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Listening and its Effect on Learning

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Listening and its Effect on Learning

Listening and its Effect on Learning

Practical Enlightenment by Ariel & Shya Kane

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably spent more time in a classroom than you can remember. It’s likely that you continue to spend time in similar settings, maybe conferences, meetings, sales presentations, or the like. You’ve spent a lifetime listening to teachers, speakers, reading books and materials, and watching presentations, all in the quest for information. But do you really know what you’re doing?

We have a name for this: Learning. But do you really know an effective way to learn? Have you ever even considered the questions, “How well can I learn?” and “How can I learn better?” Despite the thousands of hours that many of us have invested in learning situations, we’ve really never learned how to learn. It was always something that we just sort of figured out on the fly.

There is an existing technology that can make a dramatic difference in how you learn. It isn’t a study method, a memory aid, or a way to read faster. The major component of this technology has a deceptively simple name and you probably think it’s something you already do. It’s called “listening.” But don’t let the name fool you. When you think you’re listening, you may be doing something completely different. I’ve learned that what I used to call “listening” is not what I mean when I use the word now.

I recently attended a business workshop given by Ariel and Shya Kane, entitled Transformation in the Workplace. As part of the seminar, we explored what it means to truly listen, to intentionally hear what is being said from the point of view of the person who is speaking. How many times do you remember sitting in a presentation or a class, engaging in a casual conversation and hearing something that gave you an idea? It happens to me a lot. I follow the thoughts to see what the new information might mean, or how I might use it. But by the time my attention returns to the speaker, I’ve become totally lost.

If the speaker says something that sounds like what I’ve previously learned, I think “I know that” to myself. Since I already know – or believe that I do – I don’t bother to really listen and hear it. And then there’s no chance for me to see that what the speaker is saying is new or different. Even if I did happen to know the facts involved, the speaker’s perspective is different from my own. If I truly listen, I can acquire a new insight into things. When I think, “I already know that,” it closes me off from hearing the truth and therefore learning. And if you hear yourself saying, “I agree” or “I disagree,” you are converting someone else’s words into something you already know. Again, you’re stopping yourself from truly hearing.

Having an agenda is another hindrance to listening. Consider a sales presentation for a product that I’ve already decided I want. I’m probably listening through my agenda, storing information to make the case that the product should be purchased. At the same time, though, I’m filtering out any information that might serve to change my mind – or at least cause me to further question my purchase. Because all information is passing through the filter of my agenda, I’m not truly listening to the speaker, and I’ve lost the opportunity to learn. This filtering process works exactly the same way when my agenda is to not purchase the product.

I also discovered that if I’m practicing what I’m about to say while someone else is speaking, I’m not listening. This is especially true when I’m about to give a planned presentation. I generally don’t remember who spoke before me, much less what they said during their talk because I was busy practicing my talk in my mind.

One final hindrance I want to mention is “feeling badly” for not listening. Punishing yourself is just one more way to avoid listening and learning, and it doesn’t accomplish anything positive. When you notice that you’re not listening, you have a choice. You can feel badly, or you can move your attention away from yourself and back onto the speaker. By choosing wisely, you are placing yourself back into a state where you’re listening and learning.

Since attending the Kanes’ course, I have discovered that listening goes far beyond just learning. It is about truly hearing what is being said, whether it’s coming from a teacher, a coworker, a supervisor, or a client. The simple act of truly listening allows a dramatic shift, a transformation in what you can accomplish in your life. I urge you to try it for yourself. Then, when someone tells you how you’ve suddenly become much more effective, productive and easy to be with, you’ll really be able to hear it.

Andrew Gideon has a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. He is the Vice President and Co–owner of TAG Online, a World Wide Web provider and software development corporation.

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

Photo Safari Day

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Empowerment
Photo Safari Day

Photo Safari Day

For our July Article, we offer you some of the details of a photo safari day we had during a recent visit to Costa Rica. The impressions of our day were recorded from Ariel’s point of view. In our experience, observing minutiae – small moments – can be wondrous when you are there to experience them. We hope that you find yourself inspired to discover the details of your day – wherever you are – from the pictures and “word pictures” we offer. Enjoy!

The monkeys we heard at dusk, murmuring in the canopy above, definitely were Howlers. The following day, they began again, greeting the morning with a gusty serenade. As I passed under the awakening troupe spread out among the branches, I heard a suspicious “blop…blob, blop” all around me and I quickly advised Shya to take an alternate route to the dining area. I was fairly sure the sounds I was hearing wasn’t a random, morning bathroom call but rather a marking of territory against intruders, monkey style.

There was clearly more than one dominant male in the group as they howled in counterpoint, lusty overtones sung to the lightening sky. Deep chesty resonance, a crescendo of sound was offered to the heavens – a salute to the sun, the trees, the dawn of day.

