Welcome to August of 2008. It is beautiful outside but if you have time to read this blog, you will find a fascinating interview with Ulises Calatayud Catano. I met him last year when he was teaching at his Bikram Yoga studio in Mexico City.
In addition, I will explain a bit more about being mindful in the interview process, plus some new research on storytelling in the brain, and how people who have found positive paths for personal transformation overcome ordinary reactions that life is not fair.
The human conditioned reflex unchecked can lead to vengeance by those who feel they have been cheated by life. Now economists are providing us with factual research on this tendency shaped over thousands of years to bind families and groups together. Psychology and anthropology have long gathered data on who is vulnerable, and how and when vengeance occurs. We know that people who suffer can be transformed in a positive way or they can seek revenge.
Considering the human condition it is gratifying to hear how at least a few people are able to demonstrate personal paths of transformation that serves both as inspirations and guides. I wonder is there something different about the relationship system of those who overcome obstacles well, which tips the balance in favor of a positive outcome?
The Mindful Compass promotes a focus on four points: one’s vision and actions, the resistance to one’s important decision, how people use system ideas to overcome obstacles and the personal fortitude to stand alone. As you listen to people’s life stories you will usually hear at least three of the four points. However please note that people rarely talk about the time they spend alone figuring out what he or she is going to do NOW.
Clearly the vision we have for our life can change when there are disruptions in the relationships system. The most serious threat is the loss of close family members. No one wants this but of course loss comes to us all. On the positive side painful events are cited as the major source of personal transformation. Shifts in the relationship system usually require us to change and adapt.
Hopefully by listening to these interviews you the reader will be enchanted and find a broader understand of self and of life. This can happen just by being open and reflecting on the lives of others.
One down side to listening to others is the tendency to judge. Even in reading a fiction story, I can find a small part of my brain moving into what others should or could have done. Being mindful of the automatic tendency to judge is not for sissies. When I am interviewing people I have to suspend judgment and create an open environment to discover how another person thinks. It is a discipline to be thinking, listening understanding and exploring.
It is safe to say that none of us completely understand ourselves, much less others. The way our brain is constructed we must always be discovering what is out there based on what we “know.” Our stories are always being produced and simply represent where we re now.
New research sheds light on how stories have been shown to activate parts of the brain that enables social learning. Story telling reveals clues about “our evolutionary history and the roots of emotion and empathy in the mind.” Finally people accept ideas when presented in story form than when they are resented in a one, two, three didactic style. In addition many, who have had the courage to be interviewed, tell me afterwards that he or she learned something profound from hearing their own story.
Each interview begins by asking questions opening up unexpected twists and turns. Often it only takes one question. Questions can lead the way but the interviewer also has to be a self in relationships and stay in the moment.
For thousands of years people have followed the path of increasing knowledge thorough questions. The credit often goes to Socrates and Confucius for establishing these traditional ways of provoking through questions. Interviews are different. The very good interview is all about allowing the other space by being present.
It is funny how people often do not reveal the best part of their story until the end of the interview. What can account for such a process? It is clear this is the process in psychotherapy and in interviews. It’s like a dance. Perhaps it is like the tango where people mix in a few facts and a bit of objectivity to create deep meaning in the dancing. Of course there are missteps but when the flow happens there is also magic.
Readers have to figure out the dance and if it is interesting they will find the diamonds in the mind field. The Mindful Compass may help readers keep a look out for the four important directions of the story.
These stories are stories are given as gifts, no strings attached. There is a Hebrew phrase, Tikkun Olam which translates to mean –“the repair of the world.” We repair the world by beginning with self and moving towards understanding our impact on others and the world around us. Telling our story is one way each of us can participate with others in transforming our world through listening and being.
In the following interview with Ulises Calatayud Catano we hear and see a profound transformation. I hope you will enjoy his story as much as I have.
