• The Cultural Value of Vision

    The following is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of Michael's upcoming book, Natural Way of Being: 

    Vision is when we experience a specific possibility as a potential for ourselves. It has to have the element of it being possible for you. It may come in the form of an idea, a dream, or a realization such as an "aha experience." Vision is direct communication from Life itself. 

    As well as being essential to your personal natural creation process, vision is critically important to the community and culture that you are a part of. It was standard practice in many Native American and aboriginal cultures to receive and share one's vision to make the people stronger. Benefiting the community was the primary intention for doing vision quest and other ceremonies intended to receive vision. 

    In this sense, vision is receiving collective guidance for the people that you are a part of. This has been the role of the Shaman and spiritual leaders in cultures all over the world for thousands of years. In Black Elk Speaks (Neihardt, 1961, p.188), Black Elk states "When a vision comes ... the world is greener and happier; for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like a rain."   

    When referring to myth-makers such as shamans and artists in his book, The Power of Myth (1988, p.85), Joseph Campbell states, "They (ideas and poetry) come out of an elite experience, the experience of people particularly gifted, whose ears are open to the song of the universe. These people speak to the folk, and there is an answer from the folk, which is received as an interaction. But the first impulse of shaping of a folk tradition comes from above, not below."   

    Receiving vision benefits everyone involved. You receive direction and value at the personal level, and your community and culture also receives guidance and richness. As Campbell pointed out, culture and tradition itself comes from such experiences. Vision is the life-blood of culture, tradition, and ceremony. Without the input of vision, tradition becomes outmoded and meaningless. A once vibrant ceremony or tradition soon becomes rote and detached from Life in the absence of current vision.

  • Managing Multiple Doorways in Various Stages of Development

    The following is an excerpt from Chapter 10- The Dance of Unfoldment in Michael Hoffman's upcoming book, Natural Way of Being:

    With the Dance of Unfoldment, when a doorway to something new opens, step into and explore it. Take it as far as it can go. Typically, a doorway will unfold for a while and then hit a point where it requires time for something further to develop. Then you can leave it in a place that you can return to and let it incubate for a while.

    Even after this first doorway opens, continue your practice of creating the conditions for unfoldment. If you are open to it, while your first doorway is still unfolding or developing, a new doorway will open. Step into it. That's right, you are going to get more than one horse in the race and step into multiple doorways. No more applying for one job and waiting to hear.

    This managing multiple doorways approach becomes your practice. Over time, you will have several doorways all unfolding at different stages at the same time. Your practice consists of: taking doorways as far as they can go, stepping into new doorways, and going back to previous doorways when something new breaks free.

    This the rinse and repeat step. You are continually reaching out, creating connections, and stepping into doorways. It is a numbers game. You are leveraging your situation while maintaining your intention. You rely on the abundance of multiple doorways to produce the unfoldment of your intention.

    At first, fear of overwhelm may appear. This approach is different than a linear way of working- it is multi-directional. You may have been conditioned to work with one project until it is done and then move onto the next project. At this juncture you may think, "What if several things open up?" Or, "What if I get both jobs?" Or perhaps, "What if several people like me?"

    In business, we call this a "good problem." Although it may feel awkward and uncomfortable, you ultimately get to pick the best doorway. Or perhaps you end up going with parts of several doorways. It is only your linear mind and its limited thinking that worries about too many good things happening at once.

  • Letting Go of the Outcome

    The following is an excerpt from Chapter 10- The Dance of Unfoldment in Michael Hoffman's upcoming book, Natural Way of Being

    When we take intentional action to initiate the dance of unfoldment, it is essential to let go of the outcome. We live in a results-based culture and obviously getting results has it place. Your boss or team leader wants results, right?

    But with the dance of unfoldment, we are interacting with many things beyond our control. And when allowing things to unfold, we are not going to try to control or force things to happen outside of ourselves to get specific outcomes.

    Instead of forcing outcomes, we are going to learn from the outcomes that unfold. We might say, "Wow I did not see that one coming," and then change our approach. Our next intentional action adjusts based on what we learned from the previous outcomes. So you learn from the outcome, but never take responsibility for it. Rather, you take responsibility for your intentional action. 

    Accordingly, instead of evaluating yourself on the basis of outcomes, you are going to evaluate your intentional action. Ask yourself, "Was there anything else I could have done to create connection in that experience?" Or perhaps, "Did I give it my all?" And, "Did I allow things to unfold or did I try to force things?"  

    We cannot afford to take it personally if a possibility does not unfold. The outcome is not entirely about us. The people we collaborate with in a potential possibility may get excited at first, but then as it takes time and effort to develop it, they may lose interest. Yet many of us feel rejection and a sense of failure when a collaborative possibility does not actualize itself. We get discouraged and then cease exploring other possibilities for months or even years. 

    Once you let go of the outcome and detach from taking it personally, it is exciting seeing which possibilities actually develop. You merely keep nurturing the various possibilities and watch which ones unfold. You may be surprised as to which ones take off.

  • Unconditional Gratitude

    Thanksgiving is a celebration of abundance. It is celebrating the things that we have in our lives. At this time of year on the Medicine Wheel, we are entering the time of introspection. It is a time to reevaluate the things in our lives that are working and not working.

    An often forgot about element in the time of introspection is to consider what is working. What are the things that you succeeded at? Part of the time of introspection and creating something new is considering what the next step might be with something that is working.

    And even if it is time to let something go, there is huge value in celebrating the abundance that it once brought to you. Can you celebrate the beauty, joy, and value that a painful relationship or previous phase of your life brought you- even when it is no longer working? This is a challenging thing to find gratitude for.

    So now we are celebrating it is what is working and what was working, but what about what never did work? Can we celebrate our mistakes, failures, and painful lessons? Without them, there would be no growth or new beginnings. How about some gratitude for them?

    So in summary, you are celebrating your whole life. The working, the not-working, and the never did work. The good, the bad, and the ugly. You may soon decide to change it, but for right now perhaps it is time to celebrate your life the way that it is.

    Being thankful for your life exactly the way it is. Unconditional gratitude. Now that is something worthy of celebration.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Living in the Big World

    The notion of Big World came from interacting with my cat when I lived in Oceanside, California. There was a fenced-in area on my patio that she could be outside, but still protected. But if she went out the gate she was in the Big World. There were coyotes out there. She loved the safety of the fenced world, but she was always happiest and most alive when she was out in the big world.

    Walking with your heart open requires you to live in the Big World. Life is live. The Big World is vast. You are directly interacting with all of creation and whatever walks in the door. This can feel overwhelming.

    When we become overwhelmed and frightened we tend to go into our head. Metaphorically, the intellect is the fenced in yard that my cat resided in. In our intellect, we control everything and we feel safe. When reality becomes too daunting and overwhelming, we rewrite the script so it more manageable and convenient. This is how we create maya or illusion. Our mind segments life into manageable pieces.

    The problem is that we are no longer interacting with life, we are now interacting with our contrived version of life.

    Walking with your heart open requires a willingness to live the big world and to feel life directly. When life becomes overwhelming, we need to rely on skills to manage the fear and overwhelm, and to keep our heart open. That is, to take and deep breath and to feel what life is presenting. And, to trust our hearts to know what to do.

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