Sunday, December 25, 2011

Freedom and Independence in Relationships (it comes from within!)

[post by Cliff Harvey]

This year, for whatever reason, I have worked with many clients individually but for challenges that were affecting their relationships and greatly affecting their lives. 
A common theme that presented time and again was that of freedom and independence within a relationship. 

A fear for many is the loss of freedom and independence in a relationship. 

The key factor in this, is that if you don't  believe that you are free and that you are independent, you can never feel that you have that in a relationship, and particularly a relationship that is a close and intimate one. 
However when you do have that internal solidity of self belief you have the comfort of truly knowing that you do have freedom and independence, whether in a relationship or not. Because freedom is being able to make the choices that we want to make, and a great relationship is a choice that you want to make!

A close, intimate caring relationship can be more of a struggle for someone lacking self belief in their own independence than a more 'arms length' and uncaring one, because they by default have more 'space'. 

Freedom and independence for both parties are essential to a healthy relationship. But the drivers for this must come from within. When we realise that we are the co-creators of our reality, have a partner that knows this, and we start from a basis of trust and open communication this is actually very easily achieved. 

Unfortunately I have seen on several occasions clients and acquaintances of mine reject healthy, intimate relationships in favour of cold, uncaring ones because it is easier to have a feeling of 'freedom' when you are not truly engaged with your partner. These types of relationships are very transactional (and sadly often defined by the material) and present all sorts of power imbalances and patterns of subtle abuse that are ultimately destroying for the self-worth and happiness of those involved. 

Freedom is life. Independence comes from being truly authentic, having trust (in oneself and those we love) and creating lines of communication defined by the intention of unconditional love and compassion. 


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hungry Ghosts: What we crave most we lack within....

[post by Cliff Harvey]


Image from zendirtzendust.com
In Buddhist mythology there is a  forlorn  figure  known as the 'hungry ghost' (or Preta).
In the Tibetan tradition this figure is usually shown with a tiny mouth and an enormous belly, symbolizing his insatiable hunger - a hunger that can never be satisfied,  no matter how much he tries to consume.

This is a metaphor for the futility of trying to satisfy our cravings for what we lack within.

When we lack self-respect, unconditional love of self or self appreciation for example, we try to get these from the people around us. And we tie ourselves up in a never ending cycle of needing attention, craving the gestures that show appreciation and seeking constant validation.

I discuss the ideas of extrinsic vs intrinsic motivation in Time Rich Cash Optional: an unconventional guide to happiness. And just as motivators that are solely external are ultimately unfulfilling, seeking the extrinsic quenching of what we lack within is just as self limiting and frustrating. We simply cannot fill a void of lacking within with validation from without. We may try...but the void remains unless we cultivate our intrinsic strength and honour ourselves with love.

When we cultivate a strong sense of self-worth, love and appreciation, our happiness is no longer predicated on the futile quest for validation from those around us, and instead simply 'is'.
In this 'space' we vibrate at a higher level of happiness and compassion.  We are more able to appreciate and enjoy when people do show us respect and give us gestures and gifts of love.
By releasing our attachment to 'needing' these things (and constantly craving more) we can truly begin to be more present in the moment of receiving with love and appreciation, not need and desire.

And this is when we can truly say, without pretense "Thank you. I love you" and have that be enough...

Blessings
~ Cliff


Friday, December 23, 2011

So that was 2011... [plus a special Xmas gift!]

Wow - what a year!
It was a little over a year ago that I arrived back in Aotearoa after a little over 3 years in Vancouver and nearly 5 years spent mostly overseas.
The experience in Vancouver and wandering the globe had provided a period of unprecedented personal growth. Unfortunately at the same time I had invested heavily in a venture that didn't pan out and also fell victim to a combination of the global financial melt-down and my own pig headed stubbornness (AKA trying to hold on to too much for too long) and in the process lost the majority of my property, shares and other assets.

