Meaningful Moments On The Journey
Meaningful Moments On The Journey
- Earth Goddess Day, 1993
- Rebecca and the wild rose
- Child proofing
- Unconscious abilities
- Why doesn't it stick?
- Chuck's "Hope Rocks"
- Integrating new moves, lessons from the NBA
( My wife and I had attended an
event on the slopes above the
Moving Beyond The Pain Changes The Pain Into Strength and Integration
I was stretched out on a blanket on the grass in the shade of the giant oak tree. While lying on my back I could see the bright blue sky and a few wispy, feathery clouds being blown about at a very high altitude. I was thinking about what a perfect way it was to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The surroundings were perfect. I had spent a vigorous day in the sunshine on
one of the high slopes of the Columbia River Gorge where there is a
breathtaking view of
My wife and I were sharing a lunch, resting on the lawn of the historic museum and enjoying an inspiring Spring day. The bonus was the Native American drumming group that was invited to share their ethnic music with us.
About 60 picnickers had circled their blankets around the eight individuals who sat on mettle folding chairs around the large flat drum supported by four pegs. The drumming group consisted of four Native Americans and four Non-Indians. They were old and young, both men and women. They all beat in unison and chanted. The tempo and the chants were periodically changed by the leader; or, he would exchange chants with the others. I have long had an intense curiosity about the Native American traditions and religions and I cannot overstate how much of a treat I was considering this afternoon.
The gentle flow of the experience was interrupted when the leader of the drummers began to address the group.
He said, "I would like to dedicate this next song to all of you who have been concerned about the earth and her welfare today. And if you feel you deserve it, please stand up. I strongly recommend that you stand up."
I know I got up at least as fast as anyone else there. When I glanced around I could see that everyone was standing and facing the drummers.
The leader continued to speak, " We waited here for several hours. It was extremely hot and we were sitting up there in the sun where the stage had been set up earlier. We didn't know if you were going to show up. We didn't know whether to wait or go home. A few of the group started to complain. I told them that I never endorse a complaint. Sometimes when we experience pain, we complain. But life is full of pain and if you complain, you get stuck in the pain. At that spot a few inches behind the scar we call a naval, there is a small boy or a small girl who is stuck in their issues. Some would say they are stuck in their shit. I would never say that. I believe the challenge of being alive is to move the heart beyond the pain. And, if you choose a path beyond the pain, then all the pain will make you strong. To this I dedicate this song."
Then he sat down with his group and played a very powerful and emotional drumming and chanting song, while the audience stood and listened transfixed and transformed.
When he finished his introduction to the song, I knew immediately how powerful what he said had been and I asked my own inner Grand Integrator, the center point of every cell and every system and every part of my personality to be open to this transformation. I could feel the search through my history for issues to move beyond and the crystallization of strength.
After the song, there was a long silence. Then I spoke out involuntarily and loudly to the drummers. "Thank you for the song; you affected me very deeply."
The fire was crackling with enthusiasm and the brick fireplace was beginning to warm the area in front of the hearth. It was getting cold outside as it does in the Spring at the cabin, actually, it gets cold at night all year round. Paul had put some Miles Davis on the CD Player and poured a shot of Powers Irish Whiskey for each of us. We settled back in the two low rocking chairs in front of the fire and just enjoyed the glow of the fire and jazz. .
“Paul, do you ever wonder how things come to be? I mean sometimes the seemingly unexpected happens and you wonder if maybe way back many years ago something happened that set this course. I have been thinking about that a lot lately.”
“What do you mean, Dad? Were you thinking of a specific happening?”
“Well, I feel sort of uncomfortable talking like an old man; but I guess I am. I get this sense that things are tied together over many years but of course I can’t prove it. Take the case of Rebecca and JW moving to Idaho and living in the woods. On one hand, this seems totally out of the blue. But I wonder if the seeds weren’t planted for this decision many years ago. Let me tell you this story.”
