By Jan Hutchins
My safe word is “Original Sin” and when uttered my Dominator (dom) releases me from the pain. And, as you know if you’ve been there, the relief is ecstasy. Suddenly all is as it should be – a bliss bath. I’ve learned to soak it in, not rush it, because reality with its time terror and endless entropy, comes all too soon, rousing me from the bliss and all too soon I require another hit, another yoga pose.
I’m 68, been a yogi since I was 18, and after years of doing it for its illusory tight ass, lean body, calmer mind benefits, am now ready to admit, stretching’s real value is the opportunity to suffer where I can be my own dom.
Where I once thought the accomplishment was in contorting my body into a shape few others could match – I now realize stretching’s gift is the patience to withstand pain as I slowly coax openness back into my hips, low back, shoulders and neck as I confront the onslaught of aging.
I’m not a masochist by choice mind you. If you’ve ever suffered serious back pain, and most of us have, you’ll do almost anything to avoid the pain and helplessness. If I don’t dominate myself and manage the suffering necessary to open my hips and low back in every possible way, I know the sadist in my back will eventually drop me to my knees in agony I can’t control.
There is, however, an even deeper benefit in this dynamic. Faced with this need to manage suffering, I’ve had to learn:
- To break my attention away from the screaming mind and listen to the body’s messages
- How to micro-relax every area of my body
- The power to exhale tension out of my body again and again to handle, and even come to appreciate, how much it hurts
- Develop holistic connections in my body. Easing the pain in one area by relaxing unconscious tensions in surrounding areas
- The magnificent peace that’s available when the body deeply relaxes
Developing these distinctions allows me to be able to relax almost anywhere, anytime, in any position or situation.
This is not just true in the exercise system I call PleasureStretch. This dynamic of suffering to reach relaxation, pain to deeply experience pleasure, and recognition everything is connected, is a dynamic you’ll see everywhere once you begin to notice it.
The cost for the endorphin high from exercise is directly related to the intensity of the discomfort one navigates to get their butt on the bike, into the gym or pool and not just “do it” but do it again and again and again – whatever lie or encouragement you have to use to avoid remembering how much it will actually hurt. “Original Sin!”
So whether it’s back pain, weight gain, loss of virility (I’m exercising my prostate as I write this ;-), cheating death, even avoiding the consequences of what you’d like to do to him, her, it or them – conscious suffering is the way, the bomb, the panacea everlasting!
Confuse thee not however, with names and reasonings about suffering. It’s obvious in this world of duality, suffering and bliss are two sides of the same coin. We’re supposed to hurt, suffer, but as I hope I’ve shown you, there’s such treasure in it saints and mystics have long described it as the very road to salvation.
What I’m describing differs from the religious self-abasement, mortification and abstinence to become pure and is instead, a loving recognition of the reality the body contracts over time and begins to block its ideal flow of energy and movement.
Let’s talk about how much suffering is involved in relationships. “Original Sin!” Sorry, that just came out, because if my body requires I suffer to keep it healthy and happy, the dynamic with relationships and love asks even more.
Love asks no permission and gives no warning. It turns us inside out, flays the very skin off us and until we run out of tears and give up on anything but giving, leaves us cold and alone. Superstar Sufi poet Hafiz drops the mic on what love is really like:
A Barroom View of Love
I would not want all my words
To parade around this world
In pretty costumes,
So I will tell you something
Of the Barroom view of Love.
Love is grabbing hold of the Great Lion’s mane
And wrestling and rolling deep into Existence
While the Beloved gets rough
And begins to maul you alive.
True Love, my dear,
Is putting an ironclad grip upon
The soft, swollen balls
Of a Divine Rogue Elephant
And not having the good fortune to Die!
Yet die you must, repeatedly, until the relationship, responsibility, marriage are more important than the small, wounded child in you. Only the mature masculine in you and feminine in the other can be in real love, adult love. Unconditional love is full presence with unconditional attention, acceptance, appreciation and affection that allows the other to be as they really are.
But even that is not enough when our very humanness turns every relationship into a house of mirrors where one either projects onto the other or owns and faces in themselves all the distortions born in the stressful experiences, traumas and social conditionings alive in and between us.
