Category Archives: The Power of Extraordinary Listening

You know you breathe; do you know you’re breathing?

Some days are more stressful than others. Without conscious attention, stress creates its own vicious cycle, chemicals flood the system.  Reactions include shortening or holding the breath. Visual perception narrows as does cortical activity. Neural conditioning kicks in, inhibiting creative thought. The muscles of the body tense, as if to get ready. The greater the stress, the more the muscles tighten. As the body constricts, it is harder to breathe deeply. The constriction extends to blood flow and oxygenation at the cellular level. Less oxygen adds to the stress on the system and so on and so forth, world without end.

So what?

With conscious attention it is both simple and easy to reverse the cycle, creating a breathing space, as it were, for your ‘self’. The effect may seem minimal or even nothing, because the effect is gradual. Deceptive, because breathing a little bit slower, and especially little bit deeper, over a very short period can dramatically change the experience you have of life, in the moment, and living itself. It can change who you are, if you want.

Simply pay attention to your breath. If you do, in a moment or two, you will notice an inclination to breathe somewhat differently. IF you don’t ‘hear’ the indications or notice it happening naturally, simply, gradually slow and deepen the cycle of in-breath / out-breath. Gently continue as appropriate, never forcing, listening to the impulse to breathe. Simply, loosely, very easily, following the breath. Notice any changes in feeling: of mind as well as body, in muscle tone, tension or relaxation, your attitude of the instant, and the ease of breathing itself.

You can combine the practice of breath with relaxing the muscles. Tighten, ever so slightly on the inhale, and relax fully, as you exhale.

Just listening to the impulse to breathe may seem superfluous, in that it won’t solve what you think are the problems that are causing your stress. Though that may be true, it might make a bumpy ride a little less upsetting.

And, it might allow a state of creativity that offers you solutions never perceived in the vicious cycle of stress. So, it might be the key to the solution. What is likely true is, as Albert Einstein said,

“We will never solve the problems we face, with the thinking that created them.”

Finding Your Temper

I was looking for my temper the other day. The shock of watching a friend in conversation severely locked into their belief system startled me, causing me to release my grasp on my temper. Anyway the experience left me wondering. Are we looking to shout what we believe louder, or explore, independently or together, expanding the limits of perception?

Slipping into a mode of ‘defending’ instead of ‘listening’ happens in a flash. Of course the real gap is from the time you’ve lost your temper, till the time that you know that you have, if you even get that far. Because we’re not talking about raging storms, just a ‘hardening of the categories’* enough to where, the conversation’s chance of enhancing understanding, fades like the winter sun. What’s the gap in time, once and if, you’ve recovered from that conversation enough to just start looking for your temper?

When I thought why is the message so poignant to me? Is it because we all do that, because it’s easier to see the speck in your neighbor’s eye than the moat in your own? Seeing how extreme, a self-created blindness, it was, I accepted how much I was doing it, how inevitable that we all do it. It is how the understandings we build our lives on, are built.

Mathew 6:14, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

It is a poem that couples so nicely with words of the founder of Aikido.

“Aikido is not for correcting others. It is for correcting the discord in your own mind. The enemies to defeat are the devils in our own hearts.”

Seeing the potential for correcting my own mind, I began, to use the phrase my teacher uses, ‘easy the I’. I started to let go of how rigidly I was holding my beliefs and opening into an increasingly more creative space. I did so, struggling with the frustration that I might’ve been the only one doing it. Everyone else was, more than likely, busy re-telling themselves and anyone who would listen, how what they thought, was right. That is a much easier path to follow, than ever wondering whether or not our beliefs were true and whether or not they were, how one would know it. The realm of wonder scares some people. It attracts others.

As my spirit started to relax a bit  more, my vistas opened on an empowered dialogue, at least in my own thinking, if not with those who failed to exercise their right to do the same. My sense of being opened on an ever-refining perception.  My compassionate understanding of how limited  each of our abstractions of reality is, took on another realm of possibility. It is through re-linking our experience with the totality, and through that eternal study alone, that will take us beyond trying to ‘solve the problems we face with the thinking that created them’.

Create a Beautiful World!

  • ‘hardening of the categories’ is a phrase i gleeped from Tom Crumb, “The Magic of Conflict”, a brilliant translation of aikido into practical life application.

