Monday 29 October 2012

Biofocusing, sailing and the sense of requirement

Some years ago I had the experience of going to sea from time to time in a small yacht. Its name was Vagabond and my friend took me out from Simonstown, a bit more than halfway down the Cape Peninsula on the Indian Ocean side. I enjoyed doing that: we experienced all sorts of weather and on hot days I'd dive off the side, and swim back. One day as I climbed back on board, a shark glided by. That helped me to remember to think before I dived off again.

Weather around the Cape Peninsula can change quickly: often we had to jump around to get out the storm-jib. What I remember well, though, how the main sail took the wind and held taut, in moderate conditions, cruising at a fair rate of knots. All tensions were in balance: the wind speed, the taut sail, the pressure on the rudder, the weight of the keel, and the direction in which we headed. For me, there was a perfection in that blending of tensions.

The situation required no more, no less. You can't force wind, speed or direction, given what there is, and this is how I understand one of the key aspects of biofocusing to work. You can't change what you have experienced, and neither can you change past responses to experience, yet you can change core building blocks of experiential learning by altering personal strategy in the present moment. Choosing your emotional stance, your language stance, simply using the platform of choice deliberately and reflectively; any of these will change patterns of self and social context.

Change one key habit, and all others will be influenced by the ripple.

The key habits that require attention are usually obvious. Take one clear look at your client, or even better, yourself. There's a known reason for that bulging stomach, that tension in the throat, the jutting jaw, the hesitation before speaking, the way upper legs and thighs are held in posture, the way eyes dart and blink. Clear way all judgement, and you'll be left with requirement. A situation that calls for no more than this, no less than that. A balance of subjectivity within endless influences.

I experience a need for peace coaching: to put quietness and peacefulness before excellence and outstandingness. The calm of confidence is a strong platform for excellence in skills. It is gained in the comfort of the moment when all you may have is wind and sunlight, or whatever simplicities abound in your immediate environment. If you learn how to weave your self into these, you are able to blend the complications of sophistication into purpose. Reading requirement is like focusing naturally on what is near or far: you simply go there and stay for as short or long as necessary.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Coaching and quickness

The English word "quick" comes from old English "cwic" and a similar old Norse word, but this time with k's rather than c's and the archaic use of this word means to be alive, living. The quick and the dead...

This relates to the bio of biofocusing. How quickly neuronal impulses move has been measured, and we all in a general sense live at sixty seconds a minute, and sixty minutes an hour, but how quickly we think, respond, decide and act is relative from person to person. In Blink Malcolm Gladwell checks out how quickly awareness moves in distinction to consciousness. In my view, awareness is immediate and consciousness is more deliberate. You can be aware without knowing what you're aware of. As I walked out of the supermarket one day I began to think of someone I knew. I wondered why this person had come to mind. Something had triggered the image, but what? I stood just outside the door and looked around, up and down the road. There it was, quite far away, and I certainly had not consciously seen it, but had clearly noticed it in my awareness: his car. One morning as I brushed my teeth in the bathroom, I began to feel a little depressed for no reason. I got cross with this and slowed down to check out what my brain was doing. It's a strange thing that if you want to find out what's going on, nearly always you can. My cream-coloured towel was lying on the floor where I had tossed it. The random folds had created a face that I now saw more consciously, a rather evil face. I kicked the face that wasn't there away, invited my brain to think again, and the mild depression lifted. Perceptions. We create so many each moment, some stick, the vast majority flow on, but our moods are felt, filed and stored to help create what comes next. Your ego, that mad hatter that you have created consciously and unconsciously is slow, really slow compared to the rest of your awareness and consciousness, but very stubborn. You have to decide to go with the quickness rather than the stubbornness. Many academics are quick thinkers and slow participants. They sit, read, write, think and write again. They can argue quite brilliantly but put them in a business context where they have to respond to what emerges on a minute-to-minute basis, and they'll flounder. The businessman who can't begin to argue on a conceptual basis but who anticipates next week's obstacles and overcomes them before they hit his desk is quick enough to create financial survival and growth

Much of coaching is cutting to the quick. Getting to the alive places and paying full attention to what's happening there. The alive places are usually fun places, yet certainly they can be sore and painful and even traumatised if you've taken shocks and beatings along the way. The sense of truthfulness lives in the alive places, yet people often prefer this sense to be more fixed than fluid because of insecurity. It can't be done: aliveness isn't owned, dogma can't sort it once and for all. Aliveness is shared although eating livingness to continue living is the name of the game on planet earth. To be radical, what's the difference between eating a cabbage and a lamb, really? Both are just as alive as each other.

