Fishing For Soul

Angling for Spiritual Reconnection

Archive for February, 2009

The Healing Power of Facebook (and time), Part 2


“Placing the blame or judgment on someone else
leaves you powerless to change your experience.
Taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them.”
~ Byron Katie ~

Why do we sometimes wait so long to make amends to ourselves and others? Is it because we are busy taking care of other things and we get distracted? Is it that we don’t want to look at the dark, scary stuff? Or is it that we don’t truly realize what ails us until something comes along and forces the issue? For many of us, Facebook has forced the issue.

Roll back the years and meet your former self! You’ve just become Facebook Friends with your long forgotten high school pals! Or were they your pals? It may be time to find out. Let Facebook (and time) help you!

Here’s what some readers discovered:

“I was what “I thought” not so fabulous in high school. Boy have I changed and grown and healed ..Also, I have had many apologies given to me here on Facebook from people who have changed as well. It’s beautiful and I am full of gratitude.”

“I think it’s very cool to revisit our former selves. I wonder what we can teach each other.”

“I started getting friend requests from college friends…then high school friends. I was still pretty insecure about asking people to be my friend on FB. I felt like a skinny nerd in HS and thought I could reinvent myself in college… I am now addicted to reconnecting with old friends – and am overcoming my insecurities.”

“One of the aspects that I am surprised and delighted by is that I am coming to know some people who were just on the margins of my view back then. Now I am seeing them in a new light and loving it. And maybe people are seeing me differently, too.”

“FB really does heal . The wounds of time vanish more if completely. I had the same kind of experience recently with someone from senior year h.s. who hit me up as a friend. We all felt separate, weird, in our own ways. It took me right back and I was able to bridge a gap that I haven’t looked at in a while.”

“To see all these faces, some I knew very well in junior and senior high and some I didn’t, and to have discussions with all these people who helped to shape who I am today has been wonderful.”

Two weeks ago I posted the first part of this story. The night I wrote Part One I was aware that I just might be having a cathartic experience. I signed off on the post and went to bed feeling quite vulnerable. I woke up feeling more so. Then the responses started coming in and my fears began to wash away. Hey, I’m no longer the skinny, misunderstood, confused, tortured guy I thought I was in 1984. After many years of spiritual studies and practice I know that my thoughts about myself created that reality. I could never have known what “those Ridley people” truly thought or what was motivating them 25 years ago. Thanks to the Facebook friends who knew me then I have allowed myself to be Radically Open to changing my perception, to embrace the past with joy and gratitude, and truly move on. Amen!




Making the Law of Attraction Work for You

“Every time you have a thought, follow it like a thread to your emotional center. Notice how the thought makes you feel. Notice what the thought and the feeling, when combined, impulse you to do. What action do you take? Be open to knowing when the outcome lands in your lap. There is all ways an outcome. There is all ways another thought, feeling and action. It happens over and over and over again. Pay attention. Ask and you shall receive.”
– At One

Googling for Optimism in the Media

Please help! I am fishing for optimistic stories in the media. I want to see a headline and read a story (non-fiction) in a leading newspaper or magazine that is inspiring, full of encouragement and the audacity of hope. I Googled ‘Optimism in the Media’ and found this story: Scanning Headlines: Sure, Optimism Is Great, But Pessimism Sells. The title of that 2003 post says it all. Who sells optimism in these times of economic crisis, war, and global warming? Disney? That’s a bit pessimistic now isn’t it. Sorry, Bambi. It looks like I might have to fish in deeper waters.

My interest in this topic was spurred by my month- long intention to be Radically Open to new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, and also by a curious, true story of ‘rejection’ that a normally optimistic friend told me.

Sarah called on Tuesday to tell me that the uplifting story she was asked to submit to a journalist’s blog about her sudden and seemingly radical career change a few years ago (featuring your’s truly as shamanic healer/coach) was promptly rejected on the grounds that it was “not ‘practical’ enough”. The journalist felt that readers “were bogged down by the signs of the times.” Who could possibly want to read a happy tale when one could choose from an abundance of bad ones?

Dr. Wayne Dyer once spoke about how the things we have hanging on the walls of our home affect our energy. Beautiful, peaceful images, whether looked at or not, always reflect their “good vibes” onto us and make us feel good. Dr. Masaru Emoto theorized that water is affected by positive and negative thoughts or words. In Dr. Emoto’s studies, positive words helped to create beautiful water crystals, and negative words created water crystals that were distorted.

