European Tour Day 30: Skiing and the Three Principles

Day 30, March 29.

Today was teach an old dog new tricks day, and it turned out to be one of my favorite days so far. I put aside my trepidation and decided to go skiing because how could I not in the gorgeous Alps?

Anthony DavisI put myself in the very able hands of Anthony, who really knows how to help people get better at skiing, because it’s really a “headstuff” thing. I downhill ski very little, but besides being way out of practice I tend to ski with great effort, and I take my bad habits up with me up to more difficult trails. Anthony wouldn’t let me; we stayed on an easy blue trail until, with his pointers such as “let the skis do the work for you” and “tip onto the edges ever so slightly” and “feel the leg movement start from your hips,”

I was finally able to relax and get into a flow. I felt the difference, and the tops of my thighs didn’t hurt like they usually do.

I realized: first you need to see it actually work for you, second it’s about trusting that it will work for you again, and third it’s about having faith.

Skiing is a great metaphor for life and the way the three principles work in us, so I used this (for me) very fresh metaphor to begin my presentation that evening to about 11 people mostly new to the principles on living life with more ease.

It went well, for only an hour and a half, and people seemed to get a lot out of it. The venue was a musician named Richie’s beautiful home overlooking the mountains. What a wonderful place!

Tomorrow I’m going skiing again and hoping to trade a healing session for a coaching session with a Reiki master named Sylvie, who really took to the training.

The night was capped off with a nice meal with Anthony, Kay and Tammy. Poor Tammy had a bad sinus infection all day (except for once the training started).

The other treat was telephoning my son on his 38th birthday: The only rock musician-golf caddie I know, and a really special guy.

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European Tour Day 29: Into the French Alps

Day 29, March 28.

Took the train with Tammy to Geneva. Ride went fast because of still trying to straighten out some logistical difficulties, which finally got straightened out. For one thing, we found out en route that I will in fact be having a small seminar tomorrow after all.

We met Rauna for a good lunch and she took us around the old part of Geneva. Another great European city with old narrow, cobblestone streets in the old section.

Then Anthony Davis picked us up and drove us up into the French Alps, St. Jean d’Aulps—the most physically beautiful part of my trip so far—where he lives in a ski area. Then his partner Kay— wedding creator, par excellence—showed up and we all had a lovely talk and dinner.

I decided I had no choice but to put all my trepidation aside and go skiing tomorrow in the French Alps.

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European Tour Day 28: Parenting from the heart in Zurich

Day 28, March 27.

Another very nice solo morning walk up a hill into the woods. Came back to do a Skype call with Sonny from Sweden, which I thought was a coaching call but I think he thought it was just a call colleague to colleague, as he is also a coach. Oh well, it was a nice call with a nice guy.

Then on to Zurich with Tammy.  I had no expectations for Zurich at all and I was so pleasantly surprised. The old section of town had those narrow, cobblestone streets I love.

Then I met Oana from Romania for a coaching session. She had flown in on a whim, from where she had been traveling. That and she were very nice; she may be interested in the next Spain training.

Then Tammy and I ate at the oldest continuously open vegetarian restaurant in the world. It was a buffet with lots of Indian and other foods-delicious–but the plates were calculated by weight and I could not believe how expensive it was. Everything in Switzerland costs twice as much as anywhere else.

Book cover thumbnail for Parenting from the HeartThen it was onto the Parenting from the Heart session, in a beautiful Buddhist-type venue. The 11 parents there seemed tired after a long day’s work then dealing with their kids, and I felt a little rusty, not having done a parenting session for a long time, but even though the feeling wasn’t the absolute best I learned when everyone was leaving that many of them really got a lot out of it, and I sold a bunch of books.

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The Myth of Self Development – Dean Rees Evans

How many times a week do we hear people saying that they need to work on some aspect of themselves; fix something; make something better; grow as a person?

In the context of developing new skills, such as a new language, learning a certain aspect of history, or choosing a new career path that requires adaptability, these all make sense in developing our understanding of the world.

However, when it comes down to us thinking that we need to become a better person, as opposed to developing new skills, we come unstuck. Subsequently we can end up spending a lot of time and sometimes a lot of money in the pursuit of this ‘better person’ we hope to become.

What is interesting to note is that most people usually feel they could be a better person, not because it is a natural desire, but because someone else suggested to them, at some point in their lives that they weren’t good enough just the way they were. Often leaving them with an unconscious feeling of inadequacy, born of the repeated thought that they are not good enough and need to be better in some way. Hence, the constant drama of continually needing to work on oneself without any real defined goals or plans other than: “If I keep practicing this”, or “if I just get over that”, then I will be a better person than I have been.

A lot of life can be wasted in this chasing the rainbow of becoming something more. The irony of this pursuit is that all human beings are born with the innate capacity for goodness and a limitless potential for psychological well-being. In other words, we all have a healthy core inside of us, to which we can return at any point in our lives, and it is from this healthy core that the best life is lived.

When we truly start to see that beneath the surface of our everyday thinking, the conditioned thoughts that we innocently inherited are not who we really are. We are so much more than the sum total of our lives so far. We have innocently become victims of our personal thinking – in other words, what we think in any given moment becomes the reality that we experience, and some of those thoughts have been around for so long we no longer even notice that they are part of our everyday thinking. They simply run beneath the surface of our conscious awareness.

However, if we start to see that it is all thought, we stop taking our conditioned thinking so seriously, and stop taking other peoples words (thoughts) so personally. This creates a great deal of relief for us when we see the power of Thought, and how this power is continually generating thoughts in our mind. It helps us to see the transient nature of our experience that one thought follows on from another in continual succession, and there really isn’t anything we can do to stop this process or change it, but we can know that it will not last. States of mind arise in accordance with our thinking, and shift as quickly as our thinking does.

This tells us something extremely important about the experience of our lives; that each moment is governed by the content of our thinking in that moment. If it is an experience we are not enjoying we can be certain that it will end. If it is an experience we love, we hardly give it a second thought and simply enjoy the moment. What is interesting about this example of our experience is that it points towards the fact that all experience is coming from the same source, i.e., the power of Thought itself, and is therefore neutral. Not ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Thus, self-development in anything other than acquiring new skills is an innocently created myth, which is essentially a red herring and a never ending rabbit hole through which we fall. The answer to living a beautiful life lies in relaxing away from our conditioned thinking and relearning to trust our own wisdom and common sense, which will always guide us, if we but listen to the quiet still voice within. 

European Tour Day 27: a walk in the woods

Day 27, March 26.

I really needed today. It was a day of rest. I could have gone sightseeing but I chose not to, and I’m so glad.

First I had to straighten out three logistical problems for my trip that I just discovered to my utter shock—things like having to be both teaching a session and being on a train at the same time beginning in two days and affecting a few people, and that took a good part of the morning.

Then in the afternoon I took more than an hour walk/hike up into the woods near Tammy’s house in St. Gallen. Oddly, I bumped into some sort of fenced-in antelope. My goodness, I had almost forgotten the feeling I get when I walk in the woods alone. Pretty much all I’ve been doing on this trip except early on has been walking in cities. What a difference in feeling! I feel rejuvenated. And except for some types of trees and the different kinds of houses it really has some of the feel of Vermont around here.

While walking, I even got a hit of a new way to teach my parenting session through questions we could ask ourselves when interacting with our kids, the answers to which would never steer us wrong.

Speaking of kids, Tammy’s is sick with a really bad cough originally from a fever, and I’m pumping myself with Airborne so I won’t catch it, and now I’m just saying I won’t.

My Windows Mail stopped working, so I called upon Jos again to help me straighten it out. It’s so great to have these contacts all over Europe!

Oh, and I got to take a real bath. I’ve been in some great showers on this trip, but soaking in a bathtub was like heaven.

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European Tour Day 26: Off to Switzerland

Day 26, March 25.

My father was one of the liberators of a German concentration camp so it had even more special meaning to me. He was in the second wave, so the only people who were left were those too sick or too emaciated to move. He never talked about it or anything about the war, until he was interviewed for a research project by a Jewish organization about the liberation of the camps. When I heard the tape I realized how much it was seared into his memory. I had never seen or heard my dad cry until he was talking about it.

So now I’m on the road (or the tracks) again. On to another new country for me: Switzerland via Zurich.

I feel very hopeful again. It feels great to have more space between trainings, and my next two are very different: one on parenting and one on prevention.