On a more personal level, it's easy to catch yourself, although you have to be quick to do so. The ponderous hands of thought are no match for the lighter finger-tips of immediate sensing. It's just a question of where you focus awareness minute by minute. Even if you focus on making awareness more conscious, you're going to be too slow. In biofocusing, the "you", the ego, is put down in a completely different part of the equation. No longer the "b" of bodmas, it's more like the "a". You don't prioritise yourself, but you remain in the equation.

Awareness of livingness is humbling and challenging. Your quickness is related to your body but not ultimately bound to it. There's a lot happening around the sub-atomic, atomic, cellular, molecular and physiological structures of the body, and awareness is a dim grasp of these happenings. Coaching quickness will amplify awareness so that zooming, panning and whatever action of consciousness you want becomes possible. Imagination has no boundaries.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Coaching states of mind

Firstly, it's important to note that a "state of mind" is not merely a way of thinking. Mind comprises cognition, emotion and volition (exercising choice), and when one of these patterns changes, so do the others. It's one system, or rather, one ecology that connects to an increasingly expanding possibility of purpose, awareness and intent.

Most state of mind coaching happens on the job, or in training for the work. Aircraft pilots have their way of focusing: clear, concise communication for the sake of operational functionality. Teachers use multi-layered communication, catering for varieties of communicative receptiveness. Hairstylists depend on what works for them, adapting their coversation form client to client. And nuns who take the vow of silence have to learn how to deal with it. Communication obviously plays a huge part, and begins with intra-communication: how you talk to yourself.

Coaching confidence, for example, often involves deliberate neglect of a problem area of self-acceptance and the building of a scaffold of pride in a new area, and shifting awareness or focus to that new area. Whatever you say to yourself, or whatever attitude or stance you communicate to yourself can be changed, even though the pattern of awareness may feel as though it's written in stone.

As a child, I was taught that healing as in miraculous healing was not part of God's will. You accepted afflictions and bore them as part of God's plan. Miraculous healings might have been on the pages of the Bible, but they were to stay there. "Sickness and illness are not part of God's plan for us," said the preacher, one day. "The Bible tells us this." I remember that moment very vividly. I was on my feet within one hundredth of a second. "Where?" I demanded. He swung towards me, a bit surprised at the interruption, but didn't miss a beat. Calmly, he began to recite and refer to Biblical texts. From then on I wanted to know more, but was still convinced that miracles certainly weren't for me. Decades later, I can state with certainty that anyone who wants to learn the state of mind that assists healing and curing in dramatic ways can do so. It requires a few easy exercises, a lot of practise and a firm, clear intention. For example, I once had a patient with a frozen shoulder. She could bearly move her arm to the front of her chest. Within forty-five minutes she could touch the back of her head. I don't know what the long-term outcome was because she was so alarmed at her dramatic progress that she ran away and never returned.

Coaching states of mind is voluntary. The coach has to be very sensitive to the subtleties of what the coachee asks for, requires and demands. These might not be the same thing, Business coaching, career coaching, relationship coaching, life coaching, health coaching and spiritual coaching have a starting point in common: the need to change the pattern of mind in respect of cogntion, emotion and volition. "I can shift your stuff," says Graham le Sar frequently enough on my laptop screen. Fair enough. But why can't I shift my own stuff? Why do I need a coach when it all depends on me, anyway? There are two reasons to call for a coach: to learn the manouvre or two that he or she knows and you don't (and you know you don't) and for the accompaniment (the extra monkey effect). Often you move along far more rapidly and effectively when there's more than you assisting your movement and growth.

Coaching states of mind is where most coaching begins. Boredom can become fascination, listlessness can turn to excitement, despair to hope and grief to joy. Faith is not about belief but about profoundly influential action based on trust. It's common to defer such action for your whole life, and then die. Much better to give yourself a heads-up and look for the ecology that begins with your present state of mind but certainly doesn't end with it.

Friday 5 October 2012

Coaching the mind

The point of contact between the coaching exercise and the individual is mind. This is a bit tricky, because "mind" lacks an objective description. The mind is thoroughly subjective and there's no getting past, around or through that. My take on "mind" is that it's the combination of emotion, cognition and volition. Patterns of all these are established consciously, unconsciously, intra-vidiaully (this is my word, nobody else can take it) socially and ecologically.

Coaching your mind is less academic than coaching the mind, and that's the real difference between formal and non-formal education. In formal education your results are the goal; in non-formal edcuation your formation is the purpose.

Most minds don't like to analyze too much, and generally stop before enough exploration gets going. Coaching employs many methods to assist minds to take easy steps to recognize what they're doing, what they have done for a long time, what they do that goes nowhere, and what they could do to enjoy themselves a bit more and add fruitfulness to the world.

