Friday, July 29, 2011


Hope is an interesting concept. I don't talk about it much, not do I attempt to give people 'hope'. Hope is defined in a number of ways and, of course, we all have our perception of what it means. When I hear people talk about hope it often speaks to me of someone who actually is not feeling OK right now for some reason and is putting it off for some future event or situation to come along and make things better. Now I know this isn't the only way it is used but it is a common perception which I find to be at odds with living fully in the present moment. I do not have any problem with an attitude of expectancy which hope also means except when that expectancy is attached to a particular outcome without which one would be unhappy. This kind of hope brings on all kinds of disappointment and is behind much of the discouragement and hopelessness we encounter in life.

So this brings me to the topic of hopelessness. I've had several conversations this week where hope and hopelessness came up. It's always a good idea to pay attention when that happens. Another way I find hope to be more harmful than helpful is when it is in reaction to hopelessness.

We tend to see hopelessness as a feeling but if you look a little closer you will find it is not a feeling but rather a belief which is associated with some pretty heavy and sad feelings. We decide things are hopeless, then we associate that thought with the feelings and get caught in the trap of trying to get away from them, which is one of the reasons we look for something hopeful to replace hopelessness. Problem is, it doesn't work in any long term sort of way. We continually need ideas or situations to prop us up so we can avoid the heavy feelings and the hopeless thoughts.

So what if there was another way to deal with hopelessness? When I look at my own life as an example, I know that I decided some things were hopeless and I know they are associated with my father. The decision was made after lots of hopeful moments that he would come back to us but I eventually could no longer bear the pain so I decided it was hopeless and rejected him sometime in my very early years. Now that translates not only to dear old Dad but other aspects of life that he is a symbol for. I would rarely have used the word hopeless but on reflection that is exactly what I believed. I've had many moments in life where the pain associated with hopelessness was triggered and I remember often thinking I just didn't want to be alive anymore. I never seriously considered suicide but I did think I would rather be dead. I finally confronted that idea many years ago sitting on a large rock in a river in Nepal, but that's another story. I've never believed that story since then. What was significant about that particular event was that it was a time when I turned around and confronted the desire that I had believed was real and found it was empty and hollow and nothing more than a trick of the mind. It was never true, it was a way I had devised to avoid hopelessness as convoluted as that may seem. At the other end of the spectrum I would go out there a try to make things happen, at times successfully, so that I would not have to face the hopelessness. That's what we do with these deeply ingrained beliefs patterns, we bounce from one end of the scale to the other in our efforts to avoid or get rid of the feelings and thoughts associated with them.

So here's the thing, instead of trying to get away from hopelessness, another way to approach it would be to feel the depth of the feelings and recognize that it is a decision you made, it isn't The Truth. I'll use my example around Dad and the ensuing manifestations of the belief around hopelessness. What I have found is that being fully present with compassionate, gentle attention to the feelings in my body when that belief is triggered the less power it has. Then as I truly see the very thought of hopelessness for what it is, an immature decision made when there was no awareness of another option, I free myself from the unhappiness and limitation it has engendered in the past.  Now I am open to the wonder of other possibilities unfolding while being fully engaged with the present moment rather than the fearful projections. I don't need to generate anything here to compensate for the illusion; I simply enjoy and delight in what is. I know that whatever happens is perfect even if it isn't what I had envisioned.

One caveat here about this process, it isn't usually an instant shift, especially with long and dearly held beliefs. When you consider how long you've spent hating and avoiding uncomfortable feelings and beliefs it stands to reason it may take a fair bit of compassionate attention to shift the energy. If you resonate with any of what I have written here and do choose to give this a shot it will undoubtedly be uncomfortable at first. Remember this is likely the opposite of what you've been doing all your life. I can assure you however after much practice with this process, I can think of no more joyful use of my time and energy when I find myself feeling unhappy or disappointed for any reason.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Oslo Syndrome

One can't help but be aware of the bombing and shootings in Norway that a young man by the name of Anders Breivik  has taken credit for. I have to admit when I first heard of the terrorist attacks in Norway I was completely baffled. Who would want to attack Norway? Seemed way out there to me until of course I found out it was one of their own who was trying to make a point.

I am aware that there are people who fear a Muslim takeover through shear numbers in Europe and even in North America. I am also aware that Islam is one of the fastest growing religions on the planet at the moment. Given the western perception of Islam and the general connection we tend to make with terrorism when we think of it, in a way it isn't really difficult to see where this young man might have gotten some of his ideas.

