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Huntington Chorea charity Event

On Sunday November 1, 2020 at 1pm, I will be guiding a yoga session for a charity supporting Huntington Chorea.  

As it is an initial, one-time, class, I have designed the session to be an orientation type of approach.  Yoga is such a big and comprehensive “map of the territory” so an orientation can be done from many different perspectives.  Since, the charity is supporting a dis-ease with some similarity to the dis-ease I have been challenged with for over 44 years, I will probably emphasize the “wellness” aspect of yoga.  Since it is a first class, I will also stick to the basics of “Right Alignment” and “Discovering One’s Edge.” 

I completed my Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu Yoga Center in October of 2006.  I engaged in this 200 hour – month long intensive training because I wanted to deepen my personal practice.  It was not my intention to become a “yoga teacher” or own a yoga studio.  I had been practicing Bikram Yoga since 1999 and was realizing tremendous benefits in managing my blood sugar levels and overall health as a Type 1 Diabetic since the age of 14.  Both conditions involve the immune system.

One of the most referred to “maps’ to understand what yoga is all about is the Eight Limb Path.  There is a beginning and there is an end.  There is an apparent starting point and there is a destination.  Yoga defined means “union.”  Ultimately it is the union with self and Source; Samadhi; The Eighth Limb.  Here is an image of the Eight Limbs:

In Kripalu Yoga there are 3 stages to the practice.  First, Right Alignment.  Second, Discovering and Exploring Your Personal Edge.  And third, Authentic Free Expression.  These three stages mirror the three levels of wisdom that The Buddha expressed.  Level One-Becoming aware of a thing or idea by being told about it or reading a book about it.  Level Two – Engaging in Intellectual Inquiry into the nature of the thing or idea.  Level Three – Direct Personal Experience of the thing or idea. 

There is a five step transformational process in Kripalu that we utilize to cultivate mindfulness and presence in the confronting of a “pose.”  The acronym is BRFWA.  I will introduce BRFWA and cycle through the process a few times. The 5 steps are: 

Breathe – Relax – Feel – Watch – Allow.

At the end of the session I have agreed to engage in a question and answer session.

Over the last six months, since the lockdown, I have been guiding a group of about 15 people in weekly yoga, meditation and map questing sessions.  We have been getting together four times a week and have journeyed through the 8 limbs.  We have also inquired into several other “maps of the territory” with the objective of obtaining a more holistic and holographic picture of The Reality of Things; Dharma.  The last 13 weeks of our work have been documented on this website under the Atwater Group Page.  Feel free to browse through this page as well as the many blogs I have written over the past 13 years. 

I look forward to guiding this session and connecting with the participants.  

The Growth process

A great Zen Master once said ….

“We are all traveling in a big circle.

Does not matter much where on the circle you are.  

What is important is that you keep moving.”

There are many ways to view movement.  One way is through the lens of growth and development…..

THE GROWTH PROCESS:

Stage 1 – CONFUSION:  What is the desired outcome?  What is the challenge? What game are we playing?  What is the objective?

If the cup is full there is no desire to grow.  This is the awareness stage.  What is not known is allowed to be included.  Every journey starts with the first step.  This is step one in the process.  There may be several objectives that are identified that are in need of attention.  It is best to start with one.  Stage one is the process of confronting confusion with conscious awareness and resolving to engage with a positive, solution oriented and responsible approach and attitude.

Stage 2 – EXPLORATION:  What are the components/functions involved?  What must be accounted for?  What are the ingredients?  This is the brainstorming stage.

 We have identified the game or ‘movie’ we have decided to play out. Now, we must equip ourselves with what is needed to play.  When in brainstorming mode, it is important to cultivate an open and non judgmental mind set.  Good practice is to list everything that is thought of and then go through and prioritize in order of importance.

Stage 3 – INCUBATION:   What is our strategy?  How are we going to play?  What systems and procedures do we need to put in place?  This is the creative step.  We take our list of ingredients, component parts and functions we identified in stage 2 and create innovative, design oriented processes to get done what needs to get done.  We create checks and balances and feedback loops.

