Whenever I start a new client with Awakening Coaching, it begins with four questions.

The first is, “What are your objectives of entering into this coaching relationship?” This means, “What do you want? What’s important to you?”

The second question is, “What gets in the way? What are the the habits, beliefs, and situations in your life that you’re aware interfere with what you’re most longing for?”

The third question is, “What can we count on you for? What are your strengths? What are the habits that you’ve already developed in your life, where you and everyone else can hold you accountable?” For some, it may be that they’ve cultivated the habit of transparency, of telling the truth. For someone else, it might be the daily practice of meditation or Chi Kung.

And the last question has to do with outcomes. “At the end of this eight week coaching series, how would you like to be different? What would you like to be different? How would you like things to look, in an objective, measurable way? (more…)

Back at the end of June, I posted a piece called “Charging Money for the Truth.” It generated 47 comments, which are really worth taking the time to read. This is a hot topic, a juicy topic, and one which opens up all kinds of important questions. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been able to go much deeper into these questions with some fascinating people.

Marc Gafni, for example, has been an ordained rabbi most of his adult life. Until a few years ago, he was living and practicing in Israel. Now that he’s teaching in the United States in a more “secular way,” he finds himself dealing much more with questions of making the books balance. He had some fascinating observations about the relationship between money and “dharma.”

Diane Hamilton was a “starving artist” and a single mother for much of her life. She took Zen Buddhist vows under Genpo Roshi, and is now a widely recognized Zen teacher, as well as one of the senior instructors in Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute.

Sally Kempton started out as a professional journalist and a writer for Esquire, the New York Times, New York magazine, and the Village Voice. She was an early voice in the second wave feminist movement. Spirituality was the last thing on her agenda.  After a powerful spiritual opening, however, she became a “sadhu” monk, and was known for many years as Swami Durgananda. (more…)

Sometimes it seems like all we hear these days is talk of the tough economy. I actually conducted a little sociological experiment this weekend, and counted up how many times I heard people refer to the economy, and therefore current times in general, in a negative way. I got 43 hits, even though I stayed home quite a bit.

There is, of course, some objective measurable truth to all of this depressing talk. If you own a house, it’s probably worth considerably less than it was five years ago. If you own a business, you may be making less money than you were, and you may have even been faced with the difficult decision of laying off some of your employees. If you’re an investor in the stock market, you may have seen your portfolio go down in value.

But not everybody these days is having a terrible time. I’ve conducted another little amateur sociological experiment over the last several weeks. I asked a lot of my colleagues: writers, teachers, seminar leaders, how they would evaluate their year so far, not just financially, but according to a broader spectrum of measurement. How are your relationships? How’s your creativity? How’s your health? How much are you living your deepest vision? I’m a member of two extraordinary mens’ groups, one where I live in Nevada City, and another that I travel to in Marin County, and I also asked this question at the recent meeting of the Transformational Leadership Council. More than half the people I asked told me that 2010 was proving to be their best year ever, myself included.

I hear people ask a lot on the blogosphere and in the media, “How long is this recession going to last? When are we going to go back to where we were?” Well, here’s a shocking question for you now. What if we never, ever, ever go back to where we were?  What if the old game is now coming to an end, and a whole different way of relating with each other financially and energetically is emerging? (more…)

I’ve spent a good deal of my time in India over the last several decades. There’s a common saying in India that if a teacher charges money for “the dharma” (which loosely translated means “teachings about the truth”) that he or she will go to a special section of hell set aside for spiritual entrepreneurs, an area cornered off and designed to be much nastier than the areas for axe murderers, rapists, and the like.

My primary teacher in India, H.W.L. Poonja, for example, never asked money from anyone for anything. There was no donation basket in the back of the room, even.

At the same time, there is another, equally well-established tradition in India, called “dana.”  You never go to a teacher empty-handed. If you want the blessings of the teacher, you should come equipped with baskets of fruit, cloth, and all other kinds of goodies.

In the last several decades, there have also been some immensely successful teachers making huge contributions to millions of people who have worked from exactly the opposite mentality. A good example is Harry Palmer, the creator of the Avatar training. He is a genuinely deep and awake guy, highly motivated to help people experience freedom.  “People will only actually integrate insights that they have come to regard as valuable”, he stated back in the early ’90’s. “And the way that people create value in Western society is by paying money.”    Consequently, a couple weekends with an Avatar trainer would cost $2,000. The Avatar training was immensely successful for a long time. Other similar examples of huge, culture-charging movements that have charged high fees are EST, Tony Robbins Seminars, The Sedona Method, and many more. (more…)

Hands framing

It has become a cliche these days to hear sayings like “in this economic climate,” or “in these difficult times.”  And of course it becomes a self-perpetuating prophecy.  Are these statements the whole truth about today’s economic climate?  First, people selling gizmos of various kinds, people who run restaurants, and folks in service industries, will tell you that customers are spending less money.  Why?  Because they are making less money.  Why are they making less money?  Because their customers are spending less money.  Why is all this happening?  Because of difficult economic times!  It is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The more we believe it, the more it becomes true.  The other thing that is true about these times is that it’s not longer so easy to make money from having money.  Back in the 90’s you could buy a house for $200,000 and, if you played your cards right, you could put 5% down ($10,000).  If the house went up 50% in value (which many houses did over just a few years), it then became worth $300,000.  You just made $100,000 on an investment of $5,000.  That is a 2000% profit.

The same thing could be done at that time in the stock market, or just lending money to start-up businesses.  Why?  Because everybody had the opposite belief as we have now.  It was boom time!  People were using worlds like “great opportunities” and “leverage.”  Everybody believed that story together, and it became another self-fulfilling prophecy.
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the-secret

Imagine this.
The young heir of enormous fortune goes out for an evening with his friends. They go to a fabulous restaurant and eat all kinds of great food. They go to a club and dance. They stay out till the small hours of the morning, when our hero stumbles out into the parking lot, in a disoriented condition, to find his car. Unfortunately he trips on a pothole in the parking lot, falls to the ground and bangs his head. He is knocked out for just a few moments, but when he comes around he’s forgotten everything; who he is and where he is, and above all, he’s forgotten the fact that he has access to unlimited wealth.

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fingerpointingBy now pretty much everybody has been affected in one way or another by the change in economic climate.  Some people have been hit really hard, like Dave from Brighton, I described in the post below, who lost his job and was concerned that he wouldn’t have the money to pay for gifts for his family for Christmas.  Or Maureen, who I met recently in Michigan, who’s husband lost his job along with their medical insurance.  When she discovered she had a rare blood disease, it looked like it would inevitably drive them to bankruptcy.  Others have been less drastically affected, perhaps had to just cut back on unnecessary luxuries.
The amazing thing about this shift in the economy, which I have discovered from my coaching clients, and from traveling and teaching, is how many of us take it personally.  It’s not logical of course.  But it’s a pandemic how easily we feel, “I did something wrong, it was my fault, I have failed.”
If you’ve noticed this happening for you, here are 5 simple tips to put things in perspective. (more…)