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17

Oct

The Fertile Ground of Bewilderment

charles-eisenstein

 

Does the phrase The Fertile Ground of Bewilderment perfectly sum up the current election to you?

Does it point to the real path forward when it comes to climate change?

How about the way to figure out what to do with your career or your health?

If the fertile ground of bewilderment does not point towards a solution, perhaps it should. This is the argument that one of my favorite thinkers on the planet puts forth in his forthcoming book and in the lecture that gives us a preview below.

Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics and The Yoga of Eating, is working on a new book about climate change that promises to evolve the discourse around this topic by asking us to go deeper than the simple solutions that we have all been talking about. Through an exploration of our fear of the phrase “I don’t know” Charles pushes us to look deeper. The simple, linear, carbon is the enemyTrump is the enemy, sugar is the enemy, lines of thought are great for choosing our enemies, but doing so can actually make things worse. Charles invites us in to a space of deep unknowing where true insights can emerge. In essence, he asks us to let go of the overly mechanistic/rational ways we view our problems and move towards a more sacred view of ourselves and our planet. Ever wonder why caring for children or for the dying doesn’t seem to be a great way to make a living? This is the place where even your smallest efforts to connect with and care for others are essential to all of our futures. (It’s worth the journey just for the parking lot metaphor)

The New & Ancient Story Podcast (the audio has a little static, but it’s worth it)

30

Apr

Joe Ades Perfect Potato Peeler Pitch

Joe Ades was often seen on the streets of New York City sitting on a box with a crowd of people around him demonstrating and selling potato peelers for $5. By most estimates he became a millionaire this way. Watch the video and you will see how. His demonstration alone is worth the cost of the peeler. His charisma and salesmanship are a thing of beauty. He even earned himself a wikipedia page. Joe left this world in 2009. RIP Joe Ades.

 

This man was AMAZING! Wednesdays are for AMAZING MEN Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE

29

May

Caine’s Arcade

This is just an amazing story told in a really well made video.

My hat goes off to both Caine and Nirvan Mullik who made this video.

Both of these men have HUGE hearts. This video cracks mine wide open.

These men are AMAZING!

Find More Amazing Men by clicking HERE

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

29

Nov

Worksite stress reduction through a Transcendental Meditation Program

If you read this blog than you likely know that the scientifically proven benefits of meditation are many. I wrote recently about a study showing how just 8 weeks of training can effect a lasting reduction in stress and anxiety. Studies that look at the impact on individuals in a testing environment are becoming increasingly common. Less common are attempts to look at how meditation effects people inside a work environment. Can meditation really help us at work?

The authors of a March, 2005 study published in the Journal of Social Behavior & Personality were looking to see if meditation could have an impact on occupational stress. Numerous studies have determined that when workers are experiencing stress there is a significant and measurable cost added to doing business. A highly stressed employee might be pictured as a car driving with its breaks on, stress being the breaks. As the authors of this study note, “when researchers look at compensation claims, reduced productivity and increased absenteeism, added health insurance costs, and direct medical expenses for related diseases such as ulcers, high blood pressure and heart attacks…The costs of stress are variously estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars annually, or 12% of U.S. GNP”. Clearly any business looking to reduce costs should be interested in inexpensive means of reducing occupational stress.

Practicing meditation is free, but can it be show to reduce job site stress? The authors of this paper note that it has previously been shown in studies that Transcendental Meditation (TM) produces a “unique state of restful alertness that is not achieved during ordinary eyes-closed rest.” TM has also been shown to improve cognitive performance and increase self confidence in clinical settings. These studies certainly imply that stress would be reduced in a testing environment, but what about in an office?

Researchers went to a South African marketing research consultancy firm of 80 people. They measured stress levels in employee using both psychological symptoms such as employees self-reported incidence of nervousness, irritability and headaches as well as objective measures such as blood pressure and heart rate. In addition to the impact on individuals the study aimed to investigate the consequences of individuals stress levels on the business as a whole by analyzing metrics such as staff turnover rates, perceptions of company climate and some measures of company wide productivity. Researchers described the atmosphere at this firm as being one of “frenetic activity attendant on frequent deadlines and the need to coordinate hundreds of part time field workers.” Sound familiar?

