Just returned from leading a 5 day retreat on the subject of calling into our lives that which we desire, perhaps in the face of the naysaying thoughts, the old worn out beliefs and the ever so busy monkey mind chattering thoughts. It took every ounce of discipline I had not to succumb to the sometimes overwhelming ‘ imposter syndrome’ ruckus. Wikipedia defines it as a “psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.” Even as I was driving there, I had this nagging feeling that ‘if I haven’t mastered the process, then how in the world would I ever be able to teach it?’ As a transformational teacher I have this facade that I sometimes feel a need to put forth (silly me), when the truth is, people feel a stronger connection when they see authenticity out front first and foremost. I become far more relate-able when I reveal my clay feet, snarky judgements, cave-fears, belly butterflies and temporarily trembling knees. I know I have greater respect for writers and speakers who are willing to strip off the symbolic robes and stand emotionally naked. As a book reviewer, I read tons of books, both for pleasure and critique. I can’t even begin to tell you how many authors have the voice of doubt screeching at them about whether their creation will a huge success or ginormous flop. Here I thought it was just me.
Recently I was speaking with a spiritually practicing yoga teacher, musician, minister friend and we both shared about our frustration with our dual roles of eagerly creative souls and necessary but reluctant business women. The first part comes naturally, the second with dragging feet, leaving trenches in the dirt. She commented that even in the midst of enjoying hearing other kirtan artists, she is thinking about how she can perform the song. Hmmmm….familiar to this wordsmith who in the midst of enjoying…whatever….I am thinking how I can write about it. Is there a way out of that goofy thought process? She also pointed out the paradox that doing the biz part of her right livelihood work in the world, feels like it pulls her out of the deeply spiritual connection she has. I am learning that they are not mutually exclusive. What if all of the details are a spiritual practice in an of themselves? My dear friend and mentor Yvonne Kaye would often say to me “Discipline is freedom.”. This made me cringe at times, since back then I was an airy fairy, cosmic foo foo type of person and it felt inhibiting. Since then, I have embraced that idea because I know that when I have some semblance of stucture in my life, I can play as much as I want. I am also learning that when I put my best foot forward, I will get to my destination all the sooner and when I let my true colors shine through, a rainbow prism reflects all of my facets and gives others permission to radiate too.
http://youtu.be/LPn0KFlbqX8 True Colors-Cyndi Lauper
Have you ever stopped to consider that you are loved….really and truly, without a doubt, totally adored by a Universe that just wants to send you mushy, gushy Valentines every day of your life? Yeh, I know that there are some days when it would be easier to believe the it barely tolerates your existence or even worse, wants to send you wilted roses with thorns sticking out all over the place or a Whitman’s Sampler with nibbles or even big honking bites taken out of your favorite treats. But what if all that stands between you and totally embracing your loving co-creator is simply a thought? It could be an erroneous belief that you are damaged goods, beyond repair or redemption. It might be a throwback to a time when someone told you or even implied that you were unworthy. Your innocence has no expiration date. No matter what events led you inexorably to this here and now moment, you are no less loveable.
Even as I write these words, I have recent memories of anything but self love; a co-dependent dance that has me tripping over my own feet at times and once in awhile, taking a few graceful twists and turns. I have cringed as I heard myself in the deep recesses of my mind being self-deprecating in ways I wouldn’t dare speak to someone else.
At the moment, I am feeling quite loved, from the inside out and the outside in. Just completed a 5 day retreat at Grail Springs, beginning on Sunday when those sitting in the opening circle, with the exception of my friend Ondreah, were all ‘strangers’ who had come from all over Canada to immerse in an experience of ahhhh…most without having a clue of what awaited them. Tonight, as we sat in the closing circle, we shared what it had meant to us. Words of love and support flew around the room and landed on each of our hearts, sinking in. Last night, during an ‘angel wash’ exercise during which each person walked with eyes closed, down the center of the aisle of the other folks, with affirming messages being whispered, I burst into laughter amidst my tears as one of the women told me “You’re so awesome, you should be Canadian.” I asked if they would adopt us and they agreed. Ondreah and I are now honorary Canadians.
Tomorrow as I head home, I carry the love with me in my suitcase and my heart.
http://youtu.be/6mFsV_5fAuU How Could Anyone-Shaina Noll
“How could anyone ever tell you? You were anything less than beautiful… How could anyone ever tell you? You were less than whole…
How could anyone fail to notice? That your loving is a miracle… How deeply you’re connected to my soul…”
With a lilting Irish accent that melts me, Derek O’Neill is a wise man with the heart of a playful child. I became familiar with his work through friends who have studied with him and attended one of his workshops that explored the Buddhist Wheel of Life.
