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Shya, Will You Ever Be a Mensch?

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Shya, Will You Ever Be a Mensch?

Shya, Will You Ever Be a Mensch?

By Shya Kane

“Mensch” is a Yiddish word meaning “a person of integrity and honor.”

It was 1957, I was 16 years old and struggling. A troubled teenager, I was dyslexic and could hardly read. Somehow, I eventually managed to make it through high school and go on to get a college degree, but at that time, my fate was quite uncertain. It was hard to know how I would turn out, but things weren’t looking good. At this point, skipping school was the norm and teachers and administrators hardly noticed – and neither did my folks. They were too busy. My sister was in the process of dying from cancer, a lengthy ordeal. Understandably, my parents had a lot on their plates. They were simple people, lost in the complexities and ongoing tragedy of their firstborn’s steady decline.

I imagine they knew I was floundering, but I was in those difficult adolescent years and I didn’t make it easy for them. Eventually my parents decided to send me to spend time in the country with a lady who worked in my dad’s dress factory.

Lina and Ben Veloski lived in Spring Valley, New York. It was summer and Ben took me fishing. It’s hard to remember the details now, but I do recall that Ben would rouse me early to head down to the lake. Fishing was already a passion of mine but he had a style of fishing that was pretty boring for a teenager. We would sit in a little rowboat, drop a minnow on a hook over the side and then sit watching a bobber float on the surface of the water, waiting for a fish to bite. Sometimes it never happened. So we would pass the time by drinking brandy from his flask. As the liquid would burn on the way down, Ben would often say, “Don’t let Lina know.”

Then I met their son Marvin, who was in his late 30s. Soon he was someone I looked up to. Not only was he patient and happy to have me tag along with him, Marvin did a different kind of fishing – one where you cast a lure out and reel it back in. This was active and much more exciting. We would row over near the lily pads where the fish hung out. From there a well-placed cast could be rewarded with an explosive strike from a smallmouth bass. Pretty soon, I no longer fished with Ben and I became a regular at Marvin’s house.

For the next two years, I was a frequent weekend and summer guest in Marvin’s home. His job was as a high school shop teacher and through him I gradually gained a respect for getting an education. Marvin had a favorite saying for me. He said it in Yiddish, which I didn’t really understand, but it roughly translated to, “Shya, will you ever be a mensch?” What he was really saying, was, “Will you make a difference with your life? Will you be a contribution to humanity, rather than forever proving that your parents did it wrong?”

It’s been more than 60 years since I first met Marvin. Since then, my passion for fishing has continued to grow and I have traveled to places beyond my wildest expectations. I have raised a family of my own. I’ve been married and divorced and married again – now for more than 30 years. Like Marvin, I am now a teacher. I never thought that was possible in those difficult years when I was so busy trying to figure out who I was and what my life purpose would be.

When my mother was on her deathbed, she looked up at me and said, “Shya, I never thought you were going to make it. But you did. You’ve turned out. I’m so proud of you.”

In answer to your question, Marvin: Yes. I have become a mensch. I’ve come to realize that it is possible to be a mess as a child, yet grow up to make a difference in the world. Having a troubled childhood does not mean that this moment of my life can’t be satisfying, fulfilling and perfect. Especially when I take my attention off myself and take care of the people around me.

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.

Life is in the Blintzes

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Empowerment
Life is in the Blintzes

“Life is in the Blintzes”

By Eric in Brooklyn, NY

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

When my maternal grandmother, Dora, was a child, she came to America from a tiny village in Eastern Europe. One of my fondest memories of her was that she made amazing blintzes, thin crepe-like pancakes filled with savory cheese. When I was a little boy I’d visit her in the Bronx in New York City, and we’d walk together to the store, my small hand in hers, to get fresh ingredients. Then we’d go back to her apartment and I’d watch her make my beloved blintzes. She never followed a recipe. Everything she made was by eye or by heart. The best part of all was eating them. My grandmother was a cheek pincher who loved me with food. And her food, from blintzes to chicken soup to chopped liver, was extraordinary.

