March 28, 2009

Monsters and Magical Sticks

Monsters and Magical Sticks: Or There's No Such Thing As Hypnosis? was a really fun read. The author was clearly a smart alec and enjoyed himself being one! I also learned a lot about how we learn. I'd like to check out some of the specifics about brain science with my brother the brain scientist, but it was a fascinating book anyway.

Some of the techniques seemed like I'd have to do a LOT of practice to be able to use them effectively. Some seemed much more intuitive.

I feel much better prepared to deal with it if I am ever again asked if my Birthing From Within classes use hypnosis (which I was, once, by someone who clearly saw hypnosis as a tool of the devil.) The answer is clearly no, if you are thinking of hypnosis as something someone does to someone else that could make them behave in ways against their will or character. But another way to understand hypnosis is a kind of self-induced meditative state; and we do help people learn how this kind of lightly altered consciousness can help them cope with pain and enhance their ability to connect with their sources of spiritual strength.

Point Zero

The whole title of the book is Point Zero: Creativity Without Limits, by Michelle Cassou. While I am sure I have things to learn from this book (and I have high hopes that I will at the workshop) my gut reaction to it was highly negative. I think creativity needs some limits, most of the time in most contexts. One of the author's metaphors is that when painting, one should look out for three "dragons": of product, control, and meaning. Well, I can see that for a certain kind of meditative creativity, it's important to be able to let go of product, control, and meaning. However, for much of life and even for much art, there are reasons why we are and should be concerned with product, control, and meaning. You don't get the Sistine Chapel without limits of intending a certain product, control of technique, and without intending certain meanings. You don't get good results in cooking, or most music-making, or working with human beings without these limits, either.

Most disturbing to me was a story in which the author talks about taking a whole week to spend all day every day from sunrise to sunset painting by herself. She waxes euphoric about how wonderful the experience was. And then she says that at the end of each day she returned home to her baby too tired to even feed herself and curled up with him to sleep. For me, this creativity needs some limits of responsible relationship with other people, especially her baby!

Awakening the Heroes Within

Awakening the Heroes Within by Carol S. Pearson is fascinating to me. It's basically Jungian in that it posits twelve archetypes which people/communities/cultures move through in a spiral fashion throughout their lifespans. I love paradigms of this sort; they appeal to the way my mind works.

Apparently, for what it's worth, I am strongest in my Magician archetype, closely followed by Creator, Sage, Ruler and Lover. I could use some work on my Orphan and Destroyer archetypes.

We were only supposed to read about the first four (including Orphan) so I have yet to learn exactly what this means ;-P

Innana's Descent to the Underworld

A goddess goes on her sister's (?) behalf to the underworld to observe her brother-in-law's death rites (?) and tells her helper to go plead on her behalf to other gods if she doesn't come back in a timely fashion. On her way into the underworld, she is literally stripped and figuratively stripped of her powers, and then killed by the goddess who rules the underworld. So her helper goes and asks the gods for help, one of whom sends some creatures. They go into the underworld and help the goddess who rules there (who is in pain as if in childbirth) so she offers them whatever they want. They take the first goddess's corpse and bring it back to life; however, she is followed out of the underworld by some demons. The demons try to take her helper and then her sons, none of whom she will let them have. Finally, she gives the demons her husband, who appears to have been entirely unbothered by her disappearance, and they take him back to the underworld in her place.

It's quite confusing. It's also some of the required reading for my workshop next week, so I'll be fascinated to see how Birthing From Within interprets the tale. I can think of some interpretations, but it's the kind of text that is opaque enough to allow almost an infinite number of possibilities unless you know a LOT more than I do about the context it was created in (probably unless you know more about that context than anyone really does, considering that the story comes from roughly 5,000 - 6,000 years ago.)

March 16, 2009

Brief Coaching for Lasting Solutions

I'm gearing up for my Level 2 Workshop through Birthing From Within - very exciting! To prepare, I'm supposed to read a bunch of books (all in the next two weeks - ack!)

Last night I plowed through Brief Coaching for Lasting Solutions, by Insoo Kim Berg and Peter Szabo. There is a lot of great stuff in there, but I could wish there were a book with similar content focused on some form of human relationships other than business and the work world. For me, family dynamics are so much more powerful and compelling than the dynamics of the office!

Anyway, I think I have a better understanding now of what coaching is, compared to counseling or other forms of therapeutic talk interactions. And I can certainly see how the philosophy of this work applies to my work with families preparing to welcome babies! The assumptions are that the client knows what s/he needs, how to get it, and what strategies will work best - but may not know it. The coach's job is to elicit this knowing from the client, and encourage experiments with changing behavior. Totally exactly the approach I want to have with the families I work with!

My favorite quote, which I've read out loud to various family members:

"Having been a taxi driver during my student days, asking clients where they wanted to go was the most natural thing to do, since my task was to take clients where they wanted to go, not where I thought they should go. If a customer wanted me to take him to a bar, it never occurred to me to take him to his home and wife instead. The same rule applies to coaching."