“When Rebecca was about three-years-old, we were staying at the cabin for a few days during the summer. It must have been 1977. You would have been thirteen. Rebecca was walking up the little trail coming from the pump house and right at the corner of the house on the west side of the trail there was a wild rose bush with several bright colored flowers. Rebecca saw the flower and quickly reached up with her hand and grabbed the branch several inches below the flower. Her hand pressed down firmly on the tiny sharp thorns and she let out a scream. Her eyes welled up with tears and she ran into the cabin crying. The flower was left in the dust on the path. It took a long time to console her.”
After awhile I suggested to her that we go outside. She adamantly refused. She wasn’t going outside and she wasn't’t going to get near any bushes. She said, “There are bushes everywhere out there and I don’t want to get stuck with a thorn.”
Eventually, I persuaded her to come onto the deck and we looked at the path where the thorns were; but she would not budge from the deck, repeating over and over that she was not going near any bushes.
After some time, I picked up the stem with thorns and the wild rose that she had discarded and sat down with her.
"Rebecca, look at this branch from the flower bush. There is a very beautiful flower on it and if you touch this bush you have to be very careful. You can not grab the stem. If you do touch the stem, you have to look at it very carefully and only put your finger between the thorns. But the important thing is that every bush out there on the trail is different. So, if you look at each bush carefully and are able to tell how they differ from each other, you will be able to tell which ones you can touch and which ones you can’t touch and which one you have to be very careful when touching. So the secret of not getting hurt by the bushes is being able to tell the difference between them. Just look at them very carefully and study them before touching them."
She listened to what I said but she did not really let me know what she thought about this.
When we left the cabin I cut the wild roses from the bush and a bunch of the surrounding grasses and bushes and I made a bouquet. And I kept this bouquet in a cup in my office for many years and I often told people this story about Rebecca and how she learned to discriminate between the flowers and the thorns.
Then 16 years later, without any advice or consultation from me, she signed up for a major in Environmental Science and eventually received her BS in Environmental Science. Then later she did some research for the Forest Service.
And she, more than anyone else I have ever talked to, can articulate the nature of an ecological system in nature.
So I often wonder if my little explanation about flowers and thorns made any unconscious difference in her eventual decision. Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t. But I do wonder about it.
What I really like about being alive are the daily surprises.
Right there around the corner or in the garden or in the sky or from the lips of child or a good friend or a stranger; I can anticipate a discovery that will delight me.
Just as a child like Annalise spends her day reaching for whatever is just now out of reach, we all go through our lives naturally wanting to do the same thing. In spite of the enormous energy that was invested by the educational and parenting process of our forbearers, we rebelliously keep trying to reach for the next new experience, the next opportunity to make a new neurological connections and enrich our life.
That is what the story of life is all about. .
My parents didn’t even know about “child proofing” but they had their own strategies for their version of so-call "child proofing." The best thing about child proofing is that it trains kids to find ways around all forms of “proofing” that are intended to restrict and inhibit us.
For some it is all risk or no risk. For others there is the wonderful life of exploring all the differences between safety and danger.
But/and there is the exploration and participation in experience with a non-dual mind. Just being here now.
September 19, 2003
One of the most awesome things I have experienced in life is the sense of being guided by my unconscious mind to find something of enormous value.
Twenty-years ago, when I was forty, after having a particularly puzzling dream, I felt compelled to dig through dozens of boxes in our storage room until I found an old dream journal. I then turned to a particular dream of 20 years earlier (i.e. when I was about 19) and it was identical in theme to the dream I had had the night before. Most amazingly, I realized my search for the old journal had been directed by my unconscious mind. My unconscious seemed to know where the journal was stored, although consciously I had no idea.
Are there secrets about the mind that are known by shamans over the ages but have been kept secret for various reasons?
It seems to be true that certain secrets have been banned from the public for thousands of years. Some information has always been considered dangerous to the community by those in power in charge of information dissemination. .
Are there secrets that, if generally known to most people, would contribute to world peace and integration? Probably!!