It’s analogous to obtaining and mixing together all the ingredients needed to create a cake and putting it into the oven to bring it all together.

Stage 4: ILLUMINATION:   Time to Implement.  This is the Action step in the process.  In the game analogy, this is play.  This is the engagement stage.  We are working the systems, procedures and training that we identified and created.

The seed that was planted in stage 1 blossoms.

Stage 5 – CELEBRATION:  If there is growth then there is a result or outcome.  This stage in the process is about managing outcomes.  What do we do with them?

The fruit has manifested. Optimal outcome management celebrates this with enjoyment and appreciation.

The fruit contains the seed.

This is about giving back or sharing and going “back” to stage 1 to continue a new growth cycle.

I have created and discovered multiple perspectives of this five step process.

An important part of my philosophy involves the concept of restriction.

It is through the process of restriction that all things of value are birthed.

Think about the birth of  a human being or the outcome of the energy that an accomplished athlete puts into the countless hours of working out and practice.

Every business flow or system should have restrictions built into it.

Without restriction the flow will bleed out quickly, the system will short circuit or burn out.

Creation story?

  There is a Kabbalistic Concept that is encompassed in the quote…”The seed of Desire is Fulfillment.” God; The Creator is ‘Fulfillment’; The Emanator. Our souls are the vessels of “Desire’; The Emanated. Prior to the world we currently find ourselves in, our souls were united in oneness in The Endless World (The Or En Sof). There was a direct connection between the Emanated and The Emanator. Time, as we know it, did not exist in this world. Cause and Effect was immediate. Every Desire that the vessel had or could imagine was fulfilled immediately. However, there was a “problem.” The vessels of desire began feel an uncomfortable feeling. They began to awaken to the realization that they were receiving without doing anything for it. It was like having a magic golf club that shot a hole in one every time you teed off. The vessels started wanting to be a part of their own fulfillment and opportunity to share instead of only receive. In order to satisfy this Desire the Creator needed to change up the “System of Things” a little bit. HE/SHE needed to create a new world that included space and time so that the vessels had an opportunity to experience the sense of earning their own fulfillment and a world that they could share with others. BOOM! The “BIG BANG! Instead of a 2 ‘column system’ we now exist in a 3 ‘column’ or 3 dimensional system where there is not a direct connection with The Creator. 

Injecting a Big Picture (Spiritual) element to the question might be a path of inquiry that may lead to an answer. Desire; Want is the nature and essence of the human soul. Total Fulfillment is the essence of The Creator. In our world there is a 3rd ‘column’. Kind of like the way electricity works in a simple light bulb. There is a source of the power (The power station, the positive pole, the yang). There is a receiver (The light bulb, the negative pole, the yin). But deep within the light bulb there is an essential third element; The filament. The role of the filament is to push back; to resist; to restrict. When the filament plays its role then the result is “Lasting Light.” If the filament is not engaged then there is a big spark of light and a short circuit; burnout. Our souls’ biggest desire is to get back to The Endless (The Garden) but, this time, with the awareness of Receiving, not for ourselves alone but, Receiving for the sake of bestowing. This 3rd column is called “The Middle Path” in the Buddhist/Zen environment. Ir is called Restriction by the Kabbalists. It is “The Secret” to seeking True Fulfillment. Namaste. Michael.

Support Group

I was at a support group meeting a few years back.  I was living in Boca Raton, Fl, at the time.  I was doing good.  On an upswing in life.  I had been attending this meeting every month for the last few years and had a “reputation” of someone to follow or learn from.  

A mother of a newly diagnosed 11 year old girl came to the the meeting.  You could see the desperation in her face.  Looking back, she was seeking validation that it was going to be ok.  When she “shared” she began talking about all the great things her daughter had done and how the diabetes had not slowed her down.  

Then I fucked up.  It was my turn to share and I needed to keep my reputation up and I was seeing the denial the mother was showing and I used a word that catapulted her from Denial to Anger.  I used the word disability.  I talked about how having T1D was a dis-ability.  I knew first hand.  I played hockey and soccer at a fairly high level throughout college.  At times, I was at a disadvantage.  Didn’t mean I couldn’t play. But….it was harder for me with diabetes than if not.

