Don’t Take a Deep Breath

Most people who receive my newsletter care a lot about their health.  And typically we think of good health as being mostly about eating right and getting sufficient exercise. 

And while “shoulding” on ourselves for not exercising more is close to the universal self-judgment, we can go a lifetime without exercising– though it may be shorter and feel considerably less vital.

People obsess most about what food they’re eating, or shouldn’t be eating, but humans can go 30 days or more without food at all.

A more complete approach to healthfulness also includes sleep and hydration habits.  However–curiously, considering we can only go 10 days without sleep and 4 days without water—attention to proper hydration and sleep are typically farther down our good health priority list then diet and exercise.

Remarkably, most people put ZERO attention on the most important element of their health: oxygen. 

Humans can live for only 3-4 minutes without oxygen, yet very few people put conscious attention on their relationship with this most vital of all elements to life.

Lucas Roy Lehman

The typical resting breath pattern of a modern human is shallow and fairly rapid, with the inhalation primarily into the upper areas of the lungs.  Stress, anxiety, and depression only exacerbate this pattern, and while exercise is good for working the lungs, it takes conscious attention to breathe into the mid and lower lung areas to maximize lung capacity and oxygenation of the blood.

So, while the notion of pausing to take a deep breath is always a good idea to de-stress and bring yourself to greater presence, an even better idea would be to give a complete exhale first!  Because if you don’t fully exhale all the carbon dioxide from your lower lungs, there’s no room for you to really take a deep inhale of fresh oxygen.

Try this: Take a moment here to notice how you’re normally breathing.  Notice particularly how much exhale there is still left when you typically begin to inhale.  And now, on your next breath, exhale more, even more, maybe even squeezing your belly a little bit to get the last of the old breath out.  Maybe even pause for a second at the bottom of the outbreath.  Then slowly and evenly breathe into your lower belly before filling your upper lungs.  Now pause again for a moment at the top of the in-breath, noticing what it’s like to really feel the fullness of your lungs.

Do that three times and notice if maybe the light seems a little brighter, or your brain feels a little clearer, or your body feels a little more energized.

That’s oxygenation. 

So from now on, don’t ever take a deep breath…until you give a complete exhale first.

— Lucas

Is Anyone Else Feeling Like a Prisoner?

Back in April, when the pandemic and Shelter-in-Place was first upon us, a friend of mine said he felt like a prisoner.

Having spent eight years leading trainings in a maximum security prison, I reminded my friend—not without compassion for his frustration—that he still had the freedom to take a walk on the beach, order takeout from his favorite restaurant, and make love to his wife whenever he wanted.  Without too much smugness, I hope, I suggested that he could focus on what he didn’t have and couldn’t do (increasing his suffering) or he could focus his energy toward gratitude for all the freedom and abundance he did have.

Six months later, and after 7 weeks stuck inside because of all the smoke from California wildfires, I admit, I’m starting to feel like I’m a prisoner.  A prisoner of the Covid-19 pandemic; a prisoner of accelerating climate change and worsening wildfires; a prisoner of the toxic political atmosphere; and a prisoner of the hopelessness of my current perspective.

Here in Santa Cruz, living just outside the evacuation zone, I am grateful that my house didn’t burn down, and my heart aches for all my friends and acquaintances who were not so fortunate.  Lots of people have it much worse than I do, facing economic uncertainty, homelessness, and racial injustice on top of all that I’m struggling with.

Nevertheless, carrying my personal prisoner metaphor a little farther, I feel like I’ve got about 30 days until my parole hearing — AKA the election. And while I feel somewhat hopeful that things will go my way and I will be released in January, at the moment I feel powerless and afraid. 

Ironically, after writing that last line, the heaviness that paralyzed me for this entire day has mostly lifted.  (Clearly this speaks to the power of journal writing and coming present to create the conditions for transformation!)

And with that lighter perspective, I find myself contemplating a different metaphor, that of a monk in a monastery.  Like the monk, I am free to leave, but here I am, choosing to stay inside in my “cell” to avoid smoke, choosing to wear a mask when I go out in public, like a monk who chooses self-sacrifice for a purpose greater than himself.

The opportunity (dare I say, necessity?) in this crisis is to embrace my inner monk and commit even more fully to the cultivation of my connection to spirit, to my meditation and breath practices, to reaching out with love to my people however that remains possible, to cultivating my feelings of universal oneness in the face of separation and fear. 