Call them secrets, kept intentionally, or just call it ignorance. Maybe it doesn't make a difference what you call it. The world is so complex; no human conscious model can fully represent it. So every model has deficiencies. And when the mind approaches and crosses the complexity horizon, then we are in an area of mystery. Even the scientists have to acknowledge the complexity horizon.
This is the area where superstition thrives. However, besides superstition, there are realities about the way in which the mind operatives that are mind boggling. So, in some ways, going through the valley of the boggled mind might be the path to utilization of these mental powers.
I wonder if there is a body of knowledge that resides in the unconscious, genetic, cellular world. Are there neurological schemas of wisdom and healing and direction and survival etc., that are simply blocked from inspection and discovery by social programming.
Let us open all our windows and look out at every piece of information. Let us OPEN THE WINDOWS on the real story of what is going on around us. Let us picture what we hear and see when we open the windows for every human being's story.
What if no person had the story of their complex human experience dismissed? What if the magic and mystery of every single human story was mined, as if it was gold? What if the mystery of every human mind was unlocked?
October 22, 2006
If there is a memorable Sunday afternoon in the park, this was it. Bright sunshine, cool Fall temperatures, view of Bellingham Sound with sailboats, children playing, laughing, surrounded by dear friends and family, engaged in meaningful, concerned discussion about life.
My daughter, Kate, my daughter-in-law, Karen and I are sharing our thoughts and ideas. It is a memorable connection.
“Check out my website and explore the many thinkers over the ages who have wisely told us how we can have peace in the world,” I say, in a shameless effort to promote my website.
Kate, with deep concern on her face wonders. “Well, I know a lot of wise people in the past have offered solutions; why haven’t any of the solutions taken? Why doesn't’t the wisdom stick?”
“That is a good question. Maybe presupposing that it is supposed to just ‘stick’, is not facing the reality that everything living has to be regenerated. Wisdom has to be passed down from generation to generation or it is lost. Read Jacques Barzun’s Dawn to Decadence. Decadence occurs when one generation fails to educate the next generation about the key realities of how to live fully, artfully, and peacefully. People who don’t participate in regeneration are degenerate,” I suggest.
Karen chimes in, brilliantly and wisely. “Another perspective is from consideration of the cone that falls from one species of Fir tree. There are actually two types of cones. One opens up immediately and the seeds are ready to germinate that season. And, there is another type of cone that also is released each year; but stays closed and hard as a rock. This second type of cone will lay dormant and will not open and release it’s seeds until it experiences the intense heat of a forest fire. So, when a forest fire burns up all the large, old trees in the forest stand, the heat from the fire will open the cones and the seeds will be available to germinate and restore the forest.. So, perhaps the same is true with the knowledge of how to live peacefully. Maybe we all have it in our genes and it is laying dormant until it experiences the environment in which it can geminate. It is just an idea.”
I wonder, “Maybe the knowledge of the peaceful way of being has been stored in the minds and hearts of just a few from generation to generation. And it will spread to all when the conditions are right. The Buddhists have a belief that it will take time, maybe millennium, but it will happen. If we keep working at it, eventually, compassion for all living beings will be pervasive.”
Kate remembers, “Wasn't’t there a woman anthropologist, Marija Gimbutas, who discovered a matriarchal society in Central Europe that lived peaceful for hundreds of years. The necessary wisdom has been passed down from generation to generation at different times in history. It is possible.”
“Certainly, teaching the next generation all we can about how peace and integration are possible is something we can do But, in this culture, we have to search for the ways to sustain peace. The knowledge does not seem readily available in this degenerate time in history. Unless, of course, you explore the internet and discover the amazing array of knowledge about integration that is available.”
