Timeless Wisdom

This week on “Life Shifting with Dr J” I had the opportunity to meet that rare, special kind of leader, one who truly “walks the talk.” In a world where scandal, duplicity, and political maneuvering seem to define the leadership landscape, it is encouraging–and inspiring–to know that there are leaders out there who have integrity, humanity, humility, and most importantly, wisdom. Dr David Surrenda, CEO of the Kripalu Institute for Yoga and Healing, is one of those leaders. He is a clinical psychologist and a thirty year veteran of the corporate, academic and organizational consulting worlds, and author of multiple books on leadership and self-development, most recently: “Retooling on the Run: Real Change for Leaders with no Time.”

I was honored to have him join me on my show. Click here to listen or download to Itunes/Mp3. Wowed by his clear, concise and simple message about leadership, I am in complete sync with his core principle: it is all about self-mastery. As I write in my book, “Shift: Let Go of Fear and Get Your Life in Gear,” it is impossible for us to be role models as leaders until we gain a measure of self-awareness — and humbly take up the gauntlet to LEAD OURSELVES.

As David pointed out in our conversation, self-mastery is not about becoming a “super hero,” but rather about becoming adept at stalking ourselves, becoming aware of our faults, our habits, and our fears–not with an ear for self-criticism, but with an eye for seeing how we can put in place practices to become more fully realized as humans.

Key to this journey of self-realization is shortening the “recovery time” from when go off track–get triggered, practice a bad habit, break a commitment, fall victim to fear, etc.

Mastery=Quick Recovery not Perfection

We will never be perfect, nor are we ever “finished” manifesting our full potential. BUT, with a commitment to continuously growing, learning and tracking ourselves, we can surely become more of WHO WE ARE MEANT TO BE.

I dearly hope you will take time to download the interview and hear from David directly. You will love his quick and concise six-step methodology for self-mastery. Here’s a preview synopsis:

KEY STEPS TOWARDS SELF-MASTERY

1. Gain Perspective– take the long view
2. Be a Student–of your self
3. Clarify Your Intent–know where you are headed
4. Map Your Patterns-look for gaps in consistency
5. Course Correct–don’t criticize, simply correct and re-balance
6. Evaluate Progress–shorten the “recovery time”

In a time when the world is crying out for wise leaders, I am heartened to know that people like David Surrenda are out there doing their thing, leading organizations that shape our world. Kripalu is one of the largest holistic health centers in the entire world…and I’m happy to be able to say, it is in good hands.

Thanks David…and to all, Namaste,

Dr J

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Hanging Tough in Turbulent Times

I don’t know about you…but I’ve been reeling with all the turmoil in the world lately. Sitting here in the “relative” calm of New York City, sometimes it feels like the world is falling apart all around me.

Are you hanging on? Or hanging tough?

Look east and nature is wreaking havoc on our friends in Japan. Look west and a psychotic dictator is tearing apart the fabric–and the humanity–of his own country in Libya. Not to mention that the so-called “economic recovery” here in the U.S. feels anemic at best and the slumbering bear of recession seems endlessly poised to reemerge from his winter hibernation!

That’s why it was so inspiring to hear about a great new book that just hit the shelves this week: ” Emotional Balance: The Path to Inner Peace and Harmony” by Dr Roy Martina. Dr Roy joined me on my radio show, “Life Shifting with Dr J” and shared some of his powerful insights from the book. The key theme of which is thus: how to find–and maintain–emotional balance in the midst of life’s inevitable ups and downs. How timely is that!

There are many important and ground-breaking principles in Dr Roy’s work, which beautifully aligns with the themes of my book, “SHIFT: Let Go of Fear and Get Your Life in Gear“. I love the synchronicity of how his work, which emanates from his many years of practice as a holistic medical doctor, dovetails perfectly with my work, which hails from my experience and research in psychology. So cool to see the bio-medical and psycho-spiritual worlds not just collide but INTERSECT and interweave — with far more alignment than discord.