By contrast, I hadn’t felt as close to my mother. While my dad and I shared jokes and a common interest in music, when I was in my pre-teen years, I decided that my mother was stoic, cold, and unable to connect with me emotionally. We didn’t spend much time talking and I didn’t enjoy her cooking.

Eventually I decided that I no longer wanted to be associated with the people in my mother’s family: Eastern European Jews. Their heritage, religion, language, customs, and even their food, including my formerly beloved blintzes, had become embarrassing to me. I conveniently forgot about the hard work and sacrifices my family had made to give me the life that I was taking for granted. I forgot how my mother had paid for things – my cello lessons, an expensive private college, and financial support she gave me when I was having some significant personal struggles – not to mention unwavering moral support.

Years passed and the gulf between me and my mother widened. When my parents moved to Florida, I never made visiting them a priority although my mom took the time to visit me. When I was cast as a professional actor in plays in Boston and New York City, my mother always came to see my performances. After the shows she would meet me, give me a hug and, before I had a chance to ask what she thought of my performance, she would whisper in my ear, “You were the best one.”

When I started to participate in Instantaneous Transformation seminars with Ariel and Shya, I saw that I had preconceived notions of my mother. I didn’t see her as she was. I saw her as I thought she was. That’s not the same thing. My thoughts about her were colored by a filter, put in place by my disgruntled teenage self who’d been insecure and desperate to fit in. Once I saw this important distinction, I was able to truly listen to what Mom had to say and to see things from her perspective. I saw her loving nature and acts, both past and present, because they were no longer at odds with my own very strong point of view. I was suddenly able to remember the hugs as well as the cream cheese and jelly sandwiches with no crusts. I even remembered when I went through my “purple phase” and Mom knitted me a purple sweater. It was well made, but in retrospect it wasn’t a great color decision for me. As a result of my new perspective, our relationship became closer and sweeter.

My grandma Dora is long gone. My mother is ninety-one and her health and memory are fading. She’s confined to a wheelchair and although her long-term memory is generally good, her short-term memory is nonexistent. She remembers my Dad, but not that he’s been dead for twenty years.

I recently went down to Florida to visit her. At first she thought I was a doctor, which was not a total loss. I’m a lawyer and a literary agent, but she had dreamt of my becoming a doctor, and to her I was. She told me she’d enjoyed my comedy show the night before (I was a standup comedian several years ago) although she felt I went on a little too long. Of course there was no show, but she was happy, especially that she’d stayed at my friend Oprah’s apartment. I was pleased to learn that I am close friends with Oprah Winfrey.

I wasn’t upset with Mom’s confusion. As long as she wasn’t depressed or scared, I rolled with it, going along with her reality. But she wasn’t eating and her nurses and aides were concerned. An additional benefit of my participating in the Kanes’ seminars is that I’ve become very intuitive. More accurately, I’ve allowed my intuition to override what used to be my denial and doubt.

Flat Book Cover.jpgI knew in my gut that blintzes would reignite my mother’s appetite. I asked the medical professionals if there were concerns about fat, salt or any other nutritional caveats. They said my mother needed calories and, at this point, any were good. I went to a deli near my mom’s house and on the way home, my car was filled with the familiar aroma of blintzes and matzo ball soup. Images of my grandmother’s smile went through my mind. I heard the roar of the crowd at Yankee stadium as we walked through her Bronx neighborhood. Most importantly, I felt the lineage of love that traveled from Dora through my mother to me. Unexpected tears welled up as I drove the Florida roads, far from New York City. I was grateful I could allow myself the pleasure of those tears, the welling of love and affection. When my mother devoured two blintzes and smiled at me, my chest swelled with gratitude for Instantaneous Transformation. My heritage is rich and full of love and life. In that moment, I rediscovered that life is in the blintzes.

This is an excerpt from Being Here…Too, which is available wherever books are sold as of November 12, 2018.

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

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.

