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Meet Donald, a Somatic Chef

Last week I attended an intimate meditation retreat with my somatic meditation community. Treated daily to three fresh, simple, delightfully nourishing meals made by Donald, we quickly fell in crush. He promised that the food would be good, and good food supports our meditation practice. Simple. Fresh. Clear. (Pith instructions for life!)

One afternoon while washing dishes, a friend asked Donald, “Do you taste your cooking as you are preparing it?”

Donald replied, “Oh no. I always ask someone else do my tasting. Their body immediately tells me if it is good or not.”

Startled by his value of body wisdom, I expressed my delight in his way of seeing. A true somatic chef!

He continued by saying he can gauge the quality of the dish by the movement of the taster’s body, their facial expressions, their eyes, the way they swallow, and after swallowing, a smile and a hand resting on the belly. I admired Donald’s perfection in body-wisdom, particularly with our daily intake of food, a form of nourishment—a form of currency.

Did you know that our bodies also offer signals when we delve into money matters? Yes, they do.

Most often our bodies are stiff and constricted when discussing money. Our attention centers in the head, trying to figure out an answer, or force a particular outcome, or determine a pressured next best step. The message our body gives in these moments is, I am scared, fatigued, working really hard to get this right.

Sometimes our bodies are more relaxed and at ease. In relaxed moments, clarity is front and center, confidence in our decisions is booming, and we are enjoying a space of freedom. That’s right, “financial freedom” is not just a cute elusive phrase. It is a direct visceral experience of feeling free. What does free feel like to you? At ease. Hopeful. Confident. Peaceful.

On more rare occasions, when facing a money decision, we intentionally access our body intelligence, along with knowledge from our brain. In these situations, we trust in our practical money knowledge, and that this information is available when we need it. In addition, we are curious about what we do not know, and how our body intelligence—in the form of sensations, movement and feelings—can support us in clearer approaches to money direction.

Donald is one of the rare ones who trusts his practical culinary skills and uses them daily to prepare meals. He is motivated to prepare good healthy food for the benefit of his guests. He adds his curiosity and trust in unique body wisdom to gather insights from another’s somatic response to his cooking, and receives these responses as a valuable gift to improve his results.

Let’s take a lesson from Donald and make a vow to include more body wisdom in our life pursuits. If going directly to money is a challenge, practice with food, or conversation, or another safer activity, to build a stronger muscle. Once practiced, including money will be just the next “thing” to integrate somatic awareness with your precious human life.

Smiling and holding my palm on my belly, I can taste Donald’s savory soups even from my memory.

Somatically savoring,




Five-Minute Try-It: Still Calm Spacious

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PURPOSE: To build awareness about the concept of sufficiency and engage a somatic practice that leads to embodied sufficiency.

Minute one: State the word – Sufficiency – out loud several times in different tones and inflections. Notice how sufficiency feels in your body. Do you have a sense of lack? Do you feel ease?

Minute two: Open to the truth of sufficiency by slowing your breath and feeling this moment of stillness. Right here, right now. Access stillness. Be still.

Minute three: In the practice of stillness, calm arises. Breath slows down to a subtle rhythm and presence. Movement is slight, yet your mind is bright.

Minute four: Stillness and calm give way to space. Saturating in stillness and calm, recognize the spacious quality of your mind and body. Space permeates you.

Minute five: Reflect Abide in spacious, still, calm moments.

Complete your practice by recognizing this is Sufficiency. The concept of sufficiency is not just a concept but a way of being. Commit to embodying Sufficiency.

It won’t be Perfect, but it will be Better


Six months ago, a dear friend who lives thousands of miles away, a gifted potter who began her passion later in life, sent me two gorgeous pieces. The five-inch green square and three-inch blue rectangle sat on my desk receiving my admiration. One day last month in a hectic frenzy they fell to the ground. The five-inch square broke into three pieces.

I can fix this. I moved the ceramic to another table for repair… when I had more time.

Today, after confirming plans to connect with my potter friend, it was time. Gorilla glue, rubber bands, wet paper towel, dry rag and toothpicks—the damaged tray and I consummated the repair. The work was not hard, but the result was not pretty. In a focused but “need to get done” state of mind, the repair broke apart—three pieces became five.

Though not headed in the direction I intended, the phrase, it’s not perfect, but it will be better came to mind. I glued unskillfully. I did not pay close attention to how the ceramic pieces fit together, and the last two broken parts did not fit in the tray. No problem. Let me glue this together with my creative juices, and with my new teaching: it is not perfect, but it will be better. And it is. The tray is glued back together. Not perfect, but better. (See below for a capture of my creative expression.)

All too often, our efforts seek perfection. Our brilliant minds create ideas about what we want, and that want gets amplified with a concept of perfection— often unrealistic perfection. Perfection misses delicious sideroads, off-the-trail surprises, and spontaneous potentials. Perfection grasps. Perfection clings. Perfection excludes. Perfection exhausts.

