Monday, January 26, 2009

Resistance is a Signal

I was talking with a friend and the subject of resistance came up. I was saying that I didn't know what was "wrong" with me, that I was experiencing resistance to various things without much sense of why, and that maybe some old wound was surfacing that I was just starting to understand. She said, There's nothing wrong with you, you're just sensitive. Your resistance is simply warning you of where you've felt you needed to comply. You're responding to what's "off." Then we talked about how so many of us have unconsciously chosen to buy into reduced self-expression as a way to stay connected in the world, and that this is the OLD way of feeling connection. The new way has to do with resonance — resonating to your core self, which then helps you feel the core self in others. Best to best, not least to least.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Importance of Being Grounded

A friend forwarded me a newsletter, ironically from someone named Grant (see my previous post!). Christina Grant talks about the need for being grounded these days. It's an important thing to be reminded of, as I find myself caught in a WIND of information and mental tasks. Yes, I do them with my body, but when I feel pressured, it's so easy to gloss over the physical pleasure of doing a "real" mundane thing as my mind quickly ticks it off my To-Do List and moves to the next thing. Here are a few of Christina's tips:

"An ungrounded person has a fuzzy energy field. Their energy drifts like a balloon disconnected from a child's hand, a bit lost and forlorn. Just the act of bringing a person into a state of groundedness can shift their entire perception of life from one of negativity to one of hope and optimism.

If you are right now in a state of ungroundedness, you are not in your own power. In other words, the essence you came to this earth with is not fully able to function in your life.

In a state of ungroundedness you can be more easily influenced by others, the life you live might not feel wholly your own, you might experience injuries and accidents, feel anxiety, panic, irritability, foggy thinking, and be a compulsive overeater.

You might have been given many opportunities to learn how to keep yourself grounded in the form of falling. Literally, falling to the ground. Plunk! An unexpected, sudden grounding, followed usually be a swollen ankle, bruised knee, sore behind, or sprained wrist."

Here are some tips Christina gives about how to be grounded:
1. Breathe with awareness
2. Wear earth-colored clothing
3. Sit in nature
4. Watch the sun rise or set
5. Place your feet or hands on the earth
6. Be aware of what is in this moment
7. Visualize yourself rooted into the earth

I love this artist: "Madrone and Manzanita" by Aaron Johnson

Power Writing: Push Past Your "Window of Terror"

I'd like to recommend a wonderful online newsletter, from Daphne Gray-Grant, about copywriting. Her website has some great stuff, and the newsletter is SO refreshing! Each one features a short piece of writing, and before you read it, it says: "Word count this issue: 510 words • Estimated reading time: Just over 2 minutes." Everyone who blogs and markets themselves is a copywriter today, and we need all the help we can get to be less wordy, more succinct, and pertinent. Here's the latest sample from

A Writing Lesson from Richard Nixon

I was in high school when former U.S. president Richard Nixon resigned. I don't remember seeing him give his official TV farewell, but I strongly recall his gravelly voice, his pursed lips and his shuffling gait. I devoured All the President's Men when it was published in 1974 and saw the movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as reporters Woodward and Bernstein when it was released two years later.

This fall, as a kind of middle-aged throwback, I raced to the Nixon/Frost play by British dramatist Peter Morgan, when it appeared in Vancouver. Then, over the Christmas holidays, I dragged my husband to see the movie of the same name starring Frank Langella.

It astonished me how the excellent play was fully supplanted by an outstanding movie. If you have any interest in Nixon or in politics -- or in showmanship acting -- be sure to see it yourself. In the first few minutes, I held a few uncertainties about Langella, but by about the 10th minute, he had me by the throat. The 70-year-old actor, who became moderately famous through Diary of a Mad Housewife and Dracula films has turned into a possible Oscar nominee.

My Langella love-fest subsequently caused my eyes to rest on a blurb about him in this month's Vanity Fair (the one with Tina Fey on the cover). In it, Langella speculates on the reasons for Nixon's downfall, saying intuitively, "he seemed to wear outside his clothes the worst in all our natures -- not only the venal side, where you see the evil, but the frightened, sad, loner side that all of us have, whatever we present to the world."

Langella, who teaches master classes for actors, then went on to add a more personal and even more interesting digression. "When I do master classes," he said, "what I say is: 'Never give in. Try with every fiber of your being to push past your window of terror.'"