The dire nature of the situation hit me upon landing in New Zealand and going to my local Star Bucks for a coffee. "Sorry sir that card's declined"...yep..that's right. My very last card with any money on it declined for a $3.50 coffee...

Basically the situation couldn't have been any worse financially, but thankfully I was able to lean on my family for support, especially my Dad and wonderful sister Charlene who has been a rock for me on so many occasions.
That first Christmas back in New Zealand was really hard. Not being able to afford presents for loved ones especially was really stressful. I was blessed at that time to spend a lot of time with my God Father David Walden and his family and their presence was a much needed incubator for my motivation and confidence.

Hitting rock bottom can be soul destroying. You feel like a failure and you feel that you have little to offer. This is especially true for guys I think, and it was fascinating (in retrospect) to have to re-evaluate my relationship with time and money. I am not a materialistic person, but I was shocked at how much my self valuing and self worth was affected by my relative poverty (relative to the modicum of success and wealth I had achieved in the previous years). This was a learning that I was blessed to have.

There is though something strangely powerful about hitting rock bottom...
There is no surer way to avoid the choice conundrum. Your options become extremely limited and you have no choice but to work hard, work lean and work smart to achieve your goals.
There really is no way to go but up, assuming that you actually knuckle down and do it!

Not to say that it's always easy to haul yourself up. This year has in fact been very difficult but in looking back on the last 12-15 months I can now do so with a huge amount of pride.

Some of the things I am most proud of from 2011:

  • The publication of my second book Time Rich Cash Optional: An unconventional guide to happiness - a book that I am really proud of, and that garnered great exposure and reviews on TV, radio and in nationwide magazines in my home country and abroad. 
  • Re-establishing my clinical practice in Auckland and having that continue to grow over the year.
  • Being able to re-establish a speaking presence in New Zealand and being invited to speak to many groups and organisations. 
  • Getting traction for FightNutritionist.com in New Zealand and having the honour of working with several of NZ's top fighters including: Doug Viney, Richie Hardcore, Joe Hopkins, Steve Heremaia and Ben Sisam. 
  • Working with some fantastic people in a new venture launching several amazing products next year (can't wait for release!)


There are also little goals that I set and achieved for my own peace, sanity and happiness. Little things like buying a new surf board and buying a car, just a few of the 'things' that help to provide for joyous experiences, and things that weren't an issue several years ago, but that grew in context when approached from a standpoint of $2.30 in the bank, high debt and no cash flow!

So I feel very happy, and very comfortable with a great 2011. It's been challenging, and there has been a lot of hard work this year. And I justifiably feel that pleasant, comfortable tiredness of a job well done.

2012 promises to be amazing! 
In the coming year I will be rolling out several brand new products that I am really excited about, and that will provide opportunities for me and my network of health professionals.
I also have a Life and Purpose workshop series launching in 2012 that draws on the exercises and themes from my books, articles and from the experiences of my clinical mind-body practice and that will help people to connect with their life of passion and purpose, to set real, valuable goals and achieve them and much more!
And there will be some very cool charity projects on the board too. I'm looking forward most I think to giving back now that I'm in a stronger position again to do so.

Thanks to everyone who was part of this amazing year of growth and transformation: My readers, friends, whanau and clients and patients.
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. I love you all!

And to thank you all for your support and love this year I am offering Time Rich Cash Optional: an unconventional guide to happiness completely FREE for 4 days from Xmas day onwards (kindle format from Amazon) here: http://www.amazon.com/Time-Rich-Cash-Optional-ebook/dp/B00556W908/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AZC9TZ4UC9CFC

Blessings
~ Cliff





Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Daily Intention: I live this day with love and compassion.

[Post by Cliff Harvey]

I love intentions that incorporate love and compassion.
When we hold a strong intention of love and compassion as the 'razor' for our daily actions we begin to allow ourselves a small window of opportunity before we react out of hurt, anger or ego and instead are able to understand and forgive.
Understanding after all is the first step in forgiveness and forgiveness is synonymous with unconditional love.

