Hiking in Banff National Park

Seeing Clearly

I have been considering the following outlook, life practices, and inspirations. I begin with describing discernment to opening up to our pure potential, to applying wisdom daily, to healing through the organization, to our ongoing search for meaning and then various memorable travel, reading and retreats I enjoyed in the last year. Please share any comments or thoughts that come up!

Discernment
I aim to see clearly what is in front of me, applying techniques and practices for deeper levels of perception and discernment. I continue to explore new practices and techniques as I discover them. As I am able to perceive the truth of my current reality, I see the inter-connectivity of our lives, nature, and the world we live in.

Pure Potential
Negative thinking is a popular “program” and the realm of human potential is much larger – yet, people are often consumed by negatively biased thought patterns. Granted, humans are hard wired for survival but we can evolve so we are not immediate slaves to a short-sighted reaction response. Concepts such as mindfulness, positive psychology and gratitude practices are helpful — cutting off the fuel supply or energy flow to negativity is most important. As soon as one stops fueling negative programs with habituated thinking, an invisible but existent consciousness becomes palpable – the unseen void. Pure potential moves through it and unlimited opportunity for relating with the world and those in it arises.

Applied Wisdom
Growth and innovation lie in applying wisdom of universal truths to everyday life.  The integrated experience is more relevant than the ashram experience. Daily habits create a useful form, a specified container, for how one can move in the world. I love focusing on healthy diet and exercise; regular expressions of gratitude; and a meditation where I walk through the day backwards and pause on moments of awe or joy.

Probably, the most important habit is making ongoing, conscious choices for a positive reality:

  • I choose what I eat and drink – food as medicine
  • I choose my thoughts – thoughts as medicine
  • I choose my actions – actions as my personal statement
  • I choose my relationships – relationships for their potential for healing, caring and joy

I cannot control others or foster change in them; I can respect them. I can inspire them. Each of us chooses the reality we wish to create, conscious and seen or unconscious and unseen. If we’ve created something we do not want, then there is an unconscious desire or pattern that wishes it. Choosing differently allows for shifting into a different and more wholesome reality.

Organization
I keep coming back to the phase, “the organization as a healing tool.” Organizations live and breath, they expand and contract, they hold a collective vibration. The power held within an organization is massive and inspiring – including human potential to create vast networks of communication, manufacturing, and service and product delivery. We have a panoply of networks and connection, a global canopy of inter-connectivity. We are so good at constructing – there is opportunity to heal our emotional and karmic wounding through the regular interaction we have within an organization, including at work. This would require us to boot ourselves out of survivor and me-only mentality, to think outside the self and create an environment where one can live and breathe in a reality supportive of the flow of pure potential. Developing and implementing in that atmosphere invites positive evolution.

Meaning
I am reminded how much people (including myself) seek meaning and a sense of purpose in our lives — perhaps a quest to lose the “I” and dissolve into a feeling of collective oneness. Connecting with nature is an easy way to do that and also get outside of repetitive actions and thought — feel the trees during a walk in the woods; take a dip in the ocean.

Recent Trips
Here are memories from a few adventures which inspired me over the last 12 months:

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
hiking adventures, June 2015

banff 5 banff 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banff banff 2

 

 

 

 

 


Sauvie Island, Portland, Oregon

berry and vegetable picking, August 2015

Sauvie Island

 

 

 

 

 

Kauai, Hawaii
relaxing and Napali Coast hiking and views, February 2016

napali coastlineHanalei Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


My favorite book in the last yearThe Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

I loved The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf, a biography of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). His prolific writings inspired countless scientists, writers, explorers and naturalists including Charles Darwin, John Muir, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, William Wordworth, Henry David Thoreau and others. His drawing, Naturgemälde, depicts Chimborazo, an inactive volcano in Ecuador, in cross-section, illustrating nature as a web in which everything is connected. “It showed for the first time that nature was a global force with corresponding climate zones across continents. Humboldt saw ‘unity in variety’ (p. 89).”

