Archive for the 'Air' Category

Generative Listening

Friday, June 12th, 2009

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” Karl Menninger

I have been talking a lot about listening lately, hence, I have been wondering how to listen more and talk less. For any of you who know me, you know this as a life quest. Then as life would have it, I was presented with another chance to learn how. My seventeen-year-old son has been learning some hard lessons in the gentlest of ways recently through the eyes of his new girlfriend. Of course, I want to talk to him about it, but today in his blinding frustration and fear, I actually just listened. I thought I knew what he would say but once I stopped thinking and expecting what would come next, I saw him and heard him in a way that is rare between us.

My problem, and one that I share with many, is that I often get stopped at the words, when in fact real listening happens in the spaces beneath the words. Peter Senge describes it eloquently when he said, “You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light, which the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow your mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed and hear beneath the words to their meaning.”

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Shelter

Friday, June 5th, 2009

‘I felt it shelter to speak to you.’ -Emily Dickinson

I am not sure if there is a more challenging aspect of relating than communicating. It is the currency of all relationships, personal and professional, and reflects us in the world more deeply than any other part of who we are. Professionally, it is not uncommon for less qualified applicants to get a job over more qualified competitors based solely on their ability to communicate. Our personal relationships thrive or fall victim to our willingness and capacity to disclose and listen to the people we love.

An ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus once commented that, ‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.’ For all of my work on loving relationships, I have never been a good listener. In my earliest childhood memories, my capacity to articulate and charm almost landed me on TV and kept the peace in my dysfunctional home. I learn about my thoughts by speaking them; not surprisingly I married a strong, silent type who makes a living listening to people.

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Communication

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Language is the metaphor we use to communicate our deepest feelings. A couple’s sexuality is the most profound vehicle of communication of all. The words we use and our physical language of love define our love experience.

Penetration is the word often used to describe the culminating act of sexuality. It’s a word I often use when describing the best use of good lubricant. But it was just this week after using the word in conjunction with the act, that I wondered what I was saying. The verb “to penetrate” has six different definitions in the dictionary and as in the power of any metaphor, the meaning one attaches to the term may deeply influence our relationship to the act.

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Happier In Love

Friday, March 27th, 2009

“The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved – loved for ourselves or rather, loved in spite of ourselves” -Victor Hugo

Serious scientific inquiry has proven this quote to be true. By all measures of health and well being, the single most significant predictor of life time happiness and longevity is being involved in an intimate and loving relationship.  It is true across seventeen cultures and in longitudinal studies of historic events that the people who fared the best even through traumas like war and the Great Depression were the people in stable partnerships and families.

Yet even with all this evidence of the power of loving bonds, we are caught in a culture that throws away relationships as though they were used up convenience foods. What is the deal? Are some people just lucky in love?  Some of it may be luck. If you grew up as a wanted and beloved child of someone then the chances are good that a positive and secure romantic style is on your side. If you didn’t have these advantages then chances are you fall into the avoidant or anxious romantic styles. All of these profiles or personality traits are linked to a child’s ability to attach early in life. New research suggests that these early childhood patterns go a long way in explaining people’s life long struggles with relationships.

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The Connection We Seek

Friday, March 27th, 2009

The expo closes down and in minutes, the scenes of so many natural product companies become crated and ready to ship to the next business conference. Three days of meeting new people and greeting old friends goes by in a blur, our senses are overloaded with new tastes and smells, and we are caught continuously in conversations with fuzzy lines between important product education and perfect marketing pitches. Every now and again we connect, truly, deeply and without question with someone we have known briefly or someone we really needed to meet.

Finding those connections is the gift of our work. They make all the follow up calls meaningful and make sense of the drive to close the sale. We realize in these moments that the goal of the work is more than the bottom line results, and/or that the bottom line results are often the fruit of the real connections that we make. So many people have now tried our Good Clean Love products and been inspired by our sustainable love newsletters, that I felt more at home in this community than ever before.