I'm not sure about the extent to which people experience themselves as mind. Daily habits create patterns of intellectual focus: we think about our work, and thus we become agents of our work. Our intra-vidual comfort zone is fine until random experience changes that, and that's disturbing and how we deal with it depends on the greater patterns that we've learnt to set up or not set up. If we've coached ourselves adequately from previous experience, we have resilience. Going along with all this is the greater impetus of volition: decisions we have made that set us on a path until we change direction.

Thus, coaching mind is highly specific. The coach has to be with the mind, minds-on, recognising, honouring, challenging, doing whatever is required to make mind move in a desired direction.

That's why, if you don't know what you desire, you're in the very early stages of being a candidate for coaching.

You have to be alive at least unto yourself, if you want to feel desire. It's quite weird how some folk refuse to connect intra-vidually. The railway lines that can go to work, order coffee and buy clothes are all fine, and the ones that ask why expectations are not met and why prejudices are allowed and why ignorance is promoted are seldom connected, so no passengers go to these stations.

The mind is free. Let's take away the usual linguistic signals and make a more pithy statement: freedom is mind, and that's why if it becomes enslaved in any way, you'll feel it.

I think we all do, we just don't go there to any depth, because what do you do with that realization? Reality bites. Hegemony rules. But then again, as St Paul discovered, you can't kick against the goads. And ironically, freedom is a goad. It won't let your mind sleep until you embrace it, and embracing freedom involves becoming free, free in yourself, and as free as you can be in a world that needs your energy to free it up for better things than chain it to a wall of our own making.

Biofocusing involves allowing free focus of and in the mind. When intent, desire, decision and action are one, I'm not sure whether we move towards the object of attention, or whether it moves towards us, but movement there is, and the meeting happens. Separating intra-vidual, individual, social and spiritual mind can't really be done. It's a theoretical exercise. All the time, for all creation, we're in a field of connectedness and whether we call it a field, mind, holism or heaven, we're to go with the freedom it entails. Otherwise we're kicking against the goads. And don't equate freedom with permssiveness, these two aren't the same at all. The demanding aspect of freedom is strict.

Coaching the mind finds easy steps to achieve this simple reminder. It begins with paying attention to what's happening intra-vidually, because all the information at this level is entirely yours and altogether accessible.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Standing for, standing against

Cosy understandings of the human sphere will never work. Humans have psychic teeth, and in South Africa, you better believe it.

Biofocusing means focusing with all that you have on as far as you can go, spontaneously.

Why does a country in crisis tolerate a president who declares that everything is okay and even better than before, when all the evidence points the other way?

I suppose that if you have only one taxi going your way, you try to get on. Wait till the fare gets too much to pay. This is the ANC taxi.

I have never participated to any real extent in politics. I vote. I have have uninformed opinions. Yet I know a political crisis when I see it because it's not merely a political crisis but an obvious disaster not in the making, but having been made.

Micro-level. Today I took the dogs for a walk, the usual route, around the vineyards, past the graveyard. One small buttabean dog (name) alerted herself to the fact that a worker was doing something in the space she usually found empty of humans and rushed up barking. The worker got a fright, shouted and hurled stones at an animal ten per cent his size. I made it clear to the worker that stones weren't necessary. The dog wasn't going to attack him in any fatal way. He made it clear that I was a criminal to point this out and said he would lay a charge againt me. Funny thing, a beggar came to my door, the other day, and demanded money. When I refused, he said he would lay a charge against me, too.

The thing to do, when a charge is laid against you, according to what I perceive, is to fight it with all your might, using taxpayers' money. Charge straight back.

I begin to wonder about what this nation stand for and stands against. The constitution is an out there, somewhere. It's supposed to work but you have to have bucks to make it work for you, because access is via bucks, and the ordinary person doesn't have too many left over after deductions and party affiliations. The ordinary person has become a demander of rights, and what's mined is mine, as far as digging deep goes.

Can you fault anyone for wanting more when King Zuma doesn't want to know your troubles? How do you get his attention? No-one knows what he stands for, not even his artifical stance is clear. You also don't get clarity about what he stands against. His words are written by a speech-writer and his actions are showered down.

Macro-level. When a group stands for something, there are consequences. The group spirit becomes apparent. The NP was a bus with various drivers, conductors and passengers. It doesn't exist anymore. The ANC is taking the same strain. Who's in charge? Power is taken, if you're doing power, and that's the issue in this suffering country. Let it be said that the ANC depends on 60% of the voting nation, but doesn't care about the nation. It doesn't stand for the nation. Its leading members are looking out for themselves, not the people who vote for them, and the sooner the voters recognise this, and vote, rather than strike, burn and rubbish the national infrastructure, the better.

