Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why is it so hard to meditate???

Everyone knows about meditation - most spiritual traditions believe it is essential, it often brings enlightenment or at least illuminates challenging issues, and yet, it can be really hard.

Right now, I meditate every day. But for years, I really struggled with meditation. I felt completely anxious and restless. My mind would race and I was extremely uncomfortable. Sometimes I would look at the timer and feel like scratching my skin off when less than a minute had gone by since the last time I checked. What changed?

I got out of my self-will. I stopped swimming upstream and started to listen to my guides (slash The Universe slash God.) Once I let go of wanting to do things "my way" or for my own selfish, contrived reasons, meditating became peaceful. These days, I welcome it, enjoy it and even crave it. Because not only does it feel good to just BE without needing to do, meditation actually gives me messages, opens the space for me to receive guidance. I couldn't receive that wise guidance when I was running around trying to do everything my way, to get validation from the opinions of others, to win, or whatever other hyper, crazy motives I had. I was blocking those messages with my self-will, and therefore meditation was pure discomfort. I had to surrender to the flow of the universe for things to start to make sense and be easy.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Showing up for what is

I'm on a spiritual path. I mean, fuck - I changed my name to Harmony!

What is a spiritual path? Well, first of all, it's a path, not one single place to stop and stay. So it's constantly evolving and what it is for me today is not what it was 6 months or a year ago, and I'm sure it will look different in the future.

That being said, my current understanding of a spiritual path is that I get to show up for what is. Whatever is actually happening, whether it's what I "want" or not. I've created so many plans and ideals in my head, that often I have a tendency to resist what is actually coming to me. In her life-changing book, Loving What Is, Byron Katie talks about accepting reality exactly as it is. I have had major resistance to this concept because often what has really been going on in my life has looked so different from what I thought I wanted. But now that I am learning to flow with the Universe instead of trying to push the boulder of my self-will up the mountain, I see that any experience can help me.

Let's say someone is doing something I don't like. My choices are to blame them and make them wrong, and stay as I am (self-will) or to examine what this is really telling me and how I can show up with 100% self-responsibility. That does not mean allowing unacceptable behavior from this person. It means drawing my boundaries and then looking at how I might be either contributing to the situation or what the situation might be telling me about where I have room to grow. (This is why I believe it is so important to have people in my life who have integrity, that way I can ask them to mirror my blind spots without worrying that they might be manipulating me.)

It may sound crazy or ridiculous, but I am actually grateful to the people who push on me in various ways because then I get to see my blind spots. When I think someone is "doing something to me" I get to take a step back and see where I am involved. And if I am truly 0% involved, I get to say simply and directly to that person, "I don't like what you are doing and I will not accept that behavior from you." But most likely, I do have something to learn and there is some way that I can show up for my life with more self-responsibility, and that is a gift the Universe gives me.

Thanks for reading - I welcome your feedback on this post!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How do you stop yourself from receiving?

Right now in my life, I am starting to get everything I have wished and hoped and worked for. Do I feel amazing? Yes. Do I also feel that creeping sense of overwhelm starting to bubble up, making me want to sabotage it all by crawling into bed or ruining it? Also yes.

Here's the thing. We beg the universe to give us success, love and money, but we often don't acknowledge that all of those things are ENERGY. If we can't allow intense energy to flow through us, we will stop it as soon as it starts to feel too intense.

I learned this very acutely a couple years ago when I booked my first national Prius commercial. We had a 2-week shoot on the Universal Studios lot. I knew the budget was in the multi-millions. People from wardrobe, makeup, hair, production, ad agency and many other departments knew who I was because they had my picture and name up on a board in their offices. The work I was doing was challenging physical work since the spot involved elements of acrobatics. I'm a former dancer and I had taken some trapeze classes, but there were other performers who had starred in Cirque du Soleil for years and one of them was even a gold-medal Olympic gymnast. It was the first audition I had gone on with my new manager, so I didn't want to disappoint him. I felt totally out of my league, even though the audition process had been rigorous and the director had specifically chosen me.

