More Growth, Less Gross

Revel in your imperfections. Be entertained by your problems. And know that once you looked ahead and wished you were where you are now. And once again you will look back and smile.

Negative practice is an evidence-based technique that I like to use in my speech therapy sessions. Once a client has mastered a new way of doing something then I will have them intentionally go back and forth between the old and the new way. By doing so they experience a clear contrast between the two. This in turn builds improved self-awareness as well as control over their own communication. It can be very empowering for the client.  Let me give you an example.

I recently completed therapy with an adult who came in with an /s/ sound distortion. (Use of the slash marks indicated a phoneme, or sound, as opposed to a letter.) After I had taught her the tongue position and airflow for her “new” /s/ and she had practiced it successfully in various word positions, I began to have her say the words the “old way.” She was amazed at how she could go back and forth between the new  /s/ and old /s/. She also began to report that the new way felt more natural while the old way felt odd and more forced. Here is a picture of her old tongue position (top) and her new tongue position (bottom) for /s/.

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I was recently using negative practice with a voice client and it struck me that negative practice helps us in life from time to time as well. Not that I recommend intentionally returning to bad habits. I wouldn’t tell a recovered smoker to pick up a cigarette just to remind himself of how good it feels to NOT smoke. But sometimes situations arise that offer us a glimpse of just how far we have come. A friend of mine might have had one of these moments recently. He posted this on Facebook:

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Sometimes the gross makes us appreciate the good that we have been taking for granted.

This also makes me think of the strange tradition we have of following Thanksgiving with Black Friday.

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I wonder what the shoppers’ spirits experience as they navigate between the sensations of gratitude and kinship versus the feeling of coveting and competition.  Or for some I’m sure it is the opposite. Perhaps Thanksgiving is a lonely time while being in the midst of others at the mall provides a sense of community.

Either way, perceiving that contrast is what opens a door for self-awarenss and understanding of what is a better way for the higher self. Just like my client became aware of her communication and identity as an actress and speaker.

As a last illustration… I heard a song on my iTunes recently that took me back. It was a song that I used to listen to during meloncholy times. I remember I would listen to it over and over because the sadness felt good. It wasn’t a great choice for me to indulge in a darkness like that–it certainly didn’t seem to help much–but it was a time in my life when I had very few other ideas of what to do with my sadness. When this song came on the other day I could feel that sweet sadness began to drip over me again and sure enough, a part of me wanted to melt into it and indulge in that melancholy. But you know what? There is a “new way” that I’ve become much more accustomed to. That I have practiced and trained for. That I have mastered to some extent. I know that telling myself that things WILL pass, making a call to a friend, meditating, lighting a candle, smiling, having a cup of tea, playing a favorite uplifting movie and painting while my cat sleeps next to me and while life goes on in the big city outside my balcony door…well, that all is part of my new way. And one thing that I know that I know that I know: that old way can’t hold a candle to my new way.

So, dear readers, try to notice your moments of negative practice that present themselves to you. When you are reminded of an old habit or pattern that isn’t beneficial to you, recognize how good it feels to NOT do that anymore. Commend yourself for having developed a new way. Give thanks for the chance to see the contrast. Ask for more and more growth and less and less gross.

Here’s to that. More growth and less gross for each of us.

~~~S Wave~~~

Month 5: Connection

Without fear, we are able to see more clearly our connections to others.
Without fear, we have more room for understanding and compassion.
Without fear, we are truly free.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Welcome to the midpoint of 2013! June brings all kinds of newness with school ending, weather shifting, summer’s potential blossoming, and for me it brings me to a new Here I Am intention. What is Here I Am? Good question. Even I have to remind myself of its purpose and realign myself with the intention behind it. As I defined it before, “It was an inventory of things that I would like to add or alter in my life,” and it is the journey of exploring those things one at a time.

My original Here I Am list looked like this:

My list of intentions

My list of intentions

The philosophy behind Here I Am is that it is not necessary to address these things with a heavily legalistic, reward-punishment type of approach to change but through a gentle acceptance of where you are now in life and a childlike curiosity for what it might be like to change the status quo for about a month. So far, I have contemplated and explored my physical health, a sneaky addiction, spiritual vitality, and non-snoozification.

Now it is time to pick the next intention off of my list. If you wonder how I pick them, it is based on a combination of my intuition and the signs that surround me. Together, these guideposts tell me pretty clearly what needs my attention next. And the winner for this month is….Connection!

By “connection” I don’t just mean having closer friends, although that is part of it. I also mean that I want deeper connections with friends–new and old. I want that depth to be spiritual and to serve as a vehicle for growth and good. I also want to feel a connection of love for those I don’t know and especially for those that I specifically have a hard time loving. I want to release myself–at least for this month–to trust people more and to accept my own worth to be connected TO! I want to feel more   community with like-minded people. But most of all, I want to act on my belief that these connections are made not only through my human effort, but also through the laws of attraction that draw us together. Acting on this belief means trusting and expecting that I will see new connections emerging in my life as I intentionally make myself available to them.

So off I go. Here’s to a great month of connection and as always, growth growth growth. I wish for all of you to also experience  an expansion of your own connection to others. Let’s expect together!

Be well!