Bringing the intention that all our daily actions will rest on a base of love and compassion is one of the best ways to open true heart felt connection with others.

As Philo said: Be kind, for everyone we meet is fighting a great battle...


What better way to recognise this, and honour ourselves and those we meet by setting the intention:

I live this day with love and compassion



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

That Peace

That peace when you utter that word - enough.
And you know that it is...enough.

That peace of a field left, and a battle fought hard,
and perhaps won.

That peace of knowing that after all this...
there are two arms waiting...


[Cliff Harvey circa 2010]






Monday, December 19, 2011

Motion

Motion, constant.
That reckless, whirling, diving of us.

Us all around.
Fast forward, a freeze frame blur.

Lights expose,
map my still form.

Quiet, the eye of a storm,
nucleus calm.

Closed eyes, closed heart.
Opening

Content...
While those around
spin....
          spin....
                    spin...


[Cliff Harvey circa 2009]



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Born Anew

Born anew each moment,
The me that was fades,
as quickly as he arose.

Looking back through foggy mirror,
barely recognising this me -
that I know?, or moreso knew,
But no longer feel,
for that body has left me.
Left me anew

Battered,
through and through.
Weathered,
by the very water I drew,
Shattered,
by blow after blow.

And yet I squeezed,
too hard.
Drained that precious reserve.
Til now,
that bitter vinegar of memories held
too long,
is all that's left to lie with a pain
born, born again
anew

[Cliff Harvey circa 2009]


Friday, December 16, 2011

5 Reasons Why Holidays Make us Happy!

[Post by Cliff Harvey]


1. They Offer a  Change of Perspective

One of the crucial elements of happiness is really knowing what we want out of life.
Sometimes in the day to day hustle and bustle we can lose track of what is really most important to us; in terms of the type of person we want to be, how we would most like to act and engage with people and what type of life we want to be living.
The perspective shift of a holiday can help us to see what is most (and least) important to us in life and when we return we can integrate that into our lives...and begin to set the goals that really matter.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it. 
 ~ George Moore 

2. They Give us Time to be Still

Our lives are often defined by activity. We seek to be 'doing' things constantly and stillness can actually be quite uncomfortable for people if they feel that they should be constantly in action, performing and completing tasks. But many of our greatest realisations about life and spirit come whilst we are being still and mindful. 
The mental and emotional 'break' that we give ourselves when we are on holiday can allow us to chill out and let go of our attachment to activity for activity's sake; in the process reducing our stress and anxiety in the moment, and with a carry on effect that can make us more mindful in our daily lives. 

Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I Am that is deeper than name and form.
~ Eckhart Tolle


3. They Provide Joyous Experiences!

I've always thought that one of the defining points of a life well lived is what I call 'joyous experiences'. 
These are the moments of joy and wonder that leave us breathless and they are the very moments that we will often cherish for a life time. These wonderful, rich experiences are those we have when we are on holiday, and there is no better example of this than the richness of experience we have whilst travelling. 

 The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page. 
~ St. Augustine 


 4. They Can Offer a Simpler Kind of Life

Holidays are often on some level a simpler form of life for us. 
We may travel somewhere to be pampered and looked after in an exclusive resort, or we may choose a rustic holiday on a beach in a hut with nothing but a pair of board shorts and a surfboard (my favourite!) but either of these two disparate scenarios simplify our lives
We can become overly stressed out and anxious due to the physical and mental clutter that we accumulate in our lives, and holidays remove us from those distractions. They also provide a wake-up call that perhaps we can remove (at least some) of our day-to-day stress and anxiety by cutting out extraneous things from our daily routines.

Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough. 
 ~ Author Unknown


5. They Give us Something to Work Towards

When we plan for a holiday we really can see the 'light at the end of the tunnel'. 
It is a reward that we have set in place and so is a very real way in which we honour ourselves (something we could all afford to do a lot more!) 
Taking regular breaks is crucial for optimal happiness and life satisfaction. Too often people live according to a 'deferred life plan' where they work hard, and long, for a long period of time in order to (hopefully) enjoy their retirement. Unfortunately by the time many are of retirement age they are sick and tired and unwilling or unable to do many of the things that they had wanted to do in life. 
The idea of 'mini-retirements' (which are in essence holidays based around interesting and varied experiences) is that we make a decision to begin to live the life of our dreams right now. Subsequently if there are experiences that we would like to enjoy we plan for them and make them a reality in our short term future, rather than putting them off. 


We often fall into the trap of waiting for 'the right time' to take a holiday. But this can lead to us never actually taking a break and having some of the wonderful experiences we could have. 
There will never be the 'perfect time' to do anything, but there is the right time to start living and having joyous experiences...and that time is now! 




Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Daily Intention: 'As I Give, So I Receive'

Sometimes what we 'need' or want, and the pursuit thereof seems to take up a lot of our mental space.
Especially in these times of financial hardship, for many not having enough, wanting more and working hard to attain those things is preeminent.

But this can blind us to the help, support and care we could be providing to others...and if we are blinded to this too long they in turn will begin to turn away from us.

This is the law of reciprocity in action. We do for others, not necessarily so that they will do things or provide for us, but simply because we want to as part of our life of love.
The side effect of course is that what we give flows back to us.

I like to think of financial abundance in these terms too. It is a flow. If we hold on too much, and are too focused simply on what we can get, and not on giving to others, like a pool it stagnates and the inflows can be negatively affected.

'As I give, so I receive' is a daily intention that I have set many times this year.
It feels great to simply take some time to focus on being of service to others, and it is even quite de-stressing to do this.

I find it a great way to reduce the worry we sometimes fall into of thinking too much about whether our efforts will bare fruit and instead simply focus on living in the present and giving to others and doing for others.

A great action to tie in with this affirmation is to accept ANY request for help.
If someone from a charity asks for a donation, you give what you can. If someone asks for help moving, you do it. If someone needs someone to talk to - you are that person.
While we can't always acquiesce to every desire others have of us, this exercise can be useful in showing just how much we can do for others, and how enjoyable it is to be of service to those in need.
By making the decision to simply say 'yes' to requests (even if only for a short time) we remove the stress of thinking "Should I, or shouldn't I" - because we've already made the decision!

Give it a go!

Take this beautiful intention of flow and reciprocity and see how it can change the context of your day.

~ Blessings
Cliff


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Daily Intention: "I have all the time in the world..."

These past 18 months have been fairly hectic for me, and have been a time summed up pretty concisely in one word: Change.

Leaving my friends and colleagues in Vancouver to first go on a road trip with my brothers in the phenomenal rock band Like A Storm (www.likeastorm.com) and then coming home to Aotearoa just over a year ago to finish Time Rich Cash Optional and set up my practice on Auckland's North Shore. Along the way I found a renewed passion for training, social activism and became involved in 3 other exciting new business ventures.
Suffice to say it's been busy...
And while one of my ongoing challenges is to hold myself back from trying to do too much, the other is to keep a sense of rationality and context around life and the way we relate to it day-to-day.
Because let's face it, life is crazy nowadays. We are driven by stress. We often work hard and long...and a common theme I see every day working with my clients is that there never seems to be enough time in the day.

With all that's going on in business, training, love...LIFE...it is easy to become overwhelmed.

A daily intention I have used many times throughout this year is:
"I have all the time in the world!"

This to me is such a powerful reversal of the resigned mind-set we often fall into. The mindset of "There just isn't enough time in a day!"
We all have the choice to change our lives, and if we don't like that we don't seem to have enough time, we can choose to change what we do....OR choose to relate to what we do differently.
And this is what I often decide to do.
I really love what I do, and thrive on the variety provided by having different challenges and utilizing different aspects of my skill-set. So there will very often be a lot on. I have made that choice.
So the context of how I act changes subtly. No one is taking time from me I choose to spend my time.
It is perfectly true that I have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, and I choose to spend it doing things that I want and need to do.

