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If You Hear the Message Three Times, LISTEN
by Patricia Heller
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
283 pages
Reviewed by Coach Bradley
If You Hear the Message is a highly readable and inspiring account of Patricia Heller’s transformation of suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) to becoming a spiritual and self aware healer. She takes us on a journey from curing her ‘incurable’ illness to investigating healing hands, past life regression, shamanism, manifesting greatness, automatic writing, heart centred transformation, her inner gypsy woman and many more. The book is actually an excellent survey of the healing arts in America over the past fifteen years.

The title refers to what she calls “listening to the universe”. When you hear the same message three times, it is time to pay attention. She gives several examples of when she heard messages three times before she got it. In a heart centred transformation centre in the Arizona desert she heard the teacher tell someone to move her energy to her heart and ‘let it go’. This didn’t make any sense to her at all. The second time she was in awe standing over the Grand Canyon. She turned to her teacher and told her how it was so beautiful it hurt her heart. She was told to ‘let it go.’ She looked at him as if he was an alien. Let go of what, she thought? During a full blown attack of CFS at the centre she was again told to ‘let it go’ when the penny finally dropped. She realized that holding onto her anger was making her physically sick. She had to hear it three times before she was able to really hear it and ‘get it’. That was her last attack of CFS.

In case you are thinking there isn’t a healing art Patricia doesn’t like, rest assured that she approaches them intelligently and with a healthy skepticism that is often absent in books of this type. The road she is on is long and winding, full of insights, pot holes, blind alleys and magnificent vistas. Patricia takes us on the tour with excitement, passion and humility, without trying to make us into converts or convince us that she has found ‘the path’ to enlightenment. In a graceful and humble way, she describes what she found on her own quest for enlightenment and if there is a piece you can take away from it then she has done her job.

Readers are rewarded by Patricia’s insights and warmth; she does an excellent job of writing clearly and extracting the meaning out her experiences. I marveled at her curiosity and capacity to absorb and integrate so many different teachings and to draw important lessons from them that have relevance for a general audience. This book is especially exciting for those who are or who are thinking of going on a similar journey of self discovery.

As a coach I am constantly reminded that it is not the events that shape our lives so much as how we respond to them that is what makes us who we are. This book demonstrates how a woman with spunk, determination, courage, curiosity, a great sense of humour overcame a seemingly hopeless situation and the death of her husband to arrive in a place of wisdom, compassion and happiness.

Bradley Foster is a Gestalt-trained life and leadership coach who lives in Toronto and practices across North America.

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Painting by Vytas

Do you feel  like your stomach is in knots?  Overlaid by anxiety, worry and general angst?  You are not alone.  According to the November 14, 2006 issue of Human Resource Executive Online, “People issues” is the No. 1 reason for high stress levels at work, according to a recent survey.  That’s right, “forget the stresses over economic issues or possible layoffs, for most employees, it’s their co-workers who are driving them up a wall.”  Sound familiar? 

Pressures in the competitive marketplace place greater demands on employees to cooperate and become team players resulting in more opportunities for conflict.  Rather than increasing productivity, less gets done with more difficulty.  Stress is on the rise. 

Tibetan monks and the Dhali Llama have achieved a highly evolved state of calm – that’s great, but do they live in the real world?  Do they face the real pressures of commuting, with having to face uncooperative colleagues and staff who resist every prime directive.  If you’re in leadership, you sometimes feel like you’re running a department of toddlers:  remember the terrible two’s?  Does it seem like all you hear is ‘no’ and why it can’t be done?  If you’re a member of a team, do you feel like no one cares?  The infamous ‘they’ don’t understand; they have all of us working harder, forget smarter.  When will it stop?  How do I get off this rollercoaster?  This isn’t fun anymore.

So as we get more and more miserable in our comfort zones, how do we get the world to stop and find the oasis in the workplace?  There’s only one solution.  You have to begin to take accountability for your role in this quagmire of social discomfort.  Once you accept that your actions, your behavior, impact the group, you are taking the first step toward shifting this paradigm.

Before you can start adjusting your reactions, you first need to turn down the stress volume.  There are many reported health benefits of meditation including reducing your stress.  Read the article from “Psychology Today” that substantiates the benefits of meditation.  For most people, meditation is a pipe dream.  It doesn’t even enter their world.  For most of us, it is very difficult to take even 15 minutes to quiet the mind and shut out the world.  So, I have developed a two minute creative visualization that only requires interest and an imagination to perform.  By practicing this visualization you will begin to regain clarity and insight to help you understand what is really going on at work rather than responding to everyone else’s reactions. 

Two Minute Creative Visualization:

Before starting this visualization, think back to a moment when you were intensely happy.  Notice the first memory that pops into your head.  This memory will be your anchor image as you proceed. 