Each day I walk directly past at least five newsstands in Manhattan. Lately I’ve been bombarded by headlines that scream: Crisis! Disaster! Recession! Sometimes I glance at the headlines, sometimes I don’t. No matter what, I truly believe that the energy that each headline emits is having some subtle effect on me and the more than eight million people who travel into and around New York City throughout the week. And what happens when those people watch TV news, or listen to the radio, or log onto their computers? How much bad news are we being subjected to?

Let’s start a revolution. Let’s start a good news revolution. Today, at least once, share a story of hope with a friend. Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Vistor Hansen is filled with inspirational stories (and those guys got rich and famous by sharing those tales). Tell a co-worker a funny joke. Call your parents and tell them you love them. Spread the good word: Optimism is Possible and Welcome Here Now. Amen!



Meditation Meets Radical Openness

lake yoga
I meditate at least once a day. Meditation has kept me from falling into mental and emotional darkness many times. I use that quiet, reflective space to visualize my day, gather ideas for new workshops, ask for guidance about a challenging situation, and connect with myself and All That Is. I hear a lot of people say that they don’t have time to sit and be still. “Not even five minutes?” I ask. Just sit and take a few deep breaths. Presto! You’ve meditated.

Here is some advice from my spiritual guides:

“Once you are willing to quiet your mind, you will be able to sit without worry, without fear that you are missing out on something ‘out there’. Please know that ‘meditation’ means only that you are taking time for you, time to be in love with your self, time to listen to the thoughts that occupy your brilliant mind, time to BREATHE. There is no better cure for what ails you than quiet reflection. Listen. Feel. Know. Oh, it is so easy! We invite you to try it NOW! Take a few breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Let your shoulders drop away from your ears. Sit up tall. Plant your feet on the floor. Feel your heart beating. How nice! Now close your eyes. Success!”

Sixteen years ago I thought my life was in the toilet. A shamanic apprenticeship, meditation, and what I now refer to as Radical Openness saved me from a downward spiral. Radical Openness has allowed me to follow my impulses, to be spontaneous, to be open to reaching out to others and to receive others, to take extra time for myself, to slow down, to laugh, to cry, to be more creative, and to ultimately enjoy life in ways that I thought was possible only for someone else.


I’ll be sharing my Radical Openness process in a free teleconference on Wed., Feb. 18th at 8 P.M. ET. Just call the conference line at 218.486.1300, bridge # 951782.

I’m also working on a follow up to “The Healing Power of Facebook.” I got an incredible response from that post and will be sharing some quotes from readers on Wed. Plus – I am investigating Blog Talk Radio as a way for people to share their everyday Fishing for Soul Stories. Stay tuned.



The Healing Power of Facebook

I didn’t realize how much I still needed to acknowledge and heal from my past until I signed up for Facebook last November and started making connections with the high school folks.

It started innocently enough. I was curious. I wanted to see what 25 years had done to their faces and their fortunes. I was asked to be someone’s friend. I said yes. Then I added another friend, and another. Tracy suggested I add Greg, who suggested I add Joe, who suggested I add Cheryl. Trish was found in my People You May Know column. Pretty soon I was spending my late night hours looking at profiles, searching for people from those forgotten days, wondering what their lives were like and how often they thought about me. Lisa got inspired and created a Ridley High School Class of 1984 Facebook Group. Perfect! More people to daydream about!

And then it happened. I had a meltdown. “Oh, my God, I haven’t talked to these people since graduation in June of 1984 and now they want to be my friend? What does that mean? I don’t think they even liked me back then. Was I a friend 25 years ago? Geez, I was really weird then.” I found myself stuck in some crazy time warp. Was I 16 or 43?

I left Folsom, PA at the age of 18 hoping never to return. Oh, OK, that sounds dramatic, but I really meant it, and at the risk of sounding like an angst-filled teen from an ABC Afterschool Special (does that program still exist?) I will continue.

How many of us suffered silently through our high school years, wishing we knew how to ‘be cool’, thinking we were the weird one, feeling misunderstood, hormonally wacked, frustrated, afraid to go to the cafeteria and be seen by the guys who we thought wanted to beat us up, searching for a way out? I suppose Ridley was a fairly normal high school in the 1980’s (based on what my current friends tell me). I suppose I was a fairly normal teenager, but I sure didn’t feel like one. I had far too many dark secrets. Leaving ‘those Ridley people’ behind and going away to college was a dream come true. I realized that I could reinvent myself and start with a clean slate. So what if a few of my high school classmates were on campus with me? We were different there, more mature, free. We were in COLLEGE. High school was so over. A couple of years after graduating from college I made my way to New York City. Man, I could really reinvent myself there!

