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Greener Pastures

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Empowerment
Greener Pastures

Greener Pastures

An excerpt from Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work

Note from Ariel and Shya: We originally wrote “Greener Pastures” in 2007 and we included it in Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work when McGraw-Hill republished it in 2009.

As we move through the restrictions that the pandemic has imposed upon our lives, each of us have the opportunity to invest in this moment and experience satisfaction right here, right now, rather than entertain the fantasy that someday, when the circumstances are more to our liking, our life will “start” once again.


Once we saw a goat put out to graze in a lush field. The grass was high and feeding was plentiful. But the goat wasn’t satisfied. It made a funny picture as it strained toward the field next door. Its front legs were suspended midair, dangling over the fence as it vainly reached for a tempting bit of green just out of reach. Of course the grass wasn’t any richer or higher or more succulent in the next pasture, but try telling that to the goat.

What pastures are you straining after? Most people are strenuously reaching toward what they think will make them happy or satisfied, straining toward something more, better, or different. The problem with this is that there is always something else that needs to be bought or produced in order for you to be happy or satisfied. Truthfully, in this moment, you can only have what you have. Anything you yearn for robs you of the possibility of reveling in the richness of your life.

People get so driven by where they are going that they miss their lives. You may actually be rushing ahead to finish this book, trying to answer some question or fulfill some agenda. While you are trying so hard to get something from the writing, you are not actually there for the reading.

Many of us live our lives as if we are looking through a telephoto lens on a camera. A telephoto lens focuses in on an object in the distance and excludes everything peripheral to that object. So you miss everything happening around you. Instantaneous Transformation is more like a wide-angle lens. It holds everything in focus whether it is close up or far away, and there is three-dimensionality and depth to what you see. The telephoto lens, on the other hand, makes things much more two-dimensional or fl at; you lose the depth of field. When people are lost in a change modality, they feel annoyed when things “intrude” and interrupt their flow toward where they are headed. In a transformational approach, life becomes a dance of noticing what is rather than a tense experience of trying to exclude everything that does not seem on track to producing the things we think we want in the future to make us happy or fulfilled.

It could be said that life is an unfolding, moment to moment, and we have preferences that frequently disagree with how life unfolds, because we are trying to get somewhere rather than be where we are. We think something better is going to come along because this isn’t it, when in fact this moment is all there is. This moment IS it.

People are so busy worrying about what they don’t have or how it is going to turn out in the future, they rarely allow themselves to really relish and enjoy the way things are right now. Life becomes a worry about what isn’t, rather than a celebration of what is. For if we, like the goat, invest our energy only in wanting what we don’t have and lusting after tantalizing goals currently out of reach, satisfaction is set aside for a mythical someday that never comes.

 

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, podcast/radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, Germany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their Being Here podcast or join their email newsletter. Also get information about their award-winning books. Their newest book, Being Here…Too, is available on Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com and everywhere books are sold.

Books by Ariel & Shya Kane

The Upright Zone

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Empowerment
The Upright Zone

The Upright Zone

When I first conceived of this article, I thought it was going to be primarily about what I had noticed about how my body behaves while walking. Now I see the observations I want to share go much deeper. So let’s begin with the simple version of this article and go from there.

In early 2018 while in Costa Rica, where Shya and I were facilitating our immersion courses in leadership, communication and well-being, I experienced something I now call the “Upright Zone.” Here’s what happened:

One morning, as we took a walk before breakfast, I was a bit stiff – my stride shorter than usual, one of my hamstrings achy. Shya wasn’t feeling particularly spry either, but as usual, we set off on our morning jaunt as though it were our idea (which it was) and made a point to walk with alacrity – an excellent way to bypass those “I don’t wanna” thoughts. Shya and I were patient with ourselves about our pace but at the same time we engaged in the moment, moving as if we were fully alive, not as if we were hardly awake. As we did so, our legs began to swing freer, our stride became longer and naturally, without effort, we began to walk at a lively pace.

On this particular morning, we headed down past the resort office into the gravel parking area, past the geese in the pond and over the suspension bridge. Continuing down the drive about a half-mile to the entrance of the property, we lightly tapped the bars of the gate and reversed course. As we walked, I enjoyed the sky lightening, with wisps of peach clouds turning golden as the sun rose off the horizon. We delighted in the flowers, the play of light on large green leaves and the flash of brilliant red set in midnight black on a scarlet-rumped tanager.

After we reached the end of the drive and had started back toward the resort, I noticed a phenomenon I had felt before but this time it was quite perceptible. As I walked, my belly spontaneously pulled in of its own accord and I found myself taller, in a surprisingly upright posture. I don’t tend to walk with my stomach distended so it was notable to me that my core muscles fully engaged themselves, much like I have purposefully drawn them in while doing Pilates or other exercise discipline. From this state I found myself feeling well and empowered, not only in my body but also in spirit. After describing the sensation to Shya that morning, I started to think of this state as my own personal “Upright Zone.”

I like that tall feeling. I enjoy moving through time and space as if I am not going anywhere yet I am fully engaged, alive and present. I take pleasure in striding forward while moving with ease. And it’s delightful to get a core muscle workout without trying.