Footprints in the Sand

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Empowerment
Footprints in the Sand

Footprints in the Sand

For several years Shya and I travelled down to Great Harbor Cay, on the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. We traditionally rented a little condo on this small sparsely populated island with windows facing east overlooking the ocean – a beautiful place to watch the sunrise to be sure. On many mornings, I went for a walk on the beautiful sandy beach. The shore is long enough that I could easily go for 45 minutes in either direction, enjoying the lap of the waves while keeping a sharp eye out for treasures that the sea had dropped on the sand overnight. This little beach is its own world, one where “rush hour” happened when I occasionally saw another human being – perhaps two. While this stretch of sand is sparsely populated I still was not the only Beachcomber. Sometimes when walking along the beach I followed the tracks of a fellow explorer, noticing where he or she had veered left or right to investigate an interesting-looking tangle of sea grass that had been deposited by the waves upon the shore.

I must admit I really prefer being first to cross the virgin sand after it has been smoothed by the receding tide. When I have come upon the tracks of someone who has come before me, it spurs the notion that I have fallen behind somehow, that I am too late, that everything of note to be discovered has already been found.

One morning, Shya and I stepped out our door and debated briefly whether to turn left or right. He, fly rod in hand, me wearing my light cotton tee with a kangaroo pouch on the front ready to tuck away little treasures. I was also wearing my small belly-pack, complete with water bottle, tissues and more room for seashells inside. Everything a gal needs for a trek down the beach.

We decided to go left, toward the point where the sea wraps around, often leaving interesting shells. It is also where small fish, mainly schools of jacks and pompano, chase baitfish and are likely to take Shya’s fly.

As we walked along we saw a needlefish, a long toothy creature, cruising the shallows. Farther out, shoals of tiny minnows jumped, silver waves fanning out, cascading back into the slick water as they tried to evade a predator below. Occasionally little sandpipers bobbed and weaved their way up and down the gentle rise of sand in search of edibles too tiny for our human eyes to see.

As we walked in the wavelets, Shya’s gaze was pinned on the water as he scanned for the silhouettes of fish, ready to cast the fly, my attention kept being pulled to a flash of light or a daub of color as seashells winked at me in the morning sun. It was a leisurely adventure, not really going anywhere even though our feet were taking us toward that point of land in the distance. When a small school of jacks came hunting, we both caught and released several as we took turns enticing them to eat our imitation shrimp fly.

Eventually we came to the point and Shya waded out down a long sand bar to see if he could catch one of the larger predator fish cruising the water on either side of the underwater spit of sand. I, on the other hand, rounded the corner and ranged up the beach to see what seashells had been left by the ocean overnight. But to my surprise, instead of an unblemished surface, I found footprints in the sand.

Oh no! I immediately thought. Someone was here before me. From nowhere my leisurely morning’s mood disappeared and my competitive nature surged forward, activating those niggling insecurities that whispered: You’re behind. You missed your shot. You’ve lost out.

Prompted by those thoughts, my steps quickened, heart thumped and breath hitched. How could they have gotten here before me? Shya and I came out to the beach virtually at first light.

Scanning ahead, I saw how the trail zigged and zagged and I began to follow it. Several yards down the beach, as I took a step, I noticed that the footprints I was leaving in my wake looked suspiciously the same size as those I was following. I stopped in my tracks. Actually I stopped next to my tracks also and I tipped my head back and laughed. I finally realized that the person I’d been competing with was actually the ghost of myself, for I had come this way the night before. As I looked, it became clear that high tide the night before had not come up far enough to obliterate my prints from yesterday’s beach adventure. I smiled to myself, reminded of Winnie-The-Pooh where Piglet and Pooh follow their own tracks as they circled around the same tree again and again.

Relaxed once again, my eye returned to seeing the wonders in front of me. My attention was no longer turned inward upon perceived failings, and I was no longer subjected to that automatic self-defeating mental diatribe. My stride evened out and I enjoyed the movement of my legs, the textures under my bare feet as I turned around and begin walking back toward Shya.

