Shifting Gears

After reading Ben’s piece on Friday, I have decided that I am part of the problem! You see, I don’t watch the news or read the newspaper. I avoid the political fray as often as possible. In an attempt to protect my personal energy and manage my emotional balance, I have removed myself from the political debate. Essentially, I have silenced my own voice.

Mentally and emotionally, I know this is extremely beneficial to me. But, I’m beginning to think it sets the wrong example. By removing my voice, I have eliminated the possibility of intelligent discourse and debate. On a visceral level I know how I feel about the issues being raised by the President’s actions this first 10 days of his reign. But, intellectually, I truly cannot explain the pro’s and con’s behind the issues.

And this is the problem! As a nation, we have quit reading, questioning, and understanding the world and the issues that affect all of us. It doesn’t even matter what side of the political debate you find yourself connected to. You might watch the news or listen to a political celebrity rant and rave on this or that issue. But the news channels, the political commentators, and the people trying to tell you what the issues mean are biased. They have an agenda. Their job is to get you riled up and think a certain way. Because if they control your emotions, they control your opinions. If they can tell you what to think and how to feel, then they can do whatever they want and never be held accountable. And the truly scary thing is that we want to be told what to think and how to feel. That’s why we tune into their shows.

Let’s use the travel ban and the Syrian refugee immigration issues as an example. On the surface, this feels wrong to me. It seems very un-American and hate oriented. This weekend, as I drove through Longmont Co, I noticed a small group with signs protesting this ban. I looked at their signs, honked my horn in support and continued on my way. Now, I know nothing of the facts about this issue. I saw that President Obama spoke out against the ban and since I truly respect and admire him, I find myself influenced by that. All of the news outlets that lean to the right seem in favor of it, but I typically write them off as hate mongers so I’m also influenced by my personal bias. But what does the ban really mean to me personally and the world in general? How do I get that information? And more importantly, after educating myself, how do I inspire you to do the same thing?

You see, we can no longer afford to think like a Democrat or a Republican. Both parties are a mess and no longer capable of governing a nation for the people, by the people. That’s why we are in this mess in the first place. As citizens, it’s time to become educated and aware of the issues at hand. Think about it, how can we decide what’s right or wrong for all of us, if we only know what they want us to know?

Over the next week, I plan to research news outlets that are focused on truly presenting information for the sake of educating people on the issues at hand. Preferably, without any political influence towards the left or the right. I will share what if any, sources I find and if you have any suggestions, please share them with me.

It’s time to become involved.

Thoughts on the Protest Marches

I followed my own advice last week, and so I quite forcefully stayed away from media of any sort. If anything came up around the inauguration, even as little as an image, I did my best to shut it down, to let it intrude in my consciousness as little as possible. One result of that was that I wasn't aware of how much energy had developed around the protest marches that occurred the following day. Estimates of the attendance in Denver alone were in the range of 100,000 people. That's impressive.

Wow, I thought. The guy has only been president for a day. He hasn't even done anything yet. Well, except for saying all those shitty things, which is definitely more than nothing. But still, I wondered: what exactly are people saying with their protests, and what do they hope to achieve?

There's a tightrope the protests have to walk. If the protest energy is nothing more than a mirror of the right wing's approach of the last eight years--an assertion of the lack of legitimacy of everything the administration does, along with a concomitant sweeping up of the president's voters into a them that's in opposition to us--then the protests are only fueling dysfunction. The level of dysfunction in our system long ago became toxic, but fueling it will only make things radically worse.

On the other hand, the protests could serve as a line in the sand toward Trump himself--that people aren't going to stand for his racism, his sexism, and above all the chilling Orwellian pounded-fist
demand to control all discourse--while at the same time trying to create conversation with Trump supporters, to bring in rather than push away. If that's the case, then the protests are doing good, important, constructive work.

It's not clear which way it's going to fall. In fact, right now, it's probably both. But the goal has to be the creation of greater and greater unity, not greater and greater division. Division is a form of destruction. For the past eight years (at least), we've watched destruction win. It's time for that to change.


On Monday morning I went to work only to discover that a young woman (she was in her early 30’s) who worked at the recreation center and with whom I had been friends for 10-12 years had died. She had taken suddenly ill and been in the hospital for a couple weeks.