Employees were told that their superiors wished to evaluate to two potential approaches to stress reduction, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and TM. Participation was voluntary and about 85% of employees opted to take part. 61% of these (49 people) eventually learned TM. They received 1.5-2 hours of instruction on 4 consecutive days with follow-up at 2 and 6 weeks and 3 and 5 months for a total of 16 hours of training. The results?

Employees trained in Transcendental Meditation techniques did show a significant measured decrease in occupational stress symptoms. The major reduction started about 2 weeks after beginning training. Participants also showed a significant decrease in blood pressure (BP). A few participants who were in the hypertensive BP range at the start were later measured to be in the normotensive range, a significant health improvement. The authors reported that, “The blood pressure findings of this study are consistent with blood pressure findings previously reported in well-controlled randomized clinical trials.” What is perhaps more hopeful is the fact that there was also a measurable reduction in the stress levels of those who did not receive training in either technique. This supports the hypothesis that having trained meditators in a work environment can have a positive impact on the stress levels of all employees. Calm people may soothe an environment much the way that a hysterical person can disrupt it.

Looking at company wide financial figures there was a net gain of 9.2% while “sales growth rate doubled from 6% before the intervention to 12% after.” With adjustments for inflation this amounted to “double the average real growth rate for the seven years prior to the
intervention (6.3%).”

A common question is whether meditation is any more useful than simply resting. As these authors report, “a meta-analysis of 32 studies has found that the physiological effects of the TM technique are significantly greater than ordinary eyes-closed resting for the same period of time.” In other words, there is more happening in meditation than simple rest. While putting aside time to be still is profound in and of itself, the techniques do appear to offer other benefits above and beyond what the untrained person will likely access without training. Looking at my experience, and those of my clients, I would say that this difference that meditation can make is profound.

 

If the thought of shifting your life seems both exciting and daunting, I would love to support you on your unique transformative path. Contact me to find out how my Life Coaching program can kickstart your journey.

 

30

May

My Sister Won A Clio!

That’s right. My sister Aileen is a Creative Director at Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners in NYC. She and her partner wrote the ad above. It was just awarded Bronze at the Clio awards. That’s the Oscars of advertising. She got to hang with Joan Rivers and everything. It’s a brilliant ad, check it out.

11

Jun

Sustainable Profits for Good?

Last night I went to a fundraiser for the Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) (GEEO.org). GEEO is a great new non-profit that my Integral Geek-up friend Zach is the legal council for and also on the board of. GEEO’s mission is to facilitate travel for educators. The idea is to break down the walls of isolation and ignorance that stand in the way of us (Americans) interacting compassionately with the rest of the world by exposing as many as poosible to the wonders of travel. This mean helping teachers to see the world, but also helping them to bring these experiences back to the classroom. They have presentations and lesson plans that they hand to teachers upon their return to the classroom that makes it as easy as possible for them to share their experiences (and hopefully their new found appreciation for travel) with their class. They really did a great job of making it clear just how many students a teacher can impact in their career and just what the ramifications of instilling a positive outlook on travel in them could mean for the world.

But they will not turn a profit.

They actually had us there to ask for donations (at a fundraiser! go figure). They made it quite clear that they expected the fund raising, grant writng, and other means of outside support to not only continue, but actually grow as the ‘business’ does.

Tonight I was at a FLOW (flowidealism.org) meeting. As I’ve said before. FLOW intends to help people engage in business in an effort to have a positive impact on the world. The idea here is to stop demonizing corporations, to stop making anyone the enemy, and to start creating a space for entrepreneurs to be do gooders; for making a living and making the world to go hand in hand.

Why do we assume that socially conscious endeavors should not turn a profit? Can’t they at least be self sustaining?

Isn’t there an amazing amount of waste, shame, and resentment in this fruitless shuffling of money between those endeavors which ‘support’ us and those which ‘nurture’ us. What’s the difference? Why the artificial separation? It is artificial. There is no reason that I am aware of that the two must be fundamentally separate.