Belief Hinders True Understanding – J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life

Belief Hinders True Understanding

If we had no belief, what would happen to us? Shouldn’t we be very frightened of what might happen? If we had no pattern of action, based on a belief -either in God, or in communism, or in socialism, or in imperialism, or in some kind of religious formula, some dogma in which we are conditioned -we should feel utterly lost, shouldn’t we? And is not this acceptance of a belief the covering up of that fear- the fear of being really nothing, of being empty? After all, a cup is useful only when it is empty; and a mind that is filled with beliefs, with dogmas, with assertions, with quotations, is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind. To escape from that fear – that fear of emptiness, that fear of loneliness, that fear of stagnation, of not arriving, not succeeding, not achieving, not being something, not becoming something – is surely one of the reasons, is it not, why we accept beliefs so eagerly and greedily? And, through acceptance of belief, do we understand ourselves? On the contrary. A belief, religious or political, obviously hinders the understanding of ourselves. It acts as a screen through which we look at ourselves. And can we look at ourselves without beliefs? If we remove these beliefs, the many beliefs that one has, is there anything left to look at? If we have no beliefs with which the mind has identified itself, then the mind, without identification, is capable of looking at itself as it is& – and then, surely there is the beginning of the understand of oneself. – Krishnamurti, J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life

The Thalamic Pause: Whole Brain Awareness

You are always invited, while you listen/read/watch, any time really, to slow and deepen your breathing. Improve your posture transferring support from the muscular system to the skeletal structure. Allow the weight of the body to pour downward into the support of the earth, making this a time of rejuvenation as well as learning.*

When someone speaks, the brain activates, creating ‘meaning’ . The synapses in the brain connect to form our understanding of an experience, or of what we ‘think’ was said. Thought, creating meaning, takes time. Pathways previously connected, connect faster than new connections, which form relatively slowly and require more energy / effort and time. All of us, the species, as a survival mechanism, tend to be victim to our reactivity. We ‘shoot first and ask questions afterwards’. Maybe sometimes, but not usually, the best policy.

When water flows down a soft hillside it carves gullies into the hillside. From then on whenever water flows down that hillside, it tends to flow down the same gullies. The Mississippi River is a huge gully, where water flow follows an established path. The energy of thought also follows established patterns. The ‘meaning we make’ becomes by default our understanding of the world, out of which all our decisions and strategies are designed. Our understandings, our beliefs, can be as fixed as a river’s path and seemingly impossible to change. Then we no longer actually ‘think’ creatively. Instead, we become prisoners of our own thoughts, and our past understandings.       (see earlier post, Create Your Own Star Map.)

A man named Alfred Korzybski, put forward the concept of the ‘Semantic Pause’, also called the ‘Thalamic Pause’. The Thalamic Pause teaches, that, as you give thought time, understanding begins to take on different or deeper meaning.

The Thalamic Pause implies a shift in thinking. Thinking, which eventually includes feeling, produces an increasingly holistic picture that we draw of the world. Given time, understanding goes from  first impressions about something, to a deeper, a more implicate level of meaning, value or significance to our lives.

Paying attention to how we ascertain value, how we make meaning, empowers creativity, Creativity in turn, makes us more effective in decision-making, and life in general. So, although a bit abstract, I’m hoping this knowledge will help increase your self-reflectivity. The past  then, rather than a limitation, becomes an aid in being able to change and correct course, to creatively and intelligently design your life.


{Interested in a deeper understanding of the possibilities implied? Harmony in Creativity, Energy and Human Brain Function: The Thalamic Discourses      is available as a free download

Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski ([kɔˈʐɨpski]; July 3, 1879 – March 1, 1950) was a Polish-American independent scholar who developed a field called general semantics, which he viewed as both distinct from, and more encompassing than, the field of semantics. He argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed, and thus no one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain’s responses to reality. His best known dictum is “The map is not the territory“.

In the nervous system, a synapse[1] is a structure that permits a neuron (or nerve cell) to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another neuron. Some authors generalize this concept to include the communication from a neuron to any other cell type,[2] such as to a motor cell, although such non-neuronal contacts may be referred to as junctions (a historically older term).

It’s not only not what you say, or even not how you say it. It’s where you’re coming from!

After i posted , “No, really, let’s talk about it”, our friend Aimee from FL author of, Stress Less Achieve More sent me this. “I really liked your blog. Perhaps in the next installment you can talk about how you get from being afraid to speak up, to telling your truth. Just a thought (as you would say).” So here’s a thought.