Suddenly I caught sight of a delicate seashell standing in the fresh sand looking like a pair of butterfly wings poised for flight. Opalescent interior in pearl, aqua and pink contrasted with the darker outside. The outer edges were not smooth but adorned with many points, feathered fingers that would interlace when closed, currently reaching toward the sky. Gently I collected the shell, wrapped it in a tissue and tucked it in my pouch for the walk back to the little bungalow where we were staying.

As my feet found their rhythm, I quietly mused about how odd the notion was that I had missed an opportunity, that I was somehow “behind.” For I had just discovered not only a delicate treasure released by the sea, but the far greater wealth-of-being that happens when I let go of the reflex to get ahead, allowing myself the luxury to be right where I am instead.

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.

You Never Walk the Dog!

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You Never Walk the Dog!

You Never Walk the Dog! (Beyond Coincidence)

you-never-walk-the-dog

An Excerpt from Practical Enlightenment

By Ariel & Shya Kane

Let’s investigate the phenomenon of linking up with those around you and your interconnectivity to other human beings. Start by becoming aware of your thought processes and internal conversation. Notice the changes in flavor, cadence or content of those thoughts. As you depersonalize what “you” are saying in the apparent privacy of your thoughts, you no longer have to fall prey to your mind’s machinations. If you notice your thoughts without judging them, your internal commentary will no longer have to dominate your actions and your life. Who knows? Bringing awareness (a nonjudgmental observing) to your thoughts may even save you from fighting a fight that isn’t yours!

The two of us had a dramatic example of this in 1989. It was early in our careers and we were not as firmly rooted in a transformational lifestyle as we are today. It was much easier then to lose our center. On this particular occasion, we were about to give a private consulting session to a couple who were seeing us on the recommendation of a friend. They made the appointment by phone so we hadn’t yet met them in person. Arriving a bit early to the apartment we used for our coaching, we made ourselves a cup of tea and suddenly we began to bicker. As our disagreement escalated, it went something like this:

“It would be nice if you’d give me a hand in here.” “Don’t talk to me in that tone. I’ve done plenty today.” “Yeah? Well, you never help in the kitchen. I’m always doing the dishes.” “Yeah? Well, you never walk the dog!”

At that moment, we froze in amazement. We didn’t have a dog. In fact, in all the years we’d been together, we’d never had a dog. We burst into laughter and the bickering was busted.

Shortly thereafter, the couple arrived. As we sat together, they began to discuss what they saw as the disconnect in their relationship. They laid out their list of grievances: She doesn’t do this, he doesn’t do that. Finally, one of them said it: “Yeah? Well you never walk the dog!”

We looked at each other in amazement. It was a moment beyond coincidence. We knew everyone had the ability to sync up with others, but this was a dynamic demonstration of synchronized thinking that we have never forgotten. It crystallized a possibility that led us to a line of inquiry that is still alive today.

Don’t forget, we had never met either of these people in person. The only contact we had was over the phone to set an appointment time. Yet their way of being transcended time and space and somehow we received the essence of them in our own situation and circumstances. So much so that we started acting out their dynamic. You could think of it like someone coming to your home bringing a dish for dinner. As they arrive at your front door, the smell of the food precedes them into your living room and as the aroma wafts into your home it smells as if you have been cooking.

We are not sure how it happens. But we are sure that it happens. Look around you right now. Think about the air you’re breathing. If you looked across the room or off to the horizon, aside from air quality on a hazy day, common sense says that nothing much exists between you and the next hard surface. Now plug in a radio. Turn on a wireless router for your computer. Activate a Bluetooth device or turn on your Smartphone. There is information floating in the air around you and through you. Human beings are the most sophisticated receivers on the planet but science hasn’t yet caught up with the measurements and explanation of how it works.

Next time you think, “I don’t want to get up,” or you find yourself mentally complaining about your job, your relationship, or any other aspect of your life, you don’t have to take what “you” are saying so seriously. When you find yourself wanting to hum along with the “I should be farther along in my life by now” tune playing in the background, you can turn your attention to other things. When you find the impulse to bicker, you can relax and bypass that urge. (Yet, if you do bicker or find yourself complaining, then this is your responsibility – not whomever you are “in sync” with.)