~~~S Wave~~~

Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

― Anaïs Nin

What an amazing experience it has already been turning my attention to the spiritual more fully and consistently as part of Here I Am. Things are happening! Where to even begin?

How about with the mystery of coincidence? As I began this month of spiritual intention, I knew from experience that I would be encountering “coincidences” connecting that which would be growing in me (you can’t not grow when you sincerely seek truth) and what I encountered in the world around me. I knew this because it is true that we see things as we are. If we are watching with our spiritual selves we begin to detect the amazing spiritual synchronicity that surrounds us and even seeks us out. If we are watching with our physical eyes only, those synchronicities aren’t so obvious.

Sometimes these coincidences are unmistakable. Sometimes they are almost imperceptible. Today I experienced both. The first was blatant! In a recent prayer time, I was repeatedly reminded of the newness of each moment, including my own newness moment by moment. I saw the truth of newness differently. It made more sense to me. And there was a scripture from Revelations that was embedded in my heart for the next few days: “Behold, I make all things new.” Then today I attended a service at Agape Spiritual Center in Los Angeles, a wonderful trans-denominational center that I have not visited in almost a year. The title of the monthly theme, as it turns out, is “Ever True — Ever New,” and what scripture do you think the speaker kept returning to?  That is the kind of synchronicity that will make you sit up and listen.

But today also brought a smaller and for me sweeter coincidence. I was reading a story to my 2 year-old niece before naptime. She picked out a book called, “Scaredy Squirrel.” The last time I read this book was, again, almost a year ago.

Scaredy Squirrel

As we nuzzled on the floor reading, I got to the part where the agoraphobic Scaredy Squirrel is finally forced to leave his comfort zone, jump into thin air, only to discover that he is “no ordinary squirrel” but in fact a flying squirrel! (What better analogy for enlightenment could there be?!)

The illustrations, the words, even the sound of my own voice as I read sent a rush of spiritual acknowledgement through me. It was the feeling of connection. This particular connection was to a vision that I experienced last week during prayer. In this vision I myself had taken a plunge off a cliff and found myself not falling as I expected, but swimming through the air. I was without limitations and unshackled from all fear. I had to smile as I read this page and saw Scaredy Squirrel embrace his newfound identity with great joy. I am no ordinary squirrel! (And neither are you, by the way.)

All of this to say that the big and little coincidences that cross our paths are worthy of our attention. They emerge in the most unexpected times and places, and yet if your intention is to see them then you bet you can expect them! And what are they after all? I am convinced that they are NOT coincidences but something more. They are the infinite speaking to us and guiding us on our odd and mysterious ways. They are signposts. Listen and watch and you will know what they mean.

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Well, get ready for more of these types of posts in the upcoming weeks! How can I not share them? In my life, I have found the pursuit of truth and communion with the divine to be the most exhilarating and excellent pursuit. Uncontested. And my great, great amount of gratitude for being able to take part in that pursuit silences me quite often in my times of communion.

I wish you all a blessed week. May yours be full of signposts to bless you and remind you that your journey is important.