On our Costa Rica morning walks Shya and I step out of our door and trick our bodies into action whether they felt like it or not. Tired, awake, it doesn’t matter, we play the fake-it-till-you-make-it school of full engagement until our bodies took over and it required no further effort on our part to keep in motion.

So, originally that was my point and the end of the story. Yet, I was surprised to find the Upright Zone late one night while on a subsequent trip to Oregon to visit my aging parents.

It was now late 2018 and just before Shya and I flew to Oregon, my then 92 year-old father had an emergency operation to remove a large kidney stone. Luckily my two sisters were able to be there to support him and my 93 year-old mom. My dad has such severe dementia, he didn’t grasp he was in the hospital, much less that he’d had an operation.

When we arrived in Oregon, Dad had just come home and everyone was exhausted. But then there were complications. He got nighttime diarrhea, which required helping him make multiple changes of clothes at night. On the second night of his illness, it was my turn to sleep nearby and be on call for the evening challenges. First at 11pm, and then again at 2:30, I was awakened to help him in the bathroom. Each time I needed to clean him up, change his clothes, then mop and sterilize the area. Then at 4:15am when he was sick once again, an amazing thing happened – I suddenly entered the Upright Zone.

As I was walking down the hall in those wee hours of the morning, in an instant, I found myself fully engaged – body, mind and spirit. The Upright Zone took over and between one step and the next I was tall and powerful, meeting this situation as if it were my idea, my preference – striding as if I was looking forward to what lay ahead.

As I rounded the corner into the bathroom, I recalled a saying I’ve heard from people in times of hardship or stress, “Just suck it up!” But that adage has always implied pain and suffering and working to overcome being a victim. I realized that I was experiencing a transformational version of sucking it up – no pain, no being a victim, just strength. The Upright Zone occurred naturally rather than following a self-imposed dictate to get over the moment and get on with it – whatever that odious “it” may be.

I’m grateful that I am a player of the game of full engagement, even in the times when life seems simple and undemanding. It has made things so much easier during life’s challenges and when circumstances become potentially stressful.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, podcast/radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, Germany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their Being Here podcast or join their email newsletter. Also get information about their award-winning books. Their newest book, Being Here…Too, is available on Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com and everywhere books are sold.

Books by Ariel & Shya Kane

Seize the Moment, Life Is Full of Surprises

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Empowerment
Seize the Moment, Life Is Full of Surprises

Seize the Moment, Life Is Full of Surprises

An excerpt from Being Here…Too, Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment

Being Here...TooAs I raced to the hospital to see my wife Holly, all I could think was, Please don’t die. When Holly and I started dating, neither of us thought we would ever get married. We were both in our 50s and had no idea that we would end up in a passionate and enlivening love affair. Now happily married for more than five years, we are on a great adventure together.

This past January, Holly went to California to handle some family business. I was very surprised when she called me from the hospital.

“Hi Honey, I’m in the emergency room. You know those headaches I’ve been getting? Well, I have a really bad one and now I can’t see out of my left eye.”

I’ve heard the expression, “It was like a bucket of ice water poured over my head.” But in that moment I actually experienced the sensation. It’s an understatement to say I was terrified by the news.

“The doctors say that I have a brain bleed.”

A brain bleed – Oh my God!

My mind went into hyper-drive, filling in with largely inaccurate details from television shows and movies.

I immediately thought, A brain bleed must mean a stroke! Will she be paralyzed? Will she die?

Reflexively, I panicked. But, even in the midst of receiving this horrifying news, I knew that panicking wasn’t going to help Holly. So I listened. I told her I loved her and I would get there as soon as I could.

What happened next was a whirlwind of all the things that needed to be handled to get me from one coast to the other so I could be with her; schedules, airline tickets, calling friends for support, a hastily packed bag.

Later that day, in the car to the airport, when I was no longer distracted by things that needed to be done, my mind automatically started to run its list of worst-case scenarios of what was going to happen. But fortunately for me (and for Holly) I’ve been practicing being here. It has been such a simple practice that I had no idea how well the “muscle” of being present would withstand the stress of potentially losing my beloved wife.

I took a breath and looked out the window. I noticed a light green Prius, a dark grey Mercedes and the clouds in the sky. I watched a motorist’s face as he drove past and noticed the street signs.

From time-to-time my eyes would lose focus and I would be seeing the beginnings of a horror movie in my mind, one where I had lost Holly, one where she died before I got there. But whenever that happened, I simply drew my attention outward to see the world outside my window.

It’s a six-hour flight from New York to San Francisco. The airline offered “private viewing” services where I could use my iPad to stream a movie they provided. I soon realized that the alternative was torturing myself with a different kind of private viewing – watching my mind’s repetitive, increasingly disturbing films about what might happen to Holly and what would happen to me if I lost her. So I put on my headset, fired up my iPad and chose an action film. A comedy was next and I welcomed the distraction.