Having diabetes is a handicap.  OOOPS! I used another word that literally had her out of her seat.  I played on the golf team too.  Any of you who play golf know that everyone has a handicap.  

Ok.  I was now under full attack.  By the way, where was the daughter?  Why wasn’t she at the meeting?  Too young?  Over protected?  I don’t know…

Why I am writing about this?  It was a long time ago.  Well…..I’ve been on this Beyond Type 1 site for a few weeks posting a couple posts and reading the posts of others.  And I am awakening to the fact that it really doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong, if you are struggling or you are unicorn whisperer, what matters most is finding a way to validate where you are at right now.  To make it ok because this is a long trek…

The mother didn’t want to be pushed that night to see the reality of her daughter’s dis-ease.  She wanted to be supported.  At the time I thought that enlightening her to the truth of the matter was support.  This is not always the case.  Sometimes you just need to be listened to and understood.  

For me, the reality is that this condition has been a real battle.  It has mostly got in my way and altered my perception of life.  I’m 57 years old and I didn’t plan on being here this long.  Now what?  Well…..If nothing else….today I would like to think that instead of triggering that mom with a reality that she did not need to address at the time…I would have validated her for being there and being an excellent “co-pilot” in her daughters “flight.”   

If it wasn’t for my mom I wouldn’t have made it this far………

The Five Phases – a map of the territory

The Five Phases

A Map of The Territory

An Approach to Mastery and Transcendence of Diabetes

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) in November of 1976 at the age of 14.  T1D is one of the most misunderstood physical conditions.  I believe it is misunderstood because, in a normal body, the affected systems are in perpetual motion without conscious thought.  Furthermore, it is complicated.  There are some fundamental components to the system which was destroyed through a roque immune system response. The fundamental components include food, insulin, physical activity, blood glucose levels, injections, finger pricks, water….But there are other factors that have influence on this system of insulin production and use.  Factors like stress, sickness, depression, infusion site issues, finances, complications, being different, performance issues…..It effects every other system of the body because all of the systems seem to be integrated.

Over the 42 years that I have had to manually inject insulin while keeping my blood sugar levels in a “safe” range in order to physically survive, I have become somewhat of a “systems inquirer.”  There are infinite systems throughout the universe and within the physical body.  There are many ways to describe a system.  A description is a map.  A map of the territory.  As T1D’s the doctor or the CDE will be talking and it will sound like blah, blah, blah, sometimes because it is such a rudimentary map they are presenting and we have heard it before.  We know that there is no way they could possibly understand.  My mother and my brother and a few close friends are the closest to understanding but they stop short when they become aware of how horrible it really is.  Few people understand the feeling of blood sugar swings like we do.  All of them have needed a snickers bar because they got irritated.  A few have passed out because they are hypoglycemic.  But none of them know what it feels like day in and day out with the sword of Damocles hanging over us in the form of potential “complications”.

There is no one way to describe a map.  I have found it beneficial to look at several maps of the same or similar territories in order cultivate a deeper understanding of the territory.  And since joining this site I have been inspired to chip through my 2 year long writer’s block and get it done.  I have written for several years and posted a lot of it in my blog and website.  I believe the link is in my profile.  A few years back I wrote a blog series called “Transforming Diabetes.” It’s a 9 blog series where I am attempting to describe the system of managing bg’s as a T1D and integrate some yoga system principles throughout.  Two years ago I wrote a blog series called “The Yellow Brick Road.”  Both blog series are on the tab portion.  Now I am starting to write the “Five Phases.”  I am excited about getting this done because it is really the culmination of 25 years of work. 

The Five Phases will be a description (a map) of living with diabetes in this world (the territory).  I will be presenting multiple perspectives of systems. Buckminster Fuller was one of this most prolific thinkers and inventors of the 20th Century.  He was the ultimate systems guy.  He said in a long essay where he was re-thinking the Lord’s Prayer and the Creation of the Universe:

“Total Accountability and Total Feedback

Constitute the minimum and only

Perpetual Motion System.”

The System we must put in place, monitor, manage, carry around and live with is no different.