But then again, why would a young man in Oslo think that acts of terrorism would somehow help in his fight against the spread of Islam and whatever result he thought that would have? I can't even pretend to know what he was really thinking but this does seem to illustrate the tendency we have of filling in the gap of awareness with stuff we're making up. One possibility is that Breivik could see changes happening in his country and around the world and it scared him. In his mind it had something to do with the spread of Islam and that it endangered him in some way and so he made yet another leap thinking that if he killed a whole bunch of people he would get the attention of the world and would have a stage from which to espouse his beliefs. He certainly wasn't wrong about getting the attention he seemed to be seeking but how he arrived at the idea that it was going to make the world wake up to his point of view was interesting.

This whole scenario is however a great example of the effects our propensity toward making leaps in consciousness can have. What happened in Oslo really doesn't make any sense and neither do most of the leaps we make when we fill in the gap of what we don't know with our fearful beliefs and concepts. I've done plenty of illogical things when I have filled in the gap with my fearful thoughts and I've certainly witnessed it in others as well. It's painful and sad really but it is the human condition, at least until we come to realize what we are doing and start making peace within ourselves so we can be present to the unknown without having to fill it with our projections from the past.

The bottom line is that what we think we know is often the product of our unresolved past and fearful imaginations. Much time and energy is spent trying to effect change in our personal lives and in the world by trying to manipulate the images on the screen rather than bringing peace to the unresolved pain within. No matter how hard we try, we cannot see or experience life any differently until we deal with what is coloring our world more effectively.

Oslo Syndrome (Actual picture from Oslo)
As I said earlier, I have no idea what this young man really had in mind but the story sure makes for a great example of what I want could be called the 'Oslo Syndrome'; the tendency of the human creature to fill in the gap of awareness with fearful projections.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Superheroes (Again)

I love superhero movies. We go to all of them. The latest release is Captain America played by that sweet Chris Evans (Fantastic Four's Johnny Storm, loved him there too). I think Stan Lee and the other creators from Marvel Comics were absolute geniuses. In my view they had a deep understanding of the human psyche and were able to illustrate it so beautifully in their superhero stories.

Anyway, Captain America is set in WWII and Steve Rodgers (our protagonist) is a scrawny guy (I'd really like to know how they do those special effects to make Chris Evans seem so puny) that is bullied and beat up all his life. He tries to enlist over and over and is rejected every time. He comes to the attention of a scientist who is working on creating super soldiers and Steve is chosen because of his courage and values and a kind of purity. When asked if he wants to go overseas and kill Nazis his response is no, he just doesn't like bullies. So they make him into a big strapping, strong guy who heals from all wounds and continues to be extremely courageous. Of course they have the super villain as well and it all makes for a great story; after all, how would we get to experience heroism if we didn't have villains in our storyline.

So one of the reasons I love the Marvel movies as well as other superhero type stories such as Harry Potter (loved the last one!) is that I love to make up stories about the metaphysical meanings behind the story. I love doing that with all stories including my own but the superhero ones really inspire me because they are stories of overcoming our small ideas about ourselves and living from an expanded place.

Captain America comes to be because there was someone who was small and bullied and knew the value of strength and courage and looking out for others. The transformation that took place was only possible because of the hardships he had faced. The super villain in the story had been one of the inventors of the serum that was used but he had been 'evil' and selfish and so the experiment on him created someone who was even more of that.

We so often view the 'bad' things that have happened to us as being some kind of punishment or a good reason not to do things now. The tendency is to project the 'failures' and 'negative' experiences onto the future and tell ourselves this is what will happen if we follow our hearts. I hear it over and over and I have said it myself at different times in my life, that people are too afraid to do what they long to do because something bad will happen. Projection, Projection, Projection! Yes, things have happened and it's important to acknowledge past painful experiences but it doesn't mean we can't do things that are deeply true for us now. There may be some work to do, and it may be somewhat painful (ask any superhero) but there is Life, big Life on the other side. What we often fail to realize is that the wounds are more often than not what sets our course in life, one way or the other, and that they are actually here to serve us not stop us. Life really is so elegant and amazing in its design!

So that's the short version of why I love superhero movies!  What about you?

Friday, July 22, 2011


Weather seems to be a great influencer of mood and a fascination for many of us. I was raised in a farming community and still have close family members involved in farming. Weather is a constant topic and source of frustration in that profession. Not enough rain, too much rain, hail, etc definitely determines much of their success with crops every year. It isn't as important for most of the rest of us in terms of livelihood (unless you're trying to build roads, etc) but it remains a favored topic of discussion and continues to have an inordinate influence on how many people feel. I find the whole weather thing absolutely amazing and enthralling.