This too shall pass.

Today, I invite you to watch my short video on how to expand your energy body to bring more possibility, joy and ease.

What Should You Do When You Don’t Know What to Do?

These are uncertain times, with disruptions and upheavals in all aspects of our personal, financial, social, economic, medical, political, and climate realities.  We fear how long this uncertainty will continue, and worry how bad it’s going to get before it gets better.  We’re anxious to know how soon our will lives go back to normal, and we fear what the new normal will be like when all the dust settles.

There are lots of highly paid talking heads bloviating 24/7, but nobody says anything that placates our anxiety.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  These are unprecedented times, and nobody really knows anything.  The stock market is up for “this reason” today, and then the stock market is down tomorrow for the same reason. 

The only thing that’s certain is uncertainty.  They only thing we know  is, “This too shall pass.”

The sages say there is opportunity in crisis.  And we are definitely a world in crisis, but what is the opportunity? 

Wise aphorisms aside, crises are scary, and when I’m anxious and afraid, my body experiences an increase in adrenaline and cortisol that urges me to “DO SOMETHING!” so I can get back to safety.

But what should I do when I don’t know what to do?  What can I do when the illusion of safety only exists in an unknown future?

Since I was a young boy, I’ve enjoyed playing chess.  And the secret to winning at chess is not so much about making great moves.  It’s  about not making bad moves, which happens when you move too quickly, or don’t see the whole board because of tunnel vision–both of which are biological impacts of adrenaline and cortisol!

Yeah, but what should I DO when I don’t know what to DO?

There’s a grove of ancient redwood trees near my house that I often visit when I’m feeling anxious.  For hundreds of years they’ve been turning carbon dioxide into oxygen, and growing slowly toward the sun.  They’ve weathered thunderstorms, drought, fire, insects.  When I listen for the wisdom they’ve gained through the ages they inevitably tell me: “If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything.”

Hmmm.  So then, what should I do when I don’t know what to do?  Expand my field of vision and my capacity for patience, until I do know what to do. 

And how do I do that? 

Diving deeper into my daily meditation practice. 

If you don’t have a daily meditation practice, this is your opportunity in the crisis.  A mere two minutes per day is all it takes to start and make a noticeable difference.  And I can tell you from experience with my clients, those who don’t have a daily meditation practice get left in the dust by those that do.

I’ve been practicing meditation and breathwork for 35 years, and I’ve done and tried just about every method under the incense.  I’ve distilled what I’ve learned into a practice that’s simple, easy, and guaranteed to change your life.  I call it “Tuning to the Key of Me.”

Click here to receive a free download.

  If you have any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear it! Until next time, keep washing your hands, and keep turning oxygen into carbon dioxide underneath your mask!

Why Setting Goals (MOSTLY) Doesn’t Work

It’s February, the time of year when folks who made New Years’ resolutions begin to lose their New Years’ resolve.  After only a month, those not-so-unreasonable goals– to lose 25 pounds, learn to play guitar, or double your sales from last year–have once again fallen by the wayside, deepening disappointment and reaffirming unconscious voices that whisper “Why even try?  Why even set goals?”

Indeed, why even try to set goals, when trying leads to failure, which makes you feel like an even bigger failure than if you hadn’t tried at all.   Fortunately, this time you didn’t tell anyone about your goal, so at least you don’t have to endure that embarrassment and shame.

The problem with goals, the way most people set them and live into them, is that they put the focus on “success” as being a specific end result.  Which means that every day that they have not reached their goal, they’re living in the painful gap of judging where they are versus where they should be.

We judge ourselves by things we can measure, and we often measure the wrong things in the wrong ways, and we can easily get demoralized.  Life is hard; change requires additional effort; and self-judgment on top of that is the straw that makes the camel lay down and give up.

The key to achieving your goals is shifting the focus from the destination of success to the journey of succeeding; from the focus of measurement of specific results, to the focus on follow-through of processes of succeeding.

You can’t control how many pounds you lose this week (the typical measurement of dieting success) but you can control (and celebrate) the succeeding of reducing your wine consumption, or eliminating bread.  And the continued succeeding in a sustainable process will boost self-esteem and make it easier to continue sustainably, and ultimately lose weight.

Another example of the power of reframing the measure of success is the story of a massage therapist who was struggling to make her rent, and needed to drum up some clients fast.  I suggested that she reach out to 10 previous clients and offer them a special package.  Her fear of rejection put her in paralysis around that idea.  “What if I call 10 people and they all say no?  Then I’ll be even more scared and depressed because I’ll feel like a complete failure!” 

