Archives for posts with tag: Life

Every one of us has been a child. And as children, we all know there are two kinds of adults: There are those who get it, who know how to talk, play, imagine, and explore like a kid. And there are, well, the rest of them. The excruciatingly boring ones, the ones who terrify us into swearing, cross our hearts, that we’ll never turn into that kind of grown up. The kind that sent Peter Pan hightailing it for Neverland as fast as Tinkerbell could take him.

You may be an adult now, one who pays bills and takes vitamins and reads about the things politicians say, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have high-quality, meaningful interactions with the kids in your life, whether they’re your own or simply the kids next door. Here are three places to start:

Ask different questions

Dinner table or car ride conversation is often stunted. Kids are great at one word answers to typical daily questions like “How was your day? Did you learn anything cool in school today?”

And every kid gets the same two questions when they see adults who are not their parents. “How old are you now?” and “How’s school?”

So mix it up! Here are some great conversation starters to ask (and answer) when you’re hanging out with kids.

  • If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
  • If you could, what type of animal would you be?
  • If you could make up a brand new school subject, what would it be?
  • If you could make up a new holiday, what would it be?
  • If you could put frosting on any food in the world what would it be?
  • If you could trade places with anyone for one day, who would it be?
  • If someone wrote an article about you in your school’s newspaper, what would you want them to say?

Exercise together

We can use the word ‘exercise’ loosely here. The key is to move around, get the endorphins flowing, and have fun.

Play the kids your favorite dance song, and let them choose one, too. Race up and down the driveway a few times. Bust out some old-school jumping jacks or a jump rope. Even 5 minutes is enough to get the blood pumping and some giggles happening.

Massage each other

Massage does not have to be a big complex endeavor. It can be quick and easy, and you can do it just about anywhere.  Watch this video together, and practice massaging other. and incorporating stories.

Create your own stories to make it even more fun. This type of anywhere, anytime massage is especially great for kids with anxiety. Try it at bedtime, or in the morning before school, or even in the waiting room at the dentist.

There you have it! Three ways to be the cool adult in your favorite kid’s life!

Get a Professional Massage together!

Really! Couples massages don’t have to be romantic. I work on Parent/Kid couples all the time. It is especially great for those special birthdays! You still get the choices (at least in my office) of:

1. Kid can remain dressed in bathing suit for comfort or disrobe to their comfort level.
2. Couples massage with two therapists present
Both of ya getting a massage at the same time side by side, in the same room
3. Couples massage with one therapist present
One of you getting a massage while the other enjoys a relaxing foot bath or just observes from the chair in the corner.

With this time of couples massage, the idea is to introduce massage to the kids at a young age, educating them on positive touch and bringing awareness to how wonderful their body can be in a safe and trusted environment. It can be as extravagant (cucumbers on the eyes and warm moist towels) or as simple as you want it to be. SIDENOTE: State of Alabama recognizes the Legal Medical Age of consent to be 14. Young, I know. But at that age, they can choose to have a parent present or not. Children younger than that, it is my policy to require that a parent be present at all times. This is for the benefit of the child as well as to allow a parent to intercede if necessary. Juvenile massage time does not mean free babysitter so the parent can go run an errand, Sorry, and sorry it has to be said.

I have for some time had a fascination with labyrinths. In a labyrinth, there is only one path, as long as we keep plodding onwards ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME, we will reach our goal at the end. Aside from the fact that they make a good representation of life, they are also a lesson in and of themselves for us to take things ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME, a life lesson which recently slapped me in the face.

In researching the subject online, I came across an excellent source describing the seven loops of the labyrinth, and by examining it through the eyes of my current life situation, I was able to refocus and re-interpret this message into something that has really helped me out, and I hope that by sharing it, some of you may be helped as well.

Oddly enough, in English language, a labyrinth is generally the same as any maze. A common distinguishment is that a maze refers to a complex branching puzzle with choices of path and direction. Another metaphor for life? Perhaps, but we aren’t here to discus mazes today, we are here to discuss labyrinths.

In principle, a labyrinth is “NOT DIFFICULT TO NAVIGATE” but despite the simplicity, there are way too many opportunities to get turned around and maybe even lost along the way.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure that your path along the labyrinth of life is more easily manageable. And of course just recognizing those steps goes a long way towards making them possible to take ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME.