Coincidently, a few days after this conversation with Kate and Karen, I discovered this word and it's definition "gong-ter (Tib., gong gter.) In Tibetan culture there is a tradition of terma: sacred objects, texts, or teachings hidden by the masters of one age for the benefit of the future age in which the termas are found. The tantric masters who discover terma are know as tertons, treasure finders. Terma have been and may be found in physical locations, such as caves or cemeteries; in elements such as water, wood, earth, or space; or received in dreams, visionary experience, and found directly in deep levels of consciousness. The latter case is known as gong-ter: mind treasure." - from "The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep" by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
When my father, Charles A. Myers, reached down and picked up an ore sample, he expected it to be laced with gold nuggets. He felt there was a real possibility that the key to the “mother load” would be evident in this next rock. This next one would be a piece out of the main vein; rich with gold or perhaps lead and silver or even a diamond. Did you ever buy a lottery ticket and have the strongest possible feeling that this was your lucky day? You are going to win the lottery this week! That is the feeling, the irrational, unbridled optimism in which Chuck indulged when he prospected.
It did not matter that Chuck, now in his 90’s had picked up hundreds of thousands of ore samples in the past and examined each with rapt fascination and that each particular sample had not been full of gold. It did not matter. His hope that the next rock would make him rich was undiminished, fresh, and fully in force, each and every time he studied the rock that was in his hand.
He knew minerals and he was constantly reading about them when he wasn’t looking for them. He was not a fool. He could discriminate and identify the mineral content of each rock. He knew which ones were more promising than others and he could recognize that the one in his hand was not THE one he was looking for. He didn’t look just anywhere. He looked and mined where there were signs and traces of what he dreamed of finding. And he enjoyed the inspection of each and every rock.
For everyone who knew Chuck and watched him prospecting, he was the patron saint of Hope. Chuck prospecting represented pure, relentless, unbreakable, unstoppable, movement toward a goal, a dream, a hope.
For people who have met Chuck and been awed by the power of his determination and undeniable,100% pure sense of hope that was manifest with each sample he inspected with his jeweler’s loupe, the ore samples from his Idaho “diggings” are symbols of undying hope.
For decades now, family members, friends, and acquaintances have taken small samples of Chuck's ore and put them in special places in their home to be reminded of the power of hope and to access their capacity for hope when they see the ore sample or handle it. The sight, touch, heft, feel, and even the smell of the rock, evokes a sense of hope. It is about never quitting and relentlessly persevering, while staying optimistic. Looking at the sample with the jeweler’s magnifying glass and seeing the beauty of the minerals brings it to an entirely different level and appreciation for the miracle of hope.
Integrating New Moves
Integrative teachers in the Buddhist tradition have pointed out that the five obstacles to liberation from the dual mind that block integration are ignorance, anger, arrogance, greed and a history of bad habits. Learning and skill development require our integrative capacities. We must take new stuff that was outside and bring it inside. We have to take unfamiliar knowledge and skill and make it our own. In many ways true learning and integration are the same. If you have not integrated it, you haven't really learned it.
In my own life, both as a participant in sports and an insider at the highest level of competitive sports, it has been fascinating to observe both the most amazing achievements of integrative functioning and the obvious barriers that prevented optimum integration. Fully functioning players are integrated. Fully functioning teams are integrated. That is, their well differentiated components, talents, players, link together to operate in a synchronized way for the emergence of optimum individual and team performance. To do this, it requires detecting and integrating new information in a planned way and in a spontaneous and improvised way during competition.
In the competitive world, improving and getting better than the competition is the order of the day. But success can be it's own worst enemy. With each new level of "success" that the competitor associates with himself or herself there is potentially a new level of pride and arrogance that can prevent the on-going acquisition of more knowledge and skill. It is a fascinating duality and the clash or synergy of these opposing capacities/tendencies can have both destructive and creative results. I became convinced of this while enmeshed in the world of NBA from 1987 through 1996.