After breakfast, we gather our things and the captain picks us up for the short ride down to the boat. Soon we motor away from the dock. The day is fresh before the heat arrives heavy-handed to press the air until it became difficult to breathe. Sun slanting through a high canopy of clouds, crickets setting a background hum, birds flitting, a young caiman scuttling away from our boat, reptilian eyes flashing. We motor up the canal, as dragonflies sketch random patterns overhead and vines trail in the water casting vague wakes.

We arrive at the lagoon and its glassy surface glitters with a profusion of bait. Soon, as if raining, the surface begins dimpling as the watery world awakes and the little sardines began to feed. The slightest sound – a cough, a shuffle of our feet or the anchor shifting on the bottom of the boat – causes a wave of response, tiny fish going airborne, fanning out from our position. A lone cormorant fans its wings. The clouds cast gauzy reflections and the distant purple haze of mountains flanks us.

Then as the day sharpens, Ms. Tarpon began to feed – lazily porpoising, displacing water, teasing us with her tantalizing presence as Shya stands, fly rod at the ready, poised in the bow of the boat. Our world is quiet but alive. The clear water of the lagoon mixes with the chocolate colored current of the canal. Great arcing leaps of baitfish sketch the path of feeding tarpons under the surface.

Shya casts, strips in the line. Casts again. The captain quietly repositions the boat with an electric motor designed to minimize noise. More casting. The sun rises higher. Heat. Sweat. Waiting. Cast again. The water erupts. 100 pounds of contained fury leaps to the sky, spraying droplets, large scales flashing in the sun. A breathless dance. Shya pulls her in, the guide hoists her up to be seen and then releases her back to her home.

Most people think that when Shya and I go fishing, it is all about catching fish. In truth, it is all about Being Here – whatever we are doing. And it is all about being here for the minute details of the experience. For it is in the details that the richness of life is revealed.

 

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

Life on the Ledge – It’s a Matter of Perspective

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Empowerment
Life on the Ledge – It’s a Matter of Perspective

Life on the Ledge – It’s a Matter of Perspective

mountain goatAs our flight lifted off from the helicopter terminal near Smithers, British Columbia, I watched the ground recede out the window near my feet. Having called “dibs” I was happily strapped into the co-pilot seat on the left front side of the bird. Shya sat in back with two other passengers who were also en route to the Babine River for a week of steelhead fishing. As suggested by the pilot, we all donned headsets and positioned the microphones close to our mouths so that we could communicate with each other during the twenty-minute flight. The headsets crackled to life, hissing and popping with voice-activated static as I said, “I hope to see some sheep this time.”

This was our third trip to the Babine River and in previous years, others who had made the flight had reported seeing bighorn sheep and other wildlife.

Shya chimed in. “Or moose or a bear.”

“Yes, something.” I replied.

The sky was blue with the wisps of cloud and it was smooth sailing. As we crested the mountains at 6500 feet the pilot spoke up.

“There,” he said as he pointed to a white speck on his right. “It’s a mountain goat.”

As we closed the distance, the nanny goat came into focus and I saw that the animal had been resting, legs folded under her on the edge of the peak. Hearing and seeing us coming she climbed to her feet and surveyed her options – move down the mountain with the somewhat gentle slope at her back or step off the other side, straight down the sheer cliff face. Without hesitation that goat stepped off into thin air, landing on a tiny, and to my eye, imperceptible ledge below her. It was a lazy move, unhurried as if she were stepping off the curb of a sidewalk. I suppose for her it was as normal as it is for me to cross a street.

As we flew on and she became a distant speck once again, my mind danced back to an experience I once had in New York City. Shya and I had been waiting to cross the street in front of Bloomingdale’s on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. While waiting for the light, we stood with our toes dangling off the edge of the curb. It was a comfortable moment and we were at ease in ourselves. And then Shya had a thought and said to me, “Ariel, look down and see our toes.” I did as he suggested, curious but not seeing what in particular he was directing me to look at.

“No big deal right?” he said.

“Yup.” I replied.

“But imagine that we were 10 stories up or perhaps 50. Our legs would be no less capable. We would be no less stable, but we’d likely find it quite frightening. The apparency of danger would stimulate wobbly knees and an adrenaline rush!”

Closing my eyes it wasn’t hard to imagine standing high up over the street with my toes hanging over the edge of a precipitous drop. Of their own volition, my eyes popped open and I looked at Shya with a grin. In an instant I had created a climate of fear and danger where none existed.

Sometimes when I start a project or when I am preparing to do something new and challenging, I have the thought that I am not up to the task, that I don’t know how to do it, that it (whatever it is) will be difficult to do. But I have come to realize that, like that nanny goat, I am built to step off that ledge into the unknown, into what’s next and my footing will be sure – even if I am stepping onto the smallest of ledges. I have come to see that investing in being afraid or seeing myself as capable is all a matter of perspective.

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

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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Empowerment
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.

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