I realize that this is a bit of a foreign idea to many. The dominant economic paradigm does seem to dictate that cut throat behavior is the means to an end if your end is to include a profit. But why is that? Is this not merely a short-sighted and ultimately unsustainable perspective? I think the state of the world today makes it obvious that this is true. You can only reap more than you sow for short periods of time. It is in everyone’s best interest(to be profitable and nurture others) to keep the ground fertile and healthy.

So what is the solution?

We must break down these barriers between sustainability in finances, sustainability of spirit and sustainability in nature(Triple Bottom Line). And not only do I think that this is possible and ultimately even required, people are already doing it. One of the tasks that decided to take on tonight as the NYC chapter of FLOW is to begin the documentation process of some of the stories of the people in our group who are already doing this.

Our group attracts amazing people with remarkable stories of looking at the world through compassionate eyes, recognizing need and moving forward with a profitable solution that does its best to benefit as many as possible at each step of the way in the business. No one has it perfect of course, but amazing strides are being made and it is quite clear that with each new endeavor there is a little less figuring out for everyone else.

I think that these ideas are already making their way through the consciousness of the populace at large. Hopefully we at FLOW will find ways to both speed up the process of making more people aware of these possibilities and also make it easier for those who are already undertaking such tasks.

Definitely more to come….

22

May

FLOW w/ John Mackey

This past Monday John Mackey came to our NYC FLOW meeting at Susan’s home. A group of 15-20 of us sat down with John to discuss the state of conscious capitalism in the world and our potential to be the change we feel is needed.

For a while now I have been attending FLOW meetings (http://www.flowidealism.org). FLOW is a group that was started by John Mackey (CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods) and innovative educator Michael Strong. FLOW’s goal is ‘liberating the entrepreneurial spirit for good’. The idea here, as I understand it, is that we are changing the world with our businesses. Often times business is seen as the enemy. I would call this a short sited and potentially disastrous stance to take. At the very least this view is partial. The FLOW perspectice recognizes the impact that business has on the world as a potential for good, all that is needed is a desire to increase the degree of consciousness in our actions. Small steps are better than no steps, and the number of steps that some have already taken is heartening to say the least.

At this meeting there was a woman who is a ‘joyologist’, her Buddhist monk turned Objectivist husband, Frankie, who is starting surf camps in third world countries, Adam, the ideation guru I spoke of earlier, Amy, a music therapist, Zak, co-founder of Kripali Organics (sold at Whole Foods), educators, Integral geeks, Keith our resident Futurist and a number of other brilliant and caring people. (I’m wondering what the hell I’m doing there too)

If we are going to turn this great ship around it seems apparent to me that those with power must have our best interests at heart and also that those with our best interests at heart should have some power. I see myself as part of the well intentioned who is trying to figure out his influence on this hunk of rock. Part of what I am looking for in FLOW is inspiration through example from the people I have mentioned above, especially John.

John is a surprisingly beautiful human being. He spoke often of the need for each of us to ‘follow our heart song’ and said that he is not special other than perhaps for the fact that he is good at seeing the beauty in others. He struck me as a deeply spiritual man who truly holds the worlds best interest in his heart and mind as often as possible. He spoke briefly about thost who criticize him (and Whole Foods) for not doing enough to save the world. He said that he some times feels as if he is out in the jungle, swinging a machete, creating a road one chop at a time when from behind someone comes driving up in their SUV with the AC blasting saying ‘What? That’s it? That’s as far as the road goes?!” It reminded me of people beating up on Bono for his efforts. Sure, there’s more to do and there are things that they do wrong, but what the hell am I doing? Why aren’t people picking on me more?

John said at the end of the night that he would like to schedule his future trips to NYC around our FLOW meetings. He said quite clearly that he is not a leader of this movement (FLOW), he is a co-creator. He also made it quite clear at a number of times throughout the night that he had no interest in telling us how to create change in the world as FLOW. He seemed to have an unwavering confidence in us to be the change that any given situation calls for. I beginning to feel that way myself.

 

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