Lessons from the National Basketball Association
In 1987, the National Basketball Association Team, The Portland Trailblazer, hired me as their "team psychologist." I was their resident consulting psychologist for five years and then it tapered off until I did my last assessment of a high school player they were considering for the draft in 1996. During two of those years the Trailblazers were in the NBA Finals. In all honesty, I learned more from the experience than I contributed to it. My primary role was in psychological assessment of college players who were NBA prospects, although I consulted in wide range of individual and team situations. The association with the coaches, players and the sports/entertainment industry provided innumerable learning opportunities. For many in the NBA and in the Blazer organization, a sports psychologists was an interloper and overtly unwelcome. For other coaches and team executives, a sports psychologist was welcome and valued and a professional confidant. It was from those who were open to me that I learned the most and to whom I feel most indebted for the knowledge and wisdom they shared. I am also grateful for many lessons I learned from those who overtly gave me only their silence and cold shoulder. For me, from a learning standpoint, the learning emerged from a synergy of opposing forces. Within the Blazer organization, I was an ally of the Director of Player Personnel, many of the players and a minority of the coaching staff, while simultaneously representing a threat to the head coaches who always felt they didn't have enough control over their destinies on the court. .
In the competitive context of high level performance, working with enormous natural talent, how do people learn and push the limit of their capacities.? How can people who are already better in a particular way than most others on the whole planet get even better? How can a coach who has potentially helpful information impart that knowledge to the talented player to improve his game? While the player may have overwhelming physical talent, they all have natural limitation to what they know. And they all, by virtue of being human, have less than perfect mental approaches to the game. So what facilitates making the great greater? How is new knowledge and skill integrated into an existing set of competencies. The key is the same key that unlocks the doors to human evolution and the integration of all of our capacities. What holds people back at the highest level of skill and at the lowest skill level is much the same. People can be their own worst enemy. Here is a teaching story about how the way we do something can prevent us from getting it done. .
One of the Trailblazers star players was regarded by the head coach, Mike Schuler as "uncoachable." This conclusion was based on the fact that at practice or when watching game films, the coach would stop the action and point out to Clyde that he had made a mistake and should have been doing X rather than Y. The coach would exclaim, "Don't you see what you did wrong here, Clyde?" And Clyde would invariably reply with an explanation to justified what he had been doing. "Well coach, I was over there doing this other thing and I felt that needed to be done." This would infuriate the coach.
You can go back and find Oregonian newspaper articles about the contentious relationship between Clyde Drexler and Mike Schuler. And what you will not find in the newspaper is the story of how an assistant coach, Jack Schalow, often spent time in practice or after practice with Clyde and they would talk about the game of basketball. Jack Schalow became my best friend in the organization and he spent hours with me explaining the game and the history of great coaches and teams in the sport. Jack, who passed away in May of 2006 was a remarkable and inspiring man. He made many trips to Southern California in his early days as a college coach getting individual mentoring from his idol, John Wooden, who won many national college championships at UCLA. Jack thought Clyde Drexler was easy to coach. He told me that he would get out on the basketball court with Clyde and ask Clyde, "Can I teach you something about this situation that tends to happen over here?" And Clyde would not hesitate in saying,"Sure." Jack would then demonstrate the new move and the new strategy that was the solution to the problem. Clyde would try the move and acknowledge the value of it and thank Jack for the idea.
Is Clyde coachable or isn't he? If he has to be "caught" at a mistake, confess his guilt, proclaim repentance, and ask for forgiveness first, then he is resistant to coaching. If he is approached respectfully, asked for permission to offer him a tip or suggestion, then he is a model student.
Regardless of how talented we are, there is always room for improvement. In the NBA it was well known that every summer, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson worked on their game and would come back in the Fall with new moves. . They were the best and they were brimming with self-confidence and they loved to work on their game and integrate new approaches to extend their capacities. . Clyde Drexler was just like MJ and Magic. He was a student of the game. Was he ready and willing to integrate new knowledge and new moves into his game immediately following a public, critical dressing-down? The "sin/repentance/redemption" model was not the most effective strategy to teach something to a person like Clyde. Presuming, respectfully, that he would want to learn and asking him about his willingness to learn was a far more effective strategy. This is probably true for a lot of people. Different people in different situations require different strategies to learn.
(The 1991 Trailblazers and Coaching Staff -.including Jack Schalow -can be viewed at Trailblazers)