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The Motorcycle Ranger and Emotional Intelligence

By: Terry Hasty

“What do emotions and intelligence have to do with each other, anyway?” a disgruntled district ranger asked me when I picked him up at the airport in Asheville. I will never forget the first time I saw him. He was striding toward me wearing a black t-shirt with white letters, “God loves bikers, too” and broken- in cowboy boots.  The year was 2000, and he was asked to attend our “Leadership through Emotional Intelligence” program after his boss attended the pilot program that same year. She told him it was great and he would get a lot out of it, but he was clearly not convinced.

Over the years we have encountered the same confusion, misperceptions and general angst about what emotional intelligence is and what it isn’t. Some consider it to be “soft skills.” Think about the last time you had to tell someone a difficult truth, or hear critical feedback yourself, or be patient and compassionate when you felt the opposite. Those are not “soft” experiences, and require emotional intelligence to navigate successfully. Some perceive emotional intelligence as a “touchy/feely” exercise. It is neither “touchy/feely” nor is it an exercise. It is a life-long journey of directing the flow, energy and intention of your emotional machinery at will, regardless of what is happening around you.

While IQ and technical skills are important, they are more “threshold capabilities.” In other words, they provide entry into a leadership role, but they will not make you a successful leader. What creates barriers to effective leadership? The inability to communicate through conflict, the unwillingness to give and receive feedback, the lack of attention to building trusting relationships, and the absence of mission and purpose, to name a few. In our experience, it is extremely rare that a leader is deemed “bad” because of technical skills. It is almost always a case of low emotional intelligence, which certainly includes the outcome of poor communication. Notice I said that poor communication is an outcome…the cause is at the heart of the issue and that is where the improvement is made.

We are all magnificent beings with multi-layers of consciousness, capabilities, joys, despairs, talents, experiences and dreams. That is why the only leadership model that will work for you is your own individual model, and that cannot be taught or templated, it must be discovered, fine-tuned and honored. It is important to remember, you are not your mind, but it’s essential to have a mind. You are not your body, though it’s wonderful to have a body. You are not your emotions, yet they are helpful teachers. You are the whole, the observer of those elements, and that is where your leadership flourishes.

The most important questions are, “How do you want to experience yourself? What will you have to do to get that experience?” Once you know the answer, over-ride your fixed tape loops, the same old predictable ways of acting and reacting in your mind, body and emotions, to get that experience.

That brings us back to our District Ranger. He left the five day Emotional Intelligence program motivated to return for the three day follow up in a couple of months. At the conclusion of the three day follow-up program he was the first one to say, “What‘s next? We have to keep this  going.” We developed our advanced leadership program, The Faces of Leadership, and our motorcycle riding district ranger signed up. He said he was bringing his family to Asheville, and when the group came over to our house for dinner during the session, he asked if his family could come, too. And here is where we learned the extent of his integration of emotions and intelligence.

After dinner, he pulled up a chair in the living room for his wife. His sons were in the basement playing with our son, so he called them upstairs. He then sat across from his wife with his guitar across his legs, his sons sitting on the floor nearby, while he played and sang a love song he had written for her. What did he teach his teenage sons? How did the other leaders in the room view him? How does that event translate into leadership? How does it translate into work performance?

Leadership is a 360 degree condition. We are leaders at work, at home, with ourselves, our families, our communities. Being aware of what we are feeling and connecting those feelings to their source, empowers us to respond appropriately and create the outcomes we truly desire. Being unaware of what we are feeling and responding through that lens is a sure de-railer of career, relationships and even wellness. Increasing our awareness means our awareness is increased…and you cannot de-crease it after it is known and experienced.

Our definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to direct the flow, the energy and the intention of your emotional machinery at will, regardless of the circumstances. The willingness to express a full range of emotions, not as a reaction, but as an authentic tool to communicate and connect with others, builds trust and clarity. It takes courage and creates legacy.

Emotional Intelligence is not an inoculation or something to be “checked off” and put on the shelf.  It is challenging and demanding to become more and more conscious of the cause rather than the effect. The outcome of that intention and effort is a very rewarding life and experience of yourself and your leadership.

