Archive for August, 2008|Monthly archive page

Phriday photo and phun

Playing with charcoal is a direct, fun, and revealing way to listen to the wisdom of your hands. Don’t try to be an artist, just see what happens when you grab a big old piece of charcoal and let it dance on the paper.

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Helping hands

OK, review time.  Why is it necessary to cultivate creativity?  Why is innovation important to business and why are there so many manifestos out there about being creative?  The answer is that we need to develop creative perspectives because our world is changing very fast and creativity allows us to see what actually is, as opposed to what we think is, which is clouded by our highly conditioned minds.

And you can use your hands to maintain a creative outlook.  Here are a few practices.

Hand warmth.  You already know that rubbing your palms together can make you warmer on a cold day.  You can also experience that energy anytime.  After briskly rubbing your palms for 30 seconds or so, hold them six inches apart and feel the force between them.  Then hold your palm a few inches from your cheek and experience the warmth.

Accupressure.  Do you know the powerful heal-all point located in the stretch of skin between your thumb and forefinger?  By using your other hand to squeeze here, you can cure a headache and induce overall well being.

Shake shake shake.  Like taking a deep breath, like stretching, shaking out your hands will also clear the mind.  Feeling cramped, confused, overloaded?  Give your hands a good shake, get really loose at the wrist and let your fingers fly.

Feel the power.  Want to know the secret of elegance?  Want to know what makes some people so attractively graceful?  Use the energy that lives at the very tips of your fingers.  Practice the yoga mountain pose, sending your energy out through your fingertips.  It’s a little like having a magic wand.

By using these practices on and off through your day, you take advantage of the support your hands can give to your well-being.  And by returning and returning to your inner power, you steer clear of the petty tyrants and paranoias that keep you from open-minded thinking.  By staying attuned to the quest for what really is, you automatically activate creativity.

All hands on deck

In his teens, my son came up with many a thought or statement that shocked me; but one of the most unnerving was the proposition that the human form will morph with evolution to become more machine than flesh.  With Star Trek precedents, I guess it’s not so outrageous an imagining.  Will we soon have computers implanted in our brains?  Will mechanisms embedded here and there shield us from disease?  Will, indeed, our thinking become so convoluted that our bodies become obsolete?

These things are possible in the future, but for now, we still suspect that our humanity is even more precious than our mechanical/digital inventions.  I, and hopefully most of you, cherish the mysteries of the body, and seek to cultivate awareness that uses the knowing of ancient humanness as well as the instructions of current technologies.

Thus, this extended tribute to hands.  The subject of now three posts in a row, hands are truly an inexhaustible study.  Palmistry, for instance, may be intellectually dense, but consider the fact that the lines in your palms change over time and that your right and left palms differ significantly.  The hands are actually a repository of your life experience.

Consider touch.  I had a massage lately – the first time for me.  An excellent reminder of the value of hands.  Consider how we tend to at least subliminally judge people by their handshake.  Consider the worlds of violence and litigation perpetuated by improper touch; and the profound comfort available through your partner or child’s touch. 

Do you appreciate and cultivate the sensitivity of your hands?  Do you return to handiwork for solace and renewal?  Are you mindful of the knowing your hands possess, and are you willing to subject your mind to their guidance?

Getting in touch

If you’ve ever broken your arm, you know how hard it is to do without a hand.  Deprivation is the only way to get past some of our entitlements.  Doing without a hand is much worse than when the power goes out. In the latter case, you realize how dependent you are on an uninterrupted energy feed.  But when your hand is out of commission, the helplessness is even greater.

It’s interesting to note that a large number of modern conveniences are about reducing the work of the hands:  household appliances, office gadgets, automatic transmissions.  The 20th century was all about work-saving – i.e., hand work saving – innovations.  By now we are much less dependent on the strength of our hands, and as a result, we’re perhaps that much more out of touch (note the phrase!) with handiwork.

But the knowing that’s contained in our hands is a precious and vital part of our humanness.  The stresses of 21st century life are more painful for lack of attention to the gifts of the hands.  I’m not talking about recognized gifts or ‘talents;’  I’m not referring to the legerdemain of a pianist or surgeon.  The life of the hands has no relation to logic or intellectual accomplishment.  The hands can lead or teach us only if we stop listening to the rational mind and let devoted attention rest on the hands’ activity.  The resulting awareness can’t be articulated, but it provides comfort and confidence that can hugely benefit our stressed psyches.

Next time you must work in the garden, or wash the dishes, or sew on a button, hand write a note, make a bed or a pie, brush your hair or arrange a closet, take a moment to absorb the wisdom of your hands.

Concerning hands

I’m into hands.  Do you notice people’s hands much?  They’re as expressive as the face, though in a different way.  They tell a story about experience and character that cannot lie.

My father’s long yet squared off fingers, my friend’s soft palm, my lover’s rough but oh-so-sensitive touch.  The differences make all the difference.  Part of our anatomy just like feet and ears, the hands seem to exist on a higher plane than the rest of us; more truthful, sincere, wise.  The mind stymies; the hands accept and keep moving.

Hands are a constant source of spiritual nourishment, too.  When energy flags, and mental confusion reigns, letting your hands take over can be the cure.  Keyboarding all day is certainly using the hands, but in too repetitive a way to be helpful.  Hands therapy is getting your fingers into some morass – weeds in the garden, strings of a guitar, baking ingredients, acrylic paints, that closet you haven’t cleaned out in years.  It’s letting the hands guide, and keeping the mind subservient.