One of the major sources of stress in our lives is incomplete communication. Very often, we have something on our minds that we’d like to say, but we don’t. We lock it up inside and withhold it. The result is, any time we do interact with a person from whom we’re withholding information, there’s always a holding mirrored in the body. Sometimes it is subtle, and we don’t notice it. Sometimes it’s intense and we can’t wait to get away, we think, from them. There are people that it is better to distance yourself from. More often, it’s not the distance that needs to change. It’s our attitude. It’s our communication, internal as well as external.

When you are in harmony with yourself, in a safe environment, you naturally express your being. When you are ‘out of sorts’, that expression colored by your inner tension, can be blocked or comes out under pressure making it hard to hear.

Think about anything that you have to say that hasn’t been said. First, check out, ‘where you’re coming from’. Once, or if, you notice your tension is adding to the problem, change your state. This is an invitation to take a minute, and however slightly, slow and deepen your breathing, finding a posture you like better, relax your muscles. If you do decide to finish an incomplete communication, do this first!

Then look again. In a better state, is there some way you could communicate what you have to say, finding a positive and encouraging and supportive way of transmitting this information? Is there a non-violent way to make this request, which means without making the other person “wrong”? Simply sharing what you see, and would like to see.

Dealing with ‘Unusual Attitudes’ Part III

In earlier posts, we used the word ‘temper’ as a window. Recently, we explored through the word ‘attitude’, drawing on the aeronautic usage for richness of meaning. Attitude affects our effectiveness in achieving our goals. More significantly, it designs how we choose, which goals we choose.

Pilots have gauges and indicators that monitor ‘pitch & yaw’, and they practice dealing with ‘unusual attitudes’. Practicing a greater sensitivity to our ‘life indicators’, empowers monitoring and adjusting, our attitude, our approach to life. Developing sensitivity and skills to be responsible with our attitude, also empowers us in dealing with the attitudes of others. Dealing with people with unusual attitudes becomes a lot easier if you are familiar enough with the indicators and ‘listening’.

When you’re dealing with people with unusual attitudes, ‘first put on your own oxygen mask’. Explore monitoring your openness and willingness to listen, your sense of energy ‘flow’, staying connected to the source that activates the breath. Use your indicators to create an attitude that is appropriate to your goal, regardless of the difficult or unusual attitude of another.

Your indicators provide information that enhances your choices, IF, you’re paying attention. Without recognizing tensing in the body, shallower breathing, and even subtler, resistance in the mind, we are ‘flying blind’. If you lose your ground, and are easily drawn into their off-balance, out of control, mentality. Then, you’re not part of the solution. You’re part of the problem.

The power to choose comes from awareness, from listening. Were we conscious of the effect attitude plays in creating our lives, we would pay a lot more attention individually, and as a society. And if we did, the return on investment would be incredibly high.

“Create a beautiful world.”



[at-i-tood, -tyood]                 noun

1.manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind:

a negative attitude; group attitudes.

2.position or posture of the body appropriate to or expressive of an action, emotion, etc.:

a threatening attitude; a relaxed attitude.

3.Aeronautics. the inclination of the three principal axes of an aircraft relative to the wind, to the ground, etc.

Dealing with ‘Unusual Attitudes’ Part II

In the last post, I mentioned that aeronautics uses the term ‘attitudes’ to describe a plane’s orientation to flight. The study and practice of dealing with ‘unusual attitudes’ is part of training as a pilot.

Planes have attitude indicators. (see 1. below) Yet, pilots, in the midst of tests of unusual attitudes, often don’t believe their instruments. Surprisingly many end up flying the plane upside down.

In navigating life, so much of learning to function in a social world, interferes with our listening to our inner guidance, it is not uncommon to lose touch. Sensing unusual attitudes should activate, ‘listening to our indicators’, but instead, how often we resist. We ‘fly upside down’, adding to the problem.

Maybe we need some practice in listening to our indicators. Since, not unlike the aforementioned pilots, how much are we able to see our own attitudes, in relation to a larger, more precise or accurate view of the world?

Through the study of seeing in others an unwillingness to consider alternate ideas, we may begin seeing our own ‘unusual attitudes’. That would truly be power. Seeing the speck in our neighbor’s eye is infinitely easier, than to see in one’s self, our unwillingness to change our acquired orientation, often in the face of overwhelming, contradictory information. That may be the most usual attitude towards unusual attitudes that exists.

