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Five-Minute Try-It: Matching, Relating, Fusing

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PURPOSE: Open our awareness to our similarities rather than differences. We are much more like each other than different. When we recognize viscerally our similarities, the ability to make progress together – particularly around money – expands.

Minute one: Recognize your magnificence and blessing on this earth. Recognize the magnificence of others.

Minute two: Bring to mind a tree – any type. Root your feet and body. Feel your spine, strength and the ground.

Minute three: Be a Master Martial Artist; move like a master. Try the fluid movement of Aikido.

Minute four: Bring to mind a person who you feel neutral towards. Notice what arises in your body when you relate to them.

Minute five: Bring to mind someone or something you love: open your heart and move with the gestures of this other.

Complete your practice by recognizing our seamless and continuous connections with all others and with all of life.

 

 

What Matters Most

Today I was challenged, by a long-time friend and colleague, to reveal…

• What matters most to me about Somatic Finance, my motivation for giving time and energy to this work, and,
• Intimate and personal feedback from recipients of my work over the years.

One way to answer the above is to frame the conversation in stages of life. My professional training for financial planning ignited in college and my early twenties. For the last four decades I have given my professional life to the work of money through the practices of financial planning; more accurately, Integral Wealth planning. During the same period, recognizing and practicing integral theory, I engaged in other human developmental trainings and practices (somatic meditation, breath and movement, energetic healing) to name a few. Through direct experiential discovery, I realized that all of our life choices are optimized when we include the unique intelligence housed in our body. Even though throughout life our work, play and practices and our body may appear separate, they are not ever separate.

One experience always informs another. We are, in fact, integrated beings. The more I delved into interior practices and exterior manifestations, the more my spirit was stirred to offer my direct experiences and insights for the benefit of others. After all, my motivation when I started at age 22 to become a financial planner and help people make wise financial decisions has never wavered. This motivation remains, in a mature form; I have discovered wise financial decisions did not arise from our brain, but rather from our heart.

All disciplines grow up and mature along with the evolution of our human species. Financial disciplines, the profession of financial planning, are included. In the early 2000’s I understood that the ways of money were limited and needed something more. Through my study, training and engagement of somatic practices, I discovered directly the essence of body intelligence and how this unique wisdom applied to our work in finance. My calling to bring this forward in 2006 has only grown stronger with each step and each breath.

Though crazy to some and weird to others, a few curious beings have received these ideas with a leap of faith and willingness to explore. With growing interest from an evolving culture, it has been deeply satisfying to witness the outcomes of those open and willing and able… to engage in an expanded approach.

By the way, I am careful and very intentional about clarifying that this new way is in addition to the effective and essential financial practices already present. Nothing is taken away. Whatever is working for you, please continue. Body wisdom complements everything that benefits you. Opening to our interior wisdom is kind of like a super-power waiting to be your best friend.

Working with clients, and most recently with a group of seasoned financial professionals, I offer a few paraphrases of communication to me, after engaging in a somatic practice I offered.

There are no words to describe my experience. But each time I am in one your sessions, I am moved deeply. Something happens that enables me to see more and feel more.

You and your work are instrumental in how I show up for clients. Meeting you and receiving your wisdom has been essential to my development as a financial planner. My clients benefit from all that I have learned from my body, taught to me by you.

Whatever is happening, as difficult as it might be, I know to come home to my breath and body. This is the first and most powerful step that allows me to let go of external baggage and allow good decisions to follow.

I learn so much from you that is far more important than all other tools combined. I wanted you to know how important you have been in my life.

As I recall and write these responses from people who are learning to access the wisdom of their body, several thoughts arise.

The first and perhaps most prominent is – none of the wisdom they gain is from me. The appreciation is directed at me and “my work”; however, the beauty and profundity of their experience is all their own. I did very little except create the space, point the way and let them know what is possible if they are willing. While I do not deny my motivation, capacities and wisdom, I am also keenly aware that each of us possess innate wisdom ready to be revealed through somatic practices.

Second, when we touch an aspect of ourselves where fresh wisdom resides – it is often difficult to put into words. We are not familiar with our expansion of insight, coming from within us. Our natural tendency in these situations is to project it outside, hence, appreciations to me for their experience. I am humbled by and receive these points of gratitude, as I clap my hands to encourage further practice.

Third, far more interesting for you, the reader, is to take these words and statements as fuel for your own practice, your own journey. Allow these nuggets to be inspiration for you to get curious about the wisdom your body holds for you. Are you willing to engage practices and seek new intelligence held in your body?

Let me know. I offer my unconditional support, guidance and joy.