I took the following courses

  • In August, I took an angelic healing training course with Peter and Anne Selby and completed a 3-day intensive with them in November. I am learning to intuit through my guides and have clear connection with my central channel for healing opportunities and optimal choices of action. I can interpret subtle inductions and am learning to use the I Ching for guidance.
  • I learned of a third eye meditation technique developed by Samuel Sagan, taught in the Clairvision School, and participated in a two-day workshop at the Berkeley Spire in September. I really appreciated this approach with “no-frills,” authenticity and heart connection.
  • Last November I took a one-day workshop with Trevor Hart. There is little to know information about him online though here is a link to his bio from the event.The Flower of Life
    He helps people heal through the subtle light body by repairing their connections to the Flower of Life matrix, a form of sacred geometry that depicts fundamental aspects of space and time. It’s found in ancient civilizations around the world. One can see the oldest representation of the flower of life at the Temple of Osiris in Abydos, Egypt. It is also depicted in the Forbidden City, in Beijing, China, and Leonardo DaVinci studied its form and mathematical properties. To me, the flower of life implies a meta-paradigm for our inter- and intra- relationships.
  • At the end of December, I took an Ayurveda and Shadow Yoga retreat at Esalen taught by Robert Svoboda, and Scott Blossom and Chandra Easton. I loved learning about Ayurveda and hope to continue incorporating Ayurveda-inspired daily habits and diet influences. So far, I’ve added tongue cleaning to my morning routine. I also loved being introduced to Shadow Yoga, created by Shander Remete, a former student of BKS Iyengar for many years. It is a non-sexy, but very effective style of yoga practice and felt fantastic for strength and flexibility in my back and lower body.

Summer Adventures

I had some fantastic adventures this summer that I wanted to share, where I could laugh, play, learn and let go of anything I felt like I had to be or do.

Burning Man
Most recently, I went to Burning Man for the first time. I loved the vast, expansive and unbounded atmosphere and landscape. I was invited into Crossroads, a camp who performed a professionally produced 4-hour live music show every evening.

Embrace on fire, Burning Man 2014

Embrace on fire, Burning Man 2014

It took me a couple of days to acclimate to being in the harsh desert landscape and to enjoy the circus of anything-goes activity. But, after watching Embrace burn at sunrise while dogpiled in the top of an art car in the deep playa while our camp band played below and parachutists flew in, I am undeniably hooked.

Something that also struck me was how people burned everything they built; how after putting so much effort into creating and building a vision, they watched it burn within minutes. I’ve hung onto past projects, business launches and failures, and awkward endings that I’ve invested my time into and the metaphor of watching creations burn up after they’ve had their moment felt very powerful to me.

Nature is clearly in charge on the playa with wo(man) a respectful partcipant. I liked feeling my humanness within the mass of other burners. I was also surprised how I could survive on such little sleep! I had no idea I could go to bed at 5am multiple mornings in a row and continue to be moderately functional. I would totally go back!!

Me at Burning Man 2014, photo by Anja Epkes


Camp Grounded
I went to adult summer camp in June — so much fun — pure and unadulterated with no substances except coffee and kombucha! I ran around and acted silly for 4 days at a Boyscout camp set amidst old growth redwoods in the Anderson Valley near Napa. Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 5.23.14 PMWe checked in our cell phones into an old bunker, called each other by made up nicknames and couldn’t talk at all about work. I was “Peace Eagle” for those days. I slept outside in a 3-sided bunk with other women, learned how to make candles, solar carved into wood, painted pet rocks, meditated in an outdoor liviScreen Shot 2014-09-27 at 5.23.40 PMng room, took an analog photography class, typed out a heartwarming note to a new friend, played Ultimate Frisbee and forgot about anything negative associated with my daily life outside of camp. If this sounds like fun, GO!

 

Jerry’s Retreat
In May I attended a 4-day invitation only retreat where I felt very honored to be asked to participate. Jerry Michalski has been gathering people once a year for the last 17 years to discuss huge, world-advancing ideas. A friend on the first day said, “big ears, small mouth” and that’s the approach I took. I listened a lot, contributed some, and soaked in sparring dialogue from experts in the fields of education, technology, music, and learning design – hours of intellectual stimulation, big ideas, and inspiration.

 

 

Linking Business + Spirituality

It’s been awhile since my last blog post so here’s one to catch up. I’ve been speaking out with regards to the intersection of business and spirituality. There continue to be multiple ways to introduce the topic – from wisdom traditions to mindfulness, conscious business, presence work, and moral code.

What if companies had a Chief Wisdom Officer reporting to the CEO? This person would be paid to hold the timeless truth that we are all sisters and brothers sharing a common home on earth. S/he could be responsible for the following: sustainable sourcing of raw materials, healthy work environments, male/female ratio balance in staff and on the Board of Directors, and regular expressions of compassion and gratitude among managers and employees.

In the last few months, I attended Wisdom 2.0, saw the Dalai Lama, participated in a holotropic breathwork retreat, meditated at a 5-day a silent vipassana, heard various dharma talks around San Francisco and worked with angel healers Ann and Peter Selby. Personally, I continue to focus on patterning positive reality into my psyche and being and self-love. I’m also a proponent of psychology as I consider that an important forum to ground mystical experiences and awakenings into our 3D everyday, mundane reality.