O sensei said, “Aikido is not for correcting others. It is for correcting the discord in your own mind.”

Now, there is a path with heart, which is why it takes courage.


1.) An attitude indicator (AI), also known as gyro horizon or artificial horizon or attitude director indicator (ADI, when it has a Flight Director), is an instrument used in an aircraft to inform the pilot of the orientation of the aircraft relative to Earth’s horizon.

Pitch attitude is the angle formed by the longitudinal axis, and bank attitude is the angle formed by the lateral axis.

Dealing with ‘Unusual Attitudes’ Part I


Aeronautics uses the term ‘attitudes’ to describe a plane’s orientation to flight. The study and practice of dealing with ‘unusual attitudes’ is part of training as a pilot. It has useful parallels for piloting our lives.

One’s attitude towards other people’s attitudes, seeing unusual attitudes as a learning challenge, enhances the ability to handle the situations they perpetrate. Have you ever dealt with anyone whom you felt had an unusual attitude? Unusual enough, so that it was difficult to deal with? Difficult enough, so you might even have described them, as having a difficult attitude?

Reacting to unusual/difficult attitudes with unbridled frustration can lead to blaming others and disempowering one’s self. A shift in attitude, choosing to see challenge, leads to learning. This simple, but not necessarily easy ‘shift of attitude’ creates new abilities, possibilities, potentially a new world, certainly a different one.

Awareness or the lack thereof, is fundamental to whether we are ‘part of the solution or part of the problem’. This is true not only in our own life. It affects the lives of everyone, whose lives mix with ours.

O sensei said, “Aikido is not for correcting others. It is for correcting the discord in your own mind.”


Dealing with ‘Unusual Attitudes’ Part II – next week

No, Really! Let’s Talk About it!

A large company found varying levels of productivity in different locations. They found that the employees in the productive areas felt happy and the unproductive locations the opposite. Turned out, the productive employees felt more compensated, and the unproductive employees felt underpaid. Since the employees were paid virtually the same, something else was causing the perception, that the level of compensation, was or was not enough.

Very consistently in the locations where the people were happy and productive, they felt that they had open, clear, two-way communication with their bosses. And where unproductive, the people felt that they could not speak openly, did not have an open dialogue, or that the bosses did not listen to them when they did speak. I’m going to extrapolate that this distinction applies equally to the happiness of families and fulfillment in personal relationships.

I invite you to notice and calibrate, what is true for you here. What quality of communication do you perceive you have, with the person you report to, then with the people who report to you, with your friends and family? How comfortable do you imagine you would be having a conversation, asking if they feel they have open communication with you? Would they be honest if asked? Or are you and your culture prone to ‘work around’ these kinds of problems?

Perhaps you think your culture is honest and open, let me ask, do you actually have these conversations? Indicatively, do you seek to improve the skills to make it possible? Mostly, are you creating a culture and thereby a company, a family, a society, that values honesty and openness? Do you want to?


If not you, who?

If not now, when?

Don’t get mad. Don’t EVEN get even. Get What You Want! Part II Tempering Your Temperament!

Don’t get mad. Don’t EVEN get even. Get What You Want! Part II

Tempering Your Temperament!: Finding Your Best Functioning Place:

‘Don’t lose your temper’, what does that mean exactly? Ever watch anyone lose their temper. You can’t watch yourself do it because ‘losing it’ implies losing the ability to see yourself in relation to your actions. The reptilian brain short circuits the conscious functions of the brain. In that state one makes choices at a reptilian level of thought. Our ability to make conscious choices, in Daniel Coleman’s term, is, ‘hijacked by our amygdala’. All the power and capability of the brain development that followed is lost. At least until you regain your temper.

In the day of the sword tempering metal was one of the highest arts. The Japanese sword makers were masters. If the sword is heated too much or cools too quickly, it becomes brittle. If it’s not heated enough or cooled too slowly it doesn’t harden. In which case, It either it won’t hold an edge or it will shatter when struck.

Our psyches, our souls, our natures have a similar resonance in that there exists a similar potential for developing an edge of consciousness that will cut through all the difficulties of the world. Incisive thought divines and creates the world that you live in. The meaning you make creates your life, even if seemingly gradually. It is in the power of your temperament to move your life in the direction and quality of being that you’d like to experience and that you like to share in the world.