When I arrived in San Francisco, I was met by Holly’s cousins and immediately rushed to the hospital. As I entered her room in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit, I was shocked to see Holly looking so gravely ill. It seemed to me that she was hooked up to every conceivable medical machine and device possible and I started to cry. We locked eyes and I went to her and hugged her as tightly as I dared. She looked happy to see me and surprisingly calm. Standing by the bed I held her hand. I was so grateful she was still alive, her hand warm in mine.

“Honey, I’ve gotten back more results.” She said. “The bleeding in my brain has been caused by something else. I have a brain tumor.”

I did my best to keep the room from spinning and to keep myself there with her. Her hand in mine anchored me as I digested the news that no one wants to hear. I pulled up a chair and sat. We had a brief discussion and decided that, whatever happened, we were going to live as fully as possible in this moment and, despite all temptations, would not travel down a black hole to a tragic future that hadn’t happened yet.

It’s one thing to make that decision. It’s quite another to live it. Luckily, Holly and I had tools. We’d learned skills for being present and honed them over the many years of attending seminars on Instantaneous Transformation. In fact, throughout her month-long stay in the hospital, I was repeatedly surprised that “scary” things were actually delightful moments when seen through a different lens.

For example, after Holly’s first brain surgery (she’s had three) they brought her back into the Intensive Care Unit where I was with her as the anesthesia wore off. As she awoke, her eyes fluttered open and she looked at me. Then Holly mumbled, “kiss me” in French. Oh how sweet she was. I kissed her face and then she spoke even more French to me.

While Holly is American and English is her first language, she lived in France for a time, and speaks French fluently. But the nurse nearby didn’t realize that Holly was talking to me in a foreign language and thought her speech was badly garbled. I could tell the nurse was alarmed, afraid that this new disability was an unwanted result of the surgery.

“Oh, no, it’s not garbled.” I said. “It’s French!”

I turned back to my wife and did my best to reply in my terrible, broken version of that language.

Suddenly, I was afraid. I thought that the surgery had somehow broken her ability to speak English. As I was smiling at her and kissing her face, I was also frantically trying to figure out how quickly I could learn French so we could communicate.

Then the nurse did something brilliant. She said, “Holly, I don’t speak French. Speak English.” Holly said, “Okay.” And to my great relief, my French studies were put off indefinitely.

During Holly’s recovery from each brain surgery, it was crucial that she have as little sensory input as possible. This meant the room she was in needed to be dark and quiet.

As I was determined to spend every waking moment with her, that meant I was not provided with any of the usual distractions from my mind’s machinations. Television and conversation were not options. Fortunately, I had my laptop computer with me and, as an attorney with my own law firm, I could work remotely.

As Holly slept, I dove into my work. Emails were read and responded to. Legal research was done and briefs were drafted and filed. I was able to serve my clients and give my mind constructive work to do to keep it from going down painful fantasy paths. I was able to respond via text and email in a timely way to all of the wonderful caring friends and family who were, figuratively speaking, there at our side. Of course I’m human and occasionally I would get side tracked and start to despair, but when this happened, I realized that being upset wasn’t helpful – not to me and certainly not to Holly. So it wasn’t too difficult to come back to the moment and get back to work.

Our mutual decision to get interested in what was happening around us, especially the people we were meeting, was incredibly valuable. We engaged with everyone we met: doctors, nurses, and cleaning staff. Because it was the Neuro Intensive Care Unit, Holly was frequently examined, questioned, medicated, and having blood drawn. Each interaction was an opportunity to not just exchange meaningless pleasantries but a chance to be with someone and really listen to him or her. Each moment was a chance to operate as if we were exactly where we wanted to be rather than dream of the day when we could get out of there.

As a result, Holly and I could hear the experts tell us how things were without editing in our heads to make it better or worse than it was. This allowed us to make fully informed choices based on facts, not decisions driven by our fears. This was crucial when Holly’s surgeon told us that the first surgery, while helpful in removing fluid that was causing pressure on her brain, was not completely successful.

“I was not able to get enough material in the biopsy for the pathology lab. I need to go back in. Without the material, we won’t know the genetic makeup of the tumor and won’t be able to properly treat it. I understand if you want to go back to New York to have this done.”

Holly didn’t want to wait. She also intuitively trusted this man.

“You’re part of my team. I trust you to go back in and get it done,” she said with a smile. And within a week the second surgery resulted in a successful biopsy, and the material was sent to the lab.

As a result of our training in being here, Holly and I actually enjoyed engaging with people. Whether they were changing a bedpan or part of the surgical team, they were all highly qualified professionals and fascinating beings. We got interested in their lives and included them in ours. We didn’t let the circumstances of Holly’s illness narrowly define us as only a patient and the patient’s husband. We were still whole beings with many interests and unlimited possibilities.

After Holly underwent numerous tests, scans and two brain surgeries, she was cleared for travel, and we returned to New York where we met with a new team of doctors. They hoped Holly could start treatment for her tumor right away. Unfortunately, due to complications, she required yet another surgery. They told us we could do it soon or wait a short time. Holly turned to me and said, “Carpe diem, baby.” (That’s Latin for “seize the day”.)

Holly is currently recovering and doing very well. The experts now believe that Holly’s tumor is something she can live with over time, a chronic condition rather than a life threatening one. Our relationship remains strong and we remain committed to seizing the day. For fun, we even got matching “carpe diem” tattoos, and have planned several trips together. I’m not certain what will come next but then, none of us are. In this moment, there is love, happiness, and the adventure continues as we seize the moment and encounter our next series of life’s surprises.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, podcast/radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, Germany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their Being Here podcast or join their email newsletter. Also get information about their award-winning books. Their newest book, Being Here…Too, is available on Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com and everywhere books are sold.

Books by Ariel & Shya Kane

The Leaf

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Empowerment
The Leaf

The Leaf

Fly CatcherI had several choices of where to go and what to do, but I was drawn to the river that day. I was going fishing. At least that was what I had in mind when I headed down to my favorite stretch of the Musconetcong.

The “Musky,” as it is called by the locals, is a sweet little river with riffles sparkling in the sun. It had been a while since I’d cast a fly rod, since in the recent past I’d only been Spey fishing. Technically speaking, a Spey rod is also a type of a fly rod but it is a totally different, two-handed system. The singlehanded rod felt light and vaguely unfamiliar in my hand and I feared I might be a tad rusty.

On this particular day, the sky was dotted with clouds so the light through the trees was intermittently sun dappled and then diffuse. It was early spring with chartreuse leaves unfurling in the trees. The air was still and the soothing sound of water played in the background of my senses. The water is still cold at that time of year, so I was geared up with polar fleece and heavy socks underneath my waders and boots.

Quietly I moved down the gentle sloping bank until I stood in the river at about knee depth. Line pulled off the reel, an attractive little fly attached, I made my first cast…and then the next and the next, as I rhythmically made my way downstream, one step at a time with only the wildlife to mark my passing.

A fox eyed a pair of Canadian geese, sizing them up for a potential meal. Birds flew about the canopy, and a merganser duck swam upstream. It was too early in the season for the duck to be trailed yet by a dozen or more chicks.

As I made my way down to the farmhouse stretch, a cheerful little riffle where the water dances its way over rocks before emptying into a pool, I caught in my periphery a small leaf hanging from a high branch, fluttering in the wind.

How odd, I thought. There isn’t any breeze today.
I looked more closely.
Is that a bird? Is it snagged up somehow?…Yes –Yes it is!

Fly Catcher with FlyThe branch with the frightened bird was hanging over the far side of the stream, too high for me to reach. I waded ashore, leaned my fly rod on a bush and picked up a stick. Wading back out beneath the limb I used the stick to snag the branch, pulling it down until it was within my grasp. Snapping the entire thing off, I turned my attention to the little creature that was fluttering wildly now. The bird appeared to be a small flycatcher of some sort: gray with a black head and tan sides. But I didn’t take much time to gather details as it quickly became apparent the source of its plight.

Someone else had obviously been to this fishing hole before me. Not surprising, of course, as this stretch of the Musky is part of the fishing club to which I belong. The angler that came before me had also been fishing with a single-handed rod and had clearly made a “bad” cast as his fly had landed in the trees rather than in the spot that was his intent. It’s easy to snag a tree or bush when the limbs hang over the river unless you make your cast just so. I’ve been to some places where the trees look ready for Christmas all year round, decked out with bright colored lures and flies left by anglers over the years.

By this point the little bird was understandably in a panic, flapping and flittering it’s heart out in an attempt to get away. Of course from his perspective I was a huge predator. Gently I closed my hand around him smoothing his frantic wings against his sides so that I could get a closer look at how he was trapped against this branch – at what was preventing his escape. The problem was tiny, oh-so-tiny, yet-oh so-strong.

The angler who came before me had left a little “trico” upon the limb, likely on a size 22 hook, so small as to be almost unseeable, with minuscule translucent white wings that imitate a trico fly. The bird had obviously been fooled by this imitation as he had attempted to catch a meal and had been caught instead.

I could feel the frantic beating of the fly catcher’s tiny heart as I gently eased the hook from his beak. I flung the offending branch and fly into the bushes and looked into the eye of the wild creature and as I opened my hand, he took wing.

By now it was dusk, the magic time when trout often surface to catch a meal. But I had thoroughly disturbed the pool where I was standing and no rising fish were in sight.

That’s alright, I realized as I waded ashore to retrieve my rod. Today’s catch and release wasn’t about trout. I had just thought I was going fishing. If I hadn’t been there to see the “leaf” fluttering when there was no wind, that little bird would have died.

Breathing deeply as day turned to night I headed for home, feeling quietly satisfied at an afternoon well spent.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, podcast/radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, Germany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their Being Here podcast or join their email newsletter. Also get information about their award-winning books. Their newest book, Being Here…Too, is available on Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com and everywhere books are sold.

Books by Ariel & Shya Kane

Creativity

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Empowerment
Creativity

Creativity

Human beings by nature are creative. We have however, recorded everything that has happened in our past and linked it to our creative process, leading us to erroneously form the point of view that the creative process itself is a function of our struggling, our painful past or our “neurosis.” And if we were to lose that neurosis, our mind thinks that our artistic abilities would be lost as well.

