Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Steve Pavlina: Personal Development For Smart People

Pavliniac (n): Person who is an avid reader of Steve Pavlina’s blog and participant in his forums.

Okay, I freely admit it… I’m a Pavliniac, and like many others, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of Steve’s book, Personal Development For Smart People, since he announced that he was writing one. Luckily for those of us who are impatient souls, a glitch somewhere along the line resulted in the book being released earlier than the intended date of 15 October. Dare I call this a collective manifestation caused by all Steve’s many fans?!

The reason why I’ve been a long-term reader of Steve’s blog is that I enjoy the blend of logic and intuition in his writing and thought processes. Often, personal development blogs sit at one of the extremes, and while I’m more than happy to read such blogs, I find that my blog reading list as a whole has to find a balance between the two. Steve’s blog, however, is one of the few that combine the best of both sides of the brain, and his newly released book follows suit.

This book presents the results of Steve’s search for the universal principles underlying personal development – Love, Truth and Power. These core principles are further expanded to Oneness (Truth + Love), Authority (Truth + Power), and Courage (Love + Power). Finally, Intelligence is defined as the combination of all three core principles.

This framework synthesises information in what is often a broad and fragmented field, and provides both philosophical and practical applications to a diverse range of life areas, such as career, relationships and health. Although Steve has given examples from his own life throughout the book as well as provided exercises through which readers can utilise the principles in their own development, this is not a prescriptive book. Rather, the book aims to increase readers’ awareness of the principles in their lives, so that where these are present they can be further developed, and where these appear to be absent they can be allowed to grow. It is, as the book’s tagline says, the conscious pursuit of personal growth.

In the introduction, Steve states that the principles should be simple and elegant. They are. In fact, at first glance, it may appear that some of the book’s content is in fact too simple. Yet, this is not a simplicity born of triteness and self-help cliché that is unfortunately all too common in the personal development arena. Instead, this is the kind of simplicity that emerges from dedicated and conscious exploration and experimentation in the area of personal growth. It is a simplicity that allows us to recognise the overarching structures of life that exist at a deeper level. It is what Oliver Wendell Holmes referred to as the simplicity on the other side of complexity.

Can things really be this simple? Yes. But, remember that simplicity doesn’t necessarily equal easy. As Steve points out, personal development can be very challenging at times. It is at such times that it helps to have a touchstone to return to and which can guide us through to the other side of the complexity. This book is that touchstone.

If you’d like to try before you buy, Steve has very kindly provided a sample chapter of his book for download. The formatting of this sample chapter is different to that in the book, but the content is the same.

The full book is available from Amazon:

Friday, 19 September 2008

Flow And Creativity

I write. A whole lot! From short stories when I was young to my diary full of pre-teen angst to non-fiction books and journal articles when I was a lecturer to blogging and novel writing now… it’s always been a large part of my life.

For many years, I thought that writing was how I got into a state of Flow. Whenever I managed to find time to write, the words would pour out of me, entire sentences and paragraphs already seemingly downloaded into my brain. My fingers would fly over the keyboard trying to keep up. And I had this lovely flowing sensation in my chest area, kind of a warm loving, joyous sensation.

Now, however, I understand that, for me, writing is less of a way to make Flow happen and more of an outcome of already being in a state of Flow.

When I am already experiencing Flow, then writing is effortless. In fact, it is so easy that my first draft is usually also my final draft (apart, sometimes, from a few minor tweaks). The entire structure of an article and the wording is already formed, and it seems that all I do is copy it down from the non-physical to the physical. When I’m not in a state of Flow, though, I may as well not even bother sitting down to write. Absolutely nothing happens – it’s writer’s block to the nth degree! Even if I do manage to squeeze a few words out, I always end up deleting them or drastically changing them in a complete rewrite when I am back in Flow.

To get back into a state of Flow, I focus on my breath. I’ve found that this is my personal access point to Flow. It doesn’t matter whether I’m focusing on breathing while doing a traditional sitting meditation, or a walking meditation, or even washing the dishes – all of these get me back to my breath and consequently help me to open up that inner space again, through which Source energy can flow. And, as Eckhart Tolle describes in A New Earth, “All creativity comes out of inner spaciousness.” It is a source of constant inspiration and guidance.

Many of you reading this blog are also writers… I’d love to hear about your creative process and how you get into a state of Flow. Do you write at set times each day or week, or do you write only when you feel inspired and in a state of Flow?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Magnet Conundrum: Polarity And Flow

Have you ever tried to explain the Law Of Attraction to someone? The chances are that you’ve used the phrase like attracts like. In fact, the chances are that you’ve also used the idea of a magnet to explain that we attract things and experiences to us that are in alignment with our predominant energetic vibration.

If so, you’ve probably also encountered some questions in this regard. After all, on the face of it, when it comes to magnets, opposites attract – the north pole of one magnet is attracted to the south pole of another. I’ve often seen skeptics use this apparent contradiction to criticise the Law Of Attraction.

Yet, when we look more deeply into the concepts of polarity and flow, it is possible to reconcile these two conflicting ideas.

As you know, all physical matter is made of atoms, which consist of electrons orbiting around a nucleus. You may also remember from studying science at school that a moving electrical charge (or electric current) produces a magnetic field. Since an electron is a small moving electrical charge, it follows that each electron in an atom produces a small magnetic field.

Although each electron’s tiny magnetic field flows in a specific direction, these don’t all necessarily line up with each other. For most substances, the directions of these fields remain randomly oriented even when in the presence of a larger magnetic field, such as that produced by a permanent (bar) magnet. However, for some substances, such as iron, the presence of a larger magnetic field causes the substance’s electrons’ small magnetic fields to all line up in the same direction as that of the larger magnetic field.

The electrons in magnetic substances such as iron will retain their alignment temporarily after the permanent magnet is removed, until the usual movement of the atoms causes them to fall out of alignment again. Permanent magnets are made out of special iron alloys whose electrons retain their alignment for many years after initial exposure to a larger magnetic field.

When it comes to magnets and attraction therefore, it is not the two poles (north and south) that are important. Instead, it is the alignment of the electrons’ magnetic fields that is responsible for allowing a strong magnetic field to flow through the substance and which causes attraction between the substance and the magnet. The two poles of a magnet are essentially just handy naming conventions to describe the direction of flow of a magnetic field.

Ultimately, alignment equals flow equals attraction… sound familiar?!