I think one of the reasons we remain so very affected by the weather even though it doesn't directly affect our livelihood is because we have absolutely no control over it. We can predict it to some degree now but beyond that we are no different than puny ants in terms of being powerless to change it or even to influence it. In ancient times religions sprang up around the weather given how powerful it was in comparison to the human creature. We even developed concepts such as bad weather meaning we had done something wrong and needed to appease the gods! There are still people today who believe this kind of thing even though the language may be somewhat different.

Notice the way weather was perceived by the ancients (and still is by many) was all about filling in the gap of awareness. In order to create an illusion of influence or power over what is not understood the human tendency is to give it meaning. We're very good at it and have generally convinced ourselves that what we think about a thing is real and in some strange way protects us from the unknown. Whether we give the unknown a 'good' meaning or a 'bad' one, it still has nothing to do with reality; we're making it up. Nothing wrong with that, it's part of what it is to be having this human experience.

As far as I can tell, when it's time to have a new experience some of us may be called to release the meanings we have given ourselves and our world. Recognizing that the way we've seen things was interesting perhaps and helpful in its own way doesn't mean we have to hang onto it. Do we really need to hold onto some kind of belief in order to be here experiencing what Life has to offer? Ever wonder what it would be like to be completely open to Life, free of preconceived ideas about yourself or what's happening? I wonder about that a lot. It invariably creates a shift in awareness that I experience as delicious and delightful (Yes I know those are quantitative adjectives but lacking the language to truly describe the experience I'll go with them for the moment)

Bottom line, no matter what the 'weather' there's an opportunity to experience awe regarding the unknown when we remove the veils of artificial meaning.

weather Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I had a very interesting conversation at a networking breakfast I attended yesterday. By the way, these things have become great fun for me, unlike my memory of the experiences I had with them back in the '90s. Some groups at least are doing them more like speed dating now which makes it more fun and much easier to meet people. But I digress...

Someone was asking me about my work and I was describing how I work with people to help them move beyond their limiting beliefs, etc. She then made a comment about a button she had that she thought she should give me. It was one of those 'Believe' buttons that I have indeed seen around. My comment back to her was that it would actually be the opposite of that. I think she got my point then.

It is interesting to me just how how deeply attached we are to certain concepts such as the one that says we need to believe in something. Don't get me wrong, I've still got a boat load of beliefs, I just don't take them too seriously for the most part and the ones I do find myself caught up in get the liberation treatment as soon as I realize what's going on; but again I digress. It seems as soon as the word belief is mentioned we automatically go to our default concept about it. This is of course true about any idea we may find ourselves listening to, we don't generally hear what is being said, we simply jump to what we already 'know' about what is being said. (I'm really having a hard time staying on track here, every sentence seems to take me to yet another idea)

Anyway, back to beliefs, so what I'm wandering about trying to convey in this post is the wondering, what indeed is one to do if one is not to believe? What would my button say? How about something like, "Don't Believe, Be". Basically that's what's left when I'm not caught up in some belief or concept, being.

Now that's a wonder!

Monday, July 18, 2011


One of the cornerstones of my work and my personal process is acceptance of what is, exactly as it is. My view is that fighting or denying what is only drains energy and ensures more of the same no matter what you try to do to change it.

Because of the propensity toward trying to ignore or deny what is, it's easy to confuse acceptance of what is with resignation or the idea that you have to somehow make yourself like it and live with it. That is not what acceptance is about.

Acceptance is about realizing that what has been and what is right now is the way it is. It's not about having to like it or give up on life because it isn't the way you want it or think it should be and it sure as hell isn't about having to stay in situations that are not life affirming. It's really the opposite of that. Sometimes it means recognizing how non-life affirming a situation is, letting go of any resistance to that or the fact that it is not what you want, and opening to a new experience.

Here's where there's even more confusion, opening to something new doesn't mean you already know what that is or how to get there. It is really about admitting that you don't know and being open to something that is new to you (or something old that you've been saying no to for a long time because you don't know the how part). This is truly terra incognita and if you look at what the old map makers had to say about that it usually had something to do with there being dragons there. The dragons are your limiting beliefs and assumptions and the very fear of not knowing itself.