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And don’t forget to like us on Facebook for more frequent doses of encouragement and connection. 🙂

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UPDATE (12/12/12):

Since these last two posts that introduced my HERE I AM! plan, I have heard from a number of you telling me that you also will be writing your own list of intentions. I just want to say how honored I am to be included in this exciting and sacred journey that you are embarking on. Whether there are big changes ahead for you, small steps that you will take, or simply increased awareness about your life, I send you all my encouragement and love. I’m right there with you and look forward to hearing about your experience.

~~~S Wave~~~

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After writing about my HERE I AM list in yesterday’s post (don’t forget to read it!), I was left wondering when I should write my list. As soon as possible? January 1st? Midmonth? I left the questions to answer themselves. (A good thing to practice, by the way.)

And then a friend pointed out to me that tomorrow is 12/12/12. She said that she is planning on writing out her own HERE I AM! list of intentions tomorrow because it “feels like a strong spiritual day.” I couldn’t agree more! It was a lovely coincidence because my sister and I were planning on being together on the evening of 12/12/12 and after reading the post, she said she may feel inspired to write one as well. What a beautiful evening it will be then! And yet a third perk for choosing tomorrow: I will now  have an easily remembered date on which to rotate to a new intention. January 12th, February 12h, March 12th…and so on.

So that was decided. Tomorrow night, there will be a special little ceremony as we listen to our hearts, write our lists, and bless them with some words of kindness, gentleness and faith. Then begins the first month of

HERE I AM!

Out of curiosity, I did want to see if 12/12/12 had any special spiritual meaning. Oh, the things you can find on the internet! But instead of summarizing them here, I am instead going to tell you: make the day what YOU want it to be. Celebrate, pray, love, panic…..in the end, what you expect is probably to some extent what you are going to get. So choose wisely! I know I am.

Perspective: Past the Pale Blue Dot

Earth and Moon from 114 Million Miles (Photo source: http://messenger.jhuapl.edu)

Earth and Moon from 114 Million Miles (Photo source: http://messenger.jhuapl.edu)

Have you ever been so submerged in a problem or a struggle. It seems like there is no way over, around, under or through the surmountable task before you? There have been times when I have implored, “I need a different perspective! NOW! I’m blinded by circumstance!” Well, it may not be a complete paradigm shift…it may not be enlightenment…but here is a little message from me to myself. From me to you, as well. From Carl Sagan to all of us. Maybe from God to you if you feel it is so.

So take some deep, slow breaths. Let your awareness, or just your imagination, rise into the galactic level. Feel the universe humming with energy, vibration, connection between all things that are held together in some kind of mind-boggling, miraculous harmony. Now glance down at our little, wonderful world and see yourself there. Smile and wave at yourself. Tell yourself, “It will all be okay.”

Connectedness…Experience It In IMAX!

“What wouldn’t I give now for a never-changing map of the ever-constant ineffable? To possess, as it were, an atlas of clouds.”         —David Mitchell

I’ve been gone for a little while, but let’s not dwell on that. Following a very tough August and a September of emotional recuperation I’m back!!!! Yay!!! And you know what I could use? A really good movie.

Perfect. Because today I saw the trailer for the new movie Cloud Atlas which is scheduled to be in theaters October 26th. Have you seen it? It looks…mmm…complicated. Like somewhere between Memento and The Tree of Life. But still, the trailer was intriguing, and the film looks potentially beautiful. It is based on a 2004 book by David Mitchell. I read a few quotes from the book and am looking forward to reading it as soon as I can. I’ve been looking for a new read after zipping through Hunger Games a few Saturdays ago, so this comes at a perfect time. I think that a little dose of fiction that gives a hopeful and positive message is just what the doctor ordered.

But the trailer caught my attention for a few other reasons…….

First, the movie was directed by Tom Tykwer who directed Run Lola Run, along with Lana and Andy Wachowski who wrote The Matrix. Talk about crazy creative minds working together! I mean, just look at them! I think with that team doing the screen adaptation, the producing and the direction, there is a very good chance this film will be a mind-bending IMAX adventure with a deeper takehome message than you’ll get from the average blockbuster.

Photo from thebigstory.ap.org

Then you add the cast! Tom hanks and Halle Berry carry the lead roles. I rest my case. Not enough? Okay, let’s add Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, and on and on.

Next, need I point out that it has nothing to do with the presidential campaigns?

Finally, and most importantly to me, one of the main themes that is explored in the film is connection. The tagline is, Everything is Connected. The film follows 6 tales that intertwine through past, present, and future and reflect all the inevitables of the human experience (love, hate, birth, death, etc.) while countering those inevitables with our own power to impact the boundless spaces and times. (Could it be Crash spread out over 300 years??) One quote reads, “…And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” As you know, we are interested in the same ideas at Life As a Wave. Connectedness…. plus a dash of romance and a dab of special effects…we’ll be there!

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