Harnessing the power of change...

Can you think of anything that stays the same, does not change? The core nature of the universe is change. Everything changes. Everything. No moment is the same as another. Cellular changes occur constantly. Nothing remains literally constant. In many ways stability is a delusion, a way for us humans to exert and maintain control over ourselves, others, our environment and, we think, the cosmos. To what extent is that really true or possible?

At first blush this fact, that change is inevitable, and it is fact evidenced in basic science & quantum physics, can be unnerving, unsettling. What can I count on if everything is going to change? Acknowledging change can give rise to feelings of powerlessness, fatalism, resignation. But, yes but - we can count on one thing more than anything else - you guessed it - change! We can actively participate in the changes happening in our lives, in our minds, and in our hearts.

By understanding the process of change, how it occurs, when it occurs, one can more actively participate in the changes that are occurring constantly. There is a constant supply of energy available to us in the process of change. Using your core values as a guide to harness that energy of change for growth and for life is what creates progress.Take for example a rip tide. If you are caught in a rip tide and you try to swim out of it by swimming toward the shore you will never get there. In fact you will inevitably wind up further away from the shore and eventually be pulled under and away out to sea. However, if you understand the way the sea changes, in this case how the water moves, you then will realize that if you swim in a sideways direction, you will, in a matter of minutes, by free from the pull of the current that had you trapped. The sea, the rip tide, is still swirling, and it will continue to do so, but having actively participated in the process of insight and understanding of how the sea changes you have moved from harm to safety. You have changed how you were participating in that action / situation.

When we touch someone, or something, it automatically changes, it is different than it was before we touched it. We leave our mark, an imprint. And that which we have touched leaves it's mark on us. We are forever changed as well. Sometimes it seems like change is happening to us - we are being controlled. We all have to fill out forms, endure being put on hold and listening to elevator music, getting caught in traffic, or have to wait 45 minutes for a bus sometimes. It seems we have no control over these things. And often we don't. How we participate in these situations is in our power. We have choice. Sure, I can refuse to fill out the form - but then I won't get the bank loan, the building permit or the new job. However, if I think about the benefits of having the loan, I get excited about completing the form correctly and on time. Then I'm closer to getting funds. I could get really ticked off at the bus driver, yell at him or her, complain to all the other angered passengers. Venting can be good for you. But, if the anger just ruins their whole day, your day, what have I gained, how far forward have I moved toward my goal of well being and peace of mind? By embracing change rather than fighting it we actually can move closer to our goals.

© Mark Hannan All rights reserved

Four Steps for Creative Risk-Taking

What are the characteristics of "risk-takers", "on the edge" individuals who climb the highest mountains, sail around the world alone at age 16, take an idea from the garage to the global market...?

They are not overly preoccupied with making mistakes or with social disapproval; they are able to tolerate the anxiety of separateness,

They have a strong enough ego to admit when they are wrong or in trouble, and

They analyze, emotionally experience and learn from trial and error. And with this foundation, "creative persons are precisely those who take the tasks that make them anxious"

Four Steps for Creative Risk-Taking

Here are key steps and strategies for developing your "Creative Risk-Taking" potential:

  1. Aware-ily Jump in Over Your Head. Only by jumping into the fray can you quickly discover how adequate your resources are with respect to the novel challenge ahead. This approach precludes a strategy that eliminates all risk in advance. (Okay, check to see if there are any alligators in the water.) You may need to encounter realistic anxiety, exaggerated loss of control and even some feelings of humiliation to confront your "Intimate FOE." But often the reward for the risk is a unique readiness to build knowledge, emotional hardiness and skills for survival, along with evolving imaginative mastery.

  2. Strive to Survive the High Dive. There's no guarantee when grappling with new heights or depths, but four fail-safe measures come to mind: a) strive high and embrace failure -- failure is not a sign of unworthiness, but a learning margin between perfection and achievement, especially as one explores the fine line between vision and hallucination, b) develop a realistic time frame -- recognize that many battles are fought and lost before a major undertaking is won, c) be tenaciously honest -- continuously assess the impact of outcomes, changes within yourself and your environment, and the rules underlying your operation, d) establish a support system -- have people in your life who provide both kinds of TLC: Tender Loving Criticism and Tough Loving Care.