As you can imagine the mood and atmosphere within the center was heavy with loss and grief. There was a memorial with her picture and people were offered the opportunity to leave a note to let her family know how much she was loved and would be missed.

Around noon that day, I was working with a young mildly autistic man (also in his early 30’s) who had been friends with her for a long time. We started our appointment as we often do, discussing current affairs in general and politics specifically. (A side note: he loves history, politics, and current affairs. His knowledge and understanding of the historical significance of our current political situation is staggering.) We were discussing the protests and marches surrounding the inauguration this weekend when he stopped and asked if we could talk about the young lady who had died.

He asked me some very pointed questions about how well I knew her, what happened, and how she died. I explained the best that I could, not knowing where the conversation was going. He looked me directly in the eyes and asked “You know how people always say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle?” I shook my head yes and he quickly blurted, “That’s complete bullshit!”

I didn’t know if he was referring to the pain that her parents were feeling--her twin brother had also died 10 years earlier--his personal pain, or the pain all of us are feeling right now. But I understood. It’s tough to be a feeling human being right now.

I reminded him that nothing is promised to any of us! All we can do is hang on to each other, love each other, and support each other. To make sure that those we love know and feel it. He smiled and told me he would be sure to give his mother an extra big hug when she picked him up. I reminded him to breathe and center. We had each other, it would be okay.

Inauguration Day

Today is the inauguration. It is going to be a day of complicated turbulent energy in the world I inhabit, and probably the one you inhabit as well.

I believe a substantial majority of Americans have misgivings about Donald Trump. Obviously the people who voted against him--a majority of the people who voted, let's remember--are, to put it mildly, uncomfortable with him. But I strongly suspect a substantial percentage of those who voted for him are troubled by him as well. I believe that most people are decent and try to do good in the world, so I suspect that Trump's shenanigans--the sexism, the appeals to base racism and xenophobia, the tendency toward pettiness and vindictiveness, the lack of impulse control--have created some apprehensions for most people.

(Now please don't take that to mean that I think most or even many Trump voters regret their vote. They could have misgivings about Trump and still legitimately prefer him to Hillary Clinton. They may still feel he has the potential to be a good president. I'm merely suggesting that a substantial percentage of Trump voters probably have some ambivalent feelings about the man.)

What's more, the people who lack those reservations are proving to be the people who feel empowered by the basest elements of Trump's rhetoric to behave in ways that most of us, irrespective of political affiliation, surely condemn.

And today the man who is the focal point of these emotions and energies will, amid great pomp and circumstance, formally take over the office of the Presidency of the United States, the most powerful office in the world.

So then, what is likely to be the feeling in the collective energy as we ceremonialize this transfer of power? Among those who strongly opposed the man and hate that he got elected, there will be great negativity. Among many of the rest, there will be not celebration but uncertainty. And the ones celebrating are the sort of people who thrive in conditions of dissonance. Add it all up and we can expect today to be a challenging day for most of us.

So how might we approach today so that we survive the day with as little energetic disruption as possible? The strategies I outlined a few weeks ago are as critical today as they've ever been. Avoid media of all sorts as much as possible, and avoid social media like the plague, which today from an energetic perspective it is likely to be. If you are inclined to follow Trump's inaugural address, consider reading a transcript of it after the fact rather than watching it. That way you can best divorce the content from the energetic complexities of Trump himself, as well as the not-exactly-neutral energies of the media. Eat well today, avoiding foods that tend to push us out of balance like refined sugar and alcohol. Spend some time exercising. Spend some time meditating. Should you find yourself feeling agitated during the day, pause, center, close your eyes and take a few centered breaths. And, if at all possible, get out into nature. Trees and rocks and rivers and oceans will never be particularly disturbed by the gyrations and perturbations of humans.

In short, do your best to be a point of equanimity amid the chaos. In turbulent times, which the Trump years almost certainly will be, every person seeking to balance the collective energy rather than distort it is an asset. Be that person.

Feeling the Collective Energy

Last week, I asked for all of you to do something extremely difficult. I asked that you take a good long look at your personal energy field and see what you are bringing to the collective. I asked this because we all should be aware of how our actions and reactions effect those around us.