Revealing truths and encouragement,

 

 

 

Five-Minute Try-It: Body Appreciation

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PURPOSE: Our body is always present and available to communicate with us about what is nourishing and what is not. Let us attend to this precious instrument, appreciating the wisdom and value it abundantly offers.

Minute one: Notice the entire felt sense of your body. Recognize the inevitability of aging and death. Smile – you and your body are alive!

Minute two: Focus on your feet. Touch your feet with your hands and appreciate that these feet transport you every moment you walk. How are your feet responding to your awareness?

Minute three: Focus on your belly and touch it with your hands. Appreciate that the food you choose to eat passes through your digestive track, extracting nourishment to give you energy. What wisdom does your belly hold?

Minute four: Focus on your heart and touch it with your hands. Appreciate your heart for beating and for pumping blood through your system, keeping you alive and vibrant. What does your heart know?

Minute five: Focus on your arms. Hug your arms. Appreciate your arms that allow you to embrace others. Where do your arms want to hug?

Complete your practice by recognizing the preciousness of your body. Commit to sustained body appreciation and notice how your body responds.

 

Meet Donald, a Somatic Chef

Last week I attended an intimate meditation retreat with my somatic meditation community. Treated daily to three fresh, simple, delightfully nourishing meals made by Donald, we quickly fell in crush. He promised that the food would be good, and good food supports our meditation practice. Simple. Fresh. Clear. (Pith instructions for life!)

One afternoon while washing dishes, a friend asked Donald, “Do you taste your cooking as you are preparing it?”

Donald replied, “Oh no. I always ask someone else do my tasting. Their body immediately tells me if it is good or not.”

Startled by his value of body wisdom, I expressed my delight in his way of seeing. A true somatic chef!

He continued by saying he can gauge the quality of the dish by the movement of the taster’s body, their facial expressions, their eyes, the way they swallow, and after swallowing, a smile and a hand resting on the belly. I admired Donald’s perfection in body-wisdom, particularly with our daily intake of food, a form of nourishment—a form of currency.

Did you know that our bodies also offer signals when we delve into money matters? Yes, they do.

Most often our bodies are stiff and constricted when discussing money. Our attention centers in the head, trying to figure out an answer, or force a particular outcome, or determine a pressured next best step. The message our body gives in these moments is, I am scared, fatigued, working really hard to get this right.

Sometimes our bodies are more relaxed and at ease. In relaxed moments, clarity is front and center, confidence in our decisions is booming, and we are enjoying a space of freedom. That’s right, “financial freedom” is not just a cute elusive phrase. It is a direct visceral experience of feeling free. What does free feel like to you? At ease. Hopeful. Confident. Peaceful.

On more rare occasions, when facing a money decision, we intentionally access our body intelligence, along with knowledge from our brain. In these situations, we trust in our practical money knowledge, and that this information is available when we need it. In addition, we are curious about what we do not know, and how our body intelligence—in the form of sensations, movement and feelings—can support us in clearer approaches to money direction.

Donald is one of the rare ones who trusts his practical culinary skills and uses them daily to prepare meals. He is motivated to prepare good healthy food for the benefit of his guests. He adds his curiosity and trust in unique body wisdom to gather insights from another’s somatic response to his cooking, and receives these responses as a valuable gift to improve his results.

Let’s take a lesson from Donald and make a vow to include more body wisdom in our life pursuits. If going directly to money is a challenge, practice with food, or conversation, or another safer activity, to build a stronger muscle. Once practiced, including money will be just the next “thing” to integrate somatic awareness with your precious human life.

Smiling and holding my palm on my belly, I can taste Donald’s savory soups even from my memory.

Somatically savoring,

 

 

 

Five-Minute Try-It: Still Calm Spacious

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PURPOSE: To build awareness about the concept of sufficiency and engage a somatic practice that leads to embodied sufficiency.

Minute one: State the word – Sufficiency – out loud several times in different tones and inflections. Notice how sufficiency feels in your body. Do you have a sense of lack? Do you feel ease?

Minute two: Open to the truth of sufficiency by slowing your breath and feeling this moment of stillness. Right here, right now. Access stillness. Be still.

Minute three: In the practice of stillness, calm arises. Breath slows down to a subtle rhythm and presence. Movement is slight, yet your mind is bright.

Minute four: Stillness and calm give way to space. Saturating in stillness and calm, recognize the spacious quality of your mind and body. Space permeates you.

Minute five: Reflect Abide in spacious, still, calm moments.

Complete your practice by recognizing this is Sufficiency. The concept of sufficiency is not just a concept but a way of being. Commit to embodying Sufficiency.

