Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Music, Math, and Mindfulness: Author Jacqueline Henrion Discusses Her Upcoming Book “Counting on Yourself: A Woman's Way to Wholistic Wealth” with Kirpal Gordon



Kirpal Gordon: Taking Giant Steps blog has interviewed many inspiring authors but Counting on Yourself: A Woman's Way to Wholistic Wealth is the first to celebrate female empowerment strategies with an eye/ear to poetry and song as well as mathematics. How has your background in music-making and lyric-writing contributed to this non-fiction project? Sounds like a giant step!


Jacqueline Henrion: Indeed! I see creating this book and sharing this knowledge with others as a giant step in my own personal development. I grew up in New York City's Greenwich Village in the golden age of songwriting. Having started piano and music theory at six at Greenwich House Music School and journeyed through guitar and songs as political poetry, and even attending the High School of Music and Art. I have the sensation that music shaped my brain to be open to math and patterns. This patterning gave me a leg up when I started to write my own songs as a performer. Ultimately, it has led me to developing certain patterns of success. I hope that these perspectives provide deep channels of self-knowledge for my three grand-daughters –– and all women.


It's entirely appropriate that this interview about my book premiers on the Giant Steps blog. When I listen to Coltrane's classic of the same name, I feel the fast-changing harmonic forms, built around thirds and fourths, the 3 against 4 rhythmic patterns, and the melodic progression tightly knit to the same minor thirds and second intervals. When I watch the rare videos of Coltrane "giving a lesson," I can see that his approach went from a sensory sound experience to an expressive physical motion of hands on a piano. It's almost like he couldn't articulate it verbally. To write it down in sheet music betrays the reduction to both key and tempo. He says, "It sounds (or feels) like this." He seems to say that improvisation through his singular filter of mind is the art itself.


If I were to look down at Counting on Yourself: A Woman's Way to Wholistic Wealth as a harmonic structure, I can see the parallels with Coltrane's internal sensing. The key to a successful and satisfying life is more like improvisation. Like individual creative art. It's more important to listen and understand the "voice" inside of you that filters and informs your choices. Then, as an adult, you learn the rules and conventions of living (or playing music). Personal growth is a continuous cycle of listening and creating. A feedback loop of information and energy. This book describes a proven method of creating a more accurate and intimate loop for yourself. A real way to build integrity and skillful confidence.


Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, NYC

Kirpal Gordon: So how is the book organized?


Jacqueline Henrion: There are three parts. The first is the harmonic landscape. It's about "Six Beliefs for Stress Relief." You and I know, as students of Buddhism and wisdom arts, that suffering is a universal experience. But I've distilled a set of beliefs to help people better navigate by larger patterns that provide a more graceful ease. Less suffering. The first belief is a starting point for every decision or choice in our life. I've used it actively for the last thirteen years, but then realized that it had been an intuitive guide much earlier in my life. It's based on Dr. Daniel Siegel's definition of "Mind" in his study of advanced meditators and their capabilities, in order to apply it to his therapeutic practice. He says, "The mind is a process of regulating information and energy, that is emergent, self-organizing, embodied, and intrapersonal."


By identifying it as a process, he avoids the age-old intellectual vortex about whether the mind is a material thing or a celestial abstract notion, as recent articles about "Universal Consciousness" propose. If Minding is a process, we can focus on how we can improve our process. Right off the bat, he understands that the process is emergent. In other words, there is no definitive sheet music. How we think, and what we do, emerges from the confluence of millions of variables both genetic and environmental in this very moment of ever-changing conditions. The argument of nature vs. nurture isn't valuable, because minding is a moving interplay of that dialectic. An infinitely variable improvisation!


Jacqueline Henrion, Hudson River

Kirpal Gordon: Just like the multi-genre American musical tradition. And this leads into the next section?


Jacqueline Henrion: Yes, in the second part of the book I introduce the concept of "Financial Selfie." I hijacked a culturally recognizable activity (the selfie) and drew from my corporate experience of a business form called a Balance Sheet. But I also considered the principles I learned from meditation, yoga, and mindfulness studies. A new way of thinking about Assets emerged. I simplified Assets into five classes. Each class requires a different mindset. By taking an inventory of our Assets, we establish a baseline of our stored energy. By taking this Selfie at the same time each year, we have direct feedback information about our choices. This way we learn which Assets allow us to be more fluid, and which add up to "stuck" energy. In addition, I added an asset class called "Mind Money," which I expand in the book's third section.


Kirpal Gordon: I appreciate the poetic consonance when you talk about Mind Money Magic. Can you say more about that magic?


Jacqueline Henrion: In the third section, I explain and demonstrate how the concept of Mind Money is Modern Magic. Like any sleight of hand, Mind Money is an alchemy of thinking that transforms money we burn into money we earn. One simple example is, let's say you've paid $100 to attend a seminar on computer programming. In a conventional sense, you spend the money and it's gone, and you hope that you learn something. But if you record that same $100 in the "Knowledge" MM$ category, you have turned it into a Mind Money Asset that stays with you the rest of your life. Recording it encourages you to reflect on the value of that asset class in your life. Knowledge expands your opportunities. Counting that as an asset reflects a valuable growth trajectory. By writing these down, and recording the value, you have increased your skill of "Minding."


As you can see then, if we spend actual money for acquisition, we record that as a MM$ asset. For example, what you spent for Naropa tuition would become part of your baseline inventory under Knowledge MM$. If we just record a GEMPICKS item in the Mind Money journal without expenditure, it still earns” the minimum default value of MM$10. So even a simple recording of gratitude for a parents teaching, or a partners making breakfast earns MM$10. A mere one gratitude per day results in MM$3,650 per year. In MM$ you might already be a millionaire. 


The power of using a journal is that it manifests and places a value on the immaterial. Businesses use journal entries and a Balance Sheet item called "Good Will," a recognized financial asset for non-money value. Like the magician's sleight of hand. In a way, you create something from thin air. It's a pure example of the power of consciousness to affect reality. By recording Mind Money, you are recognizing it's value in your life.


Recording the asset in a Mind Money Journal also has a two-way effect. We both observe reality and create it. You will always have a record that you can refer to. I use a spread sheet, but it can be done with a manual list. If you can make a shopping list, you can make a Mind Money Journal. It's even better than the way writers learn to journal their thoughts and observations to retrieve ideas for later projects. By recording Mind Money (MM$) in any of the eight categories, you will capture useful information about how you mature and learn about yourself. In this way, you fulfill the most ancient advice in wisdom, "Know Thyself."


Kirpal Gordon: What are the eight categories?


Jacqueline Henrion: The Mind Money categories can be remembered by using the acronym GEMPICKS: Gratitude, Experiences, Mentors, Physical, Insights, Community, Knowledge, and Skills. Recording the time you spend with Mentors, for example, can have enormous benefits in your life. Some obvious advantages are learning new skills as well as being introduced to other people in the mentor's network.


A recent famous illustration is US Open Tennis Champion, Coco Gauff's relationship with one of her Mentors, Tennis legend Billie Jean King. Obviously, King provided some valuable tips about how to navigate the sport. But King also did something truly life changing. She advocated and succeeded in increasing the women's prize money to match that of the men's. This meant that Gauff's winnings were $3 million rather than the historical $1.5 million. If Gauff recorded that increase in Mentor Mind Money (MM$) she would retain it as an asset for life, no matter how much of the actual money she spent. She would be able to look back into the details of her Mind Money to see her increasing trajectory. The journal entry connects the Mentor effort and energy she experienced with King. Mind Money accumulates throughout your life. In other words, you create a permanent record of a path of increasing personal growth. Unlike crypto currency, it will never disappear or drop in value. This is what I mean by Wholistic Wealth. Using the strategies described in this book, you have a much greater awareness of yourself in both money and non-money ways. After using these tools for over a decade, I have experienced a level of joy and peaceful ease in my life, that I believe is a direct result of me being more aware of the information from my Financial Selfie and Mind Money.


Jacqueline's granddaughters: (left to right) Gabrielle, Amanda, and Brook

Kirpal Gordon: This three-part program sounds like a synthesis of all you have learned in music, poetry, business and the art of living. But you also offer men a dating strategy which speaks to the classic male question, What do women want?”


Jacqueline Henrion: I see that question as a trap men have created for themselves. It assumes that all women want the same thing, and if men just knew that "thing," they would be successful at dating. But that's a myth that's way past its expiration date. The real secret to getting to know someone is being able to understand and talk about the value of personal Experiences and Insights. We are all uniquely formed, so curiosity and listening are invaluable skills in this exchange. Knowing GEMPICKS about yourself means you recognize them as assets. It demonstrates that the man (or prospective woman partner) knows how to "feather the nest," and has achieved a certain level of emotional intelligence. If a man can talk about his own assets in Gratitude, Experiences, Mentors, Physical, Insights, Community, Knowledge, and Skills, he will appear wealthy even if his Net Worth is not significant. If you know your GEMPICKS value, that inevitably leads to Wholistic Wealth. That's why I think of Mind Money as the new Language of Love.


If a woman is also tuned to the Six Stress Relief Beliefs and developing her Mind Money assets, then there's tons to talk about. When my first husband asked for a divorce, I made a list of qualities I would want in a life partner because I knew that life would be richer and easier (as in energy efficient) with a partner. I went on a number of dates without success. But the very first lunch I went to with my current husband, I was thoroughly impressed by his ability to talk about his emotional insights, experiences, physical activities, and his all-important community feelings. In a matter of hours, I was smitten, even though, at that point, I thought he was a starving artist.

Moreover, it makes sense that a man would want a partner who uses these strategies, and as a result, is self-sufficient and less likely to be dependent and in need of frequent validation and reassurance. Even after a relationship is formed, if each person continues to track their growth using GEMPICKS, they can share observations and enrich themselves further through growth. That's been the secret sauce for success in our almost thirty years together. "You're not the same person I married" is not a criticism, it's a compliment! GEMPICKS allows us to know and grow together.


Kirpal Gordon: Why does your title say A Woman's Way? 


Jacqueline Henrion: Clearly the information would benefit men as well. But there are two reasons for the title. When you endeavor to write a "self help" book, you look for persuasive illustrations of your theme. One way to persuade is to cite authoritative sources or quotes. I included a smattering of those which were more eloquent. But this book is primarily based my own experience of failure and success. In this way, it's more like a memoir. My first Selfie was literally a Balance Sheet, after my first husband asked for a divorce. In a panic emotionally about credit card debt, I only regained a sense of self-confidence and self-reliance after calculating my Selfie. The report showed that I was not so bad off, but a certain amount of "energy" was stuck in certain assets. I vowed never to be ignorant or stuck again about assets. Now I do a Selfie for us at least once every year, or to evaluate the before and after of major shifts. In certain years, this information and fluid mindset has resulted in hundreds of thousands of increases in Net Worth in one year. Therefore, it seemed appropriate that the title would be A Woman's Way, because it is based on a woman's unique experience. Each woman will have her own unique experience using these strategies, fundamentally different than a man's.


The second reason lies in my purpose for the book. My aspirations are pretty humble; I don't expect to make a ton of money from the book. I don't have plans to create a training platform, speaking tour, or business from it. I merely want an opportunity to shift the roughly 2 billion women on the earth between the ages of fifteen and forty-nine towards increasing self-reliance and empowerment. In a forthcoming website, it would be more interesting to have a forum for women to post their questions, observations, and successes. I know that the beliefs, ideas, and tools I describe form a seed to grow the spirit of women to emerge in all walks of life.


If I were watching our planet from an interplanetary outpost, I would say that the trajectory of the human race is currently heading towards decline and dissolution, even if all environmental conditions are merely part of a a planetary cycle. What sells is chaos and fear, not emotional maturity to deal with an increasing velocity of inevitable change and suffering. We could do better by embracing more fluid self-definition and evolution. Women's movements, such as #MeToo are shifting attitudes in many cultures. I hope that the strategies in this book contribute to personal shift that may appear less political, but has the potential to inform every moment of women's lives. In other words, from the personal to the tectonic. The poet Emily Dickinson whispers a refrain in my ear "I'm nobody...but I dwell in possibility."

 Jacqueline Henrion 

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