Waning and Waxing

All of life is a breathing in and breathing out. Literally.

Sometimes it feels as if the breath is being squeezed out of us, and we must submit to the forces of life over which we fear we have no control. Other times we breath deeply with gratitude, set free by the very same forces of life. It is the ebb and flow, the up and the down, the in and the out, all in constant motion and rhythm of life. The waxing and the waning.

In the midst of this churning, we seek to reconcile the irreconcilable. We seek to find answers, to know what is around the corner, to satisfy our desire for safety and security. Simultaneously, we love the adventure, the not-knowing, the curious wonder at “what’s next?”

Your individual issues, and mine, arise from the experience of dis-harmony in dealing these forces of life…the waning and waxing of our days. Each of us seeks harmony in our lives, an irresistible force that like all other forces of life, is one day forgotten, the next day relentlessly pursued. But this desire cannot be extinguished because it is contained within our molecular structure. We seek meaning. But seeking is not the same as finding.

It can appear that we have little objection to the repetition of our suffering as we remain ignorant and unaware of these forces of life, that once embraced, allow us to exit the compression and experience the release. In my experience, the tighter the compression, the more the individual seeks to understand. Without the compression, there is little motivation to seek that understanding. And if there’s a motto of the human mind, (not the human being, the human mind) it is “seek but do not find.” In other words, what you’re really looking for is not really “discoverable.”

In whatever terms the individual expresses that process, there remains the unending desire to transcend the compression and exist in daily life as a transcendent being, free, blissful, immortal, defining ourselves beyond the body and the material world. But our body of information and knowledge as how to accomplish this does not change and thus, like a hamster on a wheel, we reside within the fixed-tape-loops of our lives.

As I said, seeking is not the same as finding. Doesn’t the seeking itself validate a higher order, another realm of understanding? Could it not then be said that the impulse to evolve, the desire to rise to a higher and more blissful union with life is completely rational and represents an effort in Nature itself that is fundamental to our very existence? We know that something more, something greater is available to us. Would you be willing to take it one more step further and thereby logically assume that matter itself is a disguised form of that higher order? And if that were true, then the knowledge we seek would not be outside of us but inside of us, just as the small acorn has all the structure it needs to become the giant oak.

Therefore, the mechanism by which the perfection is wrought is the waxing and waning, the ups and downs, the duality of life. The shadow and the light are wedded to one another, and when we understand this, we move beyond our sensory experience and engage in that waxing and waning in a much more meaningful manner. You can then consider that the highest aim for which you can aspire is the manifestation of that higher order in your daily life, your behavior, your relationships, your definition of who you consider yourself to be, your work, your parenting, and in your perception of the world. And that is pretty amazing. Easy to do? No. Difficult? Yes.

Difficult because there will be days that wane, followed by days that wax, followed by days that are emotionally debilitating, only to be followed by days that leave you breathless. And in the mix of these days, you may find the splendors of the cosmic process and your path to a larger Self, no longer seeking but having the knowledge to live powerfully in the middle of the going and coming.

Could there be a grander aim?

If you want to consider more, take a look  “The 12 Invitations: Spirituality and Meaning in Daily Life,” a 2 CD set that examines 12 concrete strategies for increasing the quality of your life (http://helpingyougrow.com/product/12-invitations-spirituality-and-meaning-in-daily-life-cd/).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Cut

In 2012, we had finished the Christmas festivities and the morning’s anticipation was winding down. As I passed by the living room window, I saw that the bird feeders were empty.

I strolled down into to the garage, around the cars and into the shop where I grabbed a box cutter. I walked to a shelf in the garage, lifted up a new bag of sun flower seeds, and drew the box cutter along the top of the bag towards me.

The resistance in the bag’s rough texture that I expected was not there and before I knew it, the blade not only sliced the bag wide open but ran up my wrist that was holding the bag and cut my wrist wide open. I immediately took my T-shirt off, wrapped it around my wrist that was bleeding badly and calmly walked back upstairs.