Now, while she couldn’t control the ultimate outcome of her efforts, she could control her definition of succeeding, so I challenged her to see how quickly she could get 10 people to say, “No.”  And that would be the measure of succeeding. 

I wasn’t too surprised when she reported back that he it took her 12 calls to succeed in my challenge because she got 2 “yeses” along the way.

So, what do you really want to accomplish in 2020?

What would it be worth to your life if you accomplished that goal?  What’s the value of powerful and creative reframing that supports you in reaching your goal? 

That’s the value of coaching with me.

How will it boost to your motivation when you have a place to regularly celebrate the process of succeeding? 

That’s the value of coaching with me.

As always, I offer a complimentary breakthrough coaching session for anyone who thinks they might be ready to live into their dreams; that is, create powerful, actual change and finally accomplish your goals. 

This is your year.  Say yes to yourself and send me an email and we’ll set up a time to talk. lucas@lucasroylehman.com

I’ve got the good cancer!

Many of my close friends and family are currently battling cancer.  Leukemia, lung cancer, breast cancer, melanoma.  On a daily basis they deal with terrible  discomfort and fatigue, invasive procedures, and many, many, many trips to oncologists, testing centers, specialists, and hospitals for surgeries.  The fear and heaviness of it all ripples out across families and communities.

Over the past 3 months I’ve gone through a little of that.  I’ve had a number of blood labs and doctor visits, and last week I had my first CT scan.

But the great news is: I have the good cancer.  Although Micosis Fungoides is described as a type of lymphoma, it is quite slow in its development.  And even though we determined that I’ve had it for over ten years, UCSF Dermatology this week confirmed that mine has not spread beyond my skin, and is responding incredibly well to light therapy.  As treatments go, it’s about as pleasant as you could hope for: 5 minutes 3 times a week I stand naked in a special tanning booth at my dermatologist’s office, a mere ten minutes from my home in Santa Cruz.  And after three months of treatment, the visible signs of my disease are retreating, and living in my own skin feels better than it has in years.

This will be the story for the rest of my life.  Perhaps reducing or stopping the light therapy as my skin responds, and then likely resuming light therapy when and if the skin markers return.  Periodic testing to confirm that the cancer has not spread.

And it’s the good cancer for another reason: There’s nothing like a C-word death scare to make me appreciate my life.  More than ever I am grateful for all the love in my life, for my family and friends, for meaningful work, and the blessing to live in a beautiful home in my favorite city in the world. 

I’ve also gotten even clearer on my priorities, values, and choices regarding how I spend my time, and as I mentioned in my last newsletter, I’ve been inspired to be even bolder and more vulnerable in my signature talk.

In that regard, I’ve been invited to join the Fresh Inspiration Tour, and this Thursday, February 21st at 7pm, three powerful speakers/authors and I will be delivering our message at The Hivery in Mill Valley.  Please click here for more information and tickets.

I hope to see you there!

Highs and Lows and Highs

The day after my book launch—Amazon #1 bestseller thanks to you all!—I found out that I had an obscure form of skin cancer.  The good news is that it’s a very slow growing kind of cancer, but the bad news is that I’ve had it for over ten years!  In the immediate term it seems to be responding well to light therapy, and I’m looking forward to heading up to UCSF for more comprehensive testing after the first of the year–which I’m hopeful will indicate that I’m out of the woods and on my way to renewed health.

While getting the C-word diagnosis is always scary, the upside is that I finally have an answer to my long suffering itchiness, and also—ah, mortality!– a significant boost to my ability to savor the present and appreciate the preciousness of each moment. 

You all know that I’m passionate about living life all out, taking risks and going after my dreams (and sometimes falling on my face in the process).  But the auspicious timing of my book launch and the cancer diagnosis made me realize that one place where I had been playing it safe was in my business, particularly my basic speaker presentation. 

When speaking in the past, I had always been torn between what I wanted to share with my audiences (an experience of transformation) and what I felt I was supposed to do (focus on the sales I wanted to get by creating the need for the transformation that I had to offer).  If you just give the thing away, the experts say, there’s no need for people to invest in your services.

Well, just the other day I gave my first talk with my new all in/all out approach—and I played my guitar and got everyone in the room to sing with me! Most importantly, I felt great giving my gift and being in my power.