The energetic damage that we do to ourselves and others is rarely intentional. Often, it’s just something that happens because we're not living consciously. In fact, most of us stumble around completely unaware of the emotions that we are projecting through our energy field. For example, if you’ve had a frustrating day and you’re tense and angry, those dominant emotions are being projected through your energy field. As you come into contact with others, unless they are shielded, that energy will affect their mood and emotions as your energy meshes with theirs. Then, these dominant emotions get passed from person to person into the collective energy, infecting everyone, much like germs.

Occasionally, a group or an individual will intentionally try to influence or control the mood and emotions of others by manipulating the collective energy. The stronger the individual’s personality and the greater the emotion, the larger the effect on the collective energy and the number of people infected.

Incidentally, this is how Trump won the presidential election. Without bringing party affiliation into it, think about it for a moment. His message started as a tirade against minorities, inciting racial tensions within the poor and uneducated. As this energy caught hold, he attacked women in general and then Hillary Clinton specifically. As his comments got ruder and crasser, energetically, everyone became emotionally charged. Whether you agreed with him or not, you were effected emotionally by what was being said and done.

People who were pro-Hillary fed the fury of the collective energy with their outrage. People who were pro-Trump rode that emotion to greater levels of hatred and allowed themselves to be led into darkness. Those who were watching and not protecting themselves from the fray, got caught up within the collective energy. Once caught up, the intensity of the energy field simply made it impossible for people to think and feel. When this happens, we unconsciously follow, or are manipulated by, the prevailing emotions within the collective energy.

The result of this emotional manipulation is a president with no qualifications, a penchant for pettiness and wild emotional reactions. Coincidentally, that is exactly how Hitler took power in Pre- World War II Germany. Now, don’t take my word for it, read some history!

The manipulation of the collective energy was a brilliant ploy by Trump and the Republican party to control the election. Personally, I think it lacked moral integrity and will prove to be the end of our democracy. Apparently, we as a nation no longer have a moral compass and are no longer the champions of the weak, the poor, nor the down trodden.

In the weeks to come, I will be focusing on how we can begin to shield ourselves from being controlled and manipulated by the collective energy. Once we are capable of shielding ourselves, I will share some ideas on how to re-align our moral compass and begin to effect change around us. Between now and then, practice centering and BREATHE!

The Recent Evolution of the TTW Project

Back in the late summer of 2015, Jerry and I started the TTW project to test our hypothesis that using centering and other energy techniques would enable us to develop potential within ourselves that had previously laid latent. We spent a year playing with these techniques in the sports realm (mostly golf and tennis), and we saw real improvement. With our hypothesis thus confirmed, we began developing a program to teach to others.

And then the election happened. The world went completely out of balance, and Jerry and I both felt called to respond. Most of our work over the past two months has been in response to that call.

For both of us, it felt quite natural to write about our experiences and our responses to them, but this led to a question: what are the common threads between the work we were doing on the golf course or tennis court and what we've been doing since the election?

In two particular areas, the parallels are very clear. In both cases, everything starts with the practice of centering and exploration of the centered breath. Centering engenders a state of flow, grounds our energy into the earth, and enables us to move through the world in a more embodied state, so we can feel and respond to what's around us while lessening the distortions caused by an over-reliance on our minds' thoughts and opinions.

Secondly, in both realms, we bring an intent to use the centered state to enable and strengthen the foundation for change. In the world of athletic endeavor, centering gives us the opportunity to feel our way through the blockages that get in the way of improvement and excellence. Within the greater space of our lives, centering provides us the means to experience barriers to flow not as some vague, subconscious disquiet, but as a reality felt consciously within the body.

On the golf course, the tennis court, or the ski slope, the means to measure change is easy. We know what higher-level performance looks like in each of these arenas, and we can measure ourselves against it. But in the greater world, things aren't so simple. The breakdown in our system is so great that we're well past the point of any simple fix. We're going to have to build something new from an entirely new consciousness.

The centered state creates the space for that change. As a society, we find ourselves without a map for how to proceed. Our political history tells us where we've been--tribalism, empire, feudalism, democracy--but it's no longer clear where we're going. All we can do is open to the energy of the situation. By using the practice of centering to move toward greater flow, we can begin to find the new truths that our present situation demands.

We need to seek flow not just in the gym and the playing fields, but in all of our day-to-day activities, from the conversations we have throughout the day to the types of information we allow into our minds and bodies.