This phrase "window of terror" struck me as particularly apt for any creative pursuit — not just acting, but also, writing. After all, who can write without feeling a little knife of fear slice through the heart? Is my writing good enough? Is it interesting enough? Will it appeal to enough readers? If you're a copywriter you may also worry whether your material will actually sell enough stuff to justify your wage.

But the bald fact is that terror should not come with the writing. After all, writing is simply putting words on paper, which is an easy enough job. The reason we're stalked by terror, is because many of us start editing (a harder task) while trying to write. Or, worse, we try to imagine where our work will be published and what others will think of it.

The secret to writing quickly and effectively is to remember that writing is writing. All that other stuff — the editing, the marketing, the worrying — needs to come later.

Keep this rule in mind and you will not suffer the same fate as Richard Nixon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Dog Whisperer: What Your Pet Can Teach You

I LOVE the dog whisperer! I have closely watched what he does with his energy while working with dogs, and he is modeling some of the principles I've been writing about in my new book, FREQUENCY. Working with energy is magical. Thought you might enjoy this article. . .

by Cesar Millan
The most valuable lessons I’ve received have come from animals. Here are some of the ways dogs have helped me become a better, happier, and more-balanced human being.

Live in the moment.
People often wonder how I get such quick results with the dogs I rehabilitate. The answer is simple: Dogs live in the moment. They don’t regret the past or worry about the future. If we can learn to appreciate and focus on what’s happening in the here and now, we’ll experience a richness of living that other members of the animal kingdom enjoy.

Nurture a balanced life.
I tell my clients to follow this simple rule with their dogs: Offer exercise, discipline, and affection every day. Do the same for yourself. We humans are happier if our routines include physical activity, a sense of structure, and the opportunity to give and receive love on a daily basis.

Trust your instincts.
Animals don’t care about words. They recognize that what’s really going on in any interaction is beneath the surface. Many of us have lost touch with this all-important instinctual part of our natures. By paying attention to nonverbal cues such as body language and energy, we can learn more about our friends, our loved ones, and ourselves.

Be direct and consistent in your communication.
Many of my clients only intermittently enforce rules, leaving their pets confused about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Great relationships, no matter the species, begin with clear and consistent communication. This is a lesson we should carry into other areas of our lives—with our family, our friends, and at work. Remember: We teach people how to treat us.

Learn to listen.
Make the time to lend an ear to those you love or those who want to transform their lives. But don’t try to fix their problems, and don’t take their problems personally, either. A great leader is also a great follower and knows that everybody counts.

Don’t hold grudges.
There’s a remarkable lack of conflict in dog packs. That’s because members resolve the situation when disagreements arise, then move on. Imagine what our world would be like if we dealt with our conflicts before they escalated out of control. Holding onto negative feelings tends to make them multiply and prevent us from moving forward.

Live with purpose.
When dogs are bored, they develop issues ranging from anxiety to aggression. But when given a job and a way to contribute to the pack’s well-being, they turn around almost immediately. All animals—including humans—have an inborn need to work for food and water. Ask yourself how you can contribute more to your job, your family, and the world around you. You’ll feel much better about yourself if you earn your food and water, too.

Celebrate every day.
For a dog, every morning is Christmas morning. Every walk is the best walk, every meal is the best meal, every game is the best game. We can learn so much by observing the way our pets rejoice in life’s simplest moments. Take time every day to celebrate the many gifts that are hidden in the ordinary events of your own life.

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Newsletter Out Today!

The new issue of The Intuitive Way eNews of January 15 is out! You can read it at:

If you'd like to sign up, please go to; the newsletter is free and comes twice a month.

Happiness is Viral

I found a little article that started: NETWORK YOUR WAY TO HAPPINESS! It goes on to say, "It's no surprise we are influenced by the moods of those around us. But now, a study shows that people we don't even know can make us happier." The study, from Harvard Medical School and the University of California-San Diego, says you can be six degrees removed from someone and still catch that person's good karma. Happiness can spread, not just from friend to friend, but to friends of friends of friends.

I am just discovering this myself, as was witnessed by me being drawn in to "finding friends" on Facebook today for more hours than I'd care to admit. Somehow, meeting new people and seeing what so many diverse folks are doing in this very moment, around the country and world, is a startling phenomenon. I find it giving me a sense of comfort about the lovely mundaneness and ongoingness of life, of each person being a valuable facet of the whole, of all of us making up some larger consciousness that is perfectly coordinated. I am thrilled when a friend of a friend links with me. I'm expanding my family. What's striking is the odd sense of intimacy that is gained through the very shallowness of the format.

