Lead Your Life

Leadership, Awareness, and Growth

Life laughs at the leashes we tether June 14, 2017

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Laugh Out Loud At Yourself

We are in the midst of a relocation, and our moving company was supposed to arrive on Thursday of last week.  I handled the reschedule to Monday like a pro; especially given I had been sleeping on an air mattress for a week.

Friday evening arrives, and I begin my much anticipated weekend meditation training; the perfect way to spend my birthday.  As I drove home Friday after our evening session, blissed out and committed to noble silence, I noticed a flurry of messages on my phone.

The movers were now arriving the following day at 8AM.  Good Golly.  Forced to cancel my meditation weekend as my husband was still in Ohio, I spent my weekend  sorting, stacking, unpacking, folding, moving, placing, donating…. you get the point.

I had a moment of meltdown in which I left a desperate voicemail for my husband that never again in our life would we move with one person on the receiving end.  A twinge of bitterness sunk in as he was enjoying a golf trip with friends, and I found myself grousing around in a “woe is me,” and “why am I always on the work end of the stick?”

And then it struck me.  Yoga.  This is where our practice begins; off our mat when the temperature dial turns up.

These moments are a fabulous reminder that life laughs at the leashes we try to put on it.  Control is an illusion, and the real trick is to stay connected with flow and peace even when the waters are choppy and unpredictable.

 

 

Be careful what you claim June 2, 2016

Yesterday, a lovely woman said to me, “My anxiety is very bad right now.”

Seems harmless enough, yes?  And anxiety (or fear or depression or any other feeling that drains your energy) is not bad.  There is no shame in a racing heart or heaviness of mood.  In fact, if we believe that the world moves in harmonized order, we accept that day is followed by night and winter follows summer & fall.  If we believe that the universe modulates itself; gently flowing across a continuum of expressions, we can trust that our own emotional continuum is as natural as the movement of the planets.

Darkness in our life is a great teacher; giving us the sacred opportunity to turn inward to quiet space & deep knowing so that we may see again the magnificence of what we cannot intellectualize.  So that we may, perhaps even because we’ve run out of options, trust the divine.

One of my favorite teachings is this:  “Suffering happens when we make the impermanent permanent.”

In the moment, we experience life.  We feel sadness, joy, impatience, peace.  And then that moment passes, and we are presented with a new moment in which we can be fully present or we can stay locked in the past.  When we stay locked, our bodies are alone in the present moment because our minds are still reliving what has already ended.

Thoughts are sticky.   It takes intention to clear our minds of what was to make room for what is.  Negative emotions are even stickier.  They love to cling & grasp to your consciousness.  They can become so familiar that we develop a relationship with them; hence labeling something as “MY anxiety.”   And when we claim it as ours, it becomes part of us in a permanent, deeply integrated way.

See the difference between:  “I am currently feeling sad” versus “My depression is rearing its head.”  I believe we should welcome a full rainbow of emotions; learning from each one, feeling life deeply, and being willing to honor the light and the dark.  This is wholehearted living.  Just stay awake to what you identify as part of your DNA.  Let the impermanent be impermanent & celebrate the natural ebb and flow of your life.

 

 

Me So Stupid April 3, 2016

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I have played around with meditation for years, but quite honestly, the word “dabbling” is just barely an honest assessment of my commitment to the practice.

Don’t get me wrong; I am fascinated by this age-old habit.  I read EVERYTHING under the sun on the topic, I attended trainings, I listened to podcasts, I espoused its benefits, I had even TAUGHT meditation.  But actually meditating  on a daily basis?  Well….

Until about 2 years ago.

What happened?  I had the profound realization that stress makes you stupid.  I have always nurtured an intimate, behind closed doors relationship with stress.  Don’t we all?  We work so hard to make it look pretty on the outside, but the inside feels like a pressure cooker, a precariously balanced stack of plates, a juggling act with bowling balls and knives.  Welcome to modern-day living.  In fact, we’ve become so desensitized to stress that many of us wear it like a badge of honor.

Gut check on that:  If you’ve found yourself droning on about your endless task list to a friend or bragging about your Herculean feat of getting 3 kids to different practices while finishing a work assignment and planning a meal – you may be a stress addict.

Hello.  My name is Laura.  And I am an adrenaline junkie.  There.  It’s said.