  3. Thrive On Thrustration. Learn to incubate or be stuck between thrusting ahead with direct action and frustration. Creativity often requires being more problem-minded than solution-focused. Increasing tension or "thrustration" (Rabkin) can shake the habituated, settled mind and may transform a dormant subconscious into an active psychic volcano -- memories, novel associations and symbolic images overflow into consciousness. You're in position to generate fertile problem-solving alternatives. Problems are not just sources of tension and frustration, but are opportunities for integrating the past and the present, the conscious and the unconscious, the obscure and the obvious. Here lies creative perspective.

  4. Design for Error and Opportunity . Innovative and risk-taking individuals and organizations are more attuned to a range of possibilities than to fixed or ideal goals. These systems prefer the risk of initiation and experimentation to preoccupation over deviation or imperfection. Floundering through a sea of novelty and confusion often yields new connections, long-range mastery and an uncommon big picture. A narrow, safe course creates the illusion of achievement and short-lived control. Of course, limited predesign means opportunity for errors. In open people and systems, startup misplays are vital signs for self-correcting and self-challenging feedback.

Remember, errors of judgment or design don't signify incompetence; they more likely reveal inexperience or immaturity, perhaps even boldness. Our so-called "failures" can be channeled as guiding streams (sometimes raging rivers) of opportunity and experience that so often enrich -- widen and deepen -- the risk-taking passage. If only we can immerse ourselves in these unpredictable yet, ultimately, regenerative waters.

Mark Gorkin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, speaker, trainer and "Online Psychohumorist," known as "The Stress Doc." Specialty areas: organizational change and conflict, team building, creativity and humor.

Hand Meditation


for a group of four or more...one person serving as guide, pausing appropriately along the way in order to give ample opportunity to mindful consideration -

Get comfortable in your chair, with both feet firmly on the ground, and close your eyes,, resting your hands in your lap palms up. Notice your breathing. No need to change it, just notice the pattern of the breath coming in and going out.

Relax any tension you notice in your body as you breathe.

Become aware of the air at your fingertips, between your fingers, on the palm of your hand.
Experience the fullness, strength and maturity of your hands.
Think of the most unforgettable hands you have known - the hands of your father, your mother, your grandparents, a friend or lover.
Remember the oldest hands that have rested in your hands.
Think of the hands of a newborn child, perhaps your nephew or niece - of the incredible beauty, perfection, delicacy in the hands of a child.

Once upon a time your hands were the same size.
Think of all that your hands have done since then. Almost all that you have learned has been through your hands - turning yourself over, crawling and creeping, walking and balancing yourself, learning to hold something for the first time, feeding yourself, washing and bathing, dressing yourself.

At one time your greatest accomplishment was tying your own shoes.
Think of all the learning your hands have done and how many activities they have mastered, the things they have made. Remember the day you could write your own name?

Our hands were not just for ourselves but for others. How often they were given to help others. Remember all the kinds of work they have done,
the tiredness and aching they have known,
the cold and the heat, the soreness and the bruises.
Remember the tears they have wiped away, our own or another’s,
the blood they have bled,
the healing they have experienced.
How much hurt, anger, and even violence they have expressed,
and how much gentleness, tenderness they have given.

There is a special mystery that we discover in the hand of a person we love.
There are the hands of a doctor, a nurse, an artist, a conductor, hands which you can never forget.

Now raise your right hand slowly and gently place it over your heart.
Press it firmly until your hand picks up the beat of your heart,
that most mysterious of all human sounds,
one’s own heartbeat,
a rhythm learned in the womb from the heartbeat of one’s mother.

Press more firmly for a moment / and then release your hand and hold it just a fraction from your clothing. Experience the warmth between your hand and your heart.
Now lower your hand to your lap very carefully as if it were carrying your heart.
For it does.

When you extend your hand to another, it is not just bone and skin, it is your heart.

Think of all the hands that have left their imprint on you.
Fingerprints and hand prints are heart prints that can never be erased.
The hand has its own memory.

Think of all the places that people carry your hand prints and all the people who bear your heart print. They too are indelible and will last forever.

Now without opening your eyes extend your hands on either side of you and find another hand.
Do not simply hold it but explore it and sense the history and mystery of this hand.
Let your hand speak to it and let it listen to the other.
Try to express your gratitude for this hand stretched out to you.

With eyes still closed, slowly release your hands and bring them back again to your lap.
Experience the presence of that hand lingering upon your hand.
The afterglow will fade but the print is there forever.

When you are ready, open your eyes.

Share your thoughts and feelings of this experience with those around you.

Many thanks to AHP of SF for sharing this powerful exercise from their program.