Notice the presence of absence

Notice the presence of absence.

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Tim Chow

In the practice of meditation, we train ourselves to notice our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

The intention is that these efforts will carry forward, so we can pursue our daily activities with greater awareness and ease.

Being more present to our inner and outer worlds offers us a deeper and fuller experience of living.

For most of us, our constant inner dialogues and emotional ups and downs keep us  occupied, both on and off the cushion.

What if we could easily and regularly have these thoughts and sensations dissolve and dissipate as if they were water evaporating from the sidewalk on a warm sunny day?

What levels of freedom, peace, and tranquility might be left without all the chatter?

What else could be present in the absence?

EXERCISE:

Create a space in your home where you remove as many distractions as possible. Do your best to eliminate all sensory inputs and sit for at least ten minutes with only your breath and heartbeat for company.

“Your thoughts are bubbles waiting to be popped.”

“Your thoughts are bubbles waiting to be popped.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, American professor emeritus of medicine

Image from Unsplash by Alex Alvarez

The other day I was refilling a soap dispenser at the kitchen sink. While pouring the liquid soap carefully into the opening a bubble formed, creating a dome-shaped barrier which caused the soap to spill over the counter. Until this bubble popped my efforts to continue filling the dispenser were thwarted. This happened a few times and given my level of impatience, I used my finger to pop these bubbles to get on with my task.

This routine chore got me thinking about how I used to read the comic strips in the Sunday paper, or eat a piece of Bubble Yum gum in my youth. How are your thoughts like bubbles of awareness? How long do these bubbles last and guide you successfully through your days?

EXERCISE:

How aware are you of your inner voice?  How many of your thoughts bubble up without your awareness? Where would greater mindfulness help you sustain the bubbles you want and pop the ones that don’t serve your best intentions?

Where there is awareness there is growth

Where there is awareness there is growth.

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by olieman.eth

Today’s quote got me thinking about the definition of insanity which suggests that it is fruitless to expect different results when we do the same thing over and over.

I prefer to embrace the idea of “When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge,” penned by Tuli Kupferberg.

Given the perspectives above, awareness seems to be a key to opening the doors to growth and new possibilities. Mindlessly trying the same keys that didn’t open the door initially seems to only keep us locked out of our fullest potential.

EXERCISE:

Where are you currently stalled or stopped in your efforts to grow?

How can you deepen or broaden your mindfulness efforts to unlock new doors and discover more of what’s inside?

Who can and will you ask for help you in your efforts?

“No man steps in the same river twice.”

“No man steps in the same river twice.”

—Heraclitus, Ancient Greek, pre-Socratic, Ionian philosopher

Image from Unsplash by Roma Ryabchenko

When you examine the pace of change in your life, what do you see?

When you look at your various communities, where do you notice small, subtle changes? Where are the tectonic shifts far more noticeable?

Just as a river changes its flow and its course over time, our lives are always flowing from one day to the next. To fight or resent such change is like grabbing a handful of air.

EXERCISE:

Where are you currently upset and angry about the course of your life?

Where are you trying to paddle upstream against the currents of change?

How can and will you instead step into the new river of each day, embracing and influencing your journey?

 

“On the other side of the door of uncertainty is a room of wisdom.”

“On the other side of the door of uncertainty is a room of wisdom.”

—Chip Conley, American hospitality entrepreneur, author, and speaker

I recently reviewed Humble Inquiry by Edgar Schein. The subtitle is: The Gentle Art of Asking instead of Telling, which as a coach, had a great deal of appeal to me. Some key take-aways include:

  • Asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, and building a relationship on sincere interest in the other person.
  • When we tell instead of ask, we can sometimes offend or demean others.
  • Barriers to humble inquiry include status, rank, and the roles we play in our professional and personal communities.

We can all practice this important skill by slowing down, becoming more mindful and aware of our interactions and our surroundings.