If you would like to give the gift of being in your power this holiday season, please considered gifting a copy or two of my book 7 Principles of Sex & Money & Power to someone you know!  I’m keeping the special intro pricing of $.99 for Kindle and $7.99 for paperback through the end of the year to make it easy.  Just click on the link below!

Happy Holidays!

Ta da! My Book Launch

After 35 years as a writer—short stories, children’s stories, a novel, a novella, 5 screenplays, 100s of songs and a rock musical—today I celebrate that I am finally a published author!  My new book 7 Principles of Sex & Money & Power is here!

When I began this writing journey as an undergraduate, I knew that most writers didn’t make it until their 40s or 50s.  This made sense to me, as how could one expect to have much wisdom to share without the necessary experiences of living?   And so, along with my big dreams, I had even bigger fears: how I was going to support myself while I collected those experiences…?

It’s been quite a ride from then to now, with many successes and failures, numerous re-inventions, and an ever deepening sense of humility and surrender. 

I’ve distilled some of what I’ve learned from those experiences into my first book. 

For only .99–launch day special!–I’ve made it easy for you to click below to buy your copy now, and share in my celebration.  Please buy it now to help me reach bestseller status.  Thank you so much!

Praise for 7 Principles of Sex & Money & Power and Lucas Roy Lehman
“Lucas’ wide range of experience as a sexuality educator, entrepreneur, artist, and neurotransformational coach provide deep source material for his wisdom and boldness. Don’t read this book unless you’re ready for more Sex and Money and Power!”

―Sage Lavine, #1 Best-Selling Author & CEO: Women Rocking Business

“An insightful and accessible manual that inspires us to become more conscious and alive. In 7 Principles of Sex & Money & Power, Lucas brings his wisdom, authenticity and experience, providing a guide for embracing practices that increase our curiosity and our capacity for authentic change.”

―Rabbi Paula Marcus Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth El



Hope and Change

Having voted in every election for the past 36 years, and having paid close attention to politics my whole life, I can honestly say it seems like more is at stake next week than ever before.  Never in my lifetime has the lust for power brought such levels of mendacity, hypocrisy, and disregard of accepted norms of civility.

Power is addicted to power, and those in power always commit increasing levels of atrocity to hold onto power long after their time has past.  But we’ve been here before, and humanity always perseveres, slowly moving forward.  After all, Marie Antoinette arrogantly said: “Let them eat cake!” not long before she lost her head. 
The vibration of the collective consciousness continues to rise over time, and social progress is an unstoppable force.  The fear and anger and violence on the right is an equal and opposite reaction to the unstoppable forces of social progress coming from the left.  And just as coastal communities in the hurricane belts double down on seawalls and denial as the oceans rise, so too do the old ways of thinking hunker down in resistance to what is and what will be. 
We need to reframe and rename ourselves because we’re not the resistance, they are.  But even as the oceans inevitably rise, the tide still goes in and out, and social progress is an ebb and flow process.  Likewise, destruction must come before renewal, and we’re in the process of exposing the rot at the core of our culture, a painful and necessary prelude to the inevitable rebirth.

The only truth in life is change, and the only guarantee is this too shall pass.  Unfortunately, the change we don’t want often seems to come too fast, and the change we do want comes too slowly.  The extent of our joy or suffering in this lifetime lies in our acceptance or resistance to our experience, and our relationship to change.

Our ability to change the external political power structure is limited, and cultural change takes a long time.  However, your ability to increase your Personal Power– the quality of your personal life and the quality of your personal connections–is only limited by the clarity of your intentions, and the commitment of your attention.
Speaking to the concepts of commitment and the slow pace of change, after 10 years of percolation, in two weeks I will transform into a published author!  I am excited to announce that my new book, 7 Principles of Sex & Money & Power  will be released on November 14th!

The book provides a clear guide to the simple and practical steps you can take to increase your personal power, regardless of external circumstances.  I will email you the link on 11/14 so you can get empowered at a super special release date price (as close to free as I am literally able).

In the meantime, remember to vote next Tuesday!

Lucas

Money and the Fear of Death

I recently got re-certified as a Neurotransformational coach, which is all about the brain science of how you create the changes you want in your life. What has become increasingly clear is that “who” we are being is the key to bringing forth and sustaining positive results.