So, here I am, you all! Come link up!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Transformation Design and Design Thinking

In the early 70's I was a design student, and had discovered something called "environmental design"—what I thought was an extra dimension of interior design (my field at the time) that would help people have particular emotional and mental experiences within spaces designed a certain way. Now, I suppose we'd call it feng shui, but I was so excited about the idea then that I scoured the country for colleges where I might study something of this nature. What I found was California Institute of the Arts in LA, a brand new school founded by Walt Disney, and an experimental program called "social design."

I got a scholarship, and off I went! The program was a combination of regular design—industrial, interior, graphic, urban planning, architecture—with the soft sciences like psychology and sociology. We focused our creative minds on redesigning the elevator so people would talk to each other inside, or redesigning the doctor-patient relationship, or the funeral. The hidden benefit was that it taught me a great deal about becoming a professional intuitive—which I had no idea I was preparing to become.

Cut to today, and Daniel Pink's new book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. In an interview with Oprah, he says, "In many professions, what used to matter most were abilities associated with the left side of the brain: linear, sequential, spreadsheet kind of faculties. Those still matter, but they're not enough. What's important now are the characteristics of the brain's right hemisphere: artistry, empathy, inventiveness, big-picture thinking. These skills have become first among equals in a whole range of business fields." The whole interview is quite interesting, and validates all the work we intuitives have been doing, trying to mainstream intuition into business and government.

After reading the interview I remembered that I had been fascinated with the work being done by IDEO, by David and Tom Kelley, and Tim Brown. They call their innovative process "design thinking," "business design," or "transformation design." In an interview in Fast Company, Brown says (I've edited a few snippets together. . .), "In order to do a better job of developing, communicating, and pursuing a strategy, you need to learn to think like a designer. Unfortunately, many people continue to think of design in very narrow terms. Industrial products and graphics are outcomes of the design process, but they do not begin to describe the boundaries of design's playing field. Software is engineered, but it is also designed—someone must come up with the concept of what it is going to do. Logistics systems, the Internet, organizations, and yes, even strategy—all of these are tangible outcomes of design thinking.

"Regardless of whether your goal is to innovate around a product, service, or business opportunity, you get good insights by having an observant and empathetic view of the world. You can't just stand in your own shoes; you've got to be able to stand in the shoes of others. Empathy allows you to have original insights about the world. It also enables you to build better teams."

So here we are—here I am—thirty some years later, back full circle to "Social Design"! And I am still fascinated with the application of intuitive, holistic perception to innovation—an endeavor whose time has come—again—as Obama prepares to tackle the most serious problems we've had in hundreds of years. And we can all be part of the solution. We've got to get our innovation muscles going, though, and that means challenging the staus quo. I remember one of my design professors assigning us the task of designing a chair. He said, "And do you know what your first question should be? You should ask: Why a chair?

You'll find me writing about innovation alot this year, as it feels like the big new thing. I also welcome any links to articles or resources you might find in your surfing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Penney and Her New Book on Youtube

There are now 2 little videos on youtube, where I talk briefly about the content of my new book, FREQUENCY: THE POWER OF PERSONAL VIBRATION. I think you're really going to like it — it's like an advanced Intuitive Way, and it takes the material from The Secret and the Law of Attraction much further. . . It will be available February 3 but you can order it on amazon now. Oh, and by the way, Rev. Michael Beckwith wrote the most amazing forward for the book!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Project Search for Hope

One of my friends and colleagues, Pam Coronado, is a "psychic detective" who uses her intuition to help find missing persons and discover what happened to them. She co-starred in a TV series on The Discovery Channel last year, called Sensing Murder. Recently she wrote about her newest project.

"I thought I might share what I've been up to over the past few months, as something I'm very excited about will be brought to life this year. I am co-founding a nonprofit missing person's foundation called Project Search for Hope. We are assembling a great team of intuitives and detectives who will do active searches for missing persons.

It was a question formed by a TV producer that sparked the idea. . . The question was: Why aren't more missing persons found? "If I could have everything I needed to bring more success into the field of missing persons, what would it be"? he asked. It took less than 3 seconds for the answer to zoom in and hit me upside the head. BECAUSE NO ONE IS REALLY LOOKING (unless it's a high profile case, of course). Unless you are on the front lines in this field, that may seem like a crazy statement. Unfortunately, it's true. Most cases I get called in for involve one lone, dedicated detective who's out searching on his or her own time, or a family who is out searching by themselves.