In the beginning, we almost immediately find a point where we seem to have a kind of mastery. Everything seems to fall into place as if fate is with us. Some call this beginners luck, but it only lasts for a brief moment. This is a prelude. At this moment on our path, we often succeed despite the fact that we have no clue what we are doing. Of course this in and of itself can be a source of many difficulties further down the road. But at this brief moment in time, we have a choice. We can back out and avoid commitment or actually begin our journey by asking “How CAN I do this?”

Once we begin the journey, we enter into the CONTROL phase. The Third Loop on the labyrinth. With an emphasis on training, and learning, moving slowly towards the apprentice stage, much of our time is focused on the rules and on analysis as well as complications. Those rules and analyses do seem to give a sense of control, although it is nothing like the ‘instant mastery’ found in the very beginning.

Every now and again, things seem to break down, the rules don’t seem to work in this specific context, and it becomes clear that we are part of a process. At some point we must change direction and look inwards. Until this point, everything we have done in principle has been the same for everyone; this change in direction is also the moment at which the practice changes to personal pathways.

We enter the Second Loop of the labyrinth, the phase of Self. In this circuit we explore our own involvement in the process, the parts of the path that are specific to US alone. Often there is a new emphasis on patterns, emergence, and complexities. But despite the increasing experience and despite knowing more and having to face challenges of our own that we now need to address, we find that our mastery seems to be getting steadily worse.

The further we move along this path, the worse we seem to get, until eventually it seems no better than that of a rank Beginner. At this point, it seems self-evident that looking at your SELF was the wrong way to go; so we change direction, trying to revert to ‘the Rules’ to get us back on track.

Then we enter the First Loop, the phase of Survival. Following the Rules of course doesn’t quite do what we expect. The turn-around takes us outward, not inward; far from bringing us back to Control. Instead, it takes us to chaos. Although the rules haven’t changed, we have, and it is all too easy here to fall into a slump. There is a key personal shift, from ‘unconscious incompetence’ to ‘conscious incompetence’ but an unfortunate side-effect of that increased awareness is that we can now SEE that ‘incompetence’ hence it will often seem as if nothing is working.

Stuck on the outer, this can seem like a struggle for survival, an endless cycle of practice, practice, practice, more practice. And don’t we dare compare ourselves with others because this only makes it worse. Everyone seems better at this than we are. This is by far the worst stage of the Labyrinth and equally the longest, and as with the previous loop, the longer it goes on, the worse that feeling gets.

But if we just keep on plodding on ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME, we will get to the next phase in our journey, the key point, the Dark NIGHT of the Soul. Kind of like the day before the exam, or just before a presentation to the board, where we are brought face to face with our apparent incompetence. We realize that we are further away from mastery than when we first started. It seems we’re not just worse at this than a Beginner, some raw recruit; we’re no good at all . . . This bleak moment of despair can also be called the “Oh, insert explicative here, Point”

It is crucial to understand here that this period of despair is normal and necessary in our journey. It is a crescendo of ‘conscious incompetence’ that is the gateway to the beginning of conscious competence.

While the despair is all too real, and it may well seem as if it will last forever, there is a way through, if you can just stay on the path and take ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME. Suddenly I hear in my head Dori from the movie Finding Nemo singing her mantra “Just keep swimming”.

The danger here is that if we give up at this point, breaking out of our labyrinth, as the steep turn encourages us to do, we lose everything we have gained except for a large dose of disillusion. Instead at this moment, the key is to trust, to listen to the heart, and choose to care about the journey for its own sake rather than for any extrinsic reason.

By accepting that we know we don’t know and can’t know, a surrender to the cloud of unknowing and the cloud of forgetting, there is a sudden breakthrough, a change as fast as that at the beginning; From Chaos we suddenly find ourselves almost at the center once more. A brief moment of calm … and then the journey continues, changing direction again.

We then come to the Fourth Loop, the phase of caring. Here, for the first time we can say we are better than the best of what we have trained, although, it has indeed been a long haul to get here. From this point on, we can never fall back any lower than we are now on this journey, it is ingrained into our very being.