Feeling well in yourself can communicate across the ethos, too. It’s like a telephone line – it goes both ways. You can catch the disturbances that occur around you but others can “catch” your way of being also – including your sense of well-being.

Kane-player-wide.jpgSince 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.

Susan’s First Date

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Empowerment
Susan’s First Date

Susan’s First Date

an excerpt from How to Have A Match Made in Heaven

by Ariel & Shya Kane

mmih-3-awards-trans.jpgIt was still cool at 6:30 in the morning as we strolled barefoot with Susan down Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio beach. We were in the midst of one of our Costa Rican Self Discovery Adventures that we hold each winter. People come from all over the world to join us and use it as a time to get away from the normal routine of one’s life and relax. It is opportunity to look at the mechanics of your life in a gentle, lush environment without judging what you discover; a time to play and let your life unfold.

On this particular morning, Susan was talking with us about her relationships – or more accurately put, her lack of one. We have known Susan for years and she is such a lovely woman. Perhaps you know her or know someone just like her… She is a mover and shaker at work, well respected in her field, someone who people admire. Early 40’s she is pretty, slim, personable, smart, humble, and absolutely adores baseball. In short, she is a dream gal for most any man.

And yet, over the years we have known her, Susan has not had much luck in relationship. Traditionally she falls head over heals for a guy and eventually, after several months or occasionally a year or two, the relationship ends. Gradually Susan had stopped telling people when she really liked someone. It became embarrassing for her to admit when “things didn’t work out” and yet another one was over.

We asked her what was happening with dating. Grimacing, she replied, “I am taking a break. I just don’t see the point. I never have trouble attracting guys – it just never lasts. Something must be wrong with me.”

Discarding the idea that there was something “wrong” with her, we looked at her approach to dating. We encouraged her to take a transformational, anthropological approach – like a scientist, observing a culture of one – herself, looking non-judgmentally, with awareness. When you do this, the best place to start is where you are. Exactly where you are – in this moment.

“How are you approaching things right now?” we asked her. “Start to bring awareness to this moment, this instant, not someday.”

As we looked at her life in that moment, it became obvious that in her attempt to fix her “problem,” set things in order and make for a better future, Susan missed so much — The caress of the breeze as it tousled her hair, the sand between her toes, the steady lap of the surf.

As we conversed, it became apparent that Susan was rarely simply present to where she was. She was habitually driving forward for some desired result that was supposed to make her happy or fulfilled or better — in the future. It became apparent even in how she approached the conversation. For Susan it was a challenge simply to walk with us. She was so accomplished at thinking and strategizing that she kept losing sight of where she was. She missed the lovely shells, the sea foam and the way her muscles moved as she walked. She either charged ahead or got lost in thought and barely moved at all.

We asked her if she had ever dated more than one person at a time. She looked surprised by the question, as if we were suggesting that she was somehow “loose” or unwholesome. So we explained: “Do you ever meet one fellow for lunch on Tuesday and another for a movie on Friday night, etc. so that you can see who might really work for you before you jump ahead into a relationship? Sheepishly, she said “No.” That was when we suddenly realized that Susan had never actually “dated”. Instead, she automatically married: as soon as she went out with someone, she was trying to make him “the one.” Somewhere in the back of her mind he was already her mate – the perfect relationship.

We encouraged her to keep relaxing into herself and into her body for the next few days and forget about getting ahead. Let go of her plans to date or to not. Just be there and have fun.

Two days later during the course, Susan piped up with excitement about her first boogie boarding experience. As she spoke, we looked around and Ralf was beaming. Ralf is an actor who is gay and married. Due to their work schedules, he and his spouse had to come to separate courses, so he was there by himself. He is accomplished at riding waves and Susan had asked him to teach her. Here is what she said:

“I asked Ralf to teach me to boogie board because it looked like so much fun and it was obvious that he was really good at it. At lunch we went to the beach and waded out into the water. Although I was nervous, he made it OK. I hugged the board and the next thing I knew, the wave was coming. As I stood there, I realized that this was the one – the one where I could finally learn to boogie board. Much sooner than I expect Ralf said, “Jump” and I did. I made it all the way into shore! It was great.”