Sometimes, all the situation requires is better. Better offers us a way in, a deeper breath, a warm space. Better is better. Better allows us elbow room and with that openness comes perspective. The work of money is a perfect place, pun intended, to explore the idea of not perfect, but better.

Let’s move in with a metaphor. What happens if we view the mountain top as perfection? What happens to the ascent and descent of the climbing experience? How long can we stay at the top of the mountain and survive boredom, hunger, weather? Often in our money journey we seek a top (usually retirement) attached to a number. We might miss the ascent—spending on current life experiences, saving for the future, and giving generously. In the process of accumulating and navigating money flow and growth, we might miss our “better.”

You may recall the well-known phrase and teaching called, the myth of arrival. This idea of perfection will be experienced when this _________ (fill in the blank) manifests. At the top may occur the myth of arrival experience, and the glow of achievement begins to fade. This is perfect! I can see for miles and miles, from here to eternity—the horizon beckons me! And then, just like that, we begin a descent. We fail to recognize that on the descent – spending, saving and giving are the same activities held with fresh eyes. Is climbing down a mountain a problem?

With better, when we know that we cannot make a mistake, we gain access to better decisions. Most harmful decisions come from the belief that there is only one right answer. Right answers close down curious possibilities. When we finally make a decision with a “right answer,” the ability to change is near impossible because we were seeking the perfection of that one right answer.

Now, as this missive comes to a close, consider better in an open curious way. Consider how better might be best. Consider what possibilities might emerge in decisions when we soften the grip of “right” in service of … restorative, rejuvenating, replenishing, revitalizing, revolutionary, reverent.

My repaired ceramic mishap does not appear perfect, but it is definitely better than broken or discarded. And I love it!


Bettering life,





Five-Minute Try-It: Practicing Practice

PURPOSE: To recognize the difference between understanding an issue cognitively and engaging a practice to make better choices and build new muscles.

PREPARATION: Choose play and presence as a new practice to try out. Retrieve blow bubbles and wooden matches – or – improvise with your own play/presence props.

Minute one: Bring attention to your blow bubbles and the practice of play. Notice the interior of your body: thoughts, sensations (movement, pressure, temperature) and the entire felt sense of your body. How does your body respond to play?

Minute two: Open the plastic container of blow bubbles and begin to play with the bubbles. Notice each breath blowing, and the bubble created. Pay attention to the action of blowing bubbles.

Minute three: After blowing bubbles for a minute, pause with awareness in your body. What sensations (movement, pressure, temperature) do you notice. If these sensations feel good, choose more bubble blowing. If your sensations don’t feel so good, choose to strike a match.

Minute four: Retrieve a wooden match from the matchbox. Pay attention to the slim wooden stick with the colored strike tip. Holding the box with striking pad at an optimal angle, take a breath, and glide the match tip over the strike area. Be fully present to the spark and flame; blow out the fire when your body indicates (i.e. the flame gets too hot to hold!)

Minute five: Reflect on your experience with striking the match. Describe your level of joy, satisfaction, presence, and attention. Choose to strike another match or not. Repeat reflection on your experience.

Complete your practice recognizing the choice to practice, and the new capacities developing as you practice.

Somatic Integral Mastery


Last week a seven-month coaching engagement closed with a gorgeous completion conversation. I had the unique pleasure and honor of serving as a coach for another Master Integral Coach®. This engagement was a reminder of how much growth is possible when we are open, willing and committed. My client was all of these – ripe for each session to delve deep and wide so that focus practices came fresh and easy for her to make potent meaningful progress. She was able to integrate prior stuck points with generous space, created in movement with practices which included body awareness.

Last month three members of Colman Knight attended the first Online Taster Course for the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, work developed by a group which includes a longtime Hendricks training mate, Diana Chapman. The foundation of their model is openness to learning, and a recognition of the same – am I open or closed: am I open to learning or am I closed and defended?  All CK members have been exploring these commitments together with monthly trainings followed by individual practices. We are learning more decisively that the answer to openness or constriction is in the body. We are practicing “above or below the line” as a way to strengthen our openness to learning and create more meaningful connections.

Today, a client of over twenty-five years arrived for a conversation about her finances and repeating issues with her partner. The difference in the conversation today, as compared to the many other conversations in the past, was her openness to learning for herself. She recognized that she needed support with areas of development that would support her ability to make optimal decisions. We touched upon the financial matters swiftly and skillfully; the majority of our connection was tethered to the “real” issue and the superior way of attending to her situation. In conversation, she was repeatedly invited to check in with her body, to register the truth of her discoveries. She was stunned – in a good way – at how the meeting unfolded and the possibilities we uncovered.

The link among these three different vignettes may be obvious: openness to learning. Also, perhaps not obvious but the essence of integral mastery, is the link of our body intelligence with each arising situation, whether it is about finances, relationships, emotions, or gardening (my favorite spring time activity).

If we want to make leaps and bounds progress, allowing the dots to connect, the swirls to spiral, the giggles to guffaw, we include somatic intelligence to supercharge our insights and tether them to our bigger field of connections. Let me unpack this statement. One plus one equals two. You may have also heard, that sometimes one plus one equals three. Meaning, we move from a linear perspective to a dimensional perspective. Dimensions take us to a larger view which means that if this is true about this situation, I see how it is true for these situations.