A few days ago I received a message on my cell phone. “Hey Joe, it’s Lily.” That voice. That Philly accent. “Holy shit! Lily is calling me?” Yeah, I posted my number on her wall with a sincere message inviting her to connect but I didn’t think she’d actually do it. I couldn’t stop pacing around my office as I thought about Lily and the things we had in common.

Lily and I grew up in the same town. We met in Mrs. Shields’ kindergarten class. We shared 12 years of schooling and socilaizing. Lily was one of the hottest girls around and she scared the crap out of me (as many beautiful women used to). I was sure she saw me as a total loser in high school based on what I considered a disaterous make-out and groping session on her living room couch (in 8th grade?) while the movie Grease played on cable TV in the background.

I listened to the message a second time and there was no doubt in my mind that I had to get in touch with Lily immediately. My fingers and feet danced as I dialed her number. Her voicemail kicked in and I started to leave a message, but before I finished, my Blackberry beeped in a way that told me there was an incoming call. It was Lily. I was about to have my first off-line conversation with someone I’d left behind in the era of big hair.

“I can’t believe this!,” I said, as we talked and laughed like old friends who just happened to have lost track of one another. “Do you remember Spencer in that dress?” “What ever happened to Karen?” “Do you ever talk to Mike?” It was a magical experience. Layers of awkwardness and embarrassment melted away. In April Lily will be coming to New York City, where I’ve lived for the past 18.5 years. She’ll be traveling with some other women I know from high school. I will happily do whatever I can to make their weekend fun, interesting and worry-free. Ah, the power of Facebook.

Last week I meditated on the thoughts and feelings I had about my high school years. I looked at my fears. I recalled my month-long intention of Radical Openness and the book next to my bed, Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping. I was a bit shocked to discover that although I saw myself as a dramatically different person than the young man who tried to run away from his painful past by fleeing his hometown all those years ago, I hadn’t made the conscious connection that ‘those Ridley people’ had changed too. 25 years is a long time. “Perhaps a large dose of Radical Openness and Radical Forgiveness would help here,” I heard myself say. I guess it’s working.

As my list of Facebook friends grow, I look forward to adding more Ridley High School Class of 1984 almuni to it. I am open to healing whatever needs to be healed in regard to that part of my amazing life. I’ve asked someone to post my yearbook photo on Facebook. I intend to look at it with openness, forgiveness and love. Amen!



Not Exactly Sex in the City, but I Got Off On It Anyway (Finding Peace in New York City’s Times Square)

img_0776img_07771Ask most New Yorkers and they are likely to tell you that strolling leisurely though Times Square on a Saturday night is not something that rates high on their To Do list. In fact, most would probably do whatever they could to avoid Times Square on any night. And that’s exactly why this veteran New Yorker decided to shake off his cynicism, get into the spirit of Radical Openness, and brave the crowds on 42nd Street.

I spent about 10 hours on Saturday sitting on my ass. Seven hours were spent in a computer lab at the Fashion Insititute of Technology with Melea, my Social Networking guru who’s played a big part in the viral Facebook request ‘Can We Find 200,000 by Feb. 12th to Wish Darwin a Happy 200th Birthday?’, learning about web marketing, and the remaining hours were spent with a friend at Sacred Chow on Sullivan St. stuffing myself with vegan food (that gluten-free chocolate cake was awesome!). All of that sitting, and yes, the eating, made me hungry for movement, so my friend and I decided to enjoy the uncharacteristically warm February night and walk off our meal. We headed north. As we reached 28th St. and 6th Ave. I looked up at the Empire State Building, which was lit beautifully in red (for Valentine’s Day?). I’ve been carrying my camera with me lately to record moments like that, so I shot a few frames of the famous structure. Standing in the middle of the sidewalk, staring up at one of Manhattan’s premier attractions, camera in hand, I felt like a tourist visiting the city for the first time. “Wow,” I thought, “I feel so open.” Radical Openness was working once again!