We're facing a great crisis--and a commensurate level of opportunity. We simply must seek and cultivate a state of flow. Our well-being, indeed, that of our entire world, depends on it.

The Collective Energy Field and You

Last week, I asked that you explore the collective energy around you. The question that I left unasked was: What do you bring to the collective energy field? Are you a source of chaos and drama? Or do you bring a balancing force to the collective energy around you?

This week I would like you to monitor your personal energy and notice what you bring to the collective. It isn’t necessary to adjust or change anything, just pay attention to the effect that you have on others and your environment.

Wintertime Goals

Last year, my piece about wintertime goals was focused primarily on sports- and health-related objectives while keeping my focus on the need to stay in touch with the energy of the season. I aimed to stay healthy and uninjured. I pledged to ski with less stress and more flow.

With respect to my sports endeavors, I'll declare similar goals this year. Staying healthy and uninjured, and the consciousness of the body's needs that that requires, is a good goal. I struggled enough with injury in 2016, particularly that torn hamstring back in May, that I don't want to suffer similar in 2017.

If you've been following TTW since the election, you've seen that our focus has expanded since then. The depth of anguish over the past two months has convinced us we need to actively connect our practices to the bigger picture in our lives. With that in mind, what might my goals look like for winter of 2017?

As I write this in mid-December, I haven't yet taught a lesson this season. By the time it's published I will have taught many. My students tend to be from all over the country. If last season is any indication, politics will not be spoken of much during our chairlift conversations, but I will probably get some idea that what people are going through is different from last year.

I want to be able to hold this space for my students. I want to find a way to broach or at least acknowledge that things are pretty challenging in our world right now. That the election seems to have thrown a lot of people off, irrespective of their particular political bent. I want to learn to speak more comfortably about the energetic aspects of what's going on, and to tune people in to ways of dealing with it. I'll be standing on a mountain as I do so, so I've got a pretty solid chunk of ground to teach grounding.

I also want to explore how to make things easier. A goal needs to be measurable if you want it to be an effective guide to behavior, and right now I don't know how you measure easier. When I experience it, I certainly know it. In skiing, in snowboarding, in tennis and golf and soccer (when the weather rolls back around to allow those activities), I want to do what I do easier than I have done.

An exploration of cultivating ease will be something I will practice, and something I will to bring to my students this winter. People need it. We're pretty addicted in our culture to making things hard. And it's not serving us.

Collective Vs Universal Energy

In response to my piece last week, there were some questions concerning the difference between the collective energy field and the universal energy field. I thought it would be appropriate to deepen our understanding of the two.

The universal energy field is dynamic and robust while being grounding and stable. Sit on a mountain top or next to a stream and the wonder of the universal energy field is easily felt. It comprises the heavens, the earth, and everything in between. Even though we humans are also part of the universal energy filed, there is little we can do to affect or change it. It is immune to our petty bickering and political messes. It knows no countries or religion. It simply IS. If we attune ourselves with it, it provides a foundation of strength and balance that acts as a guide for living a connected life.

The collective energy field is the energy that you surround yourself with, from the people you associate with, to the places you go, and the information that you consume daily.

Many of us do not get to control the collective energy around us. Whether it’s at work, school, or play, we are surrounded by people and circumstances that we cannot control. For example, I work in a public recreation center. Because of the people who made New Year’s resolutions, and the kids being out of school, the energy within the building right now is quite chaotic with the frenzy associated with a new year. Each person who walks through the recreation centers doors adds to the collective energy of the building.

When you consider how many people come through those doors, the music playing over the noise of the patrons, the number of televisions that are tuned to the news and people moving as fast and furiously as possible, the collective energy field within the recreation center is potentially harmful.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing shielding techniques and other methods for controlling the collective energy that surrounds you. But before we can shield ourselves from it, we must learn to recognize and become sensitive to it. To do this, we have to expose ourselves to the collective energy around us. To help limit the amount of exposure and potential damage, I highly recommend that you start by grounding yourself and cementing your connection to the earth.

Once grounded, allow yourself to notice the energy around you. Watch the people go about their business, the expressions on their faces, the feel of the room. Don’t join the energy, just notice it. Practice this exercise in many different places, from your favorite coffee shop, your place of employment, to the facility in which you work out. Again, don’t manipulate the energy field, just notice the collective energy around you, while you stay safe and grounded.