A woman once attended one of our seminars and balked at the idea of letting go of her emotional pain. The sudden loss of her husband had been a major turning point in her life. The time following his death was extremely painful, sad and yet creative, too. Thrust by unfortunate circumstance into a completely different life, the new widow found herself surprisingly capable, increasingly directed and vitally alive. A year later, she was still nurturing the pain and sadness as well as her new found sense of herself. She was afraid, she explained, that if she let go of the pain, anger and sadness she would lose what she had gained in the past year. The shocking loss and ensuing pain had acted as a catalytic agent which sparked her creativity. Her mind then stored all aspects of this time period, and compressed them into a single strategy for success. As we coached her to look, she discovered she was now ready and willing to have the creativity without the pain.

With awareness, you can melt the aspects of your way of being that do not truly produce the results you want, in effect distilling the creative process. No longer does the word “struggling” have to be linked to artist. No longer do pain and neurosis have to be the companion to creativity.

Our creativity is inhibited by past decisions that we have made about our own ability to create. Let’s say, for instance, while growing up, you were not a very good writer of book reports in school. Perhaps one day you got a report back and written on it was a bright red “D” with the words, “Below Average!” The mind records the physical sensations that accompany the grade and also a statement that goes something like, “I am not very good at writing. I am Below Average!”. This statement is available to play back every time you write a new document. The statement may have been true when you were in grammar school, but it may not be true for the adult person that you have become. The problem is that every time you sit down to create something, that recording of, “I am not very good at writing. I am Below Average”, can jump forward between you and the blank page.

Another thing that hinders the creative process is our own internal self-governor or critic. Looking over something you have written, for instance and evaluating it for merit, syntax, grammar, spelling, etc. is obviously a useful thing to do, but timing is everything. Many people apply the process of judging and evaluating their work as they go. This blocks the flow, stops continuity and does not allow for ideas to complete themselves because the sentence, paragraph or idea is being amended even as it is coming into being.

Webster’s dictionary defines “create” as: to cause to come into existence; bring into being; make; originate. Whether you are an artist, working with your hands, applying paint to canvas, writing music or standing on a stage and bringing a character to life it is important to include one detail. The creative process is like the gestation period for a child which one hopes will be born in good health. A little bit of poison can go a long way towards altering the health of the child. Our self-judgments act like poison. If you want to expand your ability to be creative, practice the art of being kind to yourself. Contrary to what some believe, being self critical and hard on yourself does not lead to better quality work. If you are not vigorously chastising mistakes you will not suddenly become complacent and let your work slide. Rather you may find yourself encouraged to take bigger risks and watch as what seems to be a mistake to the judgmental mind turns into something shiny and new that was never even conceived of before.

When one truly creates, one stands in the moment and interacts directly with his or her environment. Not through the filter of thought. Not through one’s personal history. It is a direct expression of the being.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, podcast/radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, Germany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their Being Here podcast or join their email newsletter. Also get information about their award-winning books. Their newest book, Being Here…Too, is available on Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com and everywhere books are sold.

Books by Ariel & Shya Kane

Pink Rain

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Empowerment
Pink Rain

Pink Rain

Did anyone ever say something to you that you found offensive? What did you do: walk away in a huff … talk back to him or her … “stand up” for yourself and then feel lousy later? Take the “high road” and feel crummy later? How about lying awake at night, rehearsing all of the better things you could have said … smarter things you should have said … or plotting the really good comebacks that you will lay on the offensive party next time you get the chance?

But have you ever simply let it go? Really let it go? Not just turn the other cheek yet seethe inside at the injustice of it all? Let us tell you how it happened for us:

In the late 90s, we were leading a series of winter retreats in Costa Rica. These particular seminars took place near the beach in Manuel Antonio on the Pacific side of the country. There we made the passing acquaintance of a couple, Rena and Sven. These two people radiated their judgmental nature and we felt uncomfortable just being around them.

One morning the two of us took a taxi to the beach. As we exited the cab we arranged with our driver to come back in an hour to pick us up. As we walked down to the ocean, we ran into Rena and Sven. By way of greeting, Rena said something very catty — not just the words, but also the unspoken subtext of the comment.

We bet you are familiar with loaded comments. Just think of a teenager, stomping to his or her room saying, “Fine!” or some such thing and flinging the door closed. In this case the word “fine” actually means anything but. Teens in particular are good at adding the eye rolling and they are great at dripping sarcasm from a single syllable. You get the idea.

It doesn’t really matter what Rena said that morning. We quickly ended the conversation and moved on down the beach. At first it was a bit of a challenge not to rehash the moment and reinforce the agitation that usually comes along with getting a verbal and energetic bump. Yet we purposefully disengaged from what had happened and got involved in what was happening: our walk. As we strolled along the shore, the sand sifting between our toes, we got engaged in what was in sight: the pelicans flying in formation, their wings practically skimming the waves, the sun, the surf, the birds, our conversation, OUR life. We simply invested in what was actually happening in that moment rather than resist Rena or Sven, and as we continued down the beach the upset fell away. In fact we forgot about the couple altogether.