Stress has taken a fairly big toll on my life; most notably my health.  9 years ago, my body nearly shut down, and had it not been for the loving guidance of my doctor & support of my family, I would have suffered much more.  Maybe thick-headed, but that was not enough for me to step into a daily practice of meditation.  I toyed with it, practiced haphazardly, meditated for months on end and then matched it with months OFF end.

Until 2 years ago when I realized that stress made me stupid.  I have high value for critical thinking, creative problem solving, & articulate communication.  These are “success virtues” in my book, and it took realizing that stress compromised my critical thinking, stymied my creativity, and chopped up my communication before I decided to get serious about meditation.  Health impairment I can live with.  Stupidity?  No way.  (Subject of another blog).

Here’s the simple truth:  meditation is the fastest route to less stress.  Period.  Those of us who think we can’t sit still, can’t calm down, can’t relax enough to meditate are the PERFECT CANDIDATES for this easy but quite messy practice.  All you have to do is sit, close your eyes, and follow your breath.  Witness yourself in stillness.  Stay in the discomfort.  Breathe.  Breathe Again.  10 Minutes:  voila!

Do I meditate every day?  NO!  Even now, I find a day (and sometimes days) slide by without intentional effort on my part.  Be gentle with yourself but disciplined.  Try it for 60 days @ 10 minutes a day.  (I promise you – you can carve out 10 minutes).  Meditation doesn’t take time – it creates time.  It creates a calmer mind, a warmer heart, and a more open and reception you.  You are worth it!

 

 

Off The Mat & Into Life July 26, 2011

In yoga, we start our practice by stilling our minds & bringing our breath into our awareness & control.  We connect our bodies with our minds and spirit.  We set an intention for our practice.  We do this to prepare ourselves for our time on the mat.  We go into our practice engaged & proactive – ready to accept the challenge from a place of best intention.  

I tell my yoga students that yoga is practice for life.  That our mats are an analogy for our day.  Each day affords us the opportunity to enter engaged, prepared, and aware or to simply show up, pants on fire 5 minutes late hoping for the best.  But to quote someone smarter than me, “Hope is not a strategy.”  

Look at your day.  How often do you skid into the next meeting, still breathless from the last?  Arrive for a discussion in which there is no agenda & for which you have not prepared?  Enter into a conflict from a place of irritation versus connection?  How often do you launch into the morning with a loose plan and spend the day fighting the fires that show up at your door and inbox?

What would change if you spent 90 seconds before a meeting centering your mind by taking 3 deep, grounding breaths, and setting an intention?  What if you asked yourself before every task:  “What is the greatest result I want to achieve right now?”  This practice of setting an intention is powerful.

Our attention follows our intention.  And if we don’t consciously set an intention, we will default to whatever whim our emotions are on.  We will repeat old patterns and thus, never breakthrough.  In our relationships, we will repeat the same disagreements, feel the same old emotions, and  rerun the same scripts. 

Developing a habit of setting an intention from a place of belief & calm leads to transformation.  Big breakthroughs do not come from old ways of doing things.  They come from setting new expectations and creating clarity around what we know is possible.  Even if we haven’t yet experienced it.

 

The Brilliance of Doing Nothing July 5, 2011

This morning, I read a fantastic blog published by Six Pixels Of Separation that touted the brilliance of boredom.  Many roads take us to boredom, but the type of boredom I am talking about is better defined as a MENTAL TIMEOUT. This is a conscious choice to – for a period of time – ban input & just be. What qualifies as input? Email, text, surfing the web, reading, talking, and any kind of “doing.”

I’m not sure about you, but I know very few people who personally embrace quiet time with any discipline.  However, it is in these moments that ideas hit, brilliance percolates, and solutions come screeching out of nowhere. 

When we are taking info IN, we are recyling other’s thoughts & weaving their opinions through our minds.  This is not OUR wisdom – it is their’s.  Thus, while a big fan of education & learning, there is a fine line between input that creates true growth & input that prohibits you from hearing your own wisdom.  We all know people who are so full of other people’s wisdom that it’s impossible to know what they actually believe.  “Tony Robbins’ said this….,”  “John Maxwell recommends…,”  “Napoleon Hill believes….”  Great.  And the world is flat. 