My brilliant mentors Ann Betz and Ursula Pottinger have identified seven levels of consciousness, a measure of “who” you are being from moment to moment, ranging from the lowest energy to the highest.  They are:

1. Hopelessness

2. Fear

3. Frustration

4. Courage

5. Engagement

6. Innovation

7. Synchronicity

When you are in a state of fear, for example, the part of your brain that is most active is the older, survival oriented, reptilian amygdala, and your nervous system is typically flooded with fight or flight hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.  The constant stress of modern lifestyles plus a 24/7 input of largely negative messages from media keeps you in what we call an amygdala hijack state, and makes it difficult to access the higher creative functioning of the pre-frontal cortex.  (Cavemen didn’t invent the bow and arrow while they were running away from lions.)

Although scary things do happen, for the most part, society functions well enough and 99.9% of us make it through the day just fine.  Though fear can be understood in the context of the acronym, False Expectations Appearing Real, it nevertheless feels real in our bodies.  Our brains, ever the problem solving machines, try to fix the problem.  Your brain reasons, if you are feeling afraid, then what you need is safety, right?  And in our capitalistic-based reality, more money theoretically equals more safety. 

If you are reading this, you surely have a roof over your head, food in the refrigerator, and your safety and survival is not in danger.  Which isn’t to say you wouldn’t enjoy having more money and what it can buy, but you certainly don’t need it, not in a way that would justify the level of anxiety most people (including myself) regularly feel around money. And getting more money only assuages the anxiety temporarily.  This regularly happens for me when I get a new client, and I relax for a day or two, only to feel the drumbeat of fear getting louder with each day that passes that I don’t get another new client.

I have come to believe that my fear around money is largely my reptile brain’s way of trying to make me safe, and solve the unsolvable problem of my fear of death, since more money equals more safety.  So we spend our lives on the hamster wheel running faster and faster and never getting any closer to solving the problem (which is in fact, unsolvable).  In fact, having more money often creates even more anxiety around what it takes to keep it—and stay safe! And we waste our lives living in fear, and making less effective decisions from our reptilian brain, rather than our creative brain.

What do we do about our fear of death, then?  That’s real, right?

My spiritual practice aside, which tells me that I am an eternal being that is part of the never dying “all that is,” what’s real is that my body is going to die, and my body is afraid to die.

What’s needed is to release the fear from my body so that I can access higher brain states and focus on other things besides trying to solve the unsolvable.  I do this by naming it, feeling it, and accepting it.

I accept that I am afraid to die.  When I honor that fear today in my mind, I can release it today, because my mind knows I’m not going to die today.   (Of course, tomorrow will bring a new today to accept my fear of death all over again).

And if I’m not going to die today, and I release the fear that I am going to die today, then, from that place, who do I want to be today?  How do I want to live my life today?  What do I want to create today?

Those are great questions to bring to coaching.

Valentine’s Day…Fake News?

I love flowers. I frequently buy them for myself, and often give them as gifts.

But not on Valentine’s Day.

I mean, what a phenomenal rip-off on a fake Hallmark holiday, right?

One Valentine’s Day I did submit to buying roses for a girlfriend (she had sent me an email link, a not so subtle hint that she wanted roses delivered to her at work so all her corporate co-workers could see she had a boyfriend) but that night at home she expressed disappointment at the meager arrangement my $75 investment provided.

Crash commercialism as a measure of devotion aside, I do love the potential of a day promoting the conscious cultivation and expression of love.

But Lucas, isn’t every day a day to cultivate and express love?

Absolutely. 

And we also benefit from a reminder to step it up and put some appreciative words on a card now and then.  Grow more love in our lives by fertilizing the love that’s already there. 

Now where I’m certain we would all benefit from a little more love fertilizer is in our expression of appreciation for ourselves. 

And if it sounds silly to even think of giving yourself a Valentine’s Day card written with at least three things you appreciate about yourself, I doubly challenge you to do it… and notice what you feel.

Here is an example to help you craft a love letter to yourself!

Dear Lucas,

One thing I appreciate about you is your sense of humor.

One thing I love about you is your commitment to eating well.

One thing I am proud of is your ability to surrender to the transformational power of vulnerability.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love,

Lucas

Today, I invite you to take a few minutes and try this exercise of appreciation for yourself.  You can only receive as much love from others as you are able to receive from yourself, so love yourself up and expand your receiving capacity!

Lucas

PS: Check out my recent podcast interview {video} with Krista Inochovsky about love and relationships.