In my networking group, one of the members is an Allstate agent.  When she wraps up her promotions she always does the palms-cupped-together gesture that’s Allstate’s signature – “You’re in good hands.”  It’s an example of absolutely transcendent marketing.  The movement, the cupped palms say it all, with grace, force, dignity.  I switched to Allstate for my car insurance last week. 

For a little buffer against the stresses of a Monday, consider the hands around you, and your own as well.  The life of the hand is perhaps the most profound expression of self.

Mud reflection

Is it just me, or is there awesome beauty in a mud puddle?

“Truth that resonates”

Not so very long ago, while still in JOB land, I had the assignment to go deliver a talk to a men’s group at the country club.  Driven by my organization’s mission, I was eager to share with as many others as possible, and happily accepted the opportunity.  The gents were cordial enough, and as we dined together I even had a couple of relatively intelligent conversations.  I had a speech planned, and launched confidently into it at the appointed time.  Big mistake.

My speech was serious and passionate.  These guys were mostly half-drunk (and one or two were six sheets gone).  They wanted lighthearted and sexy; I was giving them profound and fierce.  Still, it wasn’t til I was almost done, and caught one of the crowd making obvious signals of distaste to the chairman that I realized no one had heard my message at all.  I had bored and disgusted them, and I left mortified.

Our amazing soothsayer, Seth Godin, came up with this capper yesterday: “Negative or positive, the challenge isn’t just to tell the truth. It’s to tell truth that resonates.”

Giving speeches is tricky, because one wants to prepare, but the capacity to adapt your presentation to the audience must be improvisational.  It’s all about empathy and careful listening.  While staying true to the content of your message, you have to communicate it in language appropriate to the moment.   At ten in the morning, those guys at the country club may have been able to consider what I was saying.  After drinks and dinner at the club, it was simply not a possibility.

Whatever you are promoting, you must care about in your heart.  And then you must forget it, and focus on potential clientele with all your wide open compassion.  Connections between them and your offering will then bubble up naturally enough.  Sticking to your rehearsed agenda can end up being an embarrassing waste of breath.

In praise of monopolies

Thinking about internet research, and the awesome power of Google, and wondering if competing search engines will hold their own or buckle before this leader’s magnitude.  Will it happen that Google will emerge the single depository of knowledge online?  And what is the difference between a monopoly and a cultural phenomenon?  Private ownership, I suspect, but I also suspect that monopoly on the global scale soon morphs into at least quasi-public ownership because power can’t be sustained on that level without comprehensive responsiveness to demand.

So this thought leads me to Wal-Mart.  Some people love to shop.  Others happily do it when necessary. Still others, like me, abhor the very thought of it and would rather wear rags, eat canned beans, and limp by with broken tools than endure shopping.  Politically incorrect as it may be, the truth is that I would have no problem at all with Wal-Mart becoming the one major resource for all everyday needs.  I like going to one store for everything.  I am bored and frustrated by too much material choice; I’d so much rather just buy what the store offers than spend precious time and thought on the relative merits of this product vs. that.  Big ticket items may be another story, but for the mundane necessities, Wal-Mart is fine by me.

Is this dangerous thinking?  Will the monopolies suck up all the little guy’s opportunities?  Not in the least.  They will force the little guy to articulate a convincing USP, however.  The specialization, quirky character, or lavish service of the small or medium-sized business attracts its clientele – not the convenience of its location or the availability of name-brands it carries. 

Business monopolies cause us to search for deeper meaning, because they take care of superficialities.  When everyday needs are cheap and easily available, we’re freed up to take our individual lives to a higher level.  Google and Wal-Mart provide certain assumptions in my life that liberate my time and allow the possibility of a more enlightened existence.

Should any kind reader take exception to these bold and perhaps foolhardy comments, do tell!

Betting on happiness

My state instituted a lottery a few years back.  Now poor folk can routinely pretend a windfall is just around the corner, just behind that glittering offer to scratch and win.  Now we all have an equal opportunity to live the good life.

On a forum I frequent, the question has arisen twice in six months:  what would you do if you won the lottery?  Would you keep working?  It’s a fond dream:  we love to picture unlimited funds at our disposal.  We deeply believe in the liberation that money seems to promise.

This is an example of living faith.  Though believing in anything is difficult for many a modern pragmatist, we seem to have no difficulty believing in the power of money, even though its benefits are often proven illusory, deceptive, often downright false. 

Maybe the underlying belief is the truly operative one: that we deserve liberation from the stresses and demands we experience daily.  The lottery represents sudden heaven, all problems solved, only treats and delights remaining.  It’s magic, and there’s nothing so seductive.

Far less obviously alluring but far more trustworthy is seeking the same kind of liberation through awareness rather than money.  Life can become all treats and delights; we can manage instead of be managed by our stresses and demands; we can develop an outlook that sees opportunity everywhere, that is grounded in ecstasy and compassion, and not in fear and selfishness.  This method of attaining heaven on earth is indeed a method, not a faith.  Even a small amount of progress reaps rewards.

The imagineering that leaps into action when we’re asked, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” is fun and revealing; but consider how you can get to work manifesting many of those things without buying a  ticket or placing a bet.

August moon

Tomorrow’s full moon will have an eclipse.  The August moon is fat with the harvest and the promise of autumn’s decay.  Pay it your full respects, lest its whispers escape you and you wind up clueless.