Basically, I was terrified that I would get fired, and I started to get into my head and worry that they'd made a mistake, that I had somehow fooled them and they didn't really want me on this huge project.

That first night when I got home, I got into a hot bath to ease the muscles that had started to ache after a hard day of being strapped into a harness 30 feet off the ground... and I cried. I realized I was overwhelmed, but I had a choice. Did I want to let this thing THAT I HAD ASKED FOR AND BEGGED FOR from the Universe to melt me down? Did I want to go back to square one and have my fears of not being enough confirmed?

No. I needed to allow. Allow the Universe to give to me.

So I knew I had to go to my grounding practices - my Radical Aliveness/Core Energetics techniques and my tantric meditation. I needed to allow my body to vibrate with this intense energy with my feet firmly planted on the ground. These are daily practices and they are as essential to prepare for the world stage I crave as vocal coaching or band rehearsal.

(If you're feeling like maybe you need some of this personal spiritual nourishment, I highly encourage you! I particularly love Angela Ai's artist workshops, Ann Bradney, Steve Maher, Kamana Hunter and Anna Timmermans.)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The creativity trapped inside

You got hurt.

Maybe once, maybe a few times, maybe so many times that it felt like all the time.

You got hurt and you shut down. You shut down your feelings and with them, you shut down your creativity.

But now you're a grownup, or so you're told, and you want to make something of your life. Make art. Write a book. Sing out loud.

So you've started to work on yourself. And you've found that you feel stifled. Thwarted. You think, it's so old, it happened so long ago, you can't change it now. But, oh! How you long to express yourself!

That creative energy inside you is a baby bird trapped in the shell around your heart. Let her scratch and peck with her beak from within, let that shell crack open from the inside. From the outside, massage it and dissolve it to thin it out and loosen it up. Take that baby step - paint something knowing that you're going to tear it up, throw it out, burn it... no one has to see the intermediates in your process. You're not going to bake a perfect pie inside your mind without getting into the kitchen and charring a few crusts.

Before you know it, you'll look back at the person you are today and think, I've come so far.

So begin! Don't leave your creative energy bouncing around inside you - it's not doing any good there.

Sending you my love and support, and looking forward to seeing what surprises you have in store for me, you creative genius!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Operating from our creative center


For years, I pushed myself so hard. Stayed up all night every weeknight studying, inhaling Diet Coke. Somewhere inside I knew that I was creative - I played music and sang, I wrote plays and short stories, painted and drew, even etched glass... but I was convinced that my worth to the world was in being a scientist, and as a girl who excelled at math and chemistry, that seemed like a much more practical life. So I worked relentlessly.

Once I started doing Core Energetics, I got some pretty surprising feedback. People kept telling me I moved too fast, didn't listen, drove them crazy with my stubborn drive to succeed. This was REALLY hard to swallow. But eventually I started to take it in. And soon I found that it actually was possible for me to feel tired, to get to a natural stopping point and sleep for the night. I began to understand different energy centers in the body.

When I operated from my will center, that was all about my back. Pushing through no matter how tired or unhappy I felt. But the creative centers are in more vulnerable places - the heart, the throat and the pelvis. It can feel unsafe for many of us to allow our energy to flow here. And yet, it is essential for creativity.

The next time you're meditating, imagine energy flowing from the earth through your pelvis, through your heart and through your throat. It may naturally emerge from your mouth - perhaps you're a verbal expresser like me. Or it may then flow through your arms and out your hands - maybe you'll write or draw or paint or sculpt or build today? But know that this vulnerable, delicate place is a beautiful center of your creativity. Let it flow.

Friday, June 21, 2013

How to make it in this town


Everyone wants to know how to make it in the entertainment business. After talking to many, many successful people, I've narrowed it down to 4 steps.

Not only do I feel these are the essence of success, they're also the key to happiness.