Ralf grinned, “Susan really listened! She timed it perfectly and caught the wave.”

Both Susan and Ralf were so happy. He felt smart, listened to and empowered and so did she. That was when the realization hit us. This was Susan’s first date. It was the first time she had ever “gone out” with a man without the mental computer casting forward to possible futures. She was simply being there enjoying the moment.

We realized that if Susan could bring that type of engagement to going on actual dates, where she was there simply to have fun and have that experience be complete in and of itself – not leading anywhere other than this moment, her life would transform. All it would take now is awareness. She habitually plans for the future. With awareness, Susan can now suspend that habit and be there. Who knows what will happen for her now – Having fun is a pretty powerful way to start any serious relationship.

Kane-player-wide.jpgSince 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.

Transformational Time & Project Management Tips

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Empowerment
Transformational Time & Project Management Tips

Transformational Time & Project Management Tips

By Ariel & Shya Kane

Transformational Time & Project Management Tips

We have a client who asked us how she can improve her relationship with time and accomplish the things she wants to do in her life – work, projects in her apartment, errands and creative projects, as well as socializing – without feeling that she is wasting or running out of time. These are five suggestions we offered that supported her, and will support you, in easily and effortlessly managing your time and being effective and productive in your life.

1. There is time for everything that needs to be done…and there will always be things left to do.

What are you devoting your time to each day? We bet you think about what you want to do and whether or not you like the tasks at hand. Hint: Thinking about whether you want to do something or not is just a waste of time. Thinking about whether you like it or not is also a waste of time. Many people drag their feet going about what they are going to do anyway and then get no satisfaction from the activities they engage in as a result. A whole-hearted engagement in whatever you are doing will bring with it satisfaction as a by-product. And at the end of the day, there will always be more to do than can be done. We are often delighted by what we accomplish in a day and respectful of the fact that “tomorrow is another day” and that we will be rested and rejuvenated to begin again.

2. Honesty is key.

If you actually want to take control of your relationship with time, don’t tell yourself that you are going to do something that you have no intention of doing. There are things that you don’t want to do that you tell yourself that you “should” do. There are also things that you pretend to want to do that you don’t actually plan on doing or want to do at all.

For example, many times people have the idea that they would be better if…they lose weight, balance their checkbooks, exercise more, do creative things, etc. But that doesn’t mean that they are actually going to do any of those things. This list is simply something held in reserve so that you never give yourself a break and as a constant reminder that you need to change or fix something about yourself. This list is comprised of things that are not actually “in the works,” they are things that you are resisting doing – and by now anyone who is familiar with our approach knows that: What you resist persists, grows stronger, takes longer (or never gets done) and dominates your life. As an alternative, try this:

When you are hanging out – do that.
When you are doing a project – do that.

If you want to have control in your life, then do what you are doing in the current moment, rather than think about what you ought to be doing. Otherwise there is no actual rest because when you are doing nothing you think you should be doing something. If you actually rest then you are likely to find yourself energized to do things rather than talking to yourself about doing them.

3. Procrastination is a sophisticated word for “no”.
Don’t fix it – pay attention.

There is a false idea about independence that was formed in most of our minds around age two when we realized that we could disagree or say “no.” According to this immature notion we think that we are being independent by saying no to anything we are asked to do. In fact, for many of us, we registered in our undeveloped minds that we were powerful, got attention and had the world chasing us around, by doing the opposite of what was asked for and “Poof,” a life strategy is born. Over time we sophisticate this “no” to requests made of us and then when we say no to our own desires, we call it “procrastination”.

You don’t have to make a resolution to stop procrastinating – simply bring awareness to how often you say “no” to yourself and to all of the requests made upon you by life. When your bed is unmade, for instance, it is as if there is a request for you to make it, or to do the dishes, or answer the phone. Become aware of the resistance, hesitation, “don’t wannas” and see how often this is a part of your daily internal conversation. “No” is not a bad thing. It just is. With awareness (a non-judgmental seeing or noticing of how you operate) you can see what YOU want to do rather than be dictated by the life strategy of a two-year-old.

