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Archive for September, 2009

Mindfulness

It is Monday, overcast, the evidence of autumn ever present as the days grow shorter and the leaves release their hold on the branches and drift to the ground. Despite the dreariness of the day, I have choices to be made and projects to complete.

One of the perks about working for myself and having a home office is that I do not have to commute. No roads to navigate and no rush hour traffic to compete with. I simply have to make my way down the stairs without tripping over one of the four frantic felines. Instead of sitting in a car for an hour or more I have the luxury of going on a morning walk. Today I chose my treadmill and a short work-out over my usual 6km, as I knew neither I nor my walking mates would enjoy the rain that was pelting down. 

I use this ‘treadmill’ time to be mindful. In front of me I have a vision board I created for our perfect Retreat Center, something which already exists in so many ways yet which Jim and I dream of expanding. I don’t want to be fixed on a specific manifestation of this dream as it is an intention not a goal. I simply stay focused and keep myself present with the intention.

Jon Kabat-Zinn says that Mindfulness is the practice of being completely engaged in the present moment. The idea is to clear your mind of every thought, every judgment, every reflection and every decision so that you are simply experiencing the present. This enables us to see the moment for what it is, without any pre-conceived notions or thoughts.”

Now this is a challenge, being present in the moment when life seems to constantly pull at me. I took a few moments today to begin watching a presentation Kabat-Zinn did with Google. Something he said about meditation really struck me. He said that meditation was a way to find our mind, that meditation is an act of love and an act of sanity.

I am realizing that I want to find that quiet place within me, that mindful place. Why? I believe I have much work yet to accomplish. In some ways it feels like my work has only just begun. For me to manifest what I believe to be my work, I need to remain grounded and clear. As Kabat-Zinn suggests, it is important to embrace a willingness to know what you don’t know, to create an opening for something much bigger than our minds can conceive. This is what Kabat-Zinn, calls awareness.

There is plenty I don’t know. What I do know is that it is very difficult to see the SIGNS, those synchronous events that cross my path everyday, if I am not able to find the quiet place inside. In the world of doing, there is no space for reflection and understanding.

I have decided that I want to expand my mindfulness practice to something more than a morning jaunt on my treadmill. I see this as a sure fire antidote to busyness. I am not sure what this looks like yet – I will keep you posted.

 Your thoughts?

Until next time,

Betty

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ME FIRST Time

Kindred Spirit - Paso Robles, California; Nov. 2008

Kindred Spirit - Paso Robles, California; Nov. 2008

Enjoyed the vibrant colours of an early fall day. Went on a long walk in the woods with Alyssa – sharing time with a kindred spirit and breathing together. Difficult to discipline myself to go digging in the gardens when just relaxing and enjoying the day is an option. Important ME FIRST time!

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Busyness

Have you noticed that when you greet friends and colleagues these days and ask them how they are, the standard response is, “I am so busy.” I even find myself responding in this way even though the word busy is not part of my normal lexicon. After uttering the word busy, I usually self-correct and say, “well I mean GOOD busy; I am enjoying life and what I do.”  Just the other day I caught myself doing it again, and I saw this as a SIGN. Am I really that busy? What is busy and what does it mean? Is being busy just a habit? Do I stay busy to avoid other things that I see as less important or less interesting? Or do I stay busy because I am a ‘doing addict’ and I simply don’t know how to ‘be’?

I suspect that there is some self-discovery lurking in the fabric of these questions. The one that strikes the strongest chord however is the ‘doing addict’ issue. I believe many of us simply get caught up on the treadmill of life and that doing becomes a habit, unconscious, and robotic. I am left wondering, what if we became more conscious, and what if we woke up? Would we still continue all this doing just to fill the space in our life or would we choose another option?

I have decided to take pause and consider these questions. Care to join me? As I began my inquiry, I chatted with a few friends. As we discussed the notion of busyness and how our lives were unfolding these days, I proposed that perhaps we did not want to be busy any longer, that what we really wanted was to be joyfully engaged.  A few nodding heads confirmed that I was on the right track.

Joyfully engaged – what would that look like as opposed to simply busy? It means that we actually become clear on where we want to invest our energy. Now there’s a thought – that would require a little reflection, something that seems to be scarce these days. Reflection requires stopping, stepping out of doing and into being for a few minutes to actually have the space to discern what I want to engage in. That in itself breaks the busyness cycle and gets me off that darn treadmill.

So, what would be perfect for me? What is it I really want – at work, in relationships with others, at play? And if I took the time to actually respond to this “I want…” what would be different in life? Oh Oh! I might have to start saying ‘NO’ to some things, the most difficult two letter word in the English vocabulary, especially when my lips so easily form the ‘YES’ word. I loved what Jack Canfield said in his book Success Principles: “I am not saying NO to you, I am saying YES to me.”

I keep repeating this to myself and teaching it to others as this phrase is a permission slip to put you and your desires first on your priority list. Yes, there it is, the priority list. Where are you on yours? I have to ask, as so often when I ask this question in my seminars, the participants simply laugh as they know that they, as an item, have probably not even made the priority list of their life, and if they have, they are at the bottom. Busyness is the excuse that emerges when I ask, “And when will you become an item on your list?” Busyness, the great excuse! 

Here’s the challenge – begin to examine your busyness. Ask yourself the same questions I found myself asking. Clarify what is meaningful to you in that busy bee behavior and wonder about whether you are joyfully engaged. Consider how being joyfully engaged would shift your energy and what, in your busyness, would fall off your plate. It is about assessing what is really important to you and what is just filling space in your life. It is time – life is too short as most of us will acknowledge so why not spend those precious minutes and hours being joyfully engaged?

 

Until next time,

Betty

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