“Terry, can you do me a favor? I need for you to call 911.”

Thinking I was joking, she panicked when I removed the T-shirt and showed her the damage. Chaos set in.

I positioned myself on the couch sitting up with my arm above my head and waited. It wasn’t long before help had arrived.

“Are you OK?” the paramedic asked.

“I think I’m getting ready to pass out.”

“It’s OK…everything is fine now,” as he put the oxygen mask on my face. “What happened?”

I could tell that he did not believe my story. Once I was loaded in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, the conversation began.

“Did you try to kill yourself?” he asked.

“No, seriously, it happened exactly as I said. We can go back and I can show you the sunflower seed bag that has blood all over it.”

“This is my fourth suicide call this morning,” he explained.

“No, it’s not,” I replied smiling.

Within a minute or two, the two of us had settled into a dialogue that made the 10 minute drive to the hospital seem even shorter.

“Christmas is really difficult for a lot of people,” he said. “I remember one particular Christmas for me that was really hard. So, I understand what they’re going through. But still, killing yourself doesn’t help.”

“Were your first three calls death related?” I asked.

“No, all three were attempts with no success. Maybe they can get the help they need. I know it seems so trite to say it but there’s so much to be thankful for. Just the fact that you wake up and have another day…that’s something to be grateful for. Maybe today’s the day you figure out how to improve your life,” he said. “But I know they don’t look at it that way or they wouldn’t have done what they did. I understand because I see it so much. I know it’s hard for a lot of people.”

“Well, let me start with a little gratitude. I’m grateful to you for your help. Thanks for getting me to the hospital. We got ready to jump in the car but if I passed out, my wife would have flipped out, so, we thought it best to wait,” I explained.

“You made the right decision. That’s quite a cut you have,” he said laughing.

“It was dumb. I don’t know why I pulled the blade towards me. I never do that,” I said.”For a moment, I thought, well, I guess I could die if I kept bleeding but to be honest, I felt relaxed. I was focusing on breathing and staying calm and even in the middle of it, I was so aware of the life of grace I live, of the incredible life I have lived and I was so happy. Don’t get me wrong…I wasn’t happy about the cut but I am happy about the day and my life. I have been so blessed.”

“We’re almost at the emergency room,” he said. “We’ll get you inside pretty quickly, get you signed in, and they’ll take care of you from there.”

The paperwork was signed and I was admitted with little fanfare.

“Thanks so much for your help,” I said.

“Anytime. It’s what I do,” he said, as he turned and left.

 

 

 

 

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

By: Terry Hasty

The other day Haydn and I were riding in the car together and I said something I immediately regretted. Somehow when I thought it the sentiment was legitimate, but once it hit the air waves it sounded wrong. The more I tried to talk myself out of what I had just said, the worse it sounded, so I just let it hang there in the air, undefendable.

When we got home I reached for the refrigerator door and was reminded of a trip to London. London, like all big cities, has plenty of sidewalk vendors hawking the usual inexpensive tourist junk. In Washington, D.C.  I bought a snow globe with the Capital in the falling snow. In NYC I bought a book mark with the Statue of Liberty on it, and in San Francisco I bought a t-shirt emblazoned with “Escaped from Alcatraz.” In London a bought a refrigerator magnet with the omnipresent phrase, “Mind the Gap.” You see and hear that phrase continually around the subways. It is a warning, reminding all travelers that there is a gap between the platform and the actual subway car. It is a cautionary phrase, highlighting the potential for serious injury if you do not mind the gap.

I realized that is what happened in the car. There was a gap between what I said and what I meant. So often there is a gap between what we feel and what we say, what we intend and what we do, what we believe and how we behave. Somehow from the time we experience our thoughts and emotions and the time our brains form the words and sentences something is distorted, lost, obscured. It reminds me of the time my son Noah, who was about two at the time, leaned in to kiss my daughter Courtney, who was about 10. Somewhere between his initial thought to sweetly kiss his sister and the actual contact, he changed his mind and head-butted her instead. The action was the complete opposite of his initial intention. What creates that short-wiring, that reversal of intention?