Derek, you are a Renaissance Man, with the many hats you wear. Could you describe the man in the mirror for those who may not be familiar with you?
The simplest thing I can say is that I am an ordinary man, having an extraordinary experience. I believe we are all capable of living life more fully than we can imagine if we can learn to reconnect with our innate ability to see the magic of life and understand really how powerful we are. I do what I can to be of service to the world and that service has taken many forms, or many hats as you say. Learning never ends, so the hats can always change if that is what’s necessary to play the roles that each of us have come to play.
How did you arrive at the place you are now in your life?
I have experienced the most tragic events in life, and I have also experienced the most profound and beautiful events. I learned very early on that we can take both good and bad experiences as one in the same, both are unavoidable aspects of life. All your experiences are 100% your creation, and each offers an opportunity for you to learn and grow. You can either be a victim of your own creation, or you can take responsibility for it and learn to create each moment, painting the picture of who you want to be, and what you want your life to look like. As you begin to understand this – not just intellectually but to really live that way – you will begin to see that you are an extremely powerful being who can have a very positive influence in the world. My experiences have given me a deep compassion for humanity, and this has motivated me to work hard every day to do what I can to empower others, to help them find harmony in their own lives once again, and to serve humanity in both small and big ways, in my own backyard and in impoverished countries like India and Ethiopia. This is what I teach other people in my workshops, seminars, radio shows, video broadcasts and daily messages on twitter.
What role do magic and wonder play in our lives? The mind and the magic of the mind is really about you understanding that your mind is creating your reality. Your mind is creating everything about you. If you talk to your mind as a best friend, it will talk back to you as a best friend. If you talk to your mind as if it’s an enemy, it will talk back to you as an enemy. So really, it’s all about learning how to talk to your mind. Once you understand how magical this part of you really is, you become capable of incredible transformations in your life. There is a natural wonderment that comes with contemplating this at even a basic level.
Do you believe in destiny or the random nature of the Universe?
I believe that there is a point when you actually realize that you are the creator of your experience, and when you reach that point the idea of destiny – which you can also call cause and effect – becomes the movement of action, and it’s actually the motivation behind the action that will determine its outcome. When we’re at cause, it means we are empowered and connected with who we really are. When we’re in effect it means we’re victims, we feel something is happening from the outside. When we’re at cause it’s happening on the inside. Once we accept responsibility for our actions (the cause) then the effect disappears. The effect is often misalignments, negativity, illness, and all of this disappears very quickly when you’re coming from cause, which is to understand that we are all one, one billion, trillion cells in one universal body.
How do the martial arts play into your work and personal life?
The martial arts have helped to refine my awareness, physicality, and mental discipline over 30 years of practice. Much of what I learned in martial arts came very naturally to me, or was already intuitive from a young age. I have developed a refined sense of timing for knowing the precise moment when someone is ready to make a profound shift in their life and psyche. My awareness and consciousness is such that I can almost instantly detect even the smallest disharmony in a person, environment, or situation, and I can very quickly determine how to bring that disharmony back into harmony, or a more natural or neutral state. This happens on both a small scale and a big scale, internally for people and externally in the physical world, every day. This is my service to the world.
What is ‘The Sword and the Brush”?
The Sword and the Brush is something that I developed over the past 30 years of working as a psychotherapist, martial artist, life coach, world traveler, and many other teachings and trainings. I trained as a Samurai, a Sensei. The truth of the Samurai Warrior was he was so pure that he would only ever draw the sword when death was imminent. In other words, once that sword came out, either he or the enemy had to die. But something had to die. So I learned that by talking to people, at a certain point an energy envelops them, an energy of truth that brings truth and fear in conjunction and fighting each other. That’s when I produce the sword, and I cut away a trauma, or something that’s no longer necessary in their life. And then, I empower them to choose their future by handing them a brush. The brush is a paint brush, and I get them to paint the life that they wish to live going forward. This empowers them to go inside and ask questions like, “Should I do service work?” or “What should I do with my life?” and then they can paint this into their experience.
Please talk about SQ Foundation.