Deko and I parted ways a few blocks later and I headed to Penn Station to catch the subway. I crossed 7th Ave. and walked into the crowds outside of Madison Square Garden. Just as I got to the stairway that would take me down into Penn Station and on to the #3 train, I froze. My mind was filled with thoughts about Radical Openness and my experience several minutes earlier with the Empire State Building. “What do you want to do, Joe?” came the voice. I looked uptown at the flashing lights of Times Square and knew exactly what the answer was. “I’m going to walk up there as if for the first time, camera ready, and look for signs that offer me a positive message of openness.” Off I went. How liberating! Free from thoughts of what I might look like snapping photos every three feet, running into the street, and staring up at buildings with my mouth and eyes open wide, I began to observe the city that I call home from a completely new perspective. My usual rush, rush was now an inner hush. I was OPEN! I felt welcomed by the throngs of people walking toward me. I enjoyed the site of policemen getting their picture taken with adoring tourists, the guy in the Batman costume throwing a giggling young woman onto his shoulder, the many different languages being spoken all around me, the bright lights, the cars, cabs and buses, the horse shitting near the curb. How many times had I walked through that place and not SEEN it? Where else in my life could I retrain myself to SEE?

I found a spot at the top of a giant red staircase (how long has that been there?) in the middle of the square. For a long time I sat and watched. My eyes watered. My chest tightened and tingled. “Let this crack you open,” I heard. And so it has.




Oprah Does Radical Openness (and helps others be open)

It is well after midnight and I just finished listening to a recording of Oprah’s 2007 XM Satellite Radio interview with Esther Hicks. Esther, along with her husband Jerry and a group of channeled (by Esther), spiritual entities who call themselves Abraham, have written best-selling books about the Law of Attraction (what you focus your thoughts on will grow) and travel all over spreading the word about that Universal Law. The Law of Attraction hit it big (again) when the DVD and book The Secret came out a few years ago. I have been following Abraham-Hicks since 2001 when a fellow fitness instructor began feeding me audio cassetes of their lectures. I eventually went to see them live and was blown away by the experience. It was not the first time I’d seen someone channel (hey, don’t I do that?), so it was quite normal to me. What struck me was the fact that this woman, Esther Hicks, was so obviously comfortable with the whole thing. There were hundreds of people at that Abraham-Hicks event. It was as if Esther was saying, “Yeah, this is what I do. It’s great, it’s my joy, and I make a fantastic living doing it.” She actually said something similar on the Oprah radio show. How freakin’ great is that? Owning what you love and just doing it! Radical!

And then there’s Oprah. She’s amazing to me. Her whole story has been played out in public for over 20 years – all of the ups and downs that she chooses to reveal so that others may learn. She uses her celebrity to do good in the world and she has helped change lives. Go Oprah! That is Radical Openness in practice.

So there was Oprah, talking to Esther about the Law of Attraction and asking what happens when Esther channels Abraham. Esther then took a deep breath, easily slid into Abraham mode and they began to speak through her. Now Oprah was talking to Abraham. A new experience for Oprah and surely a first for many of those radio listeners.

As I reflect on that show, I am filled with gratitude. I am grateful that the positive, abundant message is being shared and that more and more people around the world are learning about the Law of Attraction. I am grateful that for many years I have been open to hearing the messages that folks like Abraham-Hicks and Oprah have been spreading. I am grateful that I not only listened, but put the teachings into practice and have reshaped my life because of it. I am grateful because for the first time yesterday, in an absolute manifestation stemming from my month-long focus on Radical Openness and years of practice, I was able to open my eyes while I was channeling my spiritual guides and Master Advisers on the Law of Attraction, At One, as I sat with my clients. Getting to the point of opening my eyes took three and a half years, and it was radical because it showed me that, just like Esther Hicks, I am now able to say, “Hey, I am not afraid to be seen anymore. This is what I do, this is what I am, and these messages from a kind, loving source can help you have a better life.” Listen everybody: Radical Openness works. Be Open. Get to work. In the words of At One:

“When you are ready, when you have taken all of the necessary actions that lead you to the completion of a goal, when you have allowed your self to be guided by your brilliance (and we mean the human and spiritual brilliance that all of you are), then you will find your self in a place of extreme comfort, a place of internal bliss that nothing and no one can disturb. It is from that place, that joyful place, that you will want to all ways manifest from. For when you manifest from a place of joy, it is utterly more satisfying than when you manifest from a place of doubt, worry, resentment, and desperation, which are all fear-based vibrations. As you move forward with your eyes wide open you will see all of the beauty that is around you at all times. The beauty is waiting to be seen. Go and look for it. The time is now.”