What I said to Haydn in the car that day was, “I will never suffer loss again the way I suffered when I lost my Dad.” That could sound like I don’t love Haydn or anyone else as much as I loved my Dad. Of course, that’s not true, and neither is the statement that I won’t suffer as much ever again. I know I will. What I really meant was, “Sometimes I am afraid of losing you because I know what it is to say goodbye to one I love so much. ” That is a very different sentence, and much more at the heart of it. That sentence creates connection, clarity and is the cause of my feelings.

We are afraid to reveal too much from our hearts, and disguise our true emotions behind projections and platitudes. My goal is to pause, consider what is really driving my communication, and then tell the truth the best I can. To speak from that authentic and conscious space inside, that place where I know I am unthreatenable. In this season of busyness, gift giving, travel, time off, family, food, friends and festivities, take the time to be still and present. Take the time to share from your heart.  I smile, looking at a picture of my laughing mom and dad held in place on the refrigerator door by a Mind the Gap magnet.

Debussy in a Basement

I was 20 years old in 1971, and went back to my home town, Monroe, NC for the summer. I was living on my own, and rented a hotel room in the center square, a hotel that was occupied by those living on the fringe. But the rent was cheap. I found this 1918 photograph of the hotel, and even though the photograph dates back to 1918, I don’t think it had changed that much when I moved there in 1971. Monroe Hotel

Thinking that I might want to go to law school, I took a job just a block away at a local law firm where I ran leg-work, took depositions, visited the jail to get preliminary statements and completed random tasks. It would cure me of ever wanting to be an attorney.

It was common for me to enter and return to the hotel without speaking to anyone. I didn’t want to engage. Often, I had my guitar with me that I would carry in a hard-shelled case. But no one bothered me and as long as I kept the door to my 10′ x 10′ room locked, I felt safe and slept well.

Because of the location of my room, I figured out how to get on the roof of the hotel in which I could sit almost directly across the courthouse clock across the street, drink a coke eat some junk food, and reflect on my life. I loved that about living there. It was as though I had escaped into another realm where I could be free, if for only a couple of hours. No homework, no parents, no boss. I would make my way to the roof on a regular basis and just think. What am I going to do with my life so I don’t end up being like the rest of these losers in this hotel?

One Saturday night I returned to the hotel around 11:00 PM and entered the otherwise empty foyer. As I was making my way around the corner to the elevator, I saw a familiar sight…the old man behind the desk…a man I never spoke to and avoided. He never spoke to me either, but tonight would be different.

“So, do you play guitar?” he asked.

“What a stupid question,” I said to myself. Stupid or not my good manners and upbringing kicked in.

“Yes, Sir. I do.”

“What kind of music?” he asked.

“Mostly James Taylor, acoustic stuff, finger picks.”

“Do you read music?” he asked.

“So, Sir, I don’t. I can read tablature. My mother tried to get me to take piano but that didn’t turn out too well. Now, I wish I had stuck with it,” I explained.

“I used to play the piano,” he replied. “I was a piano teacher at a very fine school for many years until this happened.”

I was skeptical. “This?” I asked.

“I became an alcoholic and lost everything. I ended up here.”

“What did you play?” I inquired.

“My concentration was in classical music but I had many interests. I know you are heading up to your room but would you like to hear me play? There’s an old piano down in the basement. It is not in very good shape but it works for me.”

Suspicious, I looked around but felt no alarm. “If he does try something, I can take this old man,” I thought to myself.

“Sure,” I said.

We made our way down to the basement and sure enough, there was an old piano against the wall, ivory missing from about five of the keys. He sat on the bench and adjusted himself as I pulled up a rickety old chair. Not exactly a theater seat, but it sufficed.

And suddenly, without any fanfare or conversation, he began to play Debussy’s Clair de Lune. I was mesmerized, fascinated by the face of this broken-down old man as I sat riveted in my chair. I could not believe what I was hearing.

When he finished, I said nothing.

“Would you like to hear another?” he asked.

“Yes. Yes, I would.”

And so some time passed in that musty basement, and a million questions swarmed around in my head.

“Why don’t you start teaching again?” I asked.

“It’s too late for me,” he said, “but at least I can come down to the basement when it suits me and play.”

“How did this happen?” I asked.

“It was just life. I was very busy in my life with music, teaching and composing and I started drinking because of some family issues. Eventually, I lost my job, my family and pretty much lost my career and ended up here. But I kept a lot what I had written…would you like to see it?”

“Yes, I would,” I said.

We went to his room where tucked away in the closest were stacks and stacks of sheet music he had composed. He shared his favorites and although I could not hear the written notes, my appreciation for him morphed into my compassion for him and I saw beyond the darkness and saw a talented man who had lost his way. But he was still a talented man. And following a conversation about music and life, I left. In all honesty, I can’t say I ever saw him again. It seems that I remember someone telling me at the hotel toward the end of that summer that he had died.

I don’t guess it is so strange that Clair de Lune is my favorite composition. On my Ipod, there is a 12 song Debussy playlist that has Clair de Lune performed by Ryo Yanagitani 12 times. I cannot hear Clair de Lune without thinking of that evening and everything I learned.

Perception is automatic and as far as we are concerned, accurate. But we must learn to see beyond the ordinary sensory world to tap into the extraordinary playing out of the human spirit as we are given countless opportunities to redefine and correct the faulty perceptions that plague our vision. All I saw were losers. After my time with the old man, I saw stories.

As Durckheim says in his 2007 book Way of Transformation,”Your enlightenment is but a slight shift in attitude.” That old man whose name I never knew helped me begin to adjust mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Boxing doesn’t define me.”

Individuals define themselves by one thing or another. Most people define themselves by way of external factors…that is to say, factors that exist outside of themselves rather than inside of themselves. When I was a teenager, I defined myself by being an athlete, as I grew a little bit older a surfer, as I grew a little older a teacher and most importantly, as a I grew older and had children, a father.

In the James Toback’s superb documentary “Tyson,” there is footage of Mike Tyson’s June 11, 2005 fight against a third tier heavyweight, Kevin McBride. Tyson was at the end of his career but needed a payday to take care of his bills. The footage depicts the fight of a man who was out of shape and appeared to care very little about the outcome of the fight. The vicious tiger he had once been was out of gas. Tyson

Following his loss against McBride, he was being interviewed in the middle of the ring and revealed that he no longer loved the sport of boxing, that boxing wasn’t in his heart anymore. Unrehearsed and unscripted, he suddenly says in the middle of the interview, “Boxing doesn’t define me.” I was watching the dvd in the living room and when I heard those words, I paused it and called out to Terry, “You need to come in here and see this.”

Who says things like that? Who, unprepared and uncoached, on the spur of the moment, says things like that? I’ll tell you who: conscious people…people who are coming into their awareness and consequently, their power. “Boxing doesn’t define me.” I couldn’t believe he was saying that for boxing had been his entire life. I was floored and I realized that Mike Tyson was not the Mike Tyson I thought he was.

I felt inspired and moved. In spite of the past, in spite of the damage for which his life had been known, here was a man rising above his past and defining himself anew…in the middle of an embarrassing loss. And if you think it stopped there, it didn’t. He congratulated McBride and wished him luck in his career. What? Who is this guy? Because it’s not Mike Tyson.

I remember when I lost the first of two custody suits for my two children and suddenly, in the blink of an eye, my entire identity was wiped away. It was unfathomable and unacceptable that a judge would tell me that I could visit my children. Visit? I sank into the darkness and despair from which I thought I would never make it out. I just wanted to die. I have often referred to it as the dark three years of my soul.

But it turned out to be one of the greatest learning experiences of my entire life and as a result of those events, I saw with absolute clarity that the event did not define me…that the definition I had formed of myself was incorrect and untrue…that my well-being did not depend on anything outside of me, including being a father. As I consolidated my learning, I learned that when the tension and the pain of the experience is so great…when all outside resources have been exhausted…when the outer world has been destroyed, the individual will turn inside because there is no where else to turn. Self-identity is an inside job.

As you move through life, your inner power and union with the forces of life  is replaced by a belief in your own individual skills, on possessions and all the false security that they offer. Your inner knowing with which you are endowed gives way to keeping up the ego ideal…keeping up with the image of what and who you think you should be. The eternal safety and balance in which you are constantly held is supplanted by depending on the love and acceptance of others. But is only a matter of time. And when that time comes, you, too, will have an opportunity to announce what does and does not define you.

So, if you haven’t figured out what comes next, I’ll tell you: you define you. Not them, not the world, not your job, not how much money you have, not the car you drive, not the stuff you own, not what they think about you, not your parents and not your children. You define you.

“Boxing doesn’t define me.” Wow. Maybe he won that fight after all.

#haydnhasty

Learning Is Change

Having been a teacher my entire life, learning has always captivated my study and attention. My experience has always been that a student who is frustrated in the learning process is equal to being faced with learning something he doesn’t understand. I know a lot about that because I flunked the apples and oranges math class at NC State 3 times and dropped it the 4th time. I had never understood math. I naturally assumed that I would never graduate.

I received a form letter with a real signature from a math professor who requested a meeting with me. I knew what it was about: they have contacted all of the dumb kids. I showed up at his office at the appointed time and following a 15 minutes discussion, he said and I will never forget it, “Your days of problems with math are over.” He was right.

Having access to a series of videos he had made, I made a 100 on 16/20 exams I had to take to get credit for the class. Fast-forward, rewind, rewind, fast-forward. Suddenly, I was a genius. I was so motivated I took physics the next semester. I made a D. But it was a high D and I had made it all on my own and I was proud of myself.

Learning is change. If you are not changing, you are not learning. When learning is hampered for whatever reason, your sense of adequacy suffers, you fell trapped and it’s so depressing to be stuck in a class you don’t understand much less know how to get the right answers. And obviously you know what I am going to say next because it’s the same thing…life.

The content of an individual’s issues, just like the classes, differs greatly from other individuals. But the major similarity for everyone who shows up on the Maury show or the Jerry Springer show is that they are all crazy. The content is different for each individual but they are all crazy. Put another way, the class is different for anyone but the curriculum is the same for everyone. I mastered the math class but I didn’t master the math curriculum.

And learning is like that. In the academic world, the classes are different for everyone but the goal is the same: graduate. What classes you take doesn’t really matter but graduating does. What the professor taught me was not how to get the right answers but how to see math in a different way.

When I was rewinding and fast-forwarding his videos, I thought he was teaching me math. As time went by, it became clear to me that the fundamental purpose of his teaching was to help me see through my self-doubt.

True learning is change.

 

 

Oh No, He’s Going to Talk About Depression Again

I would like to return to the issue of depression just once more. I promise I’ll stop after this.

My own personal experiences with depression are vast. I often share that it was a dominant condition in my life until I was around 33 years old (I am 63 now). But once I began to understand the true cause of it (it is different for each individual), I never looked back. I am not trying to define myself as a master of depression but I did become a master of managing my grief and sadness for the things that had happened in my life from the time I was born. And even those events, horrendous though they were, would take on an entirely different twist as time went by. It is not as though I am grateful for the terror I encountered as a child but it is obvious that had those things not happened, I could not have lived the life I am living today.

The truth of it is that depression is an imaginary state of mind, of believing that you have lost something you can never get back, of believing that the weight of the burden is too heavy to bear, that death is preferable to life, that you stand no chance of living the life of your choice. But let’s clarify something: sadness is not depression. Grief is not depression. These are normal, healthy emotions that are invaluable tools to help you let go, instead of practicing repression, emotional secrecy, and as a result, self-deception.

Let’s look at depression from two different levels.