Interestingly, my detective partner came to the same conclusion at the same time on the other side of the continent. I have long felt that intuitive work needs to produce tangible, undisputable results in order to get the rest of the world to pay attention."

I'm happy to put out the word about her new foundation, so people who really need the help can find it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Can We Make This a Year Devoted to Empathy?

Study Examines Empathy During Psychotherapy
Chicago Tribune - March 07, 2007
CHICAGO - They're special, those moments of close connection when you become attuned to another person's mood, and it seems you can sense what he or she feels.

This "we're on the same wavelength" phenomenon is known as empathy, part of the emotional glue that helps bind people together. Now it's being studied with the tools of modern science, sophisticated neuro-imaging scans and physiological tests that track how people's brains and bodies respond during social encounters. The still-young field of scientific inquiry is called social neuroscience, and it's beginning to demonstrate that empathy has biological underpinnings as well as emotional dimensions.

The latest research comes from Boston, where Massachusetts General Hospital researcher Dr. Carl Marci has been examining empathy in the context of psychotherapy. His research appeared last month in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. The study is the first to try to measure how patients and psychologists react to each other during a therapy session and how empathy plays out between them.

The major finding validates the depth of connection that can occur: The more in tune patients and therapists appeared to be emotionally, the more closely their physiological responses mirrored each other. "In other words, when we feel connected to someone, it's because we actually are experiencing something similar," said Marci, who worked with collaborators in New York City and New Hampshire. "Fundamentally, we're social beings, and our brains are wired to connect."

The physiological measurement used in the study was "skin conductivity," a sensitive indicator of arousal in the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. Researchers obtained readings by attaching electrodes to patients' and therapists' fingers and recording their responses to imperceptible electrical currents. Some 20 patient/therapist pairs were studied during a session averaging 45 minutes. All the patients had a diagnosis of depression or anxiety and had worked with the therapists for some time.

This part of the study showed significant "concordance," or similarity, between patients' and therapists' level of arousal about 50 percent of the time. That was highly significant and not due to chance alone, the researchers said. After the session, researchers asked patients to rate the degree of empathy demonstrated by their therapists, using a standardized questionnaire. The higher the level of perceived empathy, the higher the congruence in the pair's physical responses, researchers discovered.

In the last part of the study, two trained observers watched videotaped segments of therapy sessions when pairs were most and least closely aligned, according to physiological data. The purpose was to identify moments of apparent empathy by observing social and emotional interactions. This analysis showed that patients and therapists were, indeed, having more positive interactions when their skin conductivity measurements were most similar.

That comes as no surprise to Anne Alonson, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who directs the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies at Massachusetts General. "Everyone knows that emotions locate themselves in the body. What we're finding is, it's not just one person's body: People can join each other in feeling," she said. Alonson gave the example of a recent session with a man who appeared quite downhearted but seemed not to know it. "He's talking, and I'm realizing that I'm beginning to feel really sad so I say, 'I have a sense of sadness in myself, and I wonder if you feel it too.' At which point, he started to cry."

This kind of empathetic connection is fundamental to the therapeutic process, said Dr. Deborah Spitz, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago. "In working with someone, you need to know where they are, emotionally, in order to be able to help them," she explained. "You have to be able to meet them, and empathy helps you do that."

"I'm not at all surprised that is something we experience in our bodies as well as our brains," Spitz said. Indeed, human brains appear hard-wired to "perceive and share others' feelings," according to Jean Decety, a professor of psychology who joined the University of Chicago's faculty last year. Decety was quoted in a University of Chicago Magazine interview describing his groundbreaking neuro-imaging studies, which demonstrate that brain networks processing personal pain also light up when another person's pain is recognized. That's compelling evidence of a biologically grounded emotional overlap between self and other, experts suggest.

There are limitations to the new research out of Massachusetts General. The sample size is small, and there were no controls. Patients' perceptions of empathy could be influenced by their underlying mental conditions and treatment status. Still, Dr. K. Luan Phan, director of the brain imaging and emotions laboratory at the University of Chicago, believes the finding "that you can get a biological marker for a therapeutic relationship" is "very important and very exciting."

Photo of Penney and "Ollie," a friend's 6-month old dachshund puppy.