This is a perfect example of the 3 Principles of Instantaneous Transformation in action:

1st Principle of Instantaneous Transformation – What you resist persists, grows stronger and in this case, accompanies you down the beach as it dominates your life and your current experience. If we had resisted Rena, disagreed with her comment, if we had taken exception to how she and Sven were being and chewed it over between us, then we would no longer have been on the beach. When you are in a fight in your thoughts, that’s where you are locked — in your thoughts.

2nd Principle of Instantaneous Transformation – That couple could only be exactly as they were, with their reality. Rena could only have commented as she did, and we could have only had a spontaneous visceral reaction and been taken aback.

3rd Principle of Instantaneous Transformation – Anything you allow to be exactly as it is completes itself. We just let them alone in our thoughts and the situation and our initial reaction just drifted away. But of course, as frequently happens when something of this nature occurs, life gives you the opportunity to see if you really have let the upset go – and if not, you get another chance to dissolve it! Soon our beach hour was almost up and it was time to meet our taxi and go back to work. But when we walked up to the road to the rendezvous spot, who should be standing there but Rena and Sven. We didn’t want to be rude, but we didn’t want to invite more conversation either. So we simply ambled up the sidewalk and put some distance between us. It was at this point something very sweet and special happened.

In Costa Rica there are many flowering trees. You can see entire hillsides populated with purple, orange, yellow or pink blossoms. Up at the curve of the road was a big old tree laden with pink flowers. Just as we approached, a gentle breeze ruffled our hair and combed through the tree’s branches. And suddenly the tree rained pink petals. We stood there in awe, awash in a soft pink rain.

It was as if the circumstances of our lives were guiding us forward so that we could be witness to such a magical moment. We weren’t walking away from them – we simply kept moving in concert with the wind, and the sun, and our lives. We were in sync. We were appropriate to ourselves and our hearts. When you are in the moment you are a part of the symphony of life and the music isn’t discordant, the melody is pure and simple. On that particular day the theme was a soft pink rain.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, podcast/radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, Germany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their Being Here podcast or join their email newsletter. Also get information about their award-winning books. Their newest book, Being Here…Too, is available on Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com and everywhere books are sold.

Books by Ariel & Shya Kane

How Sweet It Is

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How Sweet It Is

“How Sweet it Is,” is an Excerpt from Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work, by Ariel and Shya Kane

Click here for more information or to purchase this book.

There is an old story about a man who was walking through the jungle. Sensing a presence, the man looked over his shoulder and saw a tiger slinking through the foliage, following him. Quickening his pace, the fellow followed the path he was on until he reached a cliff. Looking back once again, he saw the tiger was still there and coming closer. Standing with his toes over the edge, the man noticed that there was a vine running down the cliff face and he swung out onto the vine in order to escape the tiger. Just as he quickly lowered himself down, the tiger jumped. Slashing over the edge with her paw, the tiger narrowly missing catching the man as he made his decent. As the man started to work his way down the cliff face, he looked down to the bottom and saw yet another tiger, the mate of the one at the top. The tigers settled down to wait. Hanging there, the man saw that two mice, a white one and a black one, had started gnawing on the vine above his head. It was only a matter of time before the vine would give way. Looking off to one side, he noticed a wild strawberry gleaming crimson in the sunlight. He picked it, put it in his mouth and tasted…How sweet it was.

Worrying about the future and missing the sweetness of the moment seems to be a way of life for most people. Of course, there are plenty of things to worry about today, if that is what you are used to. There was plenty to worry about in our parents’ day also and in our grandparents’ and so on back through time. And yet they survived. We are all a living testament to that. Perhaps we worry as a part of the culture we were raised in, as a survival strategy, passed down from generation to generation. Have you ever stopped to think that worry is not an integral part of well-being but something extra, unneeded and unexamined that we have absorbed from those around us?

You can taste the wild strawberries that exist around you in your everyday life by being here in this moment, rather than worrying about things you cannot immediately do anything about, such as the state of the world, global warming, political conflict, wars, etc. Those things do exist but in this moment so does the chair you are sitting in, the air you are breathing and the floor under your feet.

Perhaps you tend to worry about something more personal, such as your finances, the state of your relationship or your health. Well, does worrying actually accomplish anything positive? Worry is the mind’s projection of possible futures, based on what we have experienced or known from the past.

Being Here in this moment is the great transformational agent. If you are actually engaged in being here, then life does not have to repeat itself. Unknown creative solutions can present themselves and if you are here, you are available to see them.

There is a Country Western song by Tim McGraw called, “Live Like You Were Dying.” It is about a man who discovered he had a potentially terminal disease and goes out and does all the things he only dreamt of doing…and many he hadn’t even considered; riding a bull, going fishing, being a true friend, talking sweeter, loving deeper and giving forgiveness he had been denying to others.

For the most part, we don’t live our lives as though it is our last day. There are things we do which, if we were dying, we would never indulge in. If the end were near we wouldn’t be wasting those few precious moments. The trick is in discovering how to maintain this sense of urgency and vitality without threatening oneself with dire circumstances such as imminent death. Although the song “Live Like You Were Dying” is just a song, it is representative of what can happen if you engage in your life without preference, without listening to the story of whether or not you feel like doing something and without thinking that this moment doesn’t matter.

