Saturday, December 29, 2012

Planning Your Route

Setting Positive Intentions to Transition Into 2013

Over the past couple weeks, I have thankfully had more time on my hands. I have been using this time to stay home, be with family, reflect on the intentions I set for 2012, and acknowledge everything that happened and what I'm still working towards. One thing I know for sure is that if we don't take the time to reflect and set our road map for next year, we have no guidance and no way of knowing if we are on track with what we want with our lives. So I wanted to take a few moments to share a little bit of the process I use with you to use to develop your own map.

Intentions Worksheet
First, these ain't no “I want to lose 10 pounds” kind of resolutions. We don't want to put all our attention into what we don't want and focus on the negative. Instead, we are going to focus on more of what we do want. When we fill our lives with the things we do want, there is less room for the negative things we don't want. To do that, it helps to start with taking stock of what we do have. It helps to start with reviewing your intentions from last year, but if you didn't set any, you can review the year month by month with the key events and look for the blessing and the good things that came out of them.

Once you have reviewed your progress and acknowledged your gifts for the year, you are ready to clean your mental state to prepare for next year. Find some time where you can be alone and uninterrupted. Take out a blank sheet of unlined paper or you use the template I created for you and grab a pen or some colored markers or pencils. You will do this in two stages, first looking at the internal then the external. You will ask yourself some questions, then sit quietly, then jot down some intentions.
  1. First, ask yourself, “What kind of person do I want to be?” “What do I want to give to the world?” “What qualities do I want to grow and develop?” “What qualities do I want to have more of next year?”
  2. Now close your eyes and sit quietly for at least 5 minutes and watch your mind. You are not trying answer the questions directly, but just watch what comes up. Don't dwell on any one thought. Just note it and let it go.
  3. In the center of your page or in the center circle if you are using the worksheet, write some words that represents these qualities of you that you want to grow and develop next year. Some of these words may be things that showed up in your silence, some may be words that show up right now as you are writing. Both are fine.
  4. Next, you will look at more external things you want to call in and have more of in your life. Ask yourself, “What do I want more of in my life next year? “What will make life more enjoyable?” “What do I want to spend my time doing?” “Who do I want to spend my time with?” “What will make life more meaningful and fulfilling?”
  5. Again, close your eyes and sit quietly for at least 5 minutes and watch your mind. You are not trying answer the questions directly, but just watch what comes up. Don't dwell on any one thought. Just note it and let it go.
  6. Now, surrounding the center circle containing the things you put on your page earlier, write some words that represent what you want to have more of next year. Again, some of these words may be things that showed up in your silence, some may be words that show up right now as you are writing. Both are fine.
  7. The last step is to connect the dots. We can make movement toward our goals easiest when we take small steps. Too big, and our fear gets the best of us and we don't move at all. So connect the dots with 1-2 small actions you can (and will) take to move toward the things you want more of in your life. If you are not taking the step, it is too big. Make it smaller until you have something you actually can and will do.
  8. When you have it all complete, step back from your page and look at it from a distance. Does this represent what you want for next year? What will it be like when you have it? Is there anything missing? If so, feel free to go back and add a couple things, but don't get to carried away. Keep it simple.
This process can take days or it can take 30 minutes. For me, it is usually a combination of both. I start asking myself the questions days in advance and then sit and do the exercise above at one time. The more time and space you can give yourself to do this the better, but as always, find what works for you.

Once you are done, either put this paper in a place where you can see it daily like your bathroom mirror or refrigerator or you can put it in a special place where you will make a point to revisit it 2-4 times next year. At the very least, now you will have some direction to check back in with next year to see if you are on track with what you want in your life, or you are getting distracted and lost. When you check back in throughout the year, you can simply ask yourself, "Is what I'm doing getting me closer to these guideposts or farther away?"  Redirect and adjust as necessary   Chances are, just by taking the time to do this, it will be like setting your compass bearing and you will end up closer to your target than if you never defined your waypoints to start with.

