Sunday, October 23, 2005

Having a Wonderful Relationship, 13 ways

1) Spend some time everyday together, in silence, holding each other’s hands, eyes closed and eyes opened, following the breathing and being present to touch and connection. Realize, that this is enough: to touch, breathe and be present to each other.

2) If the quarrel thing happens, find a watch or a timer. Take turns doing this: One person speaks for two minutes. The other person listens, only listens, no interrupting, following the breathing, no “thinking” of defense remarks. At the end of two minutes, the listener repeats back, as close to word for word, what the speaker just said. Then the listener asks the speaker if they missed anything. If so, the speaker repeats what they missed and they re-reflect that back. When the speaker is satisfied that all important aspects have been heard, it’s time for the switch. Now the listener becomes the speaker and talks for two minutes while the other listens, breathes, and gets ready to repeat back with full clarity.

3) Have a method of radical forgiveness. The Work of Byron Katie is excellent for this. ( Her website is; also see some of my essays on, particularly, Byron Katie and Relationships, July 05; and Loving your enemy, for your own sake, May 05). Or try this: if it’s more than three minutes old, why are you still holding onto it?

4) Spend time together outdoors. In the present of the present.

5) Sleep together naked every night. Touch is good, a food for our deepest levels.Discover soft and new and interesting ways of touching each other, not necesarily in a sexual way. Which is to say, be sensuous, and love the fact that you have someone to touch. This is a food for your soul and your fingers and your mind and your heart.

6) Learn to listen. Anytime your partner criticizes you, go inside and find where that is true. (See the essay: The Criticism Thing, August 2005)

7) Learn to be honest. Anytime you are critical of your partner, go inside and find out how that trait (selfish, not listening enough, not appreciating enough, etc,. etc.) is true of you, too.

8) Learn to taste the difference between an interpretation of the other ( you are…., you should….), and telling the truth ( I feel……, I want…..).

9) Learn to make requests that aren’t demands. Which means, learn to love your partner when they are true to themselves and say no. That means you don’t have to hold back asking because you won’t be afraid to hear , “No.” So, ask for what you want and be happy with any answer.

10) Love from freedom. Do not blame either your happiness nor your unhappiness on your partner.

11) Learn to tease in a way that is kind, fun and leads to laughing at yourself.

12) Compare and contrast, This is my mind attached to the story, “You should change.” And, This is my mind without attaching to the story, “You should change.”

13) Learn to hear every spoken or thought “You should….” or “You shouldn’t…” as an invitation to laugh at yourself.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Old paradigm: anxiety and attack; new paradigm: curiosity and learning


Recently I was pouring some water on plants out front. Marlie and I save the water from washing dishes into a pan, and either take that water to the plants, or fill up a five gallon bucket and then take that out for a larger watering. As I watered, my neighbor came by. She had a great idea: Why didn’t I just use the hose? So much easier. I nodded, Thanks, but we are saving water, I said. She nodded, a little confused, since the landlord pays for water.

This is how ecology is, sometimes. It takes a little longer. It thinks about the inter-relationships. It looks to improve the whole system. The old paradigm is in a hurry. If our bodies get sick, zap the disease with a drug. If our plants get insects, zap them with pesticide. Weed problem? Zap with herbicide. Time is money, rush, rush. Problems are enemies, causing anxiety, which we try to avoid by mobilizing in fear to massively “attack” them. International problems are zapped with war.

After these attacks, the problem seems often to get worse. The insects get stronger. The dis-ease gets drug resistant. The weeds flourish, or the herbicide kills the plant. The war produces greater fear and insecurity and a bigger and seemingly endless counter-war.

In the old paradigm, these “secondary” problems call for more attacks. That a drug might be attacking the whole body as well as the disease is not considered, but “side effects” are zapped with more drugs. When these produce further “side effects,” they are zapped with more drugs, on and on, until the person, fed up with the chemical warfare inside, just up and dies. And why doesn’t this work? Why doesn’t the old paradigm work? Because dis-ease is a function of a whole system, and to help our bodies become healthy we need better food, better breathing, better movement, better happiness, better relationship to ourselves and others and nature.

GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are like the drugs used to zap the side effects of the first drugs. The insecticides and herbicides are creating more vigorous insects and weeds, and so the next “instant” solution is called for. Corn and soy are engineered to be super-zapped with herbicides. Potatoes have the insect killer engineered under their skin, so that the non-organic potato chips you eat, could almost be labeled a pesticide. The “scientists” say this is going to work. The “scientists” say this will have no further generation of side effects.

Oh, really.

Dis-ease. In the old paradigm, this means attack. In the new paradigm, instead of reacting with fear and attack, we see the “problem” as a chance to use our intelligence, instead of our anxiety, to create an improvement and greater harmony in the whole system.

In the Feldenkrais Method®, we skip zapping a sore shoulder with some pain killing shot or pill, just as we skip going to the shoulder, even, and ‘fixing” it with massage or physical therapy. We look for ways of helping the brain/body system to function once again as a whole, so the pelvis and back and neck, and breath and eyes all once again help the shoulder be part of a larger, naturally functioning whole.

In Permaculture, we look to improve the soil, and the use of rainwater, and the plant/animal interactions, and the cycles of the seasons to create a larger, healthier eco-system.

GMO’s and genetical engineering look like a quick fix, and “scientists” say, sure they’re okay. “Scientists” who work for tobacco companies say that’s cool, and “scientists” used to praise the wonders of DDT, a “quick fix” that turned out to wreck havoc on the over-all system. Whether or not the GMO’s wreck any more havoc than the already have (with contamination, with punitive lawsuits by Monsanto, with killings of Monarch butterflies; see CALGEFREE.ORG, for more), they are surely a step away, a big step away, from getting back to growing healthy food on healthy land. And this is what our society needs, healthy soil growing healthy food for healthy people.

