Welcome to my blog, where you'll find substantive, well-researched articles that blend neuroscience, philosophy, poetry, personal reflection, and the latest life coaching tools in service of helping people engage their full potential.
To practice one’s pleasure (I do believe pleasure, like love, is a practice we can and must cultivate) in service of a life that’s all-in is above all an act of exquisite vulnerability, because at the heart of what’s pleasing about pleasure is honesty; pleasure is not something we can fake. It’s not a performance. When we inhabit our pleasure we exhale into our authentic selves. We are laying aside self-consciousness and worries about what others think, and we are, for however brief a moment, suspended in oneness with life itself. We are bared. We are open.
This is why nothing hurts quite like being rejected while inhabiting our pleasure—nothing, that is, except living in fear of such rejection and therefore deciding over time that our pleasure doesn’t matter, or worse, that it’s a contagion.
When we make a mantra out of overcoming our comfort zones in search of our best selves, we predicate transformation on a lie: that we don't like to strive, that thriving is hard, and that it doesn't feel good. (All of which feels surprisingly and interestingly Puritan, don't you think?)
In contrast, I'd like to suggest that we drop the rhetoric of the "comfort zone" and cut to the chase, call it what it really is: the zone of fear.
When we're stuck, spinning our wheels, not sure how we got here but quite sure we don't want to stay, we're not comfortable—we're afraid.
Do you feel like you start your days on purpose, with a calm, clear vision of what you want to feel, want to create, want to give, and want to receive? Or do you feel like you start your days on autopilot, rushed and scattered, as if your life is somehow driving the bus and you're in the back, scrambling to pick up the notebooks you dropped as you hurried to find your seat?
If you're like most of the people I work with, your mornings look more like the latter than the former. And that feeling--of being at the mercy of, rather than in control of your life--can, if left unchecked, siphon your confidence, self-trust, motivation, and--worst of all--your ability to dream.
This year, the coming of fall means the advent of intention. As the Buddha once said, the whole of conscious life unfolds on the tip of intention. And I want my intention to be strong, focused, and clear--just like the bright fall air, the cool mornings and crystalline skies. I want to wake every day with an overarching vision of what it is that I want, above all else, to feel--in my body, my mind, and in my interactions with others. I want to light my bedside candle each night and write, with a sense of gratitude and excitement, about what I created that day, what I learned, what surprised me, and whose support I'm so grateful for that I could weep.
Have you been feeling alternately anxious and elated? More swing-y than steady? Extra vulnerable? Fraught at times by uncertainty, by bouts of worry? I ask because, like me, many of my clients are also experiencing deep internal shifts right now, and what I know to be true is that without guidance, we can all too easily mistake these signs of what I call radical becoming—a deeply generative state of psychological/spiritual growth that is often, though not always, accompanied or catalyzed by an act of creation/change (making a piece of art, writing a book, having a baby, starting or ending a relationship, starting or ending a new job, launching a business, etc.)—for their opposite: symptoms of something gone wrong, of depression looming, of our own failure and ineptitude.
Over the years, I've come to recognize this state of being, in which we can feel both oddly at home and at sea, as the hot center of the creative process. Given the sometimes surreal and disorienting feeling of this state, a state that, in my experience, can last for weeks, even months at a time, it’s no wonder that many describe the creative process as otherworldly, a syncing-up of human and beyond-human forces (I think here immediately of Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent book, Big Magic, which I loved). It’s also no wonder, given the often-uncomfortable symptoms of creation-in-process, that we resist this state. If unrecognized, let alone unmanaged, our resistance can sabotage the journey altogether, and foreclose the rewards that make the discomfort along the way worth every sob and ounce of angst: Innovation. Service. Enlightenment. Love.
But when we’re in the throes of new growth, we often don’t know it. What we do know for sure is that we feel a little (or a lot) crazy, or overly anxious, or overly sensitive, and we’re not sure why. We make those feelings, as well as the thoughts that generate those feelings (“I’m not good enough,” “What’s wrong with me,” “There’s not enough opportunity,” “Life isn’t fair,” etc.) mean something, usually something about our own insufficiency. That is, we believe them.
Do your own dreams oppress you? Do you swing between feeling exhilarated by them and totally daunted? Do you find all kinds of ways to let yourself off the hook from your commitments, from the things you know will make you feel better, more productive, healthier, and more alive? I get it, if so. I've been there, believe me. But you don't have to choose between a comfortable (less fearful, less anxious) life half-lived and a life fully expressed (and borne on the back of panic attacks). In fact, this choice is an illusion. A delusion manufactured by the primitive parts of our brain that are grooved to keep us safe, risk-averse, and close to "home."
In my last post, I taught you how to recognize—and trust—The Voice of More: her key characteristics, her various faces. What The Voice of More sounds and feels like, and what she is not. In Part 1, I took up the first of two common questions that clients ask me regarding purpose: “How do I trust that feeling—restlessness, dissatisfaction, desire?” This time, I’ll address the question that almost always follows on the heels of the last: “What if I know I want something more, or different, but have no idea what that is?”
The Voice of More is that soft, whispery voice deep inside that flickers into consciousness—more…more…—when we’re driving, walking the dog, falling asleep, just waking up—that is, in those in-between moments when our minds aren’t habitually occupied with thoughts and plans and to-do lists. Sometimes the voice is assertive and persistent: Is this it? Is this all there is? Sometimes it’s slippery and subtle … There’s something missing… But in all instances, what I know to be true is that The Voice of More doesn’t stop.