

I was with some of the dearest people I know. Smart, good, resourceful people. Beautiful, fun, funny, loving, adorable, competent, capable people. I met new people I’d love to know better. People came in from Serbia, Germany, Arizona, New York, Florida, and elsewhere.

Since nearly everyone there had at least taken NLP practitioner training (Tom taught NLP, but he really taught love), and some much more advanced training, the quantity and quality of resourcefulness present in the circle honoring him was probably more than I’ve ever experienced. Maybe more than I’m likely to experience again. Of course, I leave room for unlikely possibilities. I don’t know the future. But that was one illustrious company to be part of.

And finally, I am home, by myself, and it feels so expansive and relaxing to have this solitude.

I cherish this time to sort through my impressions, understand people more deeply, absorb and integrate the experience at my own pace.

Tom gets an idea

Just wanted to share with you something that a dear friend of Tom Best’s created. It’s called “Tom Gets an Idea.” David Moerbe is the artist.