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5 Alternative FAQs

Inspired by a suggestion from IZL alum and organizer, Jen Ayres, and our recommitted effort to be more consistent with our newsy updates, I’ll try this in the mode of answering 5 questions.  Some of these I get asked a lot; some I just made up, so I’ll call these:


Where have I been lately? Just back from an incredible 2 weeks at the University of San Francisco at the invitation of Prof. Geoff Ashton (pictured above), the Honors College, and the Department of Asian Philosophy to teach Zen and Leadership.  Along the way, I also had a fun evening with the Consciousness Hacking SF crowd, taught Zen and ZL workshops with Geoff, visited with students, and gave a public lecture on the Guts of Zen Leadership. Loved it!

What did I learn from the students? There’s a lot of anxiety out there. Confusion about their place in the world, identity, whether anything has meaning.  Young people are grappling with the same thing we hear from accomplished physicians, that they struggle with how to be empathetic or present for all that’s going on without getting weighted down by it all.  And yet if they put up shields to protect themselves, they enter a transactional mode that’s a surefire recipe for burnout and meaninglessness.

What did I learn from Geoff? He gave a great talk in our Zen and Leadership workshop (building on themes he and Gordon Greene have been batting around) on how to carry our load, our suffering – whatever grief comes through our present moment encounters with people and life as it is – by letting it drop in gravity, without it rising into our chest or heads to become grievance and depression.

What did I learn about myself? That where I get into trouble in handling grief is when I try to fix things. Because the urge to fix things and figure them out brings energy up into the chest and arms (what Ida Rolf called the girdle of doing, while hips/hara are the girdle of being), not to mention the loopy brain which chews like a dog on a bone on any challenge I throw into it.

What’s my best piece of advice? Let the energy run through, all the way to the bottom, let it drop: sit with the raw sensation of it. Breathe deeply into the hara (for a refresher, see below). It was not only advice I gave to others, but advice in my own body as, during this time, I also faced into my own fear and grief over two relationships that had been incredibly dear to me. For once I didn’t figure it out, I let it drop out over a good many sits. And what needed to happen next became clear. Not a figured out answer, exactly, but a Way forward.

What’s next? Since I’m out of allotted questions, I’ll answer this one next week in a separate email about the EMBODIMENT@WORK Summit I’ll be part of next month. And you can learn about upcoming ZL and HEAL programs below. Hope you can drop into the depth of what we offer.

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