An example from today: I might believe that my anger at my spouse for walking without me this morning (when we agreed to walk together the night before) comes from my judgment of him not listening to me, breaking an agreement, and a lack of care. But when I look closer, open to learning including my body wisdom, I see that I am hurt. In my hurt is sadness aching in my chest; in my sadness and hurt, I see it is closer to my desire to connect; in this desire, I see it is not current day, but a thread of hurt and sadness back to childhood, of wanting to connect with my father.

If I stayed in my closed mental judgment, the anger would constrict my view and demand something from my spouse, perhaps re-creating a pattern for both of us to justify our position. Being open to learning, valuing our relationship, I stayed with my feelings and body awareness which created more space to view the situation from other angles. My natural response provided pops of insight, including a deeper connection with my beloved.

With money, we are on the bleeding edge of discovery, growth and fulfillment when we bring body intelligence into our work. Money can be substituted for any situation examined. Mastery is only possible when we include our body. Mastery means that our life becomes easier, sustainable, more enjoyable and more impactful.

Thank you to all of the people co-creating with me to gain these insights and offerings for the benefit of our world.

Expanding with optimism,


Life Weaves


It started with a desire to walk by the ocean. I then discovered the only ocean-walkers were golfers enjoying an 18-hole round of golf. Satisfying my desire for a trip to the ocean, I invited a friend on a lunch walk to the beach. The walk was lovely, don’t mistake my words, but it wasn’t the stunning cliff ocean scene only Golfers were privileged to experience. The sight tempted my desire to pick up a golf club and swing it. My beach-walking friend shares his tee time for the next day and before my next breath, my presumption came over me and I invited myself on their tee time as a walking observer. He was too kind to decline my self-invite and I am too naïve about golf to know if inviting myself was a major taboo.

But can I tell you how wondrous the experience was? Just walking, witnessing, wowing, wondering. I wept a couple of times gazing at the beauty and feeling the awe of it all. The morning excursion filled me with joy and wonder, for sure a desired state of mind, and particularly as I continue to mourn the passing of my father.

Weaving life – losses and joys – as the natural way of life is my new area of study. After my father’s death, I went into overdrive to complete practical tasks. In my mind, tasks complete first, then space to grieve would be available. But grieving doesn’t work this way and there is no doubt in my mind that you, the reader, know this. I knew it before this experience and still, somehow, the pattern snuck up on me.

Watching these gentlemen, a particular breed of men who are kind, intelligent, impeccable with their word, generous with their heart, and share my profession of financial planning, I came to see golfing as the weave of life. The vast open space of the golf course and a feminine quality of openness and care, then the focused determined practice of hitting the ball down a fairway to a smaller green and finally skillfully precisely into the hole, with a masculine agentic quality of determination and forward action. We require both to weave life well.

When we focus our attention only on action and getting the ball in the hold, we burn out and miss the vast view. When we neglect the need to swing our club, put objects in the air and complete the hole, we wander aimlessly perhaps, without ground, without progress. Financial planning, like life, requires both.  Good planning tees up (pun intended) the opportunity for choice, and when to preference one area of attention over another.

Right now, my need for more grieving space means that any strokes to the green or putts to the hole are limited, colored perhaps by sorrow energy that does not belong in today’s decisions or decisions for the future.

When a state of mind like grief is present, we pause. I encourage you to pause. Pausing is the kind and generous action; it is the invitation to weave our personal and financial life. Grief accompanies any form of loss, which of course can be the loss of life. But loss can also be in other forms – lost dreams, lost youth, lost discoveries. Our children graduate from high school and college. Job opportunities evolve and some even vanish. Friends scatter and require effort to reconnect, even with social media. Health shifts as we age, especially if we ignore nutritious consumption and favorable exercise.

As summer season enters, do not hesitate to pause, particularly if a sense of loss stands by your side. In these times, weaving slowly and intentionally provides room for exceptional care and better decisions – both vital for financial planning and life.





Five-Minute Try-It: Feeling Interiority


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PURPOSE: Become intimately familiar with the interiority of our body: movement, sensations, pressure, and temperature are always present yet may not be identified in our awareness.

PREPARATION: Choose one side of the body to play with, left or right.

Minute one: On the chosen side, move hand, elbow, hand, arm. Bring full attention to that one side.

Minute two: Stretch arm on selected side: up over your head, across your chest, back behind you.

Minute three: Get the foot involved, rotating your ankle. Stretch your leg, move and release your hip.

Minute four: Stand still, perhaps with eyes closed. Notice the difference between the two sides.

Minute five: Describe, either mentally or aloud, how each side feels, with descriptive adjectives.

Complete your practice taking this awareness as you are going through your daily activities.

Realize that when you move your body, you can activate your energy. Notice the texture, energy, and sensations that awaken when you move your body, and allow that energy to be something that supports you in your life.

Embrace that juicy alive energy that is you!