The courage to own our discomfort rather than project it onto the other is the only skill that can save us. The wisdom and willingness to own one’s power to be response-able for living as unconditional love because there is no choice and no reason to choose otherwise, comes only through such intense experiences with suffering as to produce actual empathy and break the shell of the ego.
So whenever in doubt or fear, here’s the mantra:
“Thank you life, may I have another…”
If you’re ready to suffer wisely as a practice rather than suffer endlessly as a victim, choose to try PleasureStretch Anti-aging program. I’ll give you a free sample session. Just fill out the form below.
By Jan Hutchins
Do you think you’re too old to fulfill your childhood dreams? No less than Harvard University insists you can still have them, if you’re willing to believe you can. Belief is the very best anti-aging exercise but there are a few tricks to making it work.
Researchers at Harvard University’s Program in Placebo Studies, say the Placebo Effect is “an integral part of good medical care and an ally that should be embraced by doctors and patients alike.”
You understand the placebo effect, right?
The phenomenon that occurs for reasons we’re just beginning to understand. It’s when people enrolled in a study experience improvement in their condition even though they have been taking medicines that don’t contain any active ingredients. In some studies as many patients on placebos heal as those on the medication. It’s clinical proof of mind over matter – that what we believe is what the body responds to and becomes.
The effect of our thinking is so great that the placebo effect even happens when patients know they’re getting a placebo but are assured that if they have the right attitude it will still have a positive effect. Basically as one ancient scripture puts it “Things are not as they are – but as we are!” What and how we think about our health, fitness, wellness, abilities, attitudes, relationships, work, play – (need I go on?) – is as important as all our objective efforts to care for ourselves.
So exactly what is possible, if you are you dying to live longer, healthier and stretch the boundaries of how much pleasure is possible in one lifetime? The answer is blowing in the wind, up to you, all a guess at this point. One thing is certain the old stories about what’s true about aging and illness are changing and experimenting is called for.
I therefore invite you to become a longevity astronaut, a “longevinaut,” launching yourself into the outer reaches of aging wisely and well by changing your attitude, studying best practices and continually expanding against all the ways life tries to force you to contract.
- Emotional & physical trauma – fully experience it, fully release it and reframe its meaning;
- Physical pain & injury – patiently nurture it and reframe its meaning;
- Pull of gravity – counter with a lengthened, empowered posture;
- Boredom – see the awe in every moment and the smallest things – especially nature;
- Be and do less – be more at ease, need less, do what you love;
- No need to be lonely or even alone – socialize, serve in community, play the wise, blessing elder role.
With PleasureStretch you learn how to act as though aging is an illness, you’re in a double blind study and the placebo you’re taking is the real deal, a magic potion able to inspire and revitalize in the presence of deep enough breathing, wise, pleasurable exercise, nutritious eating and an unconditionally loving relationship with yourself. Unconditional loving is presence with unconditional attention, acceptance, appreciation and affection. Give that to yourself, your body and everyone and everything in your world!
Here’s the current Longevinaut landscape.
Scientists say the longest the human body is designed to live is 122 years. Japan currently leads the countries of the world in centenarians. There are more than 32 thousand people there over one hundred years old, and good news, their number grew by more than a third during just the last four years.
Longevinauts as I playfully call us usually have strong adaptive capacities, which is a prerequisite for health and vitality. Gerontologists believe longevity is significantly impacted by genes but studies show orderly living absent harmful habits like alcohol consumption, smoking and poor nutrition also has a major effect. One other factor worth mentioning, don’t live near congested roads because breathing quality air is so important to living.
And here some other ingredients in the placebo, 15 main rules (courtesy of researchers at a Canadian University in Hamilton), that are common factors among the world’s longevinauts.