AMS – As you know I have been a student of Bikram yoga for six years now. I had encouraged Maria to find a studio where she too could discover the physical and mental benefits of this practice. I know it has given me a tremendous advantage in terms of the mind body integration. I was so pleased you opened this studio. Now I can learn and relax here in Mexico. Did you open it a year ago?
UC – We opened almost a year ago.
AMS – I was very struck when Maria brought me to your studio. I was impressed with your calm and thoughtful energy. Also, the people working here are very positive and encouraging. Therefore, I assume you must be a good leader, since the leader sets the tone for the system. I wanted to interview you to find out how you came to be doing this work. What were the influences on you?
UC – Yes, it is interesting how it happens, and how life prepares you. Your purpose changes and defining yourself can be limiting.
Now I realize that everything is the way it is supposed to be. I can see many things that prepared me for this moment. I can recall these events. There is something that makes your life vibrate. I do not like to talk about your purpose in life. But I think it is important and that your path changes all the time. Once you define yourself by your job, you have limited yourself.
There are many things that I recall about my family’s influence on me. When I was four or five my grandmother practiced yoga and her teacher turned out to be Bikram’s brother. She used to take me to the fellowship where I would also pick up ides about yoga.
I grew up in Mexico. My family was living near the border with the US. My dad was working in the oil fields near Reynosa. When I was 6 or 7 we moved to Mexico City. Later I went to the university here. Then after school I got a job with Reuters.
I have an older brother and two younger sisters. My brother lived in Paris and he has just moved back to Mexico. The sister next to me lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The youngest one lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
AMS- Your parents remained in Mexico City?
UC- Yes. My father left his body the day after I graduated from Bikram Yoga as a teacher. My mom is still alive. She is 72.
My Dad was an engineer. He wanted us to go to college. I studied electrical engineering, as did my brother.
AMS – Were you doing Yoga on the side?
UC – There were two things that I learned young. One was to relax my body. My mom learned how to breathe in order to have a natural childbirth. I was one of the first of my generation to use natural childbirth. If I went to the dentist my mom would always say relax, breathe in, breathe out. I grew up as more of an intellectual and did well in math and science. But I always thought, breathe in and breathe out.
My family went to the Gold Coast where my father’s family lived. Most of my mom’s family was in Mexico City. One time I heard a hypnotherapist give a speech. I am not sure why I was there by myself, but this man was saying you could use hypnosis instead of anesthesia. I volunteered and went to the stage and he laid me on my back and he hypnotized me. After that he told me that I could do this and use it to study. You try to let all the tension go. And if you ever hurt yourself just let the pain go. You imagine you have a towel and roll it up and let it absorb all the pain and then take it away.
A few days later I hurt my leg and tried it and it worked. I never told anyone, I just did it. I would relax myself and let the pain go away. So early on I saw the power of the mind to heal.
AMS -How did you use it in school?
UC- I never had any problems in school. After I graduated I moved to New Zealand and ended up staying there for three years.
I had already met my beloved wife. Alexjandra. She was 16 and I was 19. She attended the university and we went on vacation. We did not get married for a long time. We meet in 1981.
AMS – So you are friends for life.
UC – Then she got pregnant and our son was born in 1988. Ulysses was his name, like my name.
UC – Yes.
AMS- The book that tells of his journey, was the first book in all of literature in which the word “I” was used.
Leadership emerges because of the “I”.
Dr. Bowen, when he wrote his last chapter, an Epilogue, called it the Odyssey. This was the title of his last chapter in the book, Family Evaluation: An Approach Based on Bowen Theory by
Michael E. Kerr and Murray Bowen
UC – I recall how when I was young and there were no other students with this name, so teachers remembered me.
My mother’s brothers also had this name. My mom was one of nine children. She was the third girl. There were five girls first and then five boys.
I am the third one of my cousins with this name.
My brother ws named after my father. My Dad said to my mom, People in the family are naming the kids after your grandfather. Let’s call our son Ulysses. Now there are four of my cousins with this name.
After my son was born, we moved to Sydney. I was working for Reuters at the time. I stayed with them for 15 years in sales and marketing. I loved the job because it involved traveling and it was great to be able to create things. I had a very successful career.