At this moment of time, promises of reward, or threat of punishment that up to this point pushed us to succeed not only stop working here, but often make things worse damaging the quality of decision-making and the like.

What does work is caring, finding value in the work itself, and what it means in terms of personal and shared values. In order to proceed, we need to care about what we are doing and why we are doing it and care about the journey for its own sake, in short …
“A commitment of the heart as well as of the head.”

We then find ourselves at the Seventh Loop, another keypoint, the phase of meditation. The quiet euphoria of the previous stage fades as a new focus comes to the fore. This is a different form of observation and self-observation which could be described as thinking about feeling, a kind of meditation, a deep often intense and personal absorption in the work and its processes, yet at the same time seemingly almost detached from it, as if observing from the outside. This sense of engagement in the context is essential for successful action. For a while, and especially to outsiders, this may well seem like mastery; yet there’s actually still quite a way before we get to the end of our journey. We still need to take the path, ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME.

We have found the Sixth Loop, the phase of the mind. In another disorienting shift of perspective, ‘thinking about feeling’ becomes ‘feeling about thinking’ as the previous changes practices we have learned into embedded actions at a much more visceral level.

Things become almost mechanical in feel, we find the subtle delicacy of touch, the deep-learning expressed in an intuitive grasp of a complex real-time process, the ability to elicit the unspoken needs of others, we begin to test and trust in hunches and ‘gut-feelings’ about subtle ebbs and flows.

This kind of awareness and sensitivity is essential to work well in chaos, the domain of inherent uncertainty. The mind here helps us make the link, back through principles and patterns to everyday practice, though in a way, that sometimes seems quite opposite to the way we used the mind when so long ago we THOUGHT we were in control.

And then suddenly, another mode of thought comes through, to provide reflection and review between sessions of practice. We find ourselves in the Fifth Loop, the phase of communication. It may seem as if our journey is turning backwards once more. We find ourselves in an apparent echo of the struggle back at the Survival stage, but in fact this impression arises simply because we are paying more attention to the fine-details. To help us learn more, and also to challenge us to greater competence, we are also likely to need mutual support from and with our peers, a community of like minded people on a similar path with similar concerns and interests. The other key then of communication here is that of helping others to find their own path.

Often this will spring from a kind of altruism the renewed self-doubt, though much quieter than that in the Survival stage, leads to a sense that even if we ourselves may never reach our goal, we can perhaps do so by proxy, through helping others to reach it in our stead. This activity of educating others also helps us in our own process of reflection; It is often said that the last stage of learning is to teach it to others. The result usually unexpected, unheralded and without any warning. . .

Is that we discover that we have reached our Goal! We have found the end to our path! We were able to tackle the Labyrinth of Life, simply by taking it ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME. But we also discover, the Labyrinth of Life has an even stranger twist; it is recursive, nested, fractal, in that the same overall pattern occurs simultaneously on many different levels.

We can be struggling with the Survival level of one path, or one part of a path, while also experiencing the elation of Beginner’s luck, the quiet of Meditation, the information-overload of Control and the despair of the Dark Night of the Soul in others, all at the same time. Hence plenty of opportunities for confusion, for losing one’s way even in such a simple structure with only one path.

With each circuit, the path alternates from clockwise to counter-clockwise, with the result that everyone on the immediately parallel path, Usually one step ahead and one step behind us will seem to be going in opposite directions. On top of this, earlier paths will often seem ‘better’ closer to mastery than later ones. Things seem to get steadily worse as we go onward yet outward from Control to Self to Survival so often Others will often try to ‘help’ by telling us we are going the wrong way, or that we are doing the wrong things; and we’ll no doubt do the same for them. And even though our immediate cohort would in principle be facing the same way as us, they are just as likely as we are to be confused by all of it, so they are likely to ‘help’ us in the wrong ways too …

Tricky ain’t it?

Each new path we take in our life leads us into the labyrinth all over again; the tangled, twisted, tortuous path that at times can seem too torturous. Yet in the end, there’s just one simple rule to help us achieve our goals, to survive that Labyrinth of Life, All we have to do is work with what comes up at each moment, and keep on going, keep going, ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME.

Labyrinth

Labyrinth – Adapted from thinkingsideways.com