At its core, Dr Roy’s work is all about helping readers find what he calls the “Still Point”–that place of aligned, centered presence, where we are re-connected with our divine essence — and the fears, at least the ones that cause us recurring anxiety and stress, are recognized as the result of the way our brains develop leaving us “conditioned towards stress”. But the good news is that leading edge work in neuroscience has proven that our brains, as well as emotional and nervous systems, are highly malleable and adaptable. In sum, we are powerful weavers of our own stories, and can discard the narrative of fear, insecurity, scarcity and separation at will (with the help of some focused, intentional practice). His book gives us the tools we need to do just that–offering us a “way out” of anxiety, stress and depression, and a pathway to restoring our emotional balance. In essence: a road map for finding our way home to ourselves.

I hope you’ll give our chat a listen–just click here to get the download for free. It was a joy to speak with Dr Roy while he is on his book tour all around the world (he called me from Amsterdam at midnight!)…I came away re-invigorated, empowered and less vulnerable to the onslaught of the outer world turmoil that sometimes feels omnipresent. I also feel most heartened by the way that the disparate worlds of psychology, spirituality and modern medicine are FINALLY integrating and moving towards a unified approach to health and healing. There is a piercing LIGHT of hope on the horizon!

Namaste,

Dr J

Got Mojo?

“Lost,” she stated. Simply. “I feel lost.”

...in a dark wood

Having “mutually” agreed that she should leave her job as a highly-paid management consultant due to the recession and re-structuring at her firm, my client was burning through her severance package…and feeling very unsure of what to do next.

Another client, that same day, also recently “dismissed” — through no fault of his own– from his accounting job at a Wall Street firm, joked casually about “running a ski resort” (he has recently taken up skiing and loves it!), but quickly dismissed that as an “idle fantasy”…and returned to the more measured state…of “feeling lost.”

No motivation. No direction. A sense of having been ripped off track by huge winds of change…and sucked up into a dark fog…with no light at the end of the tunnel. In other words: NO MOJO!

We’ve all been there. Shift happens. Especially somewhere along the trajectory called, “mid-life” (30-40-50 and up…), the rug gets pulled out from under us–a lay-off, an illness, a divorce–and suddenly the “story” we’ve been telling ourselves about WHO WE ARE no longer rings true. SO…how do we re-claim our MOJO?

As my “unstoppable” guest on my radio show, Life Shifting with Dr J, Frankie Picasso, stated: “We need to reconnect to our deepest dreams…not dismiss them but re-discover over how they fuel our MOJO for living full-out.” You got it Frankie, Bravo!

My “lost” client, above, actually dreamed about being a doctor when she was a child…but got de-railed on that path by parents and life events. Today, she is a mid-lifer who would dismiss the possibility of med school as far-fetched and impractical. Maybe. BUT what about the QUALITIES of being a doctor that her childhood fantasy was attempting to live through her? There are myriad ways to “doctor” the world; she only needs to re-connect, at a deep level, with the dream…and re-configure it to her current life story.

Likewise, my client who fantasizes about running a ski resort: why is this dream so quickly dismissed? He’s a former venture capital consultant; he knows a lot about how to raise money, how to run a business. But perhaps “running a ski resort” IS too far fetched, impractical. No matter. In the dream are the seeds of possibility. By exploring his fantasy–and seeing what’s POSSIBLE instead of what’s WRONG…the MOJO — the motivation, the enthusiasm the creativity can be tapped…and soon he’ll find his way out of the FOG.

mojo in motion!

It turns out that he loves to be in nature, to get his hands dirty…to make THINGS (maybe skis?). Whoa…is it out of the question that one day he just might discard the suit and tie, roll up his sleeves and glide off to manage a ski manufacturing business in Vermont? Sounds like a dream worth exploring, no?

I heartily encourage you to listen in to my conversation with executive coach, radio host, Frankie Picasso, author of “Midlife Mojo” –a guide to re-inventing yourself AT ANY AGE! Her story of becoming a certified master life coach after surviving a devastating motor cycle accident and having to RE-LEARN, literally, how to walk…is inspiring and wise. She never gave up, and today she has a successful coaching business, is a sought-after speaker/teacher…and works on major, multi-million dollar non-profit projects–supplying portable homes to the homeless all over North America! Way to go Frankie!

So…if you are feeling a bit LOST these days…listen in here to my talk with Frankie, and remember: Don’t discount your dreams!

the nugget of GOLD in an endless sea

Dream On!

Dr J

Are you a “Conscious Marketer?”

Ever been to a networking event and have someone hand you a business card, tell you their name, and ask if they can “give you call”? Well, I have. Too many times. Sometimes I feel like people

Is this your networking dance?

attend these events with a stack of cards in hand, their only goal for the evening is to see how many cards they can give out…and snatch up from others.

What about having a REAL conversation? Maybe you only get to talk to one or two or three people during an entire evening, but you take the time to ask questions, learn about the person…to spend more time listening than talking? Have we lost the art of CONNECTION?

If you are in the “networking” or “sales” or “brand-building” mode…out there schmoozing and trying to find a job, sell your services or build a business…then you must, simply MUST, listen in to my recent radio show with guest Lynn Serafinn, conscious marketing expert and author of, “The Garden of the Soul: Lessons of Four Flowers that Unearth the Self.” Lynn is a book promoter, classical musician, and author of the up-coming book: “The Seven Graces of Marketing: How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell”.”

Lynn and I had a deep, rich and provocative conversation about a topic near and dear to my heart: how to SHIFT from a “transaction-oriented” approach to marketing to a “relationship-oriented” approach. Click here to listen or download to Itunes/Mp3.

And so you ask, what is the difference?

Well, to my mind…and Lynn seemed to echo my sentiments, the key difference between today’s tendency towards quantity and transaction-based connections (e.g. how many friends you have on Facebook fddoes NOT by itself, imply lots of sales of ANYTHING!) is whether you enter the connection point from FEAR…or LOVE. What? No, really.

Here’s the thing: we all feel anxious and nervous about meeting new people, or reaching out BEYOND OUR COMPUTER to connect with others. But when we enter that sacred moment of connection, reaching out our hand and saying “hello”…far too often that anxiety (e.g. fear or the unknown “other”) takes over, our breath gets shallow, we feel a knot in our stomach…and we slip into “robot” mode: “Hi, how are you? What do you do? Here’s my card…etc.”

The goal of the fearful ego is to GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE…and as soon as possible get back safely ensconced behind the cheese plate or better yet, the computer screen. This is the sort of anxiety/fear-based dynamic that tends to pervade the typical cocktail party or networking event. Everyone is smiling… NO ONE is really having a good time. BUT, it doesn’t have to be that way…

Crossing the bridge of connection

Love-based connections, or what I prefer to call “conscious connection,” starts from a different place. We take a few deep breaths; we feel our anxiety and accept it as natural (our silly ego attempting to protect us), and then we step into the moment of connection with ANTICIPATION, the energy of curiosity…deeply interested to KNOW this other being that I am blessed to meet at this moment in time.

We might say, as always, “hello, I am so and so…but then…WHO are you? What brought you to this event? What are you hoping to learn? What is the challenge you are struggling with in YOUR business? How might I help? How might we help each other? Etc…” Many minutes will go by…you might only get to hand out a few business cards. Yet, something else will very likely occur: you will relax. You will soften in your body and feel empathy instead of anxiety. After all, we are all in this swirl of life TOGETHER. We are all, ultimately, looking for the same thing: to be heard, to connect, to feel loved…to belong.

By entering into a networking opportunity with a LOVING heartset instead of a fearful mindset, something wonderful, precious, sacred, and key to the success of every business might just occur: you make a friend, find a partner, a customer, or a referral to someone who can help you land a job or build your business. You might have find someone you can help out as well. And a real, powerful connection is born.

We are all connected

Lynn and I talked for an hour…and it felt like five minutes. She told me her wonderful story–the amazing journey of how she parlayed a music career into a spiritual journey to the far-flung wilds of India and on to a marketing career–but most importantly, she shared with me why she is so passionate about helping people SHIFT the way they promote their books, their brands, and their businesses.

She is calling for a wholesale REINVENTION of the way we do business, away from the old paradigm of fear-based, scarcity-based, competition, towards a space of gratitude, abundance, and deep connection. It is all about remembering a deep truth, one which we all know in our hearts but so quickly forget when the pressure to sell, pay the bills, get known, be “out there”…takes over: we are all connected. We are all longing to belong. I was moved by her passion, her spirit…and her dream…as I hold the same one, for my clients…and for the world.

SO…if you are out there on the entrepreneurial, job-hunting, or life-reinventing circuit, doing the networking, Facebook-ing, tweeting thing…listen in to Lynn and try to be more CONSCIOUS and thoughtful when approaching that “unknown other”. Don’t get caught falling down the rabbit hole fantasy that “its all about the numbers”. It ain’t true. The sales pitch (I know, I know you’re supposed to have the 30 second elevator pitch…oy!) might bring you a bit of business

How many "clicks" will pay the rent?

— but surely, in the long run, it won’t feel satisfying and it won’t be sustainable. What does last…is becoming part of a community of REAL people…forging and nourishing those LOVING spaces where people come together…to live, learn and support each others dreams.

I hope you’ll listen in and let me know what you think. I’m all ears!

Dr j

Life Shifting Re-cap: De-toxify Your Life!

Well…it has been a week since the big first step into the holiday season with Thanksgiving and Black Friday. How did it go? Did you have your fill of food, fun…and family? Did you do the cyber-shopping thing this year or get up and out at 5am and storm down to the mall? I was in an outlet mall on Friday afternoon and I have to say it seemed surprisingly tame and calm. Surreal almost. The people there did seem to be in good spirits. It was nice to see smiles and sales…a nice combo!

Since we’re entering another holiday season, when many of us re-connect with loved ones with anxiety-producing results, I invited “Goddess Coach” Melissa Zwanger to join me this week on my radio show, Life Shifting with Dr J!

Melissa is an expert in helping women entrepreneurs and business leaders/owners take their organizations to greater heights of success…AND she is what I would call a “fitness trainer for the emotions”. Melissa specializes in helping people stay grounded, centered, and compassionate in even the most stressful of family situations.

The perfect guest to help me kick off this holiday season, Melissa comes armed with years of training in a whole host of healing modalities, and an MBA from Wharton. Melissa shared her top tips for “de-toxifying” your emotional self especially when confronted with difficult family members.

Here’s a quick summary of the steps Melissa recommended you take — should you get triggered once again by that curmudgeon uncle, a testy brother or judgmental mom:

1. identify the true feeling.

Key to cleansing, grounding and re-claiming your balance when you get knocked off center, is to step back, breathe, notice your bodily symptoms, and attempt to identify the true feeling. It may be sadness or anger or frustration. The starting point for release and re-centering involves creating a space–a physical, emotional, mental opening–even if only for a few seconds, where you can identify and tend to the underlying feeling.

Calm in the storm?

2. Separate the Feeling from the NEED.

Once you have a sense of WHAT feeling is being triggered in you, then you can begin to re-frame the situation and ask yourself a crucial question: What do I need right now? When strong negative emotions are stirred up in us, usually they are a signal that a deep need or maybe a hurt or trauma from the past is re-surfacing. It is well nigh impossible though, to ask another person to be supportive, or to change their behavior, unless you are CLEAR about what you want/need to have happen. Continue reading

Dancing on the High Wire of Life

Howdy all,

Time for a re-cap of my fabulous radio interview with Gabriele Ganswindt this past Monday on Life Shifting with Dr J. Such a cool conversation! Gabriele, psychologist and executive coach extraordinaire, is an expert on two of my favorite “Life-Shifting” themes: finding balance…and building resiliency in challenging times! A most timely topic no? You can listen to the full interview or download to Itunes/podcast with this link: http://www.transformationtalkradio.com/meet_shows.php?id=3991#

So here is your key question: HOW DO WE DO IT?

What to do?

How do we stay grounded, flexible and adaptable in the midst of what may feel like an “out-of-control” world?

A tough question, needless to say, but Gabriele says, “Don’t despair! There ARE practices and ways of being/thinking that can truly help us stay “on track” and centered, even in the midst of chaos.”

Gabriele knows of what she speaks: She is a successful business owner, a mother to two young children, a homemaker, a philanthropist, a writer, an ordained interfaith minister, an organization development consultant and life coach…and a survivor of a life-threatening illness. Continue reading

Are We Hard-Wired to Suffer?

Howdy all…in case you missed my new article on Huffington Post…here it is in its entirety. Seems to have generated some buzz on the wire…what do you think? Please weigh in here or go HuffingtonPost.com. I’m very interested in where my readers come out on the causal scale– nature/environment/culture?

Yesterday I had one of those classic moments with a client that never fail to bring the conversation to a stand still. He was sharing with me his tendency to, as he put it, “always feel anxious and worried about everything.” At one point, with a shrug, he simply declared, “I’m just hard-wired to be anxious. I’ve always been this way.”

Really? Hard-wired to be anxious, worried and stressed-out? Not.

Have you looked at a baby lately? Or hung out with small children who are living in a secure home with at least one loving parent? In general, well-fed kids (poverty is another thing entirely) are relaxed, spontaneous, playful and full of life a good deal of the time. Since when did it become in vogue to blame our adult anxieties on so-called “hard-wiring?” What does “hard-wiring” mean anyway?

In the 19th century, before Freud, most psychological maladies, lumped under the heading “hysteria,” were thought to be nervous disorders caused by bacteria. Patients were often quarantined, subjected to leeches, or sent away for a “cleanse.”

In the endless nature versus nurture debate over the source of our pain, nature, circa 2010, has taken the lead. We are culturally awash, once again, in a bio-chemical, reductionist moment. Peering into the recesses of the brain more deeply than ever before, we latch on to the work of electrolytes, neuro-peptides and synapses, hoping to root out those dastardly chemicals that bring on our suffering. With this narrative in vogue, we take umbrage in labeling our issues, challenges and deficits “hard-wired” — hence, unchangeable.

Ironically, it is science itself which may restore some equilibrium to this conundrum, for scientists have a wonderful habit of de-bunking their own theories. Today, neuroscientists are re-discovering what Freud, even with his limited purview on the human mind, understood implicitly in his early forays into developmental psychology: The brain itself, the supposed home front of “hard-wiring,” is malleable, adaptable and constantly renewing itself.

Brain scientists are beginning to understand that the biochemistry and neuronal network that under girds the structure of the brain is constantly re-organizing and adapting to changes in the outer world. New research bringing together the best of neuroscience and psychiatry, such as detailed in The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doige, MD. calls into question the notion that the “wiring” in our brains is “hard” in any way, shape or form.

So if the latest research is accurate, and our brains ARE adaptable and changeable, what are we to do about this tendency to default to the “hard-wiring” narrative?

In the research I conducted over a 10-year period for my new book, Shift: Let Go of Fear and Get Your Life in Gear, what I came to see repeatedly in my clients (and I might add, in my own life!) is that these default narratives, especially when spoken in the context of anxiety, stress and worry, point, not to chemical dysfunction, but to our addiction to comfort, our antipathy towards change (in a nation born of revolution) and our bifurcated relationship with FEAR. In a culture addicted to “happiness” (but that rushes out en mass to delight in big screen terror of vampires), we have forgotten, or at least dismissed, the truth that fear, especially when change is in the works, is perfectly normal — maybe even healthy.

In other words, when you find yourself defaulting to the story, “I’m hard-wired to be ______”, (e.g. anxious, stressed, worried, fill-in-the blank with your favorite), it usually means that some aspect of your life is ready to shift, ready to release, ready to be, in fact, renewed. BUT, because change is uncomfortable even for the most adaptable of us, our egos will hook into whatever cultural narrative is in vogue to hold us “in check” — in an effort to protect us. But from what? It seems we would rather languish in depression or wallow in worry instead of simply acknowledging our fear of the unknown, breathing deeply and stepping into the flow of life… and changing.

So the next time you find yourself feeling anxious and you begin to ask if perchance you’re “hard-wired” for misery, try asking yourself some different questions:

What pattern might I be stuck in–at work, in my relationships, in my life?

What change might be afoot that I’m resisting?

Is it possible that my life might be BETTER if I relaxed, just a bit, and allowed the change to unfold?

In the case of my client, when he stepped back, took a deep breath, and contemplated what possible change might be in the works, he realized that he was frustrated with his job, bored with his living situation and dissatisfied with many aspects of his life. He actually desires change but fears it.

There is another narrative available to him, of course, a story of new beginnings and unexplored territories, which could be fueled, not by the energy of anxiety, but excitement, even enthusiasm. But in order to shift gears, he will have to give up his story that he is “hard-wired” for worry. Instead, with an awakened awareness that change is inevitable, and a willingness to release that which no longer serves him, he might just re-wire his way into of a new way of being…creating whole new vistas of possibility.

So check your wiring…and don’t be afraid to blow a few circuits now and again…you may just re-wire the system… and light up your life!

Dr J