How do you engage in your life as if this moment matters when you are truly out of touch with that, and are lost in a loop of worry, you might ask? Well, you could start by washing your dishes, making your bed, cleaning up your office, completing those things that have been incomplete and that you ignore by worrying about other things. What if worry was just a sophisticated way to procrastinate? Have you ever considered that if you are really busy, fully engaged, getting things done, your rarely have time or interest in complaining about your life?

So, if you need a place to start, look around you. Handling any little incompletion is a great start. Then move on to the next thing. You might start with the things you like to do first. Get in a rhythm. Then keep including what’s next. You will be pleasantly surprised how, as you handle the minutia of your life, the answers to how to handle the “big” things magically appear.

This is an excerpt from Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work, available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, podcast/radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, Germany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their Being Here podcast or join their email newsletter. Also get information about their award-winning books. Their newest book, Being Here…Too, is available on Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com and everywhere books are sold.

Books by Ariel & Shya Kane

A Moment in Time

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A Moment in Time

A Moment in Time

by Wendy in Queens, NY

an excerpt from Being Here…Too, Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment by Ariel and Shya Kane

kidsswinging.jpgMy brother Brian was born a year and a half after I was. My mom told me that when she brought him home from the hospital, I thought he was a gift for me. When we were growing up, Brian seemed to know how to do everything without any help or training. I’d ask him, “How do you know that?” I was amazed and jealous that things seemed to come so easily for him, or so I thought.

Years later when I graduated from college, I found a job in New York City. My brother offered to drive my stuff and me from our home in Rochester, New York to my new apartment in Jersey City, New Jersey. We packed his Suburban to the gills and off we went. We made our way there using a good old-fashioned map since this was before cell phones and Google Maps. We spent the weekend setting up the apartment and took a quick trip into Manhattan to explore the area. The days flew by and the time came for him to head back. We hugged goodbye and off he drove into the horizon. As I watched my brother’s truck get smaller and smaller, tears fell down my cheeks.

Time moved on, life happened, and Brian and I grew apart. I held on to my belief that we would be super close again someday, because that’s how I thought it should be. That’s how I thought life worked. But Brian started using drugs. As his addiction grew stronger, the gulf between us grew wider. He got help, but it was a struggle and he repeatedly slipped back into his old habits. I had a lot of judgments against him, but they had started long before he was using drugs.

Eventually, I discovered a totally new perspective about my brother and my life when a co-worker invited me to one of Ariel and Shya Kane’s evening events in New York City. Soon after, I attended a weekend seminar with them and started to look at relationships through a different lens. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but my perspective just shifted. As a kid I’d made decisions to not be like my family. I started seeing how I held my family and myself as not good enough. I had ideas about what a “good family” looked like, down to how a good family should celebrate Christmas. In the past, I had sat at home feeling sorry for myself if the celebration was not up to my standards.

Then, one December, I had a spontaneous experience of how my life had transformed. I had flown to Rochester to celebrate Christmas with my family and quickly discovered that no one had made plans for a holiday gathering. Rather than going to that familiar place of feeling sorry for myself, I realized that I could plan something. This was a novel idea and I got excited at the notion of hosting Christmas.

With my sister Holley’s permission, I invited everyone to her house on a snowy night in December. I made all of my favorite dishes – cheesy macaroni and cheese, creamy cauliflower mashed potatoes and a big green salad. Holley finished it off with a fresh baked apple pie. My mom brought the frosted buttermilk Christmas cookies that she made every year. Everyone was happy to contribute. Hmm, maybe my family wasn’t such a lost cause after all.

Earlier in the day my sister and I had bought gifts for everyone, including a chess set that I thought my brother would love. Brian was a pretty good chess player and he loved the game. The doorbell sounded and I greeted my mom and brother at the door. It was as if time stood still. I looked into my brother’s eyes and I saw that I had a choice. I could drop my judgments and meet my brother Brian, as if for the first time, or I could hold on to past grievances. In a split second I chose to drop the past. I saw the light flicker in my brother’s eyes as I reached out to hug him and I felt the wall between us crumble. Even the sound of his name was sweet and I was excited he was there.

The evening flew by. After dinner we exchanged gifts. I felt sated and happy. I realized the picture in my mind of how Christmas should be celebrated was a child’s idea and I preferred the way it had unfolded in reality.

Being Here…Too, Short Stories of Modern Day EnlightenmentI was scheduled to fly back to New York City on Sunday night and to my surprise, Brian joined my mom and me on the ride to the airport. When we arrived and I found out the flight was delayed, I asked them both to come inside the airport and wait with me. I’d never done that before. I usually couldn’t wait to get out of Rochester but this time was different. We sat in Dunkin’ Donuts, sipping coffee and eating muffins, and laughing at stupid jokes. It was a lot of fun and the silliness was sweet and intimate. When my flight was ready to depart, we said our goodbyes and I made my way to the gate with a big grin on my face.

A few days into the New Year, I got a call in the middle of the night. My brother Brian had overdosed on heroin and his heart had stopped. He died later that night and I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that just a few days earlier we’d had some of the deepest and kindest interactions in years. It was as if I had found my kid brother again only to lose him.