Another thing opening to something new doesn't mean is that you have to jump off a cliff and hope you're going to fly (not likely to happen unless you happen to be a bird). You may get some clarity about where you're going or what aspect you are ready to express but chances are pretty darn good that you will not be shown the whole picture when you open to possibilities. It means removing the blocks to the clear inner direction to your next step. You'll be shown what you need to do next, then once you've taken that step, you'll be shown the next, etc, etc. It does indeed require a certain amount of trust in Life but if you look at what you've been trusting so far, which has been your limited ideas and views, what's to lose?

Is there something you've been resisting or thought you had to resign yourself to which is giving you grief? The first step is always to face it directly and squarely and tell yourself the truth about it. Breathe, feel it in your body and take the time to question what you believe about it. Then you can open to the wonder of possibility. There's so much more to Life than you can even begin to imagine, why not take the steps to open to the wonder of the infinite instead of spending all that energy on denial?

Saturday, July 16, 2011


As I mentioned the other day, we were in Jasper National Park for a few days this week. I love being in the mountains. There's something truly mystical and humbling about the shear dimensions of the Rockies and the sense of peace and timelessness they bring forth in me.

We went to Malign Canyon one day where the waters cascade down a very narrow canyon that has been forming over countless millennium. Simply being present to what is happening there is awe inspiring then when I consider the amount of time it takes for the water to have worn away the rock as it has I have a very different sense of time than I do when I'm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city. What I think is so urgent has no relevance compared to Earth time. Change is constantly taking place in its own time and I get to witness the awe inspiring phenomena when I relax into it rather than trying to manipulate it or feel pressured by any of the distortions created by beliefs and misconceptions.

It's so easy to forget all this when I get back into the daily routine of life back at home. That's why it feels so important to keep questioning the beliefs that keep me in the thrall of artificially created time rather than being fully present.

John was taking videos at the canyon that day and captured a comment I made about how I was feeling as he was taping from the top of the canyon. Thought I'd share it with you here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Exploring Uniqueness

I had a great Jasper getaway for a few days. There really isn't anything quite like the mountains to put things into perspective. I did end up with a bit of a chest cold while I was there which slowed me down some, undoubtedly for the best, but we still thoroughly enjoyed our time there. The cold has pretty much passed on through now and life goes on.

We had a great discussion last night at the monthly gathering where we spent much of the time exploring what it meant to be unique which in turn brought us to taking a good look at the role shame plays in stifling our uniqueness. It's often surprising to realize where shame shows up and why. You often don't even realize what you're feeling is shame because most people have become very adept at 'mentalizing' it. We do the same thing with guilt where rather than simply being present to the feeling and being able question the beliefs the mind just wallows in all kinds of thoughts of blame (often of self) and harsh judgment. Anger or rage often show up as well giving the illusion of some kind of power or control, which is of course not true at all but more attractive than the original feelings of shame or guilt.

Shame is all about self identity. It is the physical expression of some belief adopted long ago about who you see yourself as being. There are clues in the language you use about yourself, especially when you've done something that triggers the shame. When you find yourself using words that are put downs such as stupid, idiot, useless, etc. either toward yourself or others you are likely in the thrall of shame or guilt. Anything that diminishes or devalues with disgust points to self identities that are shame or guilt based. For those who are deeply immersed in this kind of identity it is difficult to even see that it is really about beliefs, that it isn't the truth because they've been singing that song for so long it feels absolutely real.

The density of shame and guilt makes it very challenging to challenge the underlying beliefs and assumptions; all you want to do is get away from it. If you'll take time to notice however, it simply doesn't work. The devices used to get away like anger or rage or self-pity or addictions of all sorts end up not only being debilitating but they rob you of the ability to fully embrace and enjoy your uniqueness. Who wants to embrace a self image that is valueless or useless? The good news is that you aren't that image. What you are is beyond any image, 'good' or 'bad'. In order to realize this however you may need to do some serious questioning of what you have believed about yourself. That will likely lead you to a place of not knowing who or what you really are and to that I say YEAH!

Imagine what your life would be like if, instead of filling in the blanks with your usual assumptions and beliefs about yourself, you could honestly be in the not knowing and allow for the wonder of Life to show you new possibilities that you could never have dreamed of in your deluded state. Kind of like being the Hubble telescope of inner space. Mmmm, delicious.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rumi Video

I found myself with some time and the urge to do something creative on a soggy Saturday afternoon. This little video of some of my favorite Rumi quotes is the result. Enjoy!