Learning to temper your spirit, so that you have the strength and durability that you need without becoming brutal or insensitive, develops the power to focused on creating a beautiful world

Don’t get mad. Don’t EVEN get even. Get What You Want!

The power of one’s ‘temper’ is the ability to hold in one field of consciousness the highest functions of cognition and the power of our emotional intelligence, working together to create the cutting edge of the sword of wisdom.

Your energy and your attention and their quality of focus are the most powerful resources you have. They enable you to perceive, think and take action. Are you conscious of how you use your power, how you focus your energy and attention (make meaning) and the quality of temperament out of which you take action? If your energy goes into anger or paying back past wrongs, then since your energy is focused on what you don’t want, that’s what you create. Have you ever spent your money on something, only to realize afterwards, it was a purchase you wish you had not have made? If there was something else you wanted more, how do you stay focused on what you want, rather than trinkets or baubles? How do you envision creating the world you’d like to live in, rather than being caught in the negative eddies and pools that distract you from it?

The shift depends on the interrelationship of an individual to their environment. In the larger picture, the degree of investment in defense in the nation reflects the defensiveness of the individuals. Too often the reptilian brain is spending our precious resources instead of the creation of what we want.

Don’t get mad. Don’t EVEN get even.

‘Create a Beautiful World’


just a footnote

looking towards the origin of the word thought you might find some value in defining the concept


ˈtempər/noun: temper

  1. 1.

a person’s state of mind seen in terms of their being angry or calm.

“he rushed out in a very bad temper”

  • a tendency to become angry easily.

“I know my temper gets the better of me at times”

synonyms: angerfuryrageannoyancevexationirritationirritabilityill humorspleenpique,petulance, testiness, tetchiness, touchiness, crabbiness; More
  • an angry state of mind.

“Drew had walked out in a temper

synonyms: fit of rage, ragefury, fit of pique, tantrumbad moodmoodsulkhuff; More
  1. 2.

the degree of hardness and elasticity in steel or other metal.

“the blade rapidly heats up and the metal loses its temper”


verb: temper; 3rd person present: tempers; past tense: tempered; past participle: tempered; gerund or present participle: tempering

  1. 1.

improve the hardness and elasticity of (steel or other metal) by reheating and then cooling it.

  • improve the consistency or resiliency of (a substance) by heating it or adding particular substances to it.
synonyms: hardenstrengthentoughenfortifyanneal

“the steel is tempered by heat”

  1. 2.

serve as a neutralizing or counterbalancing force to (something).

“their idealism is tempered with realism”

synonyms: moderatemodifymodulatemitigatealleviatereduceweakenlightensoften

“their idealism is tempered with realism”

  1. 3.

tune (a piano or other instrument) so as to adjust the note intervals correctly.



Old English temprian ‘bring something into the required condition by mixing it with something else,’ from Latin temperare ‘mingle, restrain oneself.’ Sense development was probably influenced by Old Frenchtemprer ‘to temper, moderate.’ The noun originally denoted a proportionate mixture of elements or qualities, also the combination of the four bodily humors, believed in medieval times to be the basis of temperament, hence sense 1 of the noun (late Middle English). Compare with temperament.




Simple Definition of temper

  • :to make (something) less severe or extreme
  • :to cause (something, such as steel or glass) to become hard or strong by heating it and cooling it

Full Definition of temper




  1. 1: to dilute, qualify, or soften by the addition or influence of something else :  moderate<temper justice with mercy>
  2. 2archaica:  to exercise control over :  governrestrainb :  to cause to be well disposed :  mollify <tempered and reconciled them both — Richard Steele>
  3. 3: to bring to a suitable state by mixing in or adding a usually liquid ingredient: asa :  to mix (clay) with water or a modifier (as grog) and knead to a uniform textureb :  to mix oil with (colors) in making paint ready for use
  4. 4a(1) :  to soften (as hardened steel or cast iron) by reheating at a lower temperature (2) :  to harden (as steel) by reheating and cooling in oilb :  to anneal or toughen (glass) by a process of gradually heating and cooling
  5. 5: to make stronger and more resilient through hardship :  toughen <troops tempered in battle>
  6. 6a:  to put in tune with something :  attuneb :  to adjust the pitch of (a note, chord, or instrument) to a temperament