Traveling through parts of mid-southern Germany and into Western Switzerland reminded me of Vermont; in other words, beautiful. But a very long train ride to Zurich and onto St. Gallen.

Jack Pransky and Tammy FureyThis is the first time on my trip that I feel really exhausted. But I’m here a day or two early, because I couldn’t afford to stay in Berlin anymore, so hopefully I’ll be able to chill out for a day and a half before my parenting from the heart session. Tammy Furey was so kind to let me stay with her for the extra night or two. She picked me up on the train platform and brought me home.

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Inside-Out 101

I have to admit it, sometimes I feel as if my articles do something I warn readers against: Complicate matters.

So, this week, here’s the opposite. I’m going to write about the one thing that you and I need to understand to live a more peaceful, productive, genuine, and giving life. Ready? Here goes:

  • Your feelings do not (ever) come from anyone or anything. Your feelings come from inside of you.

And if you’re questioning what I just said, simply come back to my words—and to the circumstance in your life that you think doesn’t apply—at a later time. Then see how things look to you.

Keep me posted,

Garret

European Tour Day 25: thoughts on concentration camps

Day 25, March 24.

Today Katja and I met Bruce—not only was Bruce on Salt Spring Island with Sydney Banks but he lived in my original Vermont home town of Cabot a year or two before I got there.

We capped off the trilogy of German cultural history by going to the most devastating of all: Germany’s first concentration camp. It was by no means the biggest and by no means the worst but it was nothing short of horrific. It’s one thing to hear about the horrors of Nazi Germany, it’s another to see the pictures that are beyond belief, but it is altogether another to walk on that exact ground where all this horror took place and feel the energetic scent of it all.

We say there are no words to adequately describe the three principles; well, there are no words for this either, but in the other direction.

Bruce told us the words to a beautiful song he wrote about the camps—“One Suitcase”—and this was the first he visited, and his song took on new meaning for him. Then we walked back to the train in the freezing cold pouring rain, getting soaked to our skins and frozen, and I couldn’t even mind because compared to the sadistic torture and terror of the concentration camps, this was NOTHING!

Yesterday we saw a map of all the concentration camps throughout Europe and it looked like hundreds. I had no idea. Everyone needs to go to one, just for the lesson. I heard that a big Neo-Nazi faction was taking the reins of power in Kiev. Watch out everyone!

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European Tour Day 24: Berlin as a tourist

Day 24, March 23.

As Katja [Symons] put it, “What a great day of inspiration, culture and insight!

After a counseling session in the morning where I may have seen a tiny glimmer of hope within severe depression, I met Katja back at the shoe box and we went to tour Berlin.

dome on berlin old parliamentOur first stop was in a queue line to see if we could get up into a huge modern dome above the old parliament building. Katja had already been told it would not be possible to get in this day, but we decided not to believe it, and the waters parted for us when a tour bus cancelled and we got right in.A very strange, compelling structure kind of set up like a three dimensional labyrinth (it just occurred to me now).

Then it was off to see the monument to the Jews murdered by the Nazis, which was even a stranger structure made up of large, different sized blocks and pathways that said nothing, until we discovered it went underground to a museum; then it all made sense.

The museum was very moving, especially when I found a woman in the Shoah archive named Berta Block from Vilna, to whom I may have been related, as all of the Blocks from Vilna on my grandmother’s mother’s side who didn’t escape were murdered there.

Then we were off to see the last remnants of the Berlin Wall—that other astonishing monument to oppression—which, we discovered, was also attached to the “Topography of Terror” museum (I may not remember the first word right, but something like that), the remnants of the old Gestapo headquarters, which traced the rise and fall of the Nazis.

What really got to us was how many hundreds of thousands of people it took to keep this entire brutal system alive, torturing and starving and murdering people in the worst possible way. So it wasn’t only Hitler and the rest of his close cronies, and its tentacles reached into most other European countries. The worst possible thoughts of humankind, believed.

Another moving moment was when I found the tentacle that reached into Minsk, Russia, near where, if the Pransky family had not escaped before the Nazis got there, it occurred to me that I would never have even been here, never been born, and neither would George [Pransky], and neither would Aaron Turner.  An entire system built up slowly, tightening the screws little by little until the horrors couldn’t even be imagined, all propelled by fear.

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