1. Stay.
This is a 10-year town. You may hit the jackpot on year 1 like my friend J., then get dropped by your fancy agent and spend the next 4 years trying to make ends meet. Or you may work hard for 9 years, secretly fearing that nothing good is ever going to happen to you, and in year 10, it all falls into place. But if you leave when the going gets tough in year 3 or 4 or 5, you'll never reap the benefits of all your hard work and struggle. STAY HERE if you really want it.

Which brings us to...

2. Figure out how to make the money you need to do what you want.
I don't just mean figure out how to pay your rent and your car insurance. You need to have fun, too. You need financial freedom. Anyone can sacrifice for a few months or a year. But over time, if you aren't enjoying your day-to-day life, you are not going to be able to keep going. Do you love live music? Eating out? Going to Disneyland? Seeing movies at the Arclight? You gotta have cash. Don't be a martyr. Figure out a way to make that money that doesn't depend on your ability to book.

3. Spend time with the people you love.
I see so many people land in LA and try to meet "important people." They don't necessarily connect deeply, but these newbies are convinced that famous or powerful people will be the key to their success. This is backward thinking. (Not to mention social climbing.) Connect with people who are on your wavelength, who make you feel good, who raise you up and inspire you creatively. These people are your team, and one day, most likely, you will all rise to the top around the same time. Don't try to ride on the coattails of the already-successful/rich/famous/powerful people you have put on a pedestal. (They have their own gang, anyway.)

4. Find a way to be fulfilled creatively in the meantime.
Don't wait around for that magical day when you will be a series regular. You need to be creative on a regular basis. I have heard Jessica Chastain say that when she was broke and not booking, she went to the library every day and just read plays. Creativity rarely comes in only one flavor. Most creative people I know can do lots of different things. You didn't book this week? This month? This year? OK, it happens to everyone. Write a poem. Go to the Palisades and sketch your view of the ocean. Bake something. Take a dance class. Just when you least expect it, that job will come along.

What do you think of this recipe for success? Has any of this worked for you? Does it resonate with your experience? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments!

All my best,
Harmony

Thursday, February 21, 2013

COMPASSION: The missing ingredient to solving the world's problems.

Last night I was privileged to attend a screening and Q&A with this year's Oscar-nominated documentaries. First of all, what an incredible group of films this year! It's hard to say which films deserve the Academy Award because they're all inspirational, and they all raise consciousness of important issues.

In the short doc category, I found myself particularly touched by the story of women cancer patients who visit a salon, "Mondays at Racine." I related to the notion that no matter how good of a person you are, you may still get sick or have terrible life events befall you. This certainly was the case when my sister Hannah was killed by a drunk driver at age 25.

In the feature category, I was struck by the nominees - 2 films about the Israel-Palestine situation, a film about the activism that helped change AIDS from a death sentence to a long-term illness, a film about sexual assault in the American military, and a film about a singer who finds his niche on the other side of the world.

Since all these features are amazing and expertly crafted, I tried to ask myself, which one would raise consciousness in a way that could really change things the most in our broken world? I don't yet have an answer to that, but in the discussion with the filmmakers following the screening, one of the directors spoke these simple words: NONVIOLENCE WORKS. This resonated so strongly for me I cried. (Not for the first time during the night!)

I truly believe that as humans we get into cycles. One group is oppressed by another, they turn around and oppress others. A child is abused and grows up to be angry or abusive. Cycle, cycle, cycle. The only way to exit this vortex and begin a new, more positive path is compassion. Slowing down, feeling our feelings, allowing ourselves the space and time and patience to cry and process. Looking at the other not as the source of our problems but as another equally flawed individual. At its heart, compassion is about self-responsibility. I am not going to blame you for my problems and use that as an excuse to hurt you. I am going to accept that shit happens and move forward as an adult. I might have to give something up in order to do that. I might have to mourn the loss of a fantasy world in which every debt is paid equally. But I can hear you, I can love you, I can accept you. And in that place, I can love myself.
So, you've been in LA for a year or more - you found a place to live, you bought a car and you even signed with an agent.

Now what?

This blog is about taking your career to the next level - thinking big, thinking outside the box and working collaboratively to achieve success. Success in LA.