Sit in a comfortable position and plant both feet on the floor.  Close your eyes.  Take in a deep inhaling breath and exhale deeply.  Take in 2 more deep breaths.  Imagine your memory of intense happiness.  Take in the sights, sounds, smells, and how you feel.  Revel in the sensations.  Now imagine a huge oak tree.  Take notice of the thick deep roots of the tree.  Now pretend that you are growing thick deep tree roots from the base of your spine.  Stay with me on this.  Remember you are using your imagination.  They are growing thicker and deeper, down, down, down, to the core, the center of the earth.  As you exhale, you are releasing all your worries, frustrations, concerns, and all your stress down these tree roots.  You have reconnected to your center and your insight will be clearer and sharper.

I would recommend tape recording this technique, playing relaxing music, and just allowing yourself a couple of minutes to go through this visualization.  Practice it once in the morning and once in the evening before retiring.  You can also use it in between for calming the nerves.

Click here for more information on how to turn down the stress volume, as we ease into the holiday season.  Stay tuned for more tips on managing and reducing stress in future articles. 

Your Creativity Coach, Wanda

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Why can’t work be fun?  The implication is that real work must be difficult, a struggle.  But the true essence of work, the glorious part of work, is being creative.  Enjoying work, or finding some element in it that you can be passionate about, puts you in the frame of mind that encourages creativity.

While fun in work helps nurture creativity, frenetic energy acts against it.  Frenetic energy is that awful experience of buzzing around a lot but ultimately accomplishing little.  It’s panic mode, when you work against yourself and feel stressed out, completely overwhelmed, and besieged by deadlines with everything due at once.  No time to breathe; to grab a meal; to run to the bathroom.

For a long time, I lived this type of life.  Working in the corporate world, there were many times that I didn’t take time to eat, use the bathroom or even catch a breath between meetings.  When we are frenetic, there is no room for fun, creativity suffers, and our health and overall well-being is in jeopardy.

It has taken me a long time to become aware that I was operating in a frenetic work mode.  Once it becomes habit, it’s difficult to break free from it.  In addition, the workload itself grows, since others come to expect you’ll break your back to squeeze out one more project.  Rather than becoming a champion for winning ideas that would make the product or service remarkable, the most one can hope for is checking off another checkbox, mission accomplished.  I made the deadline.  Next …

Self-proclaimed experts will tell you to simply apply affirmations and you will break free; to write down your intention to change and seal it in an envelope or repeat the words to yourself as a mantra:  “I will slow down.  I will focus.  I will learn to have fun.”  Unfortunately, this approach is not very effective.  Just ask millions of folks who vow to lose a few pounds and desperately float from one diet to the next, only to fail time and time again.

Just like getting in shape, the key to successfully abandoning frenetic work habits is to truly embrace changing our lifestyle, deep inside.  To be fit for the rest of our lives, we must commit to permanently changing our eating habits and making exercise routine just like brushing our teeth.  To leave the frenetic work style, or even to simply find passion in the work we do, it takes the same level of commitment.

Tip:  Research studies cite that it takes at least 28-30 days to change a habit.  After about a month, any new activity that is introduced will become a routine.  So, the key is being consistent and introducing change one little step at a time.

The results are worth it.  Once we are truly enjoying what we do, or find a way to bring out the passion in what we do, creativity is free to flow.  We become receptive to new ideas and we seed the world with fresh insights of our own.  We ship remarkable products.  We provide outstanding services.  We build new and exciting client relationships.  We self-actualize.  We value excellence and being remarkable.  And that’s what makes it all worthwhile.    

In the book, “Purple Cow,” Seth Godin acknowledges that we are all born unique but only a few of us are remarkable.  While vacationing in France, he was mesmerized for twenty minutes gazing at herds of cows covering the portrait rich landscape when suddenly they all faded into oblivion.  When an image of a purple cow appeared in his mind, this image grabbed his attention and began his thought experiment.  “The essence of the Purple Cow is that it must be remarkable.”  His “book is about the why, the what, and the how of remarkable.”   

We all have innate creativity.  While reading Seth Godin’s blog on Coloring Inside the Lines and Mary Warner’s blog, I’d Rather Color Outside the Lines, I realized that every individual has a unique voice that must be discovered.  Did you color inside or outside the lines when you were young? 

The key is awakening the creative sleeper inside, or simply freeing it from the frenetic work style monster.  In the coming articles, I will explore the familiar as well as the uncharted terrain of the world of creativity.  Will you join me on this journey?  Click here for more information on discovering your creative power.  Stay tuned for new scenes and interesting adventures as we enter the creative playground. 

 

 Will you come out and play?

 Wanda

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