Wisdom 2.0
In February, I attended Wisdom 2.0 – now in its 5th year.  I heard a number of speakers and more importantly, connected with many like-minded individuals. I felt that I could be “out of the closet” with my interests in connecting business and spirituality. I met several people who have had successful business careers and are now executive coaches. I liked speaking with these “trailblazers” – people who were later in career, oftentimes having had a successful, more traditional business life and now were bringing conscious elements into their work through coaching. The word “mindfulness” is quite present in business vernacular today – open dialogue about concepts like compassion, empathy, deep listening, gratitude, and graciousness have found their way into modern day business practice.

For example, we heard Karen May, Vice President of learning at Google, describe executive meetings regularly launched with a two-minute meditation or a gratitude exercise; she also described a philosophy of adopting a posture of respect towards others.

What impressed me the most was what Jonathan Rosenfeld, Head of Change Strategy at Medium, shared about the practices incorporated at the company. Medium is Twitter co-founder Evan Williams’ latest adventure. Their organizational practices around building a mindful company are groundbreaking when applied to a rapidly scaling technology company.

Here is what I gleaned from Jonathan’s talk:

  • Three times a week, Medium invites a meditation teacher to the office to lead an opt-in teaching plus meditation session.
  • The company has an annual Medium mindfulness and meditation retreat.
  • There is a meditation benefit where the company will cover each employee + 1 for one retreat annually; the leadership team recently used this benefit to attend a meditation retreat together.
  • Medium has introduced holacracy which is defined as “a social technology or system of organizational governance in which authority and decision-making are distributed throughout a fractal holacracy of self-organizing teams rather than being vested at the top of a hierarchy.” One of the principles of holacracy is around processing tension; people are encouraged to bring stuff up and make the implicit explicit so that the company can take advantage of everyone’s perspective and ideas; friction is mitigated when people are seen and heard.
  • Jonathan talks about introducing “change elements” — structures inserted into an existing organization so it evolves to a higher level of functioning; they are a form of productive disruption.
    1. Identification – if something did not go well, one could comment only if they had experienced a similar difficulty; so, the dialogue becomes an act of compassion.
    2. Appreciation – if one thought a colleague did something really great, they could give an appreciation, which is seen as an act of  generosity.
  • They are developing a shared vocabulary to support a mindful organization; they regularly use “tension,” “energize” and “objection” which are holacracy terms; they also integrate language from mindfulness teachings like “pause,” “being present,” “clinging” and “aware” into day to day communications.

Dalai Lama
Also, in February, the Dalai Lama came to visit the San Francisco Bay Area; he gave a talk at the Berkeley Community Theater called, “How to Achieve Happiness”. What struck me immediately was the Dalai Lama’s presence. He speaks with a voice beyond a cultural and religious leader, but that of a world figure with wisdom on how all humans can be with one another. He is one of a handful of true world leaders where he easily transcends cultural and national boundary to be a living teacher for all people in our world.Dalai Lama, Berkeley, 2014
Some of the stories and teachings he shared are what follows: The Dalai Lama described his friend who is a billionaire, has social status and education but is very unhappy. Then, he described another man who is a monk who lived as a hermit in the hills behind a monastery in Spain, meditating for 5 years. The Dalai Lama met him and saw he was radiating and very happy. The Dalai Lama asked him what he did all that time and his response was that he meditated on infinite love.

After this, the Dalai Lama shared the idea of sincerity. A fellow monk would feed a parrot nuts and the monk and parrot became friends; the parrot would playfully hop onto the monk’s finger. The Dalai Lama wanted that same type of friendship with the parrot too. So, he started feeding the parrot nuts; however, a similar type of relationship did not develop and the parrot would not hop onto his finger. He got frustrated so at that point the relationship was never going to develop as his actions were insincere.

The Dalai Lama talked about how religion is a practice to promote love and a method to promote love. He brought up the notion of secular ethics and that no religious person would go astray if they have strong conviction to moral ethics.

Someone asked him about death; his response was “Death is like changing old clothes;” changing the body but not the self.

Another person asked what he does all day – he responded that he “dedicates his body, speech and mind to the well-being of others.”

Personally, I loved that he mentioned Jainism a few times as he was talking about other religious traditions as it is my namesake and heritage and holds close ties to Buddhism.

Brooks’ Memorial
A teacher with whom I worked with for many years recently passed away; I learned much from him and worked very closely with him for a handful of years. I miss him dearly and am grateful for the intuition and wisdom he helped me tap into. Brooks Green-Barton was a grand shaman.  I was honored to attend his memorial on February 1, 2014 in Ojai, CA and be surrounded by spiritual family. Being there was a healing experience itself; to be with one another again; opening up into our intimate space to take responsibility for who we are in this world and beyond. Brooks, I love and miss you and am happy to have been your student and privy to your gifts.