Simply reminding ourselves when become overwhelmed that I have all the time in the world immediately relaxes and calms us. We realize that WE are accountable for our situation, and that we have time, that we spend time, and how we spend that time is up to us.
We become more in tune with the 'flow' of time, and have the epiphany that we are simply walking life's beautiful path, not simply spending some 'thing'.

We cannot hold on to time. We can simply be IN it, and be WITH it.

Stop. Relax. Breathe.
You have all the time in the world.

~ Blessings
Cliff


Monday, December 05, 2011

Setting Daily Intentions

Setting Daily Intentions is one of my favourite strategies for encouraging a more positive, optimistic approach to life.
A daily intention is a way to take stock through the day and refocus on what is most important.
The intentions we use are themes that are congruent with our values and ethos, and not only help us to stay on track, but also define aspects of the person we are, and the highest self we seek to become.

The best time to set a daily intention is first thing upon waking, or immediately after any morning practices such as yoga, breath-work, balancing or meditation.

Simply sit in stillness (perhaps after a short mindfulness of breath meditation) and let a few choice words, or a phrase come into your mind.
I have found in my own work, and in using intentions over many years with clients, that if we simply allow something to come up, what comes up is really what we need at that time in our lives.

You will often see that what comes up mirrors a real need in your life situation.

Remember that intentions, like belief statements and affirmations should always be:
1. Present Tense
2. Personal
3. Powerful
4. Emotionally Compelling

By framing what we say to ourselves in the present tense we start to enable what we want to be true and bring it into the present. This is a more effective way to encourage sub-conscious change (as the sub-conscious is a linear, present tense processor) than saying that we 'want' something to be true, or that something 'will' be true.
Instead we can say that it is true! For example if I had been feeling weak (physically, emotionally, mentally) then rather than saying "I am going to be strong" I would say "I AM strong!"

Of course our intentions should also always be positive and powerful - there is no point reinforcing negative behaviours!
And remember that to say we 'don't' want something doesn't really work because we end up thinking about the thing we are not wanting and potentially reinforcing neural circuits associated with it! (Think of the analogy of saying to yourself: "I will NOT think of a pink elephant..."
What happens? You think of a pink elephant!

During your day if you feel under stress or pressure, or simply feel that you are losing mindfulness or focus, simply breathe, relax and repeat your daily intention to yourself a few times. It is amazing how freeing doing this can be.

[I will be posting examples of Daily Intentions that I and my clients have used, so stay tuned!]


Friday, December 02, 2011

Less is More...

Yes it's a cliché, but like most clichés it becomes so because of it's universality and truth.
I know that I have felt at my greatest ease not when I have more but when I have less.
And by less I don't mean just things. But less worry and less responsibility for the unimportant.

I guess the strange dichotomy of the modern world is that we strive (and stress) to free ourselves from stress. We attempt to release 'things' that have a hold over us to reduce stress on the one hand, and yet with the other we accumulate more and more 'things' that compel us to do something with them.
We accumulate in the vain attempt to provide a level of happiness that material things alone can never provide. If we continue to be extrinsically motivated (by things, and by the expectations of others) that happiness we seek can never be found, and can never be lasting.

Certain of life's things we can have in abundance of course, and those by and large are intangible, and are what I consider to be the stuff that life's made of! Love, laughter, and moments of joyous experiences.

What we have should be determined by these factors. Otherwise we are simply putting the cart before the horse.
We should ask ourselves: 'Am I trying to achieve happiness by possessing this 'thing' (or person...)?...or does this thing help me to have great experiences in my life of wonder and joy?
The difference whilst subtle is enormous.

There is only one thing in life that we can never have too much of...and that is unconditional love.