1. Monotonous healthy diet.
2. Living in one place.
3. Life in one (a single, monolithic, clan) society.
4. Relatively high safety.
5. Drink red wine. (But moderate amount)
6. High motor activity.
7. Life without stresses.
8. Sleep well, and also nap in the afternoon.
9. Life in cold or temperate climate.
10. It is important not to pay attention to little problems.
11. Enjoy a big and happy family.
12. The lack of fear of death.
13. Don’t waste your energy.
14. The genetic factor.
15. Moderation in all things. In expression of feelings, in food, etc.
Since our thinking is so crucial we need to understand just how much we are currently addicted to our thoughts. Studies show more than 95% of our thoughts each day are just repeating habitual themes in our head, day after day after stress-full day. Continuous stress releases Cortisol into the body and too much cortisol can weaken the immune system, increase blood pressure, decrease libido, produce acne, contribute to obesity and…
I understand the problem, I’m the charter member of the Thinkaholic 12 step program. ☺ Without the right tools I am helpless to my habit of believing my thoughts. We humans are usually stuck in a loop of thoughts about events from the past which lead us to experience bad feelings in the present. Those old feelings lead to thoughts that are looking to confirm those stale feelings are true (even when there are infinite placebo possibilities to the contrary). Remember, the body believes our thoughts, so we wind up dream walking through life, thinking badly and feeling badly, burning up our immune system and slowly falling backwards into an early grave.
It is psychosomatic self-destruction from not living one’s life properly… mostly out of not knowing how to interrupt the habitual thinking and feeling loops we’ve developed. Thus we wind up stuffing our feelings and suppressing our pain with self-sabotaging addictions and wind up prematurely killing ourselves in very preventable ways.
Here’s a list of the top risks to our longevity:
In order, they’re:
- high blood pressure,
- high cholesterol,
- low fruit and vegetable intake,
- physical inactivity,
- drug abuse,
- and then murder, the first on the list that is not self-inflicted.
(British National Health Service statistics)
Placebo thinking is not positive thinking.
Consider positive thinking as the psychological version of plastic surgery. It simply masks flaws and imperfections without really facing them, embracing them, healing them, loving them. We can feel better temporarily, but true happiness has to come from within.
Consciously reframing one’s thinking is what works.
Reframing whatever is happening in our lives (especially anything uncomfortable and contrary to our desires) to imagine it is a placebo having a powerful positive effect on us and our ability to heal and thrive. When failure becomes inspiration to improve and try again or fear becomes reframed as excitement announcing we’re about to grow and learn, all the bad habits and addictions we use to hide from our pain; our stress, emotional wounds, traumas and fears that are killing us – slowly but surely are replaced by the expansions listed above!
Clearly, if we’re going to live out our dreams and become longevinauts, we need effective tools that can interrupt the thought and feeling loops that cause us to stress out and self-sabotage. We need practices to remind us to reframe our ingrained habits. And we need effective expansion techniques to minimize the contracting effects of aging so we can stay flexible and resilient into our nineties (and beyond?).
These tools and techniques are in PleasureStretch. Doing it creates a most powerful Placebo Effect. Signing up for a free sample session is the first step…
Want your new years resolutions to actually be ideas that make a difference this year? Give this “go even deeper” process a try.
The government says I’m old enough to retire but SSI ignores my personas that are overdue for retirement. Like my “likable guy,” that came alive after my mom’s sudden death when I was eleven. It became how I manipulated people to get (the illusion of) love. It became so good it charmed our way onto TV, into business leadership, even political position, but along the way it also proved too needy, passive-aggressively abandoned two marriages and blocked many an opportunity for real closeness. It was never real and should have long ago been retired.
Another part still in play is the spoiled only-child who pretends to play well with others, but totally resents anyone telling him what to do. He’s chased away allies by insisting on getting his way. This part has got to retire. There’s an amazing legacy opportunity on my plate for 2017 and I’ll need all the help I can get to manifest its potential. Please visit the “prickly little boy” exhibit when you’re at the museum.
So if those two represent what not to do in the coming year. Who, beside the Great Mystery, should join me in the cockpit in 2017?
I’m bringing a Breathing Control Officer on board – not to co-pilot, but to take the controls. I’ve pretended to be a yogi for 50 years now. It’s time to commit to constantly, consciously breathing as my KEY life management tool! If you don’t see my eyes trying to roll up into my head, slap me awake because I’m stuck in Thinkaholism again.