When we are DOING, our minds are active & engaged, but because most of what we do is similar to what we have done in the past, we are recycling our own thoughts & further grooving our beliefs of the “AS IS” into our minds. Thus, we repeat the same patterns, sit in the same chair in meetings, have the same conversations with the same people.  And we try to solve the same problems with the same thinking we’ve used for the last 5 years. 

We have all witnessed a leader who has tried tirelessly to address an age old problem, and a role change happens, and bam!  The new leader immediately solves it.  This isn’t because one is smarter than the other.  It’s simply because one is thinking in a new way. 

How do you stop the INPUT?  Shut everything off & sit focusing on your breath.  As your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath.  If you want to get up and DO something, notice that & continue to sit.  If your mind starts making lists of tasks, notice that and return your focus to your breath.  Call it centering, meditation, or just boring yourself, it is in these times of silence that quantum stuff happens.  I promise you, you will notice a marked improvement in the quality of your thinking immediately & you will be shocked that you sustain this more creative, empowering, wise thinking for a period of time. 

If you base your DOING on the foundation of your time spent “BEING,” your results will go through the roof.  DOING is the root of all movement but BEING is the root of all advancement.  But it takes discipline & a conscious choice to build space into your day.  Especially when those around you don’t get it.  But trust me, the fact that you “get it” will serve you well. 

People always ask me how long they should “sit.”  Here’s my INPUT (aka: my wisdom for your consideration – not blind adoption).  23 Minutes / 1 Time per Day.  Twice a day is fabulous.  Why 23?  There is some research that shows 20 minutes is a significant marker in meditation as time is needed for our brain chemistry to shift.  23 for me because it takes me 3 minutes to simply talk myself out of springing back up & into action.  Many “sources” recommend 30 minutes.  If you have 5 minutes – take it.  You can shift your state & calm your mind with 90 seconds of intentional breathing. 

My last piece of advice?  This is easy in theory & difficult in practice.  It forces you to surpass very conditioned patterns of behavior like ceaseless activity & circular mind chatter.  28 days to form a habit.  If you are going to test drive this, commit to at least a month of daily boredom. 

Here’s the link to the blog post mentioned above: http://www.twistimage.com/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/2494

 

Chillax June 3, 2011

I am a big fan of massive action, big energy, & forward propulsion.  However, there is a time for energy conservation.  There are some natural ways we restore energy – sleep being the most obvious.  However, sleep cannot on its own entirely replenish our energy.  And really, who’s truly getting a good night sleep anyways?  Meditation is an amazing way to replenish, but again, how often are we building this reprieve into our day?  Exercise, laughing jags, music, dancing, …  All great ways to replenish energy, and particularly effective at getting an immediate state change. 

But sometimes, we’re called to adopt another replenishment tool.  Stillness.  I know – it’s not as sexy or even socially acceptable, but in stillness, we both conserve & restore.  Stillness doesn’t mean idle sitting.  It doesn’t have to mean purposeful sitting.  It can be a slow walk in nature, an hour of no speaking, gardening, a long bath, or a good book.  The key is that in each of these activities, silence, slowness, and awareness are present.

Stillness is particularly valuable if you are approaching a BIG EVENT where being ON is the name of the game.  A sales pro’s big presentation, a doctor’s complex surgery, the first day of a new job, our wedding day, a leader’s close of a landmark business deal … any of our once in a lifetime opportunities.  These moments require our focus, awareness, and our total engagement.  They demand that we are at our peak.  They are the game-changing moments of our life. 

As we stand at the beginning of each of these moments – looking at it from a creator’s vantage point – we have tremendous power.  The “fresher” we are, the more robust our energy, the more powerful we feel; the better we will perform.  It is that simple. 

And thus, as we race through our lives, watching carefully for these approaching moments allows us to prepare fully.  To not only plan the mechanics of the moment but to prepare ourselves to be amazing.  Our energy – and the depth of our reserves – is foundational to our preparation.  It is everything.  Our state matters, and if we rush into these moments out of breath, with the energy needle pointing to 1/2 tank, we will get through it but will not optimize it.  We will, with grit and determination, get it done but we will not, with grace & joy, experience it in our “zone.” 

And so, develop the habit of observing your life and anticipating the big moments – the moