Some have suggested that Munch the Dogi has yoga and meditation down to a fine art. If you celebrated World Mediation Day on 21st May with some Zen and blissed out way of being by meditating, you will appreciate Munch’s take on his favourite past time. If you are new to meditation, Munch has kindly […]
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.
This week I have the privilege of enjoying some time near Lake Superior. My friend is attending a conference and I will be caring for her two kitties (one of which is pictured below) while she is away.
It was lovely to have some time to catch up with her for a day and a half or so before she leaves. It struck me how similar our career pivots have been in recent years. She is about 5 years ahead me. And while she left a tenured professor position at a University and I left a corporate position, I can tell we have some “threads” in common.
For one, we are finding that recruiters and hiring managers do not always “get” what to do with our experience. As knowledge workers, we often specialize in a particular area for a period of time, say 10-15 years. But then some of us get an “itch” to extend our skills, to stretch outside our comfort zones, or maybe to find work that speaks to our souls. Perhaps we found ourselves living someone else’s idea of success. At the time, it made sense to take that road, to fully immerse ourselves in an area of expertise. And then suddenly (or gradually) we grow out of it.
Many people think we are crazy. “Why the hell would you leave a secure job as a professor (or a clinical research operations manager, in my case)?”
Futurists often tell us that the work place is changing. We should expect to make major career moves every 5-10 years. It keeps us nimble, fresh and innovative. But the reality is that structurally, recruitment and sourcing professionals are not hiring this way. It is still about “ticking the boxes” and following a formulaic approach to look for talent, sadly.
My own timeline is such that I will likely head back to full time work soon, probably within the next month or two. I was feeling sad about this a few weeks ago, wondering if I had failed at this attempt at self-employment because I had not planned well enough. I had not narrowed down my niche properly perhaps, or I may thrive under conditions where I have a bit more structure than this wide open landscape.
However it is not failure if we learn from our experiences. And this time I will go back to the drawing board understanding myself better. I know more about the support I need to be productive. I have piloted and tested some ideas and workshop offerings. I have enrolled in yoga teacher training. I am moving forward.
Even if I do need to regroup and re-capitalize a bit, the dream endures. This retreat is an opportunity to go inward to get clear about my deepest longings. I am so grateful for the time and space for this process.
This Sunday I got an itch to go for a run. It was at a time when I noticed myself going to the cupboard, believing I wanted to eat something.
In reality, I was not hungry. I was avoiding the task of writing up my ice breaker speech for my Toastmasters meeting scheduled for this Tuesday. Since I have developed a mindfulness practice when it comes to eating (and practicing for 3+ years) I realize this usually means one of a few things:
I am trying to avoid doing something I find unpleasant.
I am avoiding feelings that I believe are unpleasant, rather than just sitting with them.
I am avoiding boredom or loneliness.
I am feeling vulnerable or ashamed about something.
On that day, I felt a bit unfocused – I was trying to figure out how to begin the speech, and I wanted to start with a story about my Grandmother. Then I started wondering how much I want to reveal about myself.
In reality, I want to communicate a bit about myself that helps the group connect with me. And because I’m human, I want them to like me. Sheesh, that’s a bit hard to admit. I like to say that I’m losing my ability to care about what other people think. On an ideal day, that’s probably true.
But because human beings are wired for belonging (similar to the way we are wired for story), I had to take some deep breaths and admit to myself that it is where those uncomfortable feelings originated. The beautiful and true fact is that we are not control over whether others like us. Even if we want to control that, the emotions they have are largely based on the thoughts and beliefs in their own heads.
So, remembering that, and realizing I’d been stationary all morning, and that fresh air and sunshine always seem to clarify my thinking, I started looking for my running shoes. Despite my efforts, and a fairly clean and de-cluttered home, they were nowhere to be found. I texted my husband to ask if he had seen them. Nope. He recommended I borrow his shoes, and maybe we could shop for new shoes next week.
I had put a lot of miles on those shoes, and my knees had been feeling that I might need a new pair. But I’ve been trying to be frugal these days, until my income is a bit more predictable (freelancers of the world, rejoice!). Then I realized that the clarity, focus and stress-relief I get from running (or yoga or dancing) are not optional. They are part of the mental health regimen that has kept me sane for decades.
Of course, they are not the only thing that has helped. Therapy, good dietary choices (more healthy fat – lovely!) and good sleep hygiene also receive high marks for getting me through challenging times. But getting out for some fresh air, a walk or run and sunshine? Priceless.
I used to say that a good pair of running shoes kept me from taking negative feelings out on others. They still help, for sure. As long as I am not running a “punishing” number of miles as I did that time I trained for a marathon (one and done), it is a lovely stress reliever.
Now, let’s see if I can get that speech written or at least outlined. To hold myself accountable, I will need to report back in my next blog on Thursday…
One of the discoveries most we make when we are learning new skills is that there is a BIG difference in learning new concepts versus practicing actual skills.
This became so clear to me when I began learning to meditate. There are an abundance of books resources and guided meditations out there. Really quite wonderful, actually. Check out Insight Timer if you want to start a meditation practice. I have used it for over 2 years and I love it.
But then there is the act and the art of practice. You do not learn new skills (like yoga or meditation) by reading about them. You must invest the time to practice, preferably daily, although 5 days a week would probably make a significant impact.
I like the cycle of learning as expressed in the four stages of competence model. Someone who knows nothing starts with unconscious incompetence. You do not know and you do not know WHAT you do not know.
Then you progress up through conscious incompetence. This is where I am now with teaching yoga. I KNOW what I do not know, but I must acquire the skills to act on my knowledge.
Eventually a learner passes through conscious competence, where they can practice the skill with their full and complete attention. I imagine this is where I will be by the end of my 6-month certification program. There are plenty of practice opportunities built into the curriculum, and I am happy for that!
The final stage is unconscious competence, when the learner has practiced so many times they can now execute their skill or practice with much less effort. Meditation is becoming like that for me, finally. I can drop in within a few minutes and feel fairly comfortable with it (which does not mean my mind is quiet) because I have practiced and primed my brain.
Are there new skills you are trying to learn this year? I find that this model gives me comfort, because the journey through these steps are naturally a progression that takes time. As our brain grows the neuronal connections it needs to make a practice seem “effortless” or at least smooth and well-practiced, we must stay committed along the way.
Three cheers for neuro-plasticity and our brain’s natural ability to grow, change and thrive when we give it the required nourishment along the way!