I have been reading a wonderful little book for my Yoga Teacher Training and I wanted to reflect a bit on it. Making a Change for Good by Cheri Huber is getting me to rethink my coaching practice and also the self-coaching and mentoring we can do as we meditate and become more self-aware.
Some of the quotes which have impacted me the most since doing the reading, discussing with my colleagues and then re-reading:
“In meditation we find the center of conscious, compassionate awareness, and from that place mentor the young parts of ourselves who never had anyone help them understand their wants and needs.”
The idea is that we all have sub-personalities that evolved when we were young to help us behave in certain ways to get the care and attention we needed from adults at the time. This leads to the illusion of a separate self from the rest of life, a principle Cheri Huber calls “Egocentric Karmic Conditioning.” She explains that self-hate is the process that EKC uses to remain in power.
It is really fascinating. I previously called this voice the “inner critic” but I definitely can sense it arising when I am about to do something courageous or bold. My voice often says “who do you think YOU are?” and it sometimes gets me to scurry back to safety before I risk anything too vulnerable. But we all have these voices. Acknowledging that they are a product of conditioning, and dis-identifying with them compassionately is how we decrease our suffering and create permanent changes in our lives.
“So much of what passes for education is nothing more than adults inflicting their unexamined beliefs and assumptions onto children and projecting their own unexamined reasons and motivations onto children’s reactions.”
This is profound stuff. Since I am fascinated by theories of behavior change, and how we can adopt more healthy and sustaining practices to live well, this is my jam! It dovetails nicely with what I am learning on coaching for transformation. I am so eager to put this work into practice!
What do the inner voices say to you each day? How often do you listen?
Much of the literature on happiness and habits refers to building routines that work for us and support us every day toward achieving our goals. I like to have a daily routine, especially in the morning.
The grounding and centering I achieve through regular routines of meditation and journal writing in the morning seems to have a lasting effect on my mood and overall happiness. My weekly “writing days” when I will post to WordPress have built up trust in my ability to create pieces on a consistent basis.
Every Sunday since October 2017 I have posted a haiku. This past weekend, I was at a 3-day yoga teacher training weekend Friday through Sunday. For 9-10 hours a day, we did yoga practices, learned new things, and explored many facets of yoga. It was amazing, and it was also physically and emotionally taxing.
On Saturday evening, I was pretty wiped out. The longest of the 3 days, it began at 8 and ended at 6. With 20 other students, a lot of dyad work, and a couple of teachers working with us, it was a LOT of people interaction. It pushed my capacity to the limit, and rather than writing haiku when I came home, I was wrung out to the point of exhaustion.
After I got home for the day, a tiny part of me said: “You still have not written your Sunday haiku yet; you can’t go to bed yet.” But the wiser higher mind said: “Turning on the computer and risking your quality of sleep is not a good idea. Get some rest.”
And thus, a streak which had continued for ~75 weeks was broken. While I felt a little sad about it, I also felt freed by it at the same time. It was a habit I had built up that gave me joy and practice at the art of haiku. It served me well for that time period. And now I am moving to a new phase of my life that requires a focus on different things, at least through my certification in September.
While I actually did think of a haiku on Sunday morning, during my savasana meditation at the end of yoga practice, I had no access to a computer. So it lived only in my mind. I was grateful to generate it for myself, even if it was not shared that time around.
Long live your streaks! And when they no longer serve you, let them go gracefully and with compassion for any inner compulsion you may have. This is freedom.
I just finished teaching the final session of my “Nurturing Your Feminine Leadership” course. I had intended to write a post to capture my take-aways from the experience, and some lessons learned about how I might do things differently next time.
Then I realized as I was reflecting tonight that overall I am happy and satisfied with this first round. I also need a night or two of reflection to put together more coherent thoughts on that topic. Some of us require more processing time to filter and let things settle before we are reading to “share out” our observations.
It occurs to me that this is why every team meeting I have either hosted or participated in, I always get a little wary of the final group share-out process. Typically after 2 or 3 days of meetings my introvert brain is running on empty. So even though I muster the courage to say what occurs to me when required at the meeting’s end, I know that once I get a few nights of sleep, the important stuff will emerge and the “noise” will dissipate.
So I am being generous and compassionate with myself and allowing that time. That’s the great thing about being the “boss” of yourself – you make the rules!
What gets in the way of telling people that you love them?
Not just partners, spouses and friends, but people all around you.
Last year, I kept having an urge to send Valentine cards to my coworkers and employees. But I knew that most people would find that corny.
Why would an operational manager at a large corporation send cards to her employees? Don’t people grow out of that in the 4th grade?
That’s what held me back. I was afraid to be perceived as corny, even though I truly grew to love those that worked with me (in an “agape” sense, not a romantic one).
It’s probably very uncool to love your employees.
That is me, totally uncool.
The more I think about it, the more I am proud of that fact. I believe in a model of “servant leadership” in which the person who leads is actually in service to the people they lead.
And yet, I think it is the most effective way to lead people. To love them, to witness them grow, to help them attain their career goals… that was what made me effective in my previous role.
The clients I serve now? I love them too. Not in a creepy way. But in a way that shows how much I value them as capable individuals, striving toward growth and excellence. We often have similar insecurities. We are all in this together.
Never again will I let the fear of being “corny” get in the way of my ability to show love for people I value.A resolution for today and for the future. Life is too short to hold back.
I found myself with a little extra time yesterday between commitments. I took advantage of the time to meditate for a bit. It got me wondering about “thought cascades” and the way in which our minds work.
Thoughts appear during meditation, like bubbles. Jon Kabat-Zinn called them in one of his meditations “secretions of the mind.” They just float or bubble up. We don’t need to get rid of them or feel frustrated that they keep coming. We just need to notice them.
One thought leads to another…and another…and another. Really the mind can be quite tedious when we observe it. “Why can’t it take a damn rest?” I wonder, but this is typically when I am trying to get to sleep. I am a lot more compassionate with myself during my daytime meditations, apparently.
Thought cascades tend to produce certain emotional states as well. If we find ourselves ruminating on a problem, or a stressful situation, we bring ourselves back to the breath and the sensations in our bodies. I often notice my shoulders have tightened up or my jaw is clenched. I did not used to notice that.It took pairing yoga with meditation for me to understand it.
On Monday I had an interview for a new contract that excites me. I tried to notice my thought cascades during the interview and afterward. I realized my mind creates a trail of expectations, assumptions and details, making up stories freely as it tumbles along. At least I know from Dr. Brené Brown’s work that this is perfectly normal. In fact, our brains reward us with dopamine as soon as we “tell” an internal story, whether or not it is actually true.
This is why meditation has become such an important daily practice for me. For over two years, I have spent at least 5 minutes a day on this practice. Actually for the past year, it was much more than that, but I started small to make it do-able.
Thought cascades for someone with particular neuro-diverse conditions can be especially problematic. Most people seem to have “brakes” for ruminative thought loops. Not everyone’s neuro-chemistry supports this easy compartmentalization. What is amazing is that focus can be built and nurtured, even for people like me! Meditation is a tool for doing that.
Now the cascades are quiet and flowing. Sometimes they are turbulent and rushing. Every time I bring myself back INTO my body, feel the aliveness in my hands, my feet or my heart, thoughts slow down and the volume descends. There is no greater gift than being able to dial it all down when needed.