Brooks

Holotropic Breathwork
A good friend suggested I check out Holotropic Breathwork as I’ve been catalyzing forward momentum in my life. The word “holotropic” means moving towards wholeness. She told me about the work of Sonia Telle and Matthew Stelzner who were facilitating a weekend retreat. It was held about two weeks ago at Orr Hot Springs, nestled amongst old growth Redwoods near Ukiah, CA. (Highly suggest going to Orr, if you’ve never been!)

Holotropic Breathwork is based on the work of Stan Grof and his wife Cristina. A little history follows: Dr. Grof was initially trained as a psychiatrist and started exploring the therapeutic potential of LSD, eventually as Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University and Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. When the use of LSD for research purposes was banned in the late sixties, the Grofs developed Holotropic Breathwork as a drug-free way to access non-ordinary states of consciousness; they developed this methodology while living at Esalen in Big Sur, California – where Stan Grof spent 14 years as a scholar-in residence.

Each session is approximately 3 hours and they are intense! You wear an eye mask to block out light and lay on a comfortable futon. The sessions are set to powerful instrumental music—think tribal world beats. The first hour of music is most intense, the second hour less intense and the last thirty minutes are gentle. You breathe throughout the session to engage the holotropic state without pausing between the inhale and exhale. The breathing can slow down during the session and you can pick it back up again.

I experienced a lot of somatic release. Many people have visions; I had a few. After my session, I feel like I walk through the world differently as my body released years of built us stresses and tensions. I’ve noticed positive changes in my closest personal relationships as I’m relating with more levity in all of them.

I feel like I healed deep seeded wounding in my psyche. The stories I saw were familiar, but I feel like I accessed underneath them in a new way; and that I could explore these intimate, subtle places apart from the mind with adult wisdom. One important theme that that came up for me was the interplay between the masculine and feminine. I re-touched and felt the purity and radiant brilliance of a masculine being (which for me as a feminist in the 21st century had been tarnished). I also heard the message to “be ordinary” rather than seeking or striving to be more than what I am, as my ordinary is extraordinary enough.

Doing this deep psychological and somatic work at Orr Hot Spring was magical as I felt perfectly held by the old growth redwoods and raw forest.

That’s it for now!

2013 Update

I’ve had a number of noteworthy experiences over the last months. Many updates to share!

  • Launch of my new blog design this month! Thanks to Ian Armstrong for blog design and programming, Pausha Foley for graphic design, and Anja Epkes for photography.
  • Recruiting for marketing and design is BOOMing. I switched over to the direct hire team at The Creative Group in January of 2013 (from the contract team) and since then have successfully placed people in the following roles: senior level UX, creative direction, multimedia design, graphic design, web design, account management, brand management, online marketing and others. I’m really excited to work at the intersection of design, strategy, product development and talent.
  • I went on a 5-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat at Spirit Rock at the end of last year during the December 2012 Winter Solstice. I had a fantastic experience to sit with such an established meditation center in Northern California. Continue reading “2013 Update” »

Speaking on Mentors and Apprentices Panel at FIDM

I had the opportunity to speak about my entrepreneurial and personal journey and how it’s led me to creative recruiting at a panel called Mentors and Apprentices for FASHION+TECHSF several months ago; the event was held at FIDM. Thanks to Owen Geronimo for his excellent organization and for capturing the film clip below. One key point is that while pursuing passions, vision, innovation and dreams, remember to create something of VALUE that people will want to pay money for; something where a person is willing to pay for your particular good or service over the next best option. Continue reading “Speaking on Mentors and Apprentices Panel at FIDM” »

O Shiva

From the heart of all matter

Comes the anguished cry

Wake, wake, great Siva,

Our body grows weary

Of its law-fixed path,

Give us new form.

Sing our destruction,

That we gain new life

Rabindranath Tagore, Indian Poet


Kirtan Camp with Jai Uttal

In July, I had the pleasure of singing joyful kirtan for a week with Jai Uttal and Daniel Paul in San Anselmo, CA. All I wanted to do was sing my heart out, and I did just that. Towards the end of camp, we had a 10-hour kirtan, where all of the participants were invited to lead. I had a BLAST!!! With minimal musical training, I got to rock it by singing the names of Hindu Gods. So much fun, so joyful and healing. Jaya Ram! Continue reading “Kirtan Camp with Jai Uttal” »

Coffee Shop Encounter in SF

I just had the most wonderful encounter an hour ago. I walked to Coffee Bar in Potrero Hill to have lunch.

It was crowded, so I sat next to two fifty- to sixty-ish old gentlemen at the counter who were dressed in khaki pant and jacket business garb. They were engrossed in a business conversation about a deal they were trying to raise money for and setting up a golf meeting for an interested party.

After a few minutes, one of the gentleman says, “you know what I’ve been thinking about lately is the power of thought to send positive vibrations out in the universe.” Continue reading “Coffee Shop Encounter in SF” »