As much as I’ve tried to avoid it – what’s true is that breath is at the root of life. Weak unconscious breathing allows those parts of me that should be in the museum back into my life. When I am breathing badly and stressed, I flail and fail to be my best self. Starting now I will end the chaos by breathing consciously, slowly and deeply enough to be able to regulate my energy down when stressed or confused soI can feel at peace and, I can instantly energize and empower myself when in doubt, danger, feeling weak or tired.
I’m also adding a mechanic to the team. Promoting to officer status that part of me that respects “zen and the art of life maintenance.” It’s the part that likes to get its hands dirty and patiently figure out how to do something that’s not intuitive, easy and about words. It’s the part that wants to actually understand the plot instead of just bullshitting a good story. It’s role is to see details and doing as spiritual matters so I stop thinking of them as chores to avoid. A powerful, patient mechanic will be vital to that legacy project and to my new life with the wife as a handyman farmer on a 10+ acre hobby farm in Eastern Canada.
This essay arose from one of my coaches challenging me to answer the question “What changes do you need to make in your life in 2017?”… adding that no matter what I think is the answer, no matter how I define myself, what label I think fits, I can go deeper – beyond all labels, easy answers and any stories that fit my cultural or personal history. I imagine the deepest jewel of this inquiry is still waiting to be revealed as the breathing and sacred doing work their magic…
I invite you to take a deep dive like this into a more meaning-full way of making your resolutions for 2017. I’m blessed if I’m able to help you do it…
by Jan Hutchins.
Everyone is beginning to realize stress kills. I created an exercise system, PleasureStretch to save lives and prolong pleasurable living. During almost 40 years of teaching yoga and giving massage, I’ve noticed the negative effects of the technology boom on the bodies in Silicon Valley. I’ve seen an increase of tightness, clenched jaws, furrowed brows, people walking with their heads down and imagine these are indications of striving to the point of becoming imbalanced.
It brings to mind Thoreau:
The masses lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go to the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under the games and amusements of humankind. There is no play in them…
Jane Fonda’s exhortation “no pain, no gain” to intensify effort to the point of pain in order to get the body shape you want, turns out to have been both financially successful for video sales and, a symptom of her anorexic illness.
Striving, the seeking of something outside this moment turns out to produce chemicals in the brain that diminish the pleasure produced by the activity. Holding the very same goal, but savoring the process required to move toward the goal, in other words, actually feeling joy, accomplishment and satisfaction in the doing of it, produces brain chemicals that increase the pleasure. You pick.
Feel bad now, “No Pain, No Gain” and set up an addictive pattern of increasing dissatisfaction chasing carrots and getting beaten with sticks… Or… feel good now savoring the process separate from the goal and appreciating the miracle of this moment and experience joy and fulfillment.
Both ways achieve results, one full of the stress that kills, the other like PleasureStretch is blessed with bliss that leads to longevity and inner peace.
I spent years as a celebrity amusing myself at rubber chicken functions (and literally getting a feel for the room) by giving a shoulder and neck massage to anyone interested at my table, then enjoying being called over to other tables until it was time for me to speak.
I thus avoided the small talk, provided much needed healing and had meaningful encounters.
I’ve done healing touch during most of my 20 plus years of teaching yoga classes and have been amazed by how much tension the average person is carrying. I think the reason we’re so held, tight and tense is because we deposit so much of our thinking and fear into it.
Give yourself a chance to feel the tensions you’re carrying within you right now. Take a few long, slow, deep exhales and consciously sigh each time. Let go of whatever and whoever you THINK you are and notice who and what the thing you call your body actually wants and needs. See if you can hear your heartbeat or better yet, hear the sound of the blood pumping through your body. Once you’ve stopped, even for a moment, all the hiding from your deeper emotions or when you stop seeking perfection and driving your body so hard, see if from that more peaceful place you can feel which is your wisest body part!?
Now go here to learn more…
Looking at the reasons people do and don’t exercise reveals some wonderful opportunities to satisfy our needs or those of our clients by modeling and teaching lifestyle rather than exercise. Most fitness, yoga or other somatic educators would say the body is wise and should be listened to, yet many of us make the mistake of using our own prejudices and selling something (to self or other) rather than dealing with what our bodies are actually requesting.