Now it's off to Jasper for a couple of days. I'm looking forward to waking up in the mountains, even if it's soggy there too! Life is a delight wet or dry.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Hero's Journey

I remember reading Joseph Campbell's work on the hero's journey and I am reminded of the journey whenever I watch today's mythological stories in the form of movies, mostly with comic book heroes or animations of toys.

The latest we went to see was Transformers: Darkside of the Moon. I love the Transformer movies (go figure). How is it that the movie makers can make me feel so much for made up characters in the form of Autobots? Anyway, our little human hero played by Shia LaBeouf is a powerful portrayal of the mythic hero. He is insignificant in his regular life yet when faced with grave danger he jumps right into the middle of it rather than running away. You can see that's where he feels most alive, most focused and most present.

Sometimes I think we are faced with seemingly insurmountable problems so that we too can have the hero experience in our own unique way. The challenges may not seem all that big on the outside in many cases but the inner challenges can be truly mythic in proportion. The question that seems to be asked in the face of any challenge is 'What qualities are you going to express in the face of this?' I say what qualities rather than who because it is really about the qualities that are brought forth and expressed rather than any self-identity.

Becoming too attached to any identity, including the hero archetype, must eventually bring unhappiness and emptiness because it isn't who we are. Qualities expressed through the human form, whether we consider them negative or positive are simply ideas being played out. Different qualities show up in response to different situations. The more we remain present to what's unfolding through us in any given situation, the more in touch we are with the qualities that are ready to be expressed in a way that allows us to fully embrace and appreciate the wonder of it all. Hanging on to any of them is really about fear based beliefs in separation than anything else.

Hmm, ever wonder what it would be like to be completely open to each moment without any preconceived ideas about who you are? Could be a fun thing to wonder about no matter what's going on.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Delightful and Delicious

I'm talking about life and the unique expression of life as me in that title. If I'm going to be alive and unique then why not have it be delightful and delicious no matter what's going on. That's the topic of my July newsletter which you can access here if you haven't received it or seen it on my facebook page Dismantling The Illusion.

You might ask, 'Do you always feel that you are delightfully alive and deliciously unique?' and the obvious answer is no but it doesn't take me long to make the shift. Everything in my life isn't smooth and without challenges. The bumps and 'challenges' are what makes life so delightful! When I reconnect with the uniqueness that is expressing as Yvonne when I've gotten caught up in some story or other, which doesn't take long most of the time now,  life seems to automatically become delightful again. Sadness, fear, guilt and shame are not the evil things I once thought them to be. They show up, I pay attention, moving toward them rather than away, and every time I move through one of these shadows I find myself feeling more alive, more wonder-filled and more appreciative of all that life is. Enough said about that for the moment.

The other day I watched this little video from RSA which really engaged me. It is a British organization and they animate parts of talks done by some very interesting people. This one is on Changing Education Paradigms and the speaker is Sir Ken Robinson. He talks about how the current education system severely restricts what I call creative thinking. The thing that resonated for me and why I'm including it in this blog is because it is another way of explaining the process of going from our natural state of inquisitiveness and openness to narrow thought patterns that constrict the flow of life and the experiences of delight-fulness and deliciousness. The education has already happened for those of us reading this blog, the Liberation Process is all about dismantling it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Summertime and Easy Living

Summer, in Canada at least, is a time for being outdoors, relaxing and doing as little work as possible it seems. Getting back into the saddle after the first summer long weekend is an interesting experience. I'm not really sure where to start though I do have a writing project on the go that I find myself easily distracted from. I don't think it has anything to do with summer however, it's more about moving through a certain amount of resistance to the writing process. This in itself is a wonderful gift because it gives me yet more opportunity to work through any beliefs that may be gumming up the works.

I find the whole process of moving deep into the feelings and beliefs involved really quite delightful in that every time I move toward the resistance and its attending belief (s) I find myself feeling more and more delight with life itself. I really don't think the writing is the most important part of the process anyway, it's the dismantling of beliefs around it that's the real gift.

I see this as being the case no matter what you find yourself facing in any given moment, summer or winter. When you can move past the surface layers of resistance to whatever comes up for you and truly bring presence to what is beneath it, then you've cleared the way for more wonder and life essence to flow joyfully through whatever you are doing. The old paradigm of avoiding or distracting has run its course for many of us. There's no life in avoiding, even though that is what most of us learned to do. I few moments of discomfort when fully embraced and moved through can turn into the most precious of times.

So why not take full advantage of the beautiful summer season by being fully present and fully available to life's many wonders. It's all unfolding right before our eyes if we but have eyes to see that are not clouded by illusion.

This is what I see every time I come home.