Problem is, there isn't another taxi that the voting population is prepared to wait for. The trains also don't run on time and SAA is heir-borne. One chair leads to another.

Have I said this before, somewhere? One day in school assembly, the headmaster was giving a stirring talk about standing for what is noble in life. It touched me. When he asked, "Who is prepared to stand?" I didn't at that tender age realize that he was asking a rhetorical question, and stood up. I quickly sat down again when I appreciated the situation more fully, but the sense of standing has remained with me.

In the days of apartheid, battle-lines where ascertainable in respect of morality, expediency and reality . Now that we have the days of rights-without-fears, what I want is what I want. No-one can tell me I'm not allowed to want it, and even if I'm the sacked chief of whatever, I can still want it.

I'm against arrogance and greed, and if you want what you want on the basis of arrogance and greed I'm against you.

On the other hand, if you are a sincere ordinary person who wants sense, reponsibility and clarity, there's a path that opens. You'll have to confront those who are intent on going the other way, and some of them are really evil, and what you must do depends on with whom you communicate. Agree with the evil intentions, and there you went. Maybe Harry Potter can keep us rowling along. There's a lot of sense in a good story.

Monday 1 October 2012

Time and boundaries

Time is a construction, and a tricky one. We are said to exist in time and space and while this seems to be an inevitable idiom, it comes to its limits. Space is physically defined, time isn't defined beyond nanoseconds, and when you really get down to it, you have the sense of being here at this time, and in this space. Being in this space means that what whatever your skin touches, that's it. Being in this time means that you extend or project or in one way or another imagine yourself to be limited by the sense of passing seconds. Seconds, minute and hours do indeed pass, as do planets, stars and constellations, as they turn and turn, but just how that impinges on the sense of time is mysterious. I would say that the sense of time is actually an absence: an absense or presence of self. When you get lost in an activity that absorbs you, you're doing something different with time. Press any hard-boiled scientist to prove that time is objective, and I reckon the argument will go totally Irish.

Time is on my watch and in my heart. Being Swiss as well as lots of other things, I have an unfair advantage when it comes to time. The more time I spend in South Africa, the more pride I find in myself, and that's a surprise, of being Swiss. If I say I am Swiss, I am not entirely truthful. Immanuel Kant would have me choose a category. I am South African. I am Swiss. I am Scottish. I am Spanish. I am English. I know that these strands of family background are actual, but how are they relevant?

The verb to be makes one tense. You have to choose in which kind of tension you wish to live. The very name of our Creator, in the Old Testament is "I an who I am". The present moment is paramount and death is about crossing from one moment to another kind of moment, yet keeping something that's eternal in the moment.

What's kept?

In another blog I referred to a continuum. Everything that's properly ultimate is continuous. Who you are in time connects with who you are beyond time. These days there's a lot of fascination about checking out your past lives, and regressing. Try going forwards. Then try going outwards. Try going any way you want. Here's Burt Goldman telling us to try jumping. "See you in another universe," he says. Thats's okay, so long as you don't find yourself stroking a cat on a tin roof.

Seriously, the boundaries of who you perceive yourself to be are bound up with your sense of time. I have an alter ego called Waterman. He is simply everywhere in the human domain. Like water, he flows and presents as a swirl, a bubble, a tide, a spirngtide, a tsunami. Or is still. He has very grey eyes. Despite all his movement and energy, he knows that the human species is contained within time. He wonders what will remain of the memory of humans 150 thousand million yeras from now.

I was trying to explain a little bit about this to students the other day.

"You imagine yourselves in respct of time," I said. "How far into the future do you project, habitually? Three years? One year? Ten?"

They gave me their answers, the average of which was two to three years. The one bright spark asked me where I projected, habitually. "150 thousand million years," I said, promptly. She simply laughed.

But I don't laugh. In 150 thousand million years, when all our prejudices, fears, stupidity and fear have come to nothing, where and what will the memory of who we are be?

We're parcelling ourselves, self-wrap, as we go along and each one is crucial. We're delivering ultimata every day, and may God forgive us for being Vespasian's monkey. You remember the line, Peter O'Toole and the top of Masada.

For those who want to experiment about going beyond the grief of believing in time, I recommend Gordon Smith's Intuitive Studies. Thankyou, Gordon. Time seems real, but isn't real enough. There's more, much more, and all will be revealed in time, if you can accept that time is more than sixty seconds, sixty minutesand twenty-four hours.