EXERCISE:

Consider exploring Humble Inquiry – The Gentle Art of More Asking and Less Telling as a door to greater wisdom for yourself.

“If you are going to doubt something, doubt your limits.”

“If you are going to doubt something, doubt your limits.”

—Don Ward, Late Canadian Hockey Player

There is no doubt that our lives have been limited in many ways these past few months. Our freedom to visit with friends, go out for a meal, and attend social gatherings has put the brakes on our lives.

With an unclear future and difficult current realities, our doubts about our capacities have thwarted our efforts, even when nothing but our own thinking is stopping us.

Over the year, I’ve recommended Rick Carson’s book, Taming Your Gremlin as a resource to take on the villainous bullies lurking in the shadows of our minds. His approach includes awareness, altering our behavior, creative visualization, and seeing ourselves as being “in progress.” These efforts can strengthen our capacity to doubt our doubts – to get out of our own way, and live a happier, more enjoyable life.

EXERCISE:

Pick up a copy of the book or check out THIS SHORT VIDEO check link to help tame your own pesky gremlins.

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

—Robert Swan, OBE, FRGS—first person to walk to both Poles

Image from Unsplash by The New York Public Library

How are you personally coming to the rescue of planet Earth?

How aware are you of the significant impact we have on our beautiful world?

In the business world, we look at adding more revenue through various channels, making wise and progressive investments, and of course, we conserve resources and reduce waste wherever possible.

What if Earth was a business and all people, all organizations, and all nations became optimal stewards of the planet, so that Earth could truly be, as Jim Collins said, Built to Last?

EXERCISE:

How are you currently acting as a loyal and caring steward to our planet? In what new and expanded ways can and will you take greater responsibility and accountability to safeguard our collective home?

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.”

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.”

—Sir John Lubbock, 19th Century British politician

Image from Unsplash by William Hook

Imagine you are a cell phone.

You begin your day with a full charge, and prepare to productively navigate your day. All of a sudden, a Worry App is opened on a family matter. Then two more open on your way to work. After your first cup of coffee, a couple more Apps open, due to an email and a text you’ve received.

Following a day of such events, your reserves of power are low or completely exhausted.

You’re in need of a recharge.

Unless you can limit or eliminate the open Worry Apps, you may find yourself headed to bed mentally and emotionally exhausted, sometimes unable to turn them off so you can rest.

EXERCISE:

How can you more efficiently and effectively allocate your physical, mental, and emotional energies throughout the day?

How would greater awareness of your worries limit or prevent you from experiencing these draining factors?

If you were to do nothing

“Think of the consequences if you were to do nothing.”

—Author Unknown

FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out – has many folks living in overdrive throughout their days. When asked by colleagues and friends how they are, they respond with words such as, busy, slammed, and crazy.

A common exercise I offer to my clients is to create a Time Log – to capture the reality of where their time is going. With this new awareness, they can reduce or stop certain activities completely, and regain a greater degree of control in their lives.

In the case of the seeming urgent but not important aspects of life, doing nothing has no real consequences. On the other hand, doing nothing on the important aspects that may also be urgent (or not) can have significant consequences.

EXERCISE:

Consider creating a Time Log or applying Steven Covey’s Time Matrix to the various aspects of your life.

We can only be said to be alive

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

—Thornton Wilder, 20th Century American Playwright and Novelist

Image of Phil Colllins in a suit

Image from StubHub

In 1989, Phil Collins, the multi-talented musician and singer, released his popular and catchy song “Another Day in Paradise.” If you have 4 or 5 minutes, watch this video.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve been humming this tune and tapping my hand on the steering wheel of my car for all these years, without really listening to the lyrics.

The key phrase of the song is “Oh, think twice – it’s another day for you and me in paradise.”

Perhaps it was my meditation on gratitude this morning that had me think twice and be far more conscious of the abundance of daily treasures I often overlook.

EXERCISE:

How can you think twice and be far more conscious of your daily treasures, to be more alive and fully appreciative of the paradise around you?