It won’t be Perfect, but it will be Better

08/08/2019

Six months ago, a dear friend who lives thousands of miles away, a gifted potter who began her passion later in life, sent me two gorgeous pieces. The five-inch green square and three-inch blue rectangle sat on my desk receiving my admiration. One day last month in a hectic frenzy they fell to the ground. The five-inch square broke into three pieces.

I can fix this. I moved the ceramic to another table for repair… when I had more time.

Today, after confirming plans to connect with my potter friend, it was time. Gorilla glue, rubber bands, wet paper towel, dry rag and toothpicks—the damaged tray and I consummated the repair. The work was not hard, but the result was not pretty. In a focused but “need to get done” state of mind, the repair broke apart—three pieces became five.

Though not headed in the direction I intended, the phrase, it’s not perfect, but it will be better came to mind. I glued unskillfully. I did not pay close attention to how the ceramic pieces fit together, and the last two broken parts did not fit in the tray. No problem. Let me glue this together with my creative juices, and with my new teaching: it is not perfect, but it will be better. And it is. The tray is glued back together. Not perfect, but better. (See below for a capture of my creative expression.)

All too often, our efforts seek perfection. Our brilliant minds create ideas about what we want, and that want gets amplified with a concept of perfection— often unrealistic perfection. Perfection misses delicious sideroads, off-the-trail surprises, and spontaneous potentials. Perfection grasps. Perfection clings. Perfection excludes. Perfection exhausts.

Sometimes, all the situation requires is better. Better offers us a way in, a deeper breath, a warm space. Better is better. Better allows us elbow room and with that openness comes perspective. The work of money is a perfect place, pun intended, to explore the idea of not perfect, but better.

Let’s move in with a metaphor. What happens if we view the mountain top as perfection? What happens to the ascent and descent of the climbing experience? How long can we stay at the top of the mountain and survive boredom, hunger, weather? Often in our money journey we seek a top (usually retirement) attached to a number. We might miss the ascent—spending on current life experiences, saving for the future, and giving generously. In the process of accumulating and navigating money flow and growth, we might miss our “better.”

You may recall the well-known phrase and teaching called, the myth of arrival. This idea of perfection will be experienced when this _________ (fill in the blank) manifests. At the top may occur the myth of arrival experience, and the glow of achievement begins to fade. This is perfect! I can see for miles and miles, from here to eternity—the horizon beckons me! And then, just like that, we begin a descent. We fail to recognize that on the descent – spending, saving and giving are the same activities held with fresh eyes. Is climbing down a mountain a problem?

With better, when we know that we cannot make a mistake, we gain access to better decisions. Most harmful decisions come from the belief that there is only one right answer. Right answers close down curious possibilities. When we finally make a decision with a “right answer,” the ability to change is near impossible because we were seeking the perfection of that one right answer.

Now, as this missive comes to a close, consider better in an open curious way. Consider how better might be best. Consider what possibilities might emerge in decisions when we soften the grip of “right” in service of … restorative, rejuvenating, replenishing, revitalizing, revolutionary, reverent.

My repaired ceramic mishap does not appear perfect, but it is definitely better than broken or discarded. And I love it!

                     

Bettering life,

 

 

 

 

Five-Minute Try-It: Practicing Practice

PURPOSE: To recognize the difference between understanding an issue cognitively and engaging a practice to make better choices and build new muscles.

PREPARATION: Choose play and presence as a new practice to try out. Retrieve blow bubbles and wooden matches – or – improvise with your own play/presence props.

Minute one: Bring attention to your blow bubbles and the practice of play. Notice the interior of your body: thoughts, sensations (movement, pressure, temperature) and the entire felt sense of your body. How does your body respond to play?

Minute two: Open the plastic container of blow bubbles and begin to play with the bubbles. Notice each breath blowing, and the bubble created. Pay attention to the action of blowing bubbles.

Minute three: After blowing bubbles for a minute, pause with awareness in your body. What sensations (movement, pressure, temperature) do you notice. If these sensations feel good, choose more bubble blowing. If your sensations don’t feel so good, choose to strike a match.

Minute four: Retrieve a wooden match from the matchbox. Pay attention to the slim wooden stick with the colored strike tip. Holding the box with striking pad at an optimal angle, take a breath, and glide the match tip over the strike area. Be fully present to the spark and flame; blow out the fire when your body indicates (i.e. the flame gets too hot to hold!)

Minute five: Reflect on your experience with striking the match. Describe your level of joy, satisfaction, presence, and attention. Choose to strike another match or not. Repeat reflection on your experience.

Complete your practice recognizing the choice to practice, and the new capacities developing as you practice.