After our marriage we moved to Australia. Alexjandra got pregnant again and we had our second son Eric.
AMS- Was he named after Eric the Red?
UC – Yes! In 1992 I was transferred from Sydney to Melbourne. Eric was six weeks old when Ulysses, his older brother, contracted meningitis and left his body. He was four.
You asked what made the transition and my son’s death was that transition point.
Doctors don’t know how you get this. You can have it and it does no harm but if it travels to the brain it’s deadly. He said my ear hurts one night and then by 5 in the morning he was in a coma. The doctors said there was nothing that could be done.
I went into a total shock. I became a workaholic. My wife was also working very hard. After eight years we returned to Mexico City. At the time I was a distant Catholic. I was a bit like an agnostic. I relate to God but religion didn’t make sense to me. I was more into intellectual things. I had also grown up in a city where you are in touch with injustice.
I am sharing this, because when he died I felt there was no God and I felt this great pain. I would wake up and say “How come I did not die.” I wanted to die. But we had Eric and we had to survive for him. My wife was working for Microsoft. I was traveling a lot in Latin America. I knew we had to spend time to figure out what was going on. I was going to Costa Rica on a trip, so I said to my wife, “we should have a weekend vacation”.
We arrived in Costa Rica and were taking a catamaran to an island and go exploring and swimming.
An older woman attracted my attention. I asked what she was doing here. She said “I am studying Spanish”. She had long white hair to the waist. I couldn’t tell her age at the time. I asked, “Why are you studying Spanish,” and she said “I am on my way back to the university.” I asked what she did and she said she had fourteen professions. “I am an artist, an engineer, a lawyer, etc.” “Which is your favorite?” I asked. She said “Parapsychology”. “What is that?” I asked and she said “It’s about energy and beyond what you can sense.” So I asked her questions for 16 hours.
My wife and I sat together at a table with this woman and talked. Other people were swimming and touring the island. The woman started to tell me about how the world shifted through time. She said that my wife and I had suffered a big separation. We listened very carefully and asked questions. I went into a state of bliss and simply hoped that all this was true.
I wanted to know everything. How did she know all these things? Toward the end I said I needed to know more. She said it was not important. I also wanted to know who she was. I knew she was from Canada. Then she said “All I am here for is to plant a seed. You have something important to do. You do not need to know my phone number or anything. You will find your way, don’t worry.
You will find it out. You don’t need to know me. I have done my job. You will find the people you need.”
The tour was over and we got on the bus. We were going back to San Jose. And then suddenly she got off the bus at a stoplight and I remained in this state of bliss.
AMS- The cure for separation anxiety is bliss.
UC- Perhaps! The next two days I found people in an exponential way.
I remained in the corporate world for the next six years and I was very successful. During this time I also became a Reiki master, a sun dancer, and I met Jean Houston. I stayed for 7 days at Jean Houston’s house. I was also practicing yoga. All of this happened in a very natural way.
One day I left the corporate world just like that. I do know how or why all of this happened to change my family and my life, but the more I let go the more amazing things happen.
It has all been very amazing. My path seemed to be a series of meditations. It seems that I am a manifestation of these things that go through me.
My desire is that more people can realize who they are and to share what I have received. All I can do is dedicate my life to be a vehicle of the creative spirit.
AMS- Thanks you so much for your time, your great energy and calm enthusiasm.
I will look forward to our next conversation.
Mindful Compass Points Ulises Calatayud Catano
(1) The ability to define a vision: Ulises Catano vision is an evolving one which has deep roots in his family history. We hear of his grandfather who was a well known Mason. Then his grandmother introduces him to the ideas of yoga and breathing early on. He uses his own experience to see wht works and wht does not. Since the ideas of hypnosis worked he incorporates them into his way of managing himself, without trying to sell it to others.