4. What is your current way of relating to time saving you from?

Often “problems” are solutions in disguise. Procrastination may actually be saving you from something you consider confronting or acting as a buffer between you and possible rejection, for instance. For example, you may say that you want more time to “socialize.” It is possible that the endless list of to-dos can keep you from having to get up online on a dating site or get out there and date. Or perhaps you have a creative project on your desk. Then day-to-day minutia that seems to eat your time each day can save you from having to get started. Right now, your incompletions define your life. If you lost them, you wouldn’t know who you are. Your comfort zone INCLUDES all of the things that you find uncomfortable. If you had no problems, nothing wrong, nothing that is holding you back…hmmm…then what?

5. Start small… and keep going.

You don’t have to look far to shift from a conversation about your life to living it in real time. Just lift your eyes from this article and look around. We bet you will see something to be done or something that begs for attention. You don’t have to do something big, start small: Bring a cup to the sink, dust a surface, make that call, file that item…and then keep going. Direct action, direct result. No problem. Complete those things in your life that are incomplete such as projects or organizing your closet. A simple way to approach many things is to repair or get rid of anything that is broken or have it fixed. Stop putting off what you know you are going to do anyway – like Nike says – Just do it!

Join Ariel & Shya for Transformational Time & Project Management in NYC

Dates: Saturday & Sunday, April 28 & 29, 2018
Time: 9:45am – 6pm both days
Fee: $649 (partial scholarships available)
Location: Skyline Hotel, 725 Tenth Ave. at 49th Street, Penthouse Ballroom, NYC

REGISTER

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.

A Surprisingly Sweet Morning

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Empowerment
A Surprisingly Sweet Morning

A Surprisingly Sweet Morning

By Ariel & Shya Kane

The set up to our surprisingly sweet morning happened the day before. It was mid–August and Shya and I were in the midst of a trip to Oregon to visit my parents and to spend a couple of days fly fishing on the Deschutes River.

douglasfirsMy parents live in my childhood home of Gresham, a suburb of Portland. Their home abuts a forested area and the Douglas firs tower above – stately sentinels, old and moss laden. I like to stand at the base of those trees and gaze up to admire the sunlight shafting through the bows that march up the trunks in orderly rows.

At 86 and 85 years respectively, Mom and Dad enjoy our company, as we do theirs, and our visits are very relaxed affairs. The night before our fishing adventure to Eastern Oregon we set up the coffee and packed a lunch. We awoke early to the smell of coffee, toast and bacon, as my mom was up long before dawn to see us on our way.

Two hours later it was still dark when we met up with our guide Brian at the Imperial River Inn in Maupin. Excited for a day on the water we stowed our gear in his pickup truck and, boat in tow, we went to the area where we would launch. As the sky just began to show the barest hints of light, we all loaded into the drift boat and Brian began to row downstream to our first destination, as anticipation of the day before us filled our hearts and minds.

Although it was hard to believe, we weren’t the first on the water. A couple of drift boats had managed to put in before us. Stifling a curse Brian continued downstream as the other anglers had already taken up residence in his favorite spots.

river-columnar-basaltWe love fishing and particularly love using our spey rods – long two handed fly rods that turn the art of fishing into a graceful dance. The rest of the day was a ballet of loops and line arcing out over the rush of the river; watching it swing downstream in hopes that a Steelhead (an ocean going trout that returns to the river to spawn) is intrigued by the fishing fly passing by their nose enough to take a bite. Cast, swing, two steps down is the cadence of this dance and it is a quiet, restive meditation where each cast is its own reward and the tug of a fish on the end of the line is an occasional bonus.

The day turned out to be glorious, hot and dry. We drifted past magnificent stretches of columnar basalt cliffs and high above we saw a couple of big horn sheep, their stout bodies supporting their massive cornucopia curls of horn.

columnar-basalt-detail“Do you mind,” Brian eventually said, “if we start a little earlier tomorrow morning? It would be nice if we could get a head start so that we can get on the river before first light and so we aren’t following anyone.”