The two paradigms point to two pathways: less and less vital food grown with more and more chemicals and genetically modified organisms, on worse and worse soil helping lead to less and less healthy people taking more and more drugs. Or, coming back to repairing and improving the whole system, the soil, our plants, our own bodies, nourishing each and all parts of the whole. I’d suggest this points to voting yes on Measure M. I like the idea of a 10 year moratorium on any new genetical engineering in Sonoma agriculture. Don't you?

Actually, it could be longer, forever, as far as I'm concerned. We need to radically improve our soil and environment. Non-organic spinach has one eightieth of the iron that organic spinach. That's right: organic spinach has 80 times more iron. Think about that vs. "modern" agriculture.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Wishing you a wonderful life

Here are nine things you might consider doing, as a yardstick for having a wonderful life.

1. Come into the present.

See the essay "Three layers of awareness: gravity, breath, and light/sound," found in the July 05 archives, if you want to fill out this task in a concrete, now and now and now way.

2. Spend time outdoors, in the present.

A room is not a meadow. A car is not the beach. Even a wonderful room, full of books and flowers, or people learning some really groovy great wonderful ways to be happier and better human beings, is not the glory of a sweet and pleasant stroll under the blue, blue sky.

3. Spend time outdoors, in the present, with people you love.

And, even indoors, have a wonderful time with the people you love. Even on days that they aren’t having a “good day.” In other words, having a wonderful relationship is a fine and dandy part of having a wonderful life.

4. Eat healthy food. Combine this with exercise outdoors and being in the present so you can be healthy.

It’s no fun to be sick, and is usually as a result of not being kind to yourself, either with mental stress, or not getting enough outside and exercise, or not putting good food into yourself. Good food is natural, grown nearby organic food. Nothing in packages, nothing with preservatives, nothing with sugar or refined flour. Just whole grains (soaked overnight before cooking), nuts and seeds (also soaked first), fresh fruits and vegetables. Organic meat and oils. Don’t cook in oil, but add it later. Skip dairy and soy unless they are fermented ( miso, tempe, natto, yogurt, kefir). Drink lots of filtered water (not bottled in plastic, yuk). Eat one or two ( or all) raw food meals a day. Eat in season. Slow as you eat, enjoy as you eat, grow and love your own food organic food on good, well-loved and tended to soil. See the new paradigm essays, about how everything contributes to everything else.

5. Get a good night’s sleep.

Even if you wake in the night, go to bed early, and enjoy the wake up time to meditate, read, think peacefully, do nothing, wiggle around, do Feldenkrais, play with your partner. Just enjoy the time of day when you can be with yourself, or with the one other in bed with you. It's pretty sweet.

6. Have a grip on reality. No, better: love reality.

See the work of Byron Katie, at What this means is be able to go beyond forgiving those you imagine have "wronged" you, and love the fools, one and all, whether or not they understand their place in the universe as props for your happiness and self-esteem. This can be said, like this: have a way to love the people who bug you. Or, like this: know how to be happy when you aren't getting your way. Without these two abilities, which are the same as loving reality, we are all in for the roller coaster ride of our emotions running us around, rather than experiencing emotion as if it were interesting weather, and remarkable indicators of beliefs and thoughts that still have us in their attachment grip. Get a grip, loose a grip. Have a good time with the stuff that most people take way, way too seriously.

7. Send out compassion to those who need it.

Wish those who could be happier and more present that this come to them. Wish that the systems in place that keep all of humanity from living a happy and simple and loving life begin to dissolve ( and that we undertake to chip away and undo and dismantle them) and that we, all together, beginning to build a good and sweet and loving and Earth friendly and human world.

8. Sing every day. Skip every day. Walk every day. Dance every day.

Laugh every day. Smile every hour, or more often. Perhaps every minute. This could be combined with number one: be present and smile. Or , number two, be outside and smile and walk and skip and dance and sing. And, oh, yeah: hug someone every day. If you are on a desert island, hug yourself. Love someone, as many ones as possible, every day.

9. Take advantage of the Feldenkrais Method®

to improve your connection to the present, and your feeling good inside your own body and your ability to think about and do things in ways other than your habitual patterns. Add in some yoga and some gardening. Take advantage of the wonder of being in a body/mind and being alive. It's pretty cool.

Feldenkrais. What is that about?

It’s about awareness of how we habitually move and what possibilities of new ways of moving might be.

It’s about connecting more of us to more of us, an awareness at a deep level of how to pelvis and spine and shoulders and head relate, and how they could relate more easily and efficiently, so that we can move easier and more efficiently. Which will feel better and enable us to do things we never could do before.

It's about changing our organization in the world, our flexibility and clarity of mind and body. It is about changes and improvement between the ears and in the whole organism. In you. In me. In all of us, so we feel and live and love better.

It’s about noticing small changes, noticing differences, which is another way of saying: it’s about learning. And it’s about leaning in the concrete world of arms and legs and breathing and spine/pelvis/head/shoulders and making little movements that we need and use everyday: to walk, to open a door, to reach for an apple, to pull a weed, to make love to our partner. This is amazing stuff and this is practical and useful in every hour of every day. We are alive and that means we move.

To improve the quality of our moving, is to improve the quality of our life. To be involved in Feldenkrais or improving the way we relate or eat or spend time outdoors, or bring our attention back to the present: all this is about loving our life as we make it better and richer and more fine.

This is a nice way to live, do you not feel/think/sense that, too?