Ulises Catano has an older brother so he is in a sibling position that often allows the individual to seek new ways of contributing to society. His father stressed education and knowledge and that has continued to be an important part of his life. Clearly his vision was impacted by the sudden death of his son.
Often leaders find a vision as an effort to solve very serious issues that originate in the family. Death has been one of the main transitions for those who become leaders and were not born into the oldest leadership position.
His ability to relate well to people and above all to manage his own energy in relationship to people is wht has given him the leadership edge. His successful studio and his standing in the world of yoga and spirituality have all been based on a long standing focus on his vision for himself, his family and society.
(2) The resistance to change in self and in any system: We do not her that there was trauma in his family of origin or even in the past generations. There was not enough time to look at his larger system to see patterns of dealing with change but we can see the personal difficulty he and his wife had in coming to terms with the death of their son.
The decision to live on in order to provide a positive family for his son and later for his daughter seem to have lead him to look for a broader way to get through great difficulty.
Great teachers often teach through the example of this life. This is not an easy thing for anyone to do. No matter how often one tells the story of great personal pain and of overcoming adversity it often takes courage to reveal one’s private life. The good of living life as an example for others is well known.
Ulises Catano has the courage and the foresight to be his best to give freely of his knowledge and experience. He leads those who choose to follow in a more spiritual path to over come adversity and loss by using mind/ body awareness.
(3)The ability to connect and use systems knowledge: Ulises Catano has had a very positive experience in learning new ideas in personal relationships. The first story is of learning from a woman whose name he never knew. This gives us the example of an increase in knowledge without an increase in dependency on any person.
Gaining knowledge without increasing dependency and discipleship is crucial in being a mature leader. It is a very valuable lesson. Many people become disciples and learn only in deeply dependent relationship, constantly looking to the other to tell them the right way to be and what the right thing to do is.
If we had more time there is a great deal more to be gained by understanding his family at deeper levels.
(4)The ability to be separate: Obviously the resolution of problems I his nuclear family was the uppermost priority for Ulises Catano. He had to recognize the habit of becoming a workaholic and increasing the risk to his family by how he was originally dealing with the loss of his son. It is very tricky to be alone to work out ways of being in better contact with the important people in one’s life.
Ulises Catano was able to do this. He used the vacation time to renegotiate with his wife and to understand all that had gone on after the loss of his son or perhsp even before that. There are no more difficult transitions than the death of a child and to figure out wht to do one is better off trying to separate out and reenter relationships at a different level. Threats from the lack of approval or love can be handled far easier if one is more emotionally separate from the system and can think by using higher values and operate on principles. Again this was a very touching story of one mans attempt to do just that.
Ulysses), pronounced /oʊˈdɪsiəs/, was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer‘s epic poem, the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer’s Iliad. King of Ithaca, husband of Penelope, father of Telemachus, and son of Laërtes and Anticlea, Odysseus is renowned for his guile and resourcefulness (known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning) (see mētis, or “cunning intelligence“), and is most famous for the ten eventful years it took him to return home after the Trojan War. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odysseus
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins (theorised to be anywhere from the time of the building of King Solomon’s Temple to the mid-1600s). Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around 5 million, with around 480,000 in England, Scotland and Ireland alone, and over 2,000,000 in the United States. The various forms all share moral and metaphysical ideals, which include, in most cases, a constitutional declaration of belief in a Supreme Being. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemasonry
http://www.reuters.com/ Reuters. for the latest news, business, financial and investing news, including personal finance.
Reiki (ray-key) is a form of energy therapy, that when translated means “spiritually guided life-force energy”. It is a laying-on-of-hands form of energy healing that is believed to have existed thousands of years ago, and was rediscovered by Dr. Mikao Usui approximately 100 years ago. Reiki is provided by a certified practitioner who has been attuned to the Reiki energy. This process is achieved through an attunement by a certified Reiki Master/Teacher.
The Sun Dance was the most spectacular and important religious ceremony of the Plains Indians of 19th-century North America, ordinarily held by each tribe once a year usually at the time of the Summer Solstice.