Our reply was an enthusiastic “Yes!”

The day ended with each of us having caught and released one fish. We went to dinner that night at the little restaurant associated with the hotel blissfully exhausted by our day on the water. After eating we took a shower, set an alarm for 4am, poured ourselves into bed and enjoyed a night of deep, deep sleep.

Our iPhone alarm roused us at 4am and we were surprisingly alert given the hour. Of course that is often the case on fishing mornings. They awaken in us the childlike anticipation of large swimming creatures lurking in the deep awaiting a chance encounter with our fly.

Our luggage was mostly packed so it was easy to house the remaining toiletries in our bags. We had left our waders hanging up so it was a simple matter to slip into our warm socks, long–johns, fleece pants and fishing shirts before donning our waders and pulling on our wading boots. As is our habit, we did a final check of the room to make sure we weren’t leaving anything of ours and, wheeling our bags behind us, we exited the room to the walkway.

The room spilled directly outdoors and we brought our bags to our rental car to leave them in the trunk for when we returned in the late afternoon. We had set up an automatic check out so after our day of fishing, we planned to have a bite to eat and then drive back to my parent’s house for the night.

It was now about 4:15 and the business of getting ready accomplished, we used our keycards to let us into the dining area that was preset for fisher folk and early travelers to use so that staff didn’t have to be on hand at that early hour.

Since we were the first patrons that morning we flipped the switch on the coffee maker and the pungent smell of fresh java soon filled the air. There were breakfast sandwiches, cold and instant cereal but we each elected to snag a couple of hard–boiled eggs and an apple. Food and cup of Joe in hand we headed outside to await the arrival of our guide Brian in his extended cab pick–up, hauling his drift boat behind.

Happily we set about consuming our food and sipping the hot black coffee. We were pleased to be ready before he arrived and eager to be out on the river before first light. It was still jet black out and in the high desert air the stars splashed across the sky like fistfuls of diamonds. 20 minutes later Brian still had not arrived so we sat on the end of the aggregate walkway, our legs stretched out before us, boots resting in the parking lot. 40 minutes later, still no Brian. By now we knew something was amiss. But given the circumstances, we had very little recourse to rectify the situation. There are no phones in the rooms at the Inn, our cell phone didn’t have reception in the area, and even if we did have phone service there would have been nowhere to call since we didn’t have Brian’s number and the fishing company where we booked our trip was not open yet. We briefly considered going back to our room but realized that if Brian did eventually show up that he would have no way to find us since the office wasn’t open and he would have no way of knowing our room number. There were two options remaining – get upset and complain or enjoy our morning. Getting upset wasn’t actually an option. What would it accomplish other than to ruin our mood and spoil our day? So we leaned into one another and enjoyed the quiet.

mountain-riverAs the sky began to grey, birds began to rustle. The smell of sage wafted on a slight breeze, insects hummed. We enjoyed the warmth of each other as we sat shoulder to shoulder, quietly chatting about inconsequential things. Our morning was unfolding in an unforeseen manner and we found the experience surprisingly sweet and intimate. All forward momentum in our lives was forestalled and what was left was the moment and being there for it.

Eventually Brian came roaring up, apologetic and highly embarrassed. He had overslept. His wife had awakened him saying, “Brian, aren’t you working this morning?” around about the time he was supposed to be picking us up. The problem was he lived 45 minutes away and when he awoke he still had to hitch up the boat trailer as well as stop by the fly shop for supplies before picking us up. And just as we had no way of contacting him, he could not reach us either.

We felt for Brian. It must have been a very uncomfortable ride knowing he was late. He had to have been rehearsing his apologies, knowing that the fact it had never, ever happened before (and would likely never happen again) would be of little consequence. He must have been surprised and a bit skeptical when we told him it was OK…actually more than OK. We were just fine and had been enjoying each other’s company and the dawn of our new day.

Sometimes life shows up with unexpected twisting and turnings. If you are there for them the results can be surprisingly sweet.

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 moreabout 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.

 

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