Studying fitness and wellness for more than 45 years and teaching yoga for the past 20 years showed just how much our cultural insecurity has produced an out of balance urge (trying) to reach some goal, as if, THEN I’ll be happy.
The lean, flexible, powerful body or amazing yoga pose shown in some magazine or on display somewhere in the place you train is the result of lots of commitment and immediately accessible to only the genetically blessed.
Yet so intense is our fear of not being enough (especially for men), that if the cue is, “This is an advanced posture or shape.”, ready or not, almost every person tries to do it. That’s how bodybuilding becomes a cult of chemical warfare and power yoga injures and re-traumatizes those who came to feel better about them selves.
Teacher insecurity is at work here. Having heard and been praised for teaching a class that “kicked our butts” many fall into our western tendency toward self-alienated and wind up teaching “trying” and seeking.
What if we developed exercise concepts and practices that are more about actual lifestyle than something we do in a special place with special equipment and movements? Other than potentially costing us money… 😉
I believe the system I’m working with has 23 characteristics that address the things blocking many of us from exercising.
- The number one reason is “I don’t have the time.” Lifestyle based exercises like PleasureStretch don’t take time since you can do them anytime and all the time throughout your day.
The PleasureStretch System is about constantly lengthening the body, connecting along the lines of fascia, R.E.A.L. breathing (Relaxed, Extension, Abdominal, Lengthening), and can/should be done nearly every breath of your day. A constant full-body massage it also produces the feeling of living as a dance.
- Another major reason for not exercising is that it’s too painful. Can we create something that doesn’t have to hurt to be effective? Yes! The whole PleasureStretch System is set up to learn to listen to your body and maximize it’s pleasure. There is gain through pain, but not much.
by Jan Hutchins.
Ever do the body wisdom experiment of clenching your fist as tightly as you can for a minute? Try it now if you like, but I warn you it hurts. Just 60 seconds of trying as hard as you can leaves the hand nearly locked in the fist position. Prying it open and releasing the tense fist is harder than you could have imagined. This experiment makes a powerful point.
It’s painfully tiring and ineffective to try so hard. The muscles clench, quickly lose efficiency and lock-up in ways that rob you of flexibility. In PleasureStretch we learn what yogis know, that ease and letting go produce graceful action. Yogis wind up hardly sweating as they do amazing things with their bodies while the fit athlete taught to “try hard” becomes a sweaty, tired mess attempting something similar.
World-class athletes in all disciplines understand that too much effort does not produce better results. They learn how to maximize performance by relaxing as they give 100 percent effort. This is, in part, why The PleasureStretch system gets such amazing results with the LooseBody way to exercise. Your body will perform better if you don’t add anxiety. In fact, your entire life will work better if you don’t add anxiety.
Philosophically, trying is anxiety. It implies you need to do more than enough. The great basketball coaching legend John Wooden told his players to “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” The Zen definition of anxiety is “wanting things to be other than they are” and that’s the way many of us are taught to live our lives. If they change or he, she or it changes, THEN you can be happy. If you only had that job or that mate or that amount of money, THEN you’d be happy. It turns out it’s not true. Until something in you changes, as soon as you get the thing, the same inner sense of not being or having enough complains that it’s not satisfied, and then, angry and frustrated you’re off seeking happiness by trying to get the next thing to change.
You cannot become happy. You can only be happy now. You can only act in this moment in ways that reflect your willingness to change your circumstances to meet your vision, and here’s the trick, allow yourself to experience the happy feeling you think will come in the future, right now. For example, you want the good feeling of being healthy and vital, then allow the good feeling of being healthy and vital experienced after each PleasureStretch patterning session convince you it’s just a matter of time before it happens, and let yourself be happy NOW.
During PleasureStretch the body is repeatedly asked to stretch with 100 percent effort AND breathe beyond the limits of the mind AND use all the body’s contacts with the floor to create awareness and connection AND (all at the same time) stay aware of relaxing the neck and spine so they are as long and free as possible! The resulting effect is physical, emotional, mental and sensual balance! Before long this thrilling experience will become a way of life, changing your experience from living like a clenched fist to enjoying the ability to produce satisfying bursts of pleasure, energy and the experience of happiness throughout your day!