SQ Foundation was formed after my late wife Linda and I traveled to India and experienced first-hand the devastating conditions that so many people live in there. We saw children deformed by their parents to make them more effective beggars, people starving, so much suffering that was unnecessary. So we decided that rather than just talk about it, we would do something about it. So we spend a number of years building schools, orphanages, and bringing food, medicine and water – and most of all hope – to people in need around the world, funding each of them out of our own pockets. At a certain point we realized that we needed to create some structure around our charity work in order to sustain and continue expanding it, so SQ Foundation (a 501c3 non-profit) was formed. SQ Foundation now has projects in 12 counties around the world. You can learn more by going to www.sq-foundation.org.
You speak of bringing CEOs to the state of being a wise yogi and wise yogis to CEOs. Could you elaborate on that?
Wise yogis have historically, for a number of reasons, isolated themselves from the world in order to reach extremely high levels of consciousness. CEO’s are often isolated in the world of business, despite being globally connected through technology and economics, in order to reach very high levels of performance in their field. But at this time, neither the yogi nor the CEO are capable of reaching their fullest potential without learning the wisdom and qualities of the other. CEO’s can up their game significantly by learning the wisdom and discipline of the wise yogis, and wise yogis – if they are to really do what I believe many of them have come to do – need to come out of their caves and learn the knowledge and wisdom of the CEO. I am capable of bridging these two worlds together for people.
You will be offering an NLP workshop in Los Angeles in January. Please explain what NLP is for those who are not familiar.
NLP is a set of tools and techniques that are actually based on teachings dating back many thousands of years, that show you how to use your own mind, your own resources, to change your state at any moment. NLP has adapted these teachings into a context and framework that makes sense for the 21st century. These are extremely powerful techniques that can shift your life for the better in a very short amount of time. Things like anchoring in experiences to call in positive states of mind at any moment, techniques for eliminating phobias, changing deeply embedded belief systems, tools for deepening trust and respect in all your relationships, and techniques for becoming extremely attuned to other people in order to help them as well. In “NLP and Beyond” we go beyond the basics of NLP and weave hidden spiritual aspects into it, and by bringing in consciousness in this way, I offer a more holistic approach to NLP. You can find out more details about this course, which starts January 11th in Los Angeles, on my website derekoneill.com.
If there was one loud and clear message you would like to share that people would really get and apply to every area of their lives, what might it be?
That you are 100% responsible for who you are. Contemplate that, sit with it, and feel the truth in that statement. When you learn this, when you know this, your life will become more than you can imagine.
Has anyone ever said these 3 words to you that had you feeling dimissed, discounted, put down or misunderstood: “You’re too sensitive.”? In a workshop I am teaching this week, at Grail Springs, the subject came up when we were speaking of the inner critic. Several people shared that they were told this as children, so they shut down, withdrew and held back being authentically themselves. As adults their relationships may still carry a flavor of that and perhaps they may give themselves that message. I offered the perspective that it might mean going into all experiences with all senses fully alive and aware, open to whatever the day delivers, rather than resisting what is. The concensus of the group seemed to be in alignment with that thought.
Then this morning in meditation class, the instructor named Ava, a seasoned, wise woman around my age spoke about the Buddha’s teaching that connected with mindful breathing and she used the two words that he was said to have advised: “be sensitive”. Knowing smiles, nods, winks and giggles passed around the room as one of the retreat participants shared that this was the subject we spoke about last night. I asked Ava if she was sure she wasn’t a fly on the wall or had been eavesedropping on our conversation. In spirituality, there really is no separation and great minds indeed do think alike.
She than played a crystal singing bowl to begin our practice and I could literally feel as if my entire body was that instrument, being attuned. The sound waves that were generated by the mallet being run along the edge of the bowl, remained with me throughout the entire 20 minute sitting time. I had occasional urges to move, stretch, contemplate, plan, run away…you name it. That has been the nature of my meditation practice for the past 30 years….being called back and then, like an antsy toddler, inching away and then scampering away and then being beckoned back. Over and over. That’s why it is called a practice. It is never the same any one time. Ava also elaborated on the idea that when we have a peak experience on the cushion, we strive to recreate it and we never can, since each is unique. The efforting, the striving, the pushing to…..only chases it away. The allowing, the receptivity, the opening to what is, both on and off the cushion..THAT is the real practice for me. I can be all zen, all blissed out in meditation or yoga and then arise from the floor, walk through the door and get zapped by monkey mind thoughts. It is when I return to the breath, the just ‘is’, that I am back in synch with Spirit. It is then that I can celebrate my sensitivity to myself and the world around me.
www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3D1GhHplAwitI We Are Awakening by Deva Premal and Miten