Archive by Author

Dec 14

Starting January 4, 2010 I’m going to be teaching a Monday evening (7:15-8:45pm) Kundalini Yoga class in the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) area of Vancouver –specifically at the Personal Best Fitness Therapy facility that is located at 731 W 16th Avenue, Vancouver, between Willow and Heather.

Kundalini Yoga, sometimes referred to as the “mother of all yogas”, is a holistic practice that incorporates dynamic exercises, some posture work (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama), relaxation, meditation and yogic philosophy. The class is open to everyone and exercises can be modified to match your fitness level.

For more information please visit my Kundalini Yoga Classes page and feel free to contact me with any questions you have.

Nov 15

Elephant TrunkThe following poem was written by a 19th centry American poet by the name of John Godfrey Saxe. It recounts the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant that has been told by Sufis, Jainists, Buddhists and Hindus over the years.

As the title implies, the poem tells the story of six blind men who went to see an elephant, “though all of them were blind”. Each man touches a different part of the elephant and comes to his own conclusion. For example, one touches the side of an elephant and decides the elephant is like a wall and another feels its mighty tusk and likens the elephant to a spear.

As humans we have a tendency to define our own realities based on our education, cultural background and experience combined with input from our five senses. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of believing we know the truth, when all we can ever hope to grasp at an intellectual level is an aspect of the truth. If we approach life solely from a perspective of intellectual understanding we’re inherently limiting ourselves and inviting inner and outer conflict.

I have always had a fascination with science and technology. I went through a period in my life where I sought to understand the world and tended to dismiss anything that couldn’t be scientifically proven. It was when I engaged in practices such as yoga and reiki that I started to open myself to an experiential world that transcends the intellect. It was a major breakthrough for me to be willing to engage in an and accept an experience for what it was – without the need to understand it scientifically. In the words of Albert Einstein:

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

Another perspective on these teachings was summed up very succinctly by a coach who led one of my leadership training programs:

To be happy you have to give up being right.

Imagine what the world would be like if everyone, or even a sizeable percentage of the population adopted this philosophy. There would be harmony in relationships and wars over cultural ideologies and religious dogma would be a thing of the past. Instead we would open ourselves up to the realities seen through others’ eyes and maybe one day even catch a glimpse of the entire elephant.

Without further ado here’s the poem:

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he,
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

MORAL

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

– John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

Nov 05

ChainsBaby elephants living in captivity are often secured using a chain. Elephants like to roam around by nature, and the young elephant instinctively tugs and pulls at the chain in an attempt to gain its freedom. Eventually the small elephant grows tired and concedes defeat – it’s not yet strong enough to free itself from its shackles.

What’s interesting is that the same chain can be used to restrain the elephant even after it reaches its full size. At this point the elephant is strong enough to snap the chain and maybe even uproot the tree it’s attached to, but the powerful animal doesn’t even attempt an escape. It remembers its futile efforts in the past and believes it’s incapable of breaking free.

As humans we all define our own limitations, often in very subtle ways. Something happens in our life, usually during our formative adolescent years, and we make a decision about ourselves and the nature of life. These patterns become so engrained that they become part of our reality. It is only by realizing that these patterns exist that we can consciously choose to break free of our own self-created shackles.

Seeing our own patterns is not always easy as they become part of our identity. Even after coming face to face with our self-fabricated limitations, letting go of patterns that hold us back is often confronting to our ego. The tendency is to take the path of least resistance and accept the status quo. The cost is that our freedom, self expression and potential for happiness and fulfilment remains limited.

I’ve identified many of my own patterns over the years. In many cases the patterns are still there, but I’ve become more practiced at recognizing them and more adept at breaking free. I have been practicing meditation for many years and have found this ancient practice to be a valuable tool for bringing unconscious thought patterns into my conscious mind. I have also found coaching to be an effective tool in this realm. Working both one-on-one with a coach and in group contexts I’ve been able to identify many of my own “saboteurs” and have been called forth to set them aside and experience my own potential.

I invite you to expose your own self-limiting beliefs…and experience the exhilaration of boldly breaking free!

Aug 07

Fountain in Zen Garden MauiThe Getting Things Done® methodology, commonly abbreviated as GTD®, was created by renowned coach and author, David Allen who went on to form the highly successful David Allen Company.

David Allen asserts that our minds are a great place to create thoughts, but a lousy place to store them. The GTD methodology involves taking all the “stuff” that’s stored in our minds, which often commands our attention at inopportune times, such as when we’re trying to sleep, and putting it all into a trusted system. Ultimately this creates what David Allen describes as a “mind like water” mental state where there’s literally nothing on our mind. This is a highly creative space – one that allows us to be productive without feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

I have tried using traditional task management approaches over the years and always found that my to-do lists quickly got out of control and even contributed to my feelings of overwhelm rather than helping me maintain a sense of control. In my experience, the GTD methodology is much better suited to our modern world where we tend to have a lot of demands on our time and attention and a vast amount of information to deal with. It provides a structured, but not too structured, approach to managing all of the actions that ultimately move us forward towards our dreams and in the process helps bring clarity to both short-term and long-term aspirations.

I first put GTD through its paces when I was going through cancer treatments last year. Having this methodology at my disposal had such a profoundly positive impact that I wrote an account of my journey and sent it to the David Allen Company. I received a very positive response and my article was published on their blog. David Allen will also be interviewing me in the near future as part of the In Conversation series.

If you’re interested in learning more about GTD, a good first step is to pick up a copy of David Allen’s inaugural Gettings Things Done book, which is available through Amazon.ca and at most bookstores. There are also many resources on-line, such as GTD Times and GTD Connect, that provide a wealth of information, including real world examples of how people are “Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life”, as David Allen puts it.

I will also continue to report on more of my own experiences with GTD through this blog and frequently share this methodology with clients through my work as a coach, consultant and workshop leader. Stay tuned!

Aug 07

Tim Stringer in MauiOne of the exercises during my coaching training with the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) was to identify something that I couldn’t be with and then create opportunities to come face to face with this thing that I try to avoid at all costs. The idea is that, as a coach, we need to be able to be with those things that make us most uncomfortable in order to create a space where our clients can do the same.

We went around the circle and each person received some coaching from the group and course leaders to help them get crystal clear on that one thing they really couldn’t be with. Once identified, that most scary thing was written on a name tag that we wore for the rest of the day as we were challenged and called forth by the rest of the group. Sounds like fun, eh?

My name tag read “Uncertainty”. I discovered that I liked having assurance about how things were going to go in life and not knowing was a source of stress. It was quite a relief to take off my “Uncertainty” name tag at the end of the day. Little did I know that this lesson was far from complete.

Several months later I started to develop pain in my lower back and chest, which came and went in an unpredictable way. I saw four different doctors on five different occasions, but none seemed very certain about the cause of my grief. I had a number of sessions with a chiropractor who though that a spinal adjustment would help, but the pain continued to worsen and the uncertainty around my health continued to grow.

Eventually the pain got so intense that my wife, Christa took me into the emergency room of our local hospital. Despite having two teams of talented doctors assigned to my case the prognosis was far from clear – one was confident that it was a kidney stone and another mentioned the possibility of cancer. Many days and countless tests later it became increasingly evident that cancer was the source of my pain. Though, it wasn’t clear what kind of cancer it was and there was no sign of a tumour, which didn’t help. Eventually the doctors got to a point where they were reasonably certain they had an accurate diagnosis and recommended that I begin chemotherapy immediately so that the cancer didn’t have a chance to spread further.

The uncertainty continued. I didn’t know for sure if this was the right course of treatment, if I’d respond to the chemo and if I’d require surgery once the treatments were finished. There were even fleeting moments when I wondered if I’d live to see Christmas. Fortunately the year ended on a very positive note. After four intensive rounds of chemo and a major surgery I was given the gift of a clean bill of health, just in time for Christmas.

Through the process, I discovered that I could face major uncertainties in my life and live to tell the tale. Not knowing exactly how things were going to go created a state where I was very present and granted me a new appreciation for the gift of my life and for all the love that surrounds me. When faced with all this uncertainty my priorities in life became crystal clear – it’s amazing how certainty is born out of a state of uncertainty. But, I guess that’s how life works. Light can’t exist unless there’s darkness to be illuminated.

I welcomed in 2009 brimming with enthusiasm and gratitude. I still like having some certainty in my life, which must mean I’m human. At the same time I’ve come to see uncertainty as a gift. Deepak Chopra talks about uncertainty as the seed of creativity and ultimately it’s not knowing how things are going to go that makes life’s journey such a magical one. Uncertainty creates a space where anything is possible. I’m learning to trust myself and my intuition when the path ahead isn’t clear and know that whatever shows up there are always opportunities to learn and grow.

If you find you’re struggling when it comes to uncertainties in your life I invite you to try on a different perspective. Celebrate life’s uncertainty. Take it as a reminder that each moment in life is a sacred gift and bow to the teacher in all things.

Originally posted on CoachingLife.ca on February 4, 2009.

Jul 04

ride-to-conquer-cancer-media-coverageOne of my motivations for participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer was to serve as an inspiration to others who are going through cancer treatments and to demonstrate that it is possible to not only survive, but thrive after coming face-to-face with cancer.

To help share my message with the largest possible audience I contacted media sources before setting out on my 262 km cycling trip from Vancouver to Seattle. The Friday before I left on my journey I had a phone interview with CBC, a portion of which was included in a story entitled Hundreds ride to conquer cancer that appeared on their website the next day.

CTV News also captured my triumphant arrival at the University of Washington, a moment I’ll never forget. Moments after disembarking from my bike my wife Christa and I were interviewed by Perry Solkowski. A portion of this interview was included in the Sunday evening CTV News broadcast. The news story can be viewed on a special Ride to Conquer Cancer page on CTV’s website. It’s the second link under the video player.

I welcome any other opportunities to share my story and am available to be interviewed and to write articles on a variety of topics:

  • Integrative Healing :: I attribute my healing to a combination of Western and Eastern treatments and practices and believe in the power of combining multiple approaches to healing. I was fortunate to have convenient access to InspireHealth, the only integrative cancer care centre of its kind in Canada and to have a wife who’s a talented holistic healer.
  • The Power of the Mind :: I have been practising and teaching yoga and meditation for 15 years and practising martial arts (Shotokan Karate) for 20 years and the mental discipline that I developed through these practices allowed me to maintain an overall positive outlook on life, even on my darkest days.
  • Life Coaching and Healing :: I worked with a life coach, Joni Mar throughout my treatment process to create a future in spite of my circumstances (i.e. being sick with cancer). Having ambitions and dreams gave me a strong motivation to live and helped carry me through the process. Working with a life coach also gave me an opportunity to learn the valuable lessons that going through a major life experience such as this provides. I have developed a workshop called It’s About Time, that launched in Vancouver on May 30, based on these experiences.

Please forward my contact information along to anyone in the media who may be interested. I also look forward to presenting each of these areas in more detail in future blog posts and to sharing the many lessons that I’ve learned through my bout with cancer.

Jul 04
A couple of weekends ago I was one of 1701 people who participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 260 km cycling trip from Surrey to Seattle to raise funds for the BC Cancer Federation. Crossing the finish line marked a profound personal victory. Last year at this time I was in so much pain that I could barely walk a block. In July I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatments and a major surgery in the months that followed. I can remember wondering if Iʼd live to see 2009.
Just before Christmas I received the best present I could have asked for, a clean bill of health. I started training for the ride in January, motivated to give back to the medical system that had helped save my life and inspired to be a living example that cancer is something that can be overcome.
I attribute my own healing to more than just medicine. I received an outpouring of love, prayers and support from family and friends near and far and included Eastern approaches, including hours of Reiki from my beautiful wife Christa, in my healing regime. I also worked with my life coach, Joni throughout the experience to create an inspiring future in spite of my circumstances.
Today I feel a newfound gratitude for my life and for all the wonderful people with whom Iʼm privileged to share my human journey. One person in particular who was on my mind and in my heart as I rode was Dan Northcott. He was diagnosed with Leukaemia around the same time I received my diagnosis and passed away at age 29, minutes after I set out on my bike Saturday morning. Through his spirit and courage he demonstrated what it means to live life fully and, inspired by the example he set, Iʼm committed to a life that is fulfilling and of service to others.

Ride to Conquer Cancer - VictoryA couple of weekends ago I was one of 1701 people who participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 260 km cycling trip from Surrey to Seattle to raise funds for the BC Cancer Federation. Crossing the finish line marked a profound personal victory. Last year at this time I was in so much pain that I could barely walk a block. In July I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatments and a major surgery in the months that followed. I can remember wondering if Iʼd live to see 2009.

Just before Christmas I received the best present I could have asked for, a clean bill of health. I started training for the ride in January, motivated to give back to the medical system that had helped save my life and inspired to be a living example that cancer is something that can be overcome.

I attribute my own healing to more than just medicine. I received an outpouring of love, prayers and support from family and friends near and far and included Eastern approaches, including hours of Reiki from my beautiful wife Christa, in my healing regime. I also worked with my life coach, Joni throughout the experience to create an inspiring future in spite of my circumstances.

Today I feel a newfound gratitude for my life and for all the wonderful people with whom Iʼm privileged to share my human journey. One person in particular who was on my mind and in my heart as I rode was Dan Northcott. He was diagnosed with Leukaemia around the same time I received my diagnosis and passed away at age 29, minutes after I set out on my bike Saturday morning. Through his spirit and courage he demonstrated what it means to live life fully and, inspired by the example he set, Iʼm committed to a life that is fulfilling and of service to others.

Jul 03

I’m excited to be launching my new website, timstringer.com. This website ties together my personal and professional lives – which are in many ways deeply intertwined – and will provide me with a forum for both showcasing the talents that I offer professionally and for sharing information and inspiration stemming from my many interests and pursuits in life.

I’ll keep this first post short as it’s almost time for “date night” with my beautiful wife Christa. I look forward to sharing more soon, including some stories and photos from the Ride to Conquer Cancer that I participated in a couple of weekends back.

Stay tuned!