I miss my brother but I’ll be forever grateful for the time I got to spend with him that Christmas. I’m thankful that I dropped the past and discovered who Brian really was while he was still alive.

 

This is an excerpt from Being Here…Too, now available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, in the UKGermany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their award-winning books, their Being Here radio show and join their email newsletter.

Greener Pastures, an excerpt from Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work

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Greener Pastures, an excerpt from Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work

Once we saw a goat put out to graze in a lush field. The grass was high and feeding was plentiful. But the goat wasn’t satisfied. It made a funny picture as it strained toward the field next door. Its front legs were suspended midair, dangling over the fence as it vainly reached for a tempting bit of green just out of reach. Of course the grass wasn’t any richer or higher or more succulent in the next pasture, but try telling that to the goat.

What pastures are you straining after? Most people are strenuously reaching toward what they think will make them happy or satisfied, straining toward something more, better, or different. The problem with this is that there is always something else that needs to be bought or produced in order for you to be happy or satisfied. Truthfully, in this moment, you can only have what you have. Anything you yearn for robs you of the possibility of reveling in the richness of your life.

People get so driven by where they are going that they miss their lives. You may actually be rushing ahead to finish this book, trying to answer some question or fulfill some agenda. While you are trying so hard to get something from the writing, you are not actually there for the reading.

Many of us live our lives as if we are looking through a telephoto lens on a camera. A telephoto lens focuses in on an object in the distance and excludes everything peripheral to that object. So you miss everything happening around you. Instantaneous Transformation is more like a wide-angle lens. It holds everything in focus whether it is close up or far away, and there is three-dimensionality and depth to what you see. The telephoto lens, on the other hand, makes things much more two-dimensional or fl at; you lose the depth of fi eld. When people are lost in a change modality, they feel annoyed when things “intrude” and interrupt their flow toward where they are headed. In a transformational approach, life becomes a dance of noticing what is rather than a tense experience of trying to exclude everything that does not seem on track to producing the things we think we want in the future to make us happy or fulfilled.

Working on Yourself Doesn't Work by Ariel & Shya KaneIt could be said that life is an unfolding, moment to moment, and we have preferences that frequently disagree with how life unfolds, because we are trying to get somewhere rather than be where we are. We think something better is going to come along because this isn’t it, when in fact this moment is all there is. This moment IS it.

People are so busy worrying about what they don’t have or how it is going to turn out in the future, they rarely allow themselves to really relish and enjoy the way things are right now. Life becomes a worry about what isn’t, rather than a celebration of what is. For if we, like the goat, invest our energy only in wanting what we don’t have and lusting after tantalizing goals currently out of reach, satisfaction is set aside for a mythical someday that never comes.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, in the UKGermany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their Being Here radio show or join their email newsletter. Also get information about their award-winning books.  Their newest book, Practical Enlightenment, is now available on Amazon.com.

Missing My Morning Coffee

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Empowerment
Missing My Morning Coffee

Missing My Morning Coffee

An Excerpt from Practical Enlightenment

I love my morning cup of Joe. Coffee and I have been friends for almost as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I used to drink from my parents’ forgotten cups, pretending I was an adult. Coffee was my com­panion in college, company during late-night cram sessions. Coffee houses were the destination of choice for my friends and me as we spent long evenings having deep, philosophical discussions about life – life we had yet to live. In later years, when Ariel and I got together, there was a progression of caffeinated times and those that were without. When we moved to our Park Avenue apartment in the ‘80s, there was a little bistro down­stairs where we would have a morning cappuccino and a croissant or sugary pastry. There were years when we gave it up, but even in those times, Ariel and I still en­joyed the pungent aroma of coffee being freshly ground and brewed.

A few years ago, Ariel and I splurged and bought ourselves a lovely espresso machine that heats our cups, grinds the beans, and makes the espresso as strong or as light as we like. Since I like my espresso strong and hot, I pushed the appropriate button one morning and it pressed out a little cup of my favorite elixir. The cup was small, its contents strong. I took my first sip. Mmmm, hot, delicious – both the ritual of a morning cup and its smell and taste. Cup in hand, I set off to start my day. There were things to do and plans to be made. Shortly thereafter I looked down and magically, my cup was empty. I realized that I’d been lost in thought and tossed the coffee down as if it were water, oblivious to the taste, temperature, texture and the moment itself. My thoughts had been all-consuming and the moment was eaten by their magnetic force.

Smiling down at my cup somewhat wistfully, I realized that enjoyable things cease to be enjoyable if you aren’t there to experience them. I couldn’t go back and taste what I’d already drunk. I could make another cup but the caffeine I’d consumed had already worked its magic and I didn’t need more at that moment. Returning to the kitchen, I washed my cup. It was time to move on with my day. It was a short but sweet reminder that if I don’t want to miss my morning coffee, I need to be there while I’m drinking it, even if I’m not yet fully awake.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYCGermany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their Being Here radio show or join their email newsletter. Also get information about their award-winning books. Their newest book, Being Here…Too, Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment, will be published this November.

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