Level I

But let’s do an exercise. Draw a large, large circle. In the middle of the circle, place a small, small dot. Know that you can travel back and front, from one to the other. The circle represents the chaos and the drama…the unhealthy, dark you. The dot represents knowledge and joy…the enlightened you.

Before you begin the exercise, consider the following:                                                                   *You don’t need to be anywhere else…where you are right now in your life is perfect.           *You don’t need money…what you have and don’t have in your life is perfect.                         *You are the maker of the rules…you get to decide what is true and false in your life.             *And here’s the tough one…the circle and the dot are the same…neither can exist without the other. Read it again. They are the same (we’ll explore this at a deeper level later).

So, head on out to the circle and do your Jerry Springer thing…do your crazy stuff, think your crazy stuff, feel your crazy, unhealthy emotions…get enraged, get depressed, do whatever it is you do to create drama and chaos in your life. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with it…but it does create consequences…mostly negative. And that’s OK.

Now, head out of the chaos and into the dot. Once inside the dot, look at the circle from the standpoint of being calm and clear, of being a master of life, and observe yourself doing all your crazy, depressed stuff. Be the guru. Be the guide. Be the master. And what do you see? You see your Self doing crazy stuff without understanding who you are. You think your crazy stuff is real and you’re really upset about it. But from the stability of the dot, what would you say to the you that is hanging out there on the circle doing all your crazy stuff?

And this is the reason why depression cannot be cured through medication or any other drug…because it isn’t real in the first place! You made it up! You can’t cure something that doesn’t exist. Now, you may be someone who has a tremendous investment in your “circle” and proving that unlike others’ circles, yours is real. Then, go ahead. Prove to others that your crazy stuff is legitimate. Blame. Project. Depress. Withdraw. Addict…but notice the outcomes. The depression doesn’t change. Being at center (the dot), allows you to see who you are not. Being at center, in a center that holds in times of change, chaos, and loss allows you to see the events as what they truly are…stuff. Unfolding stuff. So, the real question is: Who are you in relationship to the stuff? Are the stuff or are you the observer of the stuff?As the maker of the rules, you get to decide.

Level II

In terms of a spiritual approach to depression, few individuals have access to belief systems that lie outside their collective society. For example, most Americans see spirituality through the religion of Christianity and the many beliefs that accompany that religion. Hindus see the world trough the Hindu practices. And so on. All religions entail belief systems. But as you can easily see, a mental knowledge is not going to get you through difficulty. No mental or cognitive understanding of any self-destructive pattern is going to keep anybody from practicing self-destruction. So, we need something else, something that connects us to the center of the dot, to the center of our being. Now, for those of you who are interested, there is another way to approach difficulty in life, including depression. This level is characterized by a disciplined, spiritual  practice. So, hang tight for just a second before you reject this idea.

Mirra Alfassa, known as The Mother, was a disciple of Sri Aurobindo. She was born in Paris in 1878 to and died in Pondicherry, India, 1975. Without addressing their relationship or their work, I invite the reader to view the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PRa3Yx0mME. The Mother was 89 years old when this was recorded in 1969.

Her words are as true today as they were in 1969. These words describe the spiritual approach to which I refer. You’ve done your best, you’ve tried as hard as you can, the difficulties aren’t going away…so, let them go. Let them go. Put all of it on a leaf that is floating down a beautiful mountain stream and let them go. And as the leaf disappears around the bend, turn your eyes toward something grander. See this new moment through new eyes, new ideas, new ways of understanding why you are here, and in that moment, if only for a second, you will have let go of the past. Take a sword up to your mind and slice the old beliefs to pieces, making room for the new. Stop going to therapy and talking about ghosts that don’t exist and call into your Self the power to rise up. Stand up.

This level (spiritual practice), like the other, is a bridge. But like the other, it is also a choice. Do you choose to know? Do you choose to see? Do you choose to change? Do you choose to believe that you can create heaven on earth in this lifetime?

And this is the daily practice of Level II. And like all circumstances in life, show me what you’re practicing and I’ll show you what you’re getting ready to get more of.

#haydnhasty