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The Real Conversation

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Flying out of New Orleans, I am seated next to a gynecologist that I didn’t meet at the ACOG yearly meeting. I share my story about love products and my work about making love sustainable. He shares his story about how limited his time with each patient is and how awkward it is to discuss sexual intimacy. We talk about how little education and language we are given in our childhood and youth to understand our sexual nature and honor this part of ourselves. We even talk about masturbation and its dirty history of torture and shame and how difficult it is for so many women to touch themselves or in turn, to allow themselves to feel pleasure when someone else does. We talk about how important it is to honor your partnership as the center of your family and not to let your children’s needs overtake your marriage. He shares the pain of the early divorce he lived through in medical school. I share how much I struggled in my own marriage while my husband was in medical school. We talk about the incredibly high statistics of failed marriages in medicine- and then in life in general. I share my dreams of making a chair of loveology at a university. We have a real conversation.

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The Heart of Breast Cancer

Friday, March 27th, 2009

“The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.” – Plato

Our breasts cover our heart. If you have ever nursed a baby, it is clear that our breasts are not there for adornment, they are a primary organ of nurturance and sustaining life. They are enervated directly to our sexual center, one of our primary sensory organs to awakening libido. Their attraction, often confused with size or shape, is truly about how they connect us to our heart and the pieces of life that are most life affirming.

The rate of illness in this region of our body is mind boggling. Breast cancer affects one in eight women everyday. Heart disease kills one in four women. Just last spring, when I was called back to re-image a lump in my own breast, waiting in the hospital gown for a “better view” of what was happening in my breast, the truth of these numbers hit home. Any of us can become part of these statistics at any moment. And I knew, sitting there, that for the one woman out of eight who gets the unfortunate response of cancer, everything in her world and relationships shifts at that moment.

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Culture of Love

Friday, March 27th, 2009

‘Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.’

Aristotle once wrote, ‘What a society honors will be cultivated.’ How fortunate we all are to finally have the value of love and commitment raised into the embodiment of our leadership. The photos of the new president and his wife sweeping the dance floor at the inaugural ball with only eyes for each other sent a message into the hearts of all of us. Love matters, and in fact was probably one of the single most significant factors in the success of our most unlikely of presidents. Certainly President Obama is brilliant, but he has also been brilliantly loved.

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Core Vitality of the Heart

Friday, March 27th, 2009

The heart is perhaps the only muscle in our body that is stronger when it is soft. Firmness, strength and the ability to harden are key to core vitality throughout most of the body including our sexual organs. Hardening our heart whether it is in response to a political reality or a difficult relationship turns us into our own personal brand of fundamentalist. It is a slippery slope from the tightening in the chest to a self righteous stance about how the world should be. It happens even before we see it happening.

If our language is an extension of our soul, then how we talk about things reflects our ability to feel and know them. Rigid positions accommodate a narrowing of our language and support a limited view of the other side. It can be painful to let in the depth and nuance that allows other people act irrationally, even seemingly against their own self interest. This is another disadvantage of relating to the world with a hardened heart, it is hard to tell when you are winning, because both sides lose something when the relationship is stuck in polar positions.

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Conversations We Keep

Friday, March 27th, 2009

The things you talk about with the people that matter in your life are the air in your relationships. This seems a timely discussion in light of the conversations that are bound to take place in the next several weeks as our family structures, past and present, collide back into full view. We call them holidays. Give yourself a new gift this time – pay attention to what you say.

There is an extraordinary power and grace in calling a thing by its right name. This applies to oneself as much if not more than to a situation. It is the foundation for believing yourself. A few critical instructions are essential here – first, stop repeating or making up a story. Pretend that you are a reporter, objectively describing an event. Don’t attach the event to a lifelong history. Bear witness to it as a singular moment in time. Does this change the view? Experience a brief moment where judgment is suspended and we see with fresh eyes the people that we have known from our lifelong stories.

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