This process helps you define your map so you know which direction you are heading, but remember, most worthwhile journeys have obstacles, detours, and changes of plans. Most significant changes take time, so it is important to keep your steps small enough to take and acknowledge the progress you are making.

If you use this process, I'd love to hear how it goes for you. Feel free to send me an email with any thoughts, comments, or feedback. Best wishes for an exciting and abundant new year! I hope it is the best year ever!


What do you think? Better yet, what do you feel? What do you experience? Let's continue the conversation! You can find me at or email  Want to meet?  Here's how.

Chuck Hancock, M.Ed, LPC is a National Certified Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, and a Registered Psychotherapist in the state of CO. He has completed comprehensive training in the Hakomi Method of Experiential Psychotherapy, a mindfulness mind-body centered approach. Chuck guides individuals and groups in self-exploration providing them with insight and tools for change. He also incorporates nature as a therapy tool to help shift perspective and inspire new patterns.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finding The Blessing in the Newtown School Shooting Tragedy

My heart is hurting for the children - the children who survived the shooting who were there in the school and all the children and teachers who attend schools everyday who were exposed to this news. My heart is hurting for the parents - the parents who lost their young children, the parents who's children were in the school when it happened, and the all the parents around the world who send their children to school everyday. All of these lives are forever impacted. Rather than focus on the pain of the tragedy, I hope we can focus on the blessing.  And it for those directly impacted, it will take time.

When someone is hurting in isolation, it is easy for us to look away thinking it is not my problem. Unfortunately, that is what has enabled this event and the increase in shootings in recent years. Many people are hurting so much in isolation without the support of community they feel they have no choice but to hurt themselves or others in an attempt to communicate or end their pain. Now many more people are dead or hurting, and there is nobody who has heard this news that is not affected by it. The blessing of this event is that it is a slap in the face reminding us of our interconnectedness. One person's suffering is all of our problem. 

If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
-- An Aboriginal Australian woman - Aboriginal activists group, Queensland

I invite you to really feel into yourself the next time you see someone suffering in even the smallest way. You will feel their pain. Modern neuroscience is even showing how and why we feel it with mirror neurons, but we can still choose to detach with alcohol, drugs, TV, busyness, or simply rationalizing about it. It is easy to disconnect, but this shooting makes it next to impossible to not feel it. Don't disconnect from yourself. Stay present with the suffering you see around you and do something to help. It may be tempting to avoid feeling the grief by taking action too quickly, but avoiding your grief will only prolong it and turn it into fear.

I'm glad to see so many speaking out now on treating "severe" mental illness as a result of this event, but I feel we can't just put the blame on those people with "severe" symptoms.  These are just the people that feel our societal problems the most. They are the canaries in the coal mine. They are the ones being ostracized in the biggest way, but we all feel separate and isolated with nowhere to turn for help in our own small ways, and we can't ignore it any longer.

With this reminder of our interconnectedness, perhaps we can now focus on helping each other. Putting more locks on schools or passing laws about gun control will do absolutely nothing if we continue to ignore each other's suffering. We all have it. Let's not wait until it gets extreme enough to cause any more serious harm. Don't ignore your unhappy coworker, neighbor, cashier, classmate, or stranger. Don't ignore your own unhappiness. Get help. Be help. Get authentically reconnected with the people you see everyday. It's important.   


What do you think? Better yet, what do you feel? What do you experience? Let's continue the conversation! You can find me at or email chuck @  Want to meet?  Here's how.

Chuck Hancock, M.Ed., LPC is a National Certified Counselor and Psychotherapist in the state of CO. He has completed comprehensive training in the Hakomi Method of Experiential Psychotherapy, a mindfulness mind-body centered approach. Chuck guides individuals and groups in self-exploration providing them with insight and tools for change. He also incorporates nature as a therapy tool to help shift perspective and inspire new patterns.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Remedy is the Experience

Here's an article I wrote recently published in the fall edition of the Yoga Connection magazine.

The Remedy is the Experience
And experience is magnified in relationship

Often I hear from people, “What good is it to talk about things?” And I have to agree with that sentiment on some level. Talking about things is a good start. It helps you gain clarity and understanding about whatever it is you are facing, but it often falls short of actually creating any change. It’s the difference between reading a book on self-help and actually doing it, or reading a book on spirituality and actually practicing it.

When we engage with only the mind, we are neglecting a good portion of the rest of our system – like our body, emotions, nervous system, intuition, and what is showing up in our interactions in relationships. In this culture, I feel we have placed a premium on intellectual thought while discounting all other forms of learning and expressing, resulting in our ability to think ourselves in circles rather than actually breaking out of patterns of thought that keep us stuck. To actually change, it takes engaging your entire system possibly starting with intellectual learning, followed by experience combined with awareness to witness ourselves in our experience to fully anchor it in our being.

For example, someone I know well likes to do everything herself. Well, she may not like to, but it is much easier for her to take on super human amounts of work and do it herself rather than ask for help. Do you know anyone like this? We’ve talked about this many times over the years, she is aware of it, but there is some deep seated belief that it does no good to ask for help because it won’t be there anyhow – there’s probably no such thing as help. It’s just a myth. And even if there were, she wouldn’t want to be judged for or inconvenience someone in asking. No amount of talking about this and knowing intellectually where it may have come from has helped. It’s just another thought, competing in her mind with all the other millions of thoughts, why would she believe this one over any other?

Luckily experience came to the rescue. Recently, she was able to have the experience of being supported by multiple people in community, over a period of 10 days. So as quickly as her mind wanted to doubt it, there was another experience proving her mind wrong. Now it is not just a conversation about receiving help, but she has evidence, by many people, over a period of time constantly reinforcing the new possibility that there actually is such a thing as help, and most importantly she knows what it feels like to receive help without judgment. Now it has moved from just another thought in her mind to something that is actually real and tangible in her system because she has experience and she knows what it feels like to receive help.   

As I mentioned above, experience on its own is not enough either. If we are too busy in our head, planning our next move, evaluating, judging, worrying, or regretting, we are missing the experience.  One way to escape from this is through present moment awareness - mindfulness, but even this term is starting to feel heady to me. Instead, just getting into the heart-space of allowing, accepting, celebrating, witnessing and enjoying every moment with playful curiosity without trying to change or judge it allows us me to be more present to our experience.  Yes, that is mindfulness, but it is easier to accomplish when coming from the heart, rather than the mind and engaging with the heart gets us about 14” farther into our body.

In this same week referenced above, we had our kids present, which in the past has caused me to be on edge about what they were doing, how much noise they are making, who they are interrupting and so on. But this time we found the space to allow them to be kids, and so did all the other adults there. This was a huge lesson for me that if we can allow the kids to be fully themselves and do no wrong, what happens when we allow each other and ourselves to be like that too? Now don’t get me wrong, we are not the permissive anything goes parents, there are directions and boundaries for them clearly. The difference being we didn’t treat what they were doing as wrong when we asked them to do something else. It is subtle, but there is a definite felt difference there of allowing their being to be, and appreciating them, then redirecting behavior, rather than telling them they are wrong.

And this was a corrective experience for me: shifting from trying to control to accepting and allowing and experiencing how okay it was. So much of my life I’m worried about if I’m doing things “right” or being “acceptable” which saps my energy. Again, by being a part of a circle of people who allow my kids, and myself to just be, to make mistakes, to say the wrong thing, to look stupid, to be fully human, and still fundamentally okay, I now have that experience, which is worth at least 100,000 positive affirmations, mantras, or the like. It is a corrective experience that starts to override all the countless experiences at work, at school, with parents, and with “friends” where it wasn’t okay to simply be me. And at the same time they give us the gift of acceptance, the same circle of people can also redirect us when we get too far out of bounds just as we do with our kids.

“The next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha will take the form of a community; a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the Earth”.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

On the way home from this trip, I heard a kids joke: “What did the triangle say to the circle? - You’re pointless.”  And that is a good thing! Being supported in an accepting community of people holds so much power, without the sharp points that leave us wounded. 

I hear many people talking about building community these days, but I wonder if we are failing to recognize the community we already have by not fully engaging in it. How well do you know the people you work with, the people in your yoga class, the people you see at the grocery store, your neighbors, and all the others in your life? How much to you allow you to be fully you, honest, open, and vulnerable with others in your life? If we are neglecting the community all around us or holding ourselves back, we are missing out on so much support, so many reflections, so much priceless experience. 

As a sister of mine is fond of saying, “It’s all done with mirrors.” If we are alone, the mirror is colored and distorted by our own thoughts and beliefs. If we are fully engaged in honest open hearted relationship with others, we gain experiences and mirrors to see ourselves more clearly and help us get out of ourselves and actually change.

As we inhabit our body with increasing sensitivity, we learn its unspoken language and patterns, which gives us tremendous freedom to make choices. The practice of cutting thoughts and dispersing negative repetitive patterns can be simplified by attending to the patterns in the body first, before they begin to be spun around in the mind. 

- Jill Satterfield

So let’s seek out experience, actual human experience. Not just living theoretically through books or vicariously through the TV. We have an amazing sensing machine that we don’t always fully inhabit.  Engaging life fully embodied is an entirely different experience! Let’s back into our bodies and all our senses, engage with our breath, and each other fully, deeply, and lovingly to do the best we can and get the most out of our short time here. As Alan Cohen said, “You can be helping many people, but if you are not helping yourself, you have missed the one person you were born to heal.”  And that comes through human experience.


What do you think? Better yet, what do you feel? What do you experience? Let's continue the conversation! You can find me at or email  Want to meet?  Here's how.

Chuck Hancock, M.Ed, LPC is a National Certified Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, and a Registered Psychotherapist in the state of CO. He has completed comprehensive training in the Hakomi Method of Experiential Psychotherapy, a mindfulness mind-body centered approach. Chuck guides individuals and groups in self-exploration providing them with insight and tools for change. He also incorporates nature as a therapy tool to help shift perspective and inspire new patterns.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Relationships and the Trap of Commitment

A case for a new definition of commitment

Here is my latest article on relationships which was published in the spring edition of Yoga Connection magazine.

Last time I wrote about expanding our definition of relationship to look at our relationship with everyone and everything. Through doing this and creating true intimacy in our relationships with ourselves, others, and everything - we are more able to clearly see ourselves and grow. (If you missed it, you can find it on my website below.)  In this piece, I want to focus now on a single aspect of intimate relationship that can trap us and limit our ability to be healthy and grow: commitment.  And before you turn the page thinking this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t have a partner or think you already have commitment, remember, we have a relationship (and commitment) with everything, so this applies to our jobs, meditation, yoga, fitness, spiritual practice and more.

When I look up commitment in the thesaurus I see it is associated with words like liability, must, need, and ought. Yuck!  In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) it’s well known that if you throw “should” in there too you’ve got the perfect recipe for unrealistic expectations, cognitive distortions, guilt, and plenty of negative self-talk.  Actually, nothing should, ought, or must be any particular way other than what it is. In one of my favorite quotes Virginia Satir says, "Life is not what it's supposed to be. It's what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."  So we want to eliminate words like “should” and “must” from or vocabulary, but does that mean we also throw away commitment?

One way we may view commitment is as a static, permanent obligation. We assume once we commit to a relationship, be it a partnered relationship, a job, or a practice, that it will always be there, as long as we conform to another’s expectations, we will be fine and the relationship will last. This leads to the implicit contract of dependence that many of us have with our partner or employer. When we buy into the illusion of permanence, we have a false sense of comfort and security and our relationship can become dull, lifeless, and confining.   Even good relationships that bring us joy can grow dull and lifeless when we depend on them. And when the relationship goes away, it can leave us struggling to find ground.

The reality is that the relationship will end at some point. We will die, the job will change, our once abled body will not always be, and if we don’t keep working toward intimacy and deeper relationship with our partner or friend it will grow flat and the other person may want to leave. The same is true with the relationship to our jobs, if we don’t show up authentically, speak our truth, and keep growing, it grows stale. It is easy to assume the vows we make and the paper we sign somehow protect us from change and guarantee that our partner will always be there for us. It will end one day, it will not always be there, so why would we just rest on the false sense of security of a paper commitment?  By living with the reality of impermanence, we are able to live more fully co-creating the relationship we want.

Everything about us, within as well as without -our relationships, our thoughts, our feelings- is impermanent, in a constant state of flux. Being aware of this, the mind craves permanency… There is only one fact: impermanence. J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life
It is not the relationship or commitment that is the problem, it is our depending on or clinging to it and the fear of it ending that keeps us from fully expressing ourselves and bringing life to the relationship.  When we are dependent on the other and fear that it will end and we conform to what we think the other wants, we are cutting ourselves off from our life force.  We are selling ourselves short, living in fear and not bringing our full self to the relationship. We are depriving ourselves and our partner of our best. 

But how to you commit to something that is guaranteed to end?  It is actually easier if we remember that we can count on nothing to be there tomorrow, and that is true for everything so we may as well not hold on to false expectations. When remind ourselves that it will end one day, it is a good reminder to bring our best energy to the relationship now. Any commitment not alive in the present moment is based on living in the past or wanting security in the future.

Really, the only thing we can commit to is being fully in relationship right now in each moment, to deepening in our relationship, to growth and understanding and to speaking our truth of the moment, knowing full well we could be wrong or it may change. By committing to be honest with ourselves and honest with the other in relationship, we are able to truly see where we are, we can work with it, and we can grow.  The other part of commitment is being present and being willing to hear our partner’s truth, and be okay when it changes too. 

True commitment helps us to trust and stick it out a little longer; even when our relationship partner’s current truth is a little hard to hear.   With true commitment, we practice unconditional acceptance of ourselves and our partner, for who they are, where they are, right now.  And not having an expectation that we or our partner will do this for us perfectly every day, they are human just like us.

As we grow and change, we are bound to do so in ways that are difficult for our partner. If we have no commitment, most of us find it easier to just leave. So having commitment can help us to feel safer to speak our truth and grow together, knowing your partner will be willing to hear you out and not just bolt out the door. Even those of us that are “happily married” probably have never defined our commitment in these terms, rather we choose to avoid conflict to keep the peace. But the price for this false peace is the deeper connection, love, and growth that is possible in authentic relationship. 

You could have this level of commitment in any relationship. This type of honesty is more likely with a friendship, because the risk is lower if they walk away. If you’ve had any good lifelong friends, you’ve probably been through so many conflicts and deepened in your relationship you don’t need to fear them leaving you because you know you’ve done it before. Speaking your truth can lead to conflict, which when met with commitment to relationship and understanding, can be worked though creating deeper healthier relationship.

When we are committed, we send the message to our self, our job, our friend, our partner that “I’ll be there for you,” which creates safety for us and the other person to be real and honest.   When we feel safe enough to take the risk to speak our truth in that moment, we open ourselves up to really see our beliefs and patterns and then when we see them clearly, we can actually change.   We can improve our relationship with ourself, with our friends, our partners, our job, and with life.

Commitment takes constant renewal and questioning. Why am I doing this?  Is what I’m doing leading me closer to this purpose?  What is my desire?  Commitment made once and depended on like a crutch is a trap and it grows old and stale.  Commitment can only be made in each moment, and when it is approached like this it is alive and fresh and becomes fuel and passion.

“When you truly embrace your human impermanence you connect with the power you have, and influence you have, over the time you have.”   Steve Maraboli

If everything is impermanent, what can we commit to?  Showing up fully in the present moment and giving fully of ourselves, speaking our truth.  Recently I was a participant in a men’s group and in an exercise, I told a man I just met 10 seconds prior I could see his sensitivity and fear. His eyes watered.  It was true for me in the moment, but did I go too far?  I was scared to be that honest with a man I don’t know, but I took the risk to share honestly.  In the next part of the exercise, the receiver was to share the impact it had.  He shared that it felt like a gift, given to him for no real reason. 

Show up fully, and give your truth, give your full self in each moment, and accept yourself and your partner in this truth.  Commitment is a gift to ourself and others in our lives. When we do this our relationship with ourself, others, and our practice will deepen. Commit to yourself and others to show up fully in each moment.  Your full self all you really have to give.  When viewed like this, commitment is not a trap; rather it’s the key to set you free.


What do you think? Better yet, what do you feel? What do you experience? Let's continue the conversation! You can find me at or email  Want to meet?  Here's how.

Chuck Hancock, M.Ed is a National Certified Counselor and a Registered Psychotherapist in the state of CO. He has completed comprehensive training in the Hakomi Method of Experiential Psychotherapy, a mindfulness mind-body centered approach. Chuck guides individuals and groups in self-exploration providing them with insight and tools for change. He also incorporates nature as a therapy tool to help shift perspective and inspire new patterns.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reflections on a Path

This is an adaptation of a presentation I gave for the Larimer Workforce Center.  If you would like me to give a similar presentation to your group, I'd be happy to do so and revise it to make it relevant for your group's purpose, obviously, many more metaphors can be drawn out of this. Better yet, let's go take a hike together and experience it for yourself!

I’m about to tell you a story, but it’s not really my story.  It is your story too.  And it is not really about what you think it is.  Imagine you are setting off on a journey, a path, your particular path.  What is happening as you prepare for your journey?  Are you nervous?  Excited?  Calm? What are you experiencing?

I lock each door of my car one by one, making sure it is secure to protect my wallet, cell phone, and laptop I’m leaving behind.  As I pass through the gate, I stop and set my intention: right now, I’m going to leave the stress and to-do list behind, and just be present with the hill and what it has to show me today. 

As I set off up the mountain, I notice my body still stiff and mind still chewing on things.  I guess my intention doesn't just automatically make itself so.  Oh well.  I’m still carrying my keys because I don’t have any pockets, but I don’t want them. Do I really care about what is in the car anyway? I decide to find a rock to hide them under. Got to remember where I put them on the way down. (Or do I?)  
Now I’m free.  I’m carrying nothing.   Just a pair of Vibram Five Fingers on my feet and some thin layers of clothes.

I pass a group of hikers and I’m breathing hard.  I don’t know how much I really feel like running today. The hill is steep.  I haven’t run trails or hiked much this year, so I’m questioning my sanity for choosing to do this today.  It would be easy to turn around still, I’m quite tempted, but I keep going.

I wind my way up steep and rocky switchbacks.  Carefully placing my feet so don’t hurt my exposed toes.  Breathing harder, I’m approaching a woman with a dog.  I’m concentrating so much on getting oxygen and foot placement that when I look up to see where she is at I stumble and stub my toes.  Ouch!  But as I pass her she says, “Good morning.”  And it is. 

No matter how hard I try to step carefully, every now and then I step on a rock that digs right through these thin soles right into my tender foot.  But it is worth it.  I don’t want to be numb; instead I choose to experience everything around me.

I’ve been numbing for years, but I’ve learned that by keeping myself sensitive to it all, the joy and bliss I feel when things are smooth and soft are so worth the occasional pain when I trip or stumble.  And the risk of being so exposed helps me to be more careful, more aware, more alive!

As I continue picking my steps up the hill, my body and breath are falling into sync. My arms, my torso, my legs, my feet, my lungs, and my mind are all working together now and I’m feeling great!   As I near the top, my lungs are telling me that they can’t keep up, so I compassionately slow my pace to almost a walk to let them replenish my oxygen.  But my limbs continue to move freely, propelling me up the mountain much more efficiently than when I walk.  I have momentum and the help of all the different parts of me working together, which helps when things get tough.

I approach a junction.  I have no plan, no watch, just a couple of free hours with which to explore the landscape.  Yes, the outer landscape, and the inner one too.  I choose the path that will take me up and over the ridge and across the road to the water rather than staying on the same lateral path.  As I make my way over the ridge, and down the hill, I notice the joy that comes as I’m picking up speed going downhill.  It is both scary and fun.  I have to place my feet carefully still, as there are plenty of rocks, and I’m going downhill fast.  Finding all the soft spots for my feet, letting gravity pull me down the hill, it feels so good!.  A huge smile grows on my face. I could trip and fall at any moment, and I come close several times, but I keep going, doing my best to be in partnership with gravity. It all falls into place so perfectly and I’m giddy with joy.  I wonder to myself if trail running on steep rocky terrain isn’t a sure path to instant enlightenment!

As I make my way along the trail near the reservoir, the path is narrow and steep.  One trip or misplaced step and I could tumble a hundred feet down the sheer ridge into the water.  My gaze looks up from time to time to enjoy the full big picture view, but mostly I have to keep focused on where I’m stepping as it changes so fast! The path is mostly smooth, so I keep going, running full speed ahead.  I feel confident that my practice of careful footwork in the rocks will keep me on the trail. 

As I get closer to the inlet, I hear the water lapping up on the shore.  It calls to me. So I take a break from my running to scramble down to the water and sit by the shore.  I sit and practice mindfulness for a while.  Feeling my heart pounding, lungs bellowing, the winds and the dampness caress my skin, the cold rock under my butt, hearing the gentle waves kissing the shore, watching the patterns and colors in the ripples of the water.  My breath and my body become still.  It is a nice contrast to the brisk movement of the rest of my morning – kids, email, driving, running.   But my body starts to chill, so I decide to set off running again.
I make my way back to a junction, and this time I decide to go a different way.  A way I’ve never gone before.  It brings me right back to a junction I was at before.  I didn’t even notice that trail as being a choice when I was there last. 

I keep going and the trail seems to end.  But then I noticed it just changed.  And there was a sign even showing me which way to go!  All it took was to hop a barrier and the surface became smooth and easy.  But today this flat paved road was not my path, so I turned back to look for the way that felt right for me.

Right around the corner could be a nice smooth downhill, a steep rocky one, or a grueling hill.  You never know until you get there, and then you just enjoy the twists, turns, and surprises that are thrown at you.

If I go left, I head back down to the car, but I’ve already been right.  I’m not quite ready to be done yet, so I go right and enjoy the trail again.  Now that my body is more warmed up, I feel even more precise and enjoy the trail even more!  But I don’t know how far I will go.  So I keep running.  Eventually I decided I had experienced enough for today, so I turn around.

As I make my way back to the parking lot, the trail is smooth and fast, but there is one last small uphill stretch right at the end.  “It figures,” I think.  “That is how it always is.”  But I’m not angry about it, I just continue running.  Feeling my lungs, my body, my feet contact the ground.  The really, the trail is sometimes steep uphill, it sometimes levels out, it sometimes is gradually downhill, sometimes it is going down so fast it is scary, sometimes it is flat and boring, sometimes it is smooth and comfortable, sometimes there are lots of rocks and obstacles.  So I just keep running, knowing it will end soon, and I’ve done my best. 

Oh, and what I didn’t mention, is this whole time the path was talking to me.  Saying, “It’s just like life you know, this run you are on. All these things you are struggling with out there, I’m showing you how to deal with them. You are doing it beautifully, right now.  Just keep doing it out there too.”

This particular journey is coming to a close.  We don’t get to take anything physical with us, but you can choose to take with you some new knowledge, insight, belief, or feeling.  What have you gained by reflecting on this journey?  What have you gained by reflecting on your individual journey?  What new thought, idea, or feeling are you taking with you today, that will help you as you set off on your next journey?  What do you want to carry with you on the next segment of your path?

What do you think?  Better yet, what do you feel?  What do you experience?  Let's continue the conversation.  I'd love to hear about your path and how this has impacted you.

Chuck Hancock, M.Ed is a National Certified Counselor and a Registered Psychotherapist in the state of CO.  He has completed comprehensive training in the Hakomi Method of Experiential Psychotherapy, a mindfulness mind-body centered approach. Chuck guides individuals and groups in self-exploration providing them with insight and tools for change. He also incorporates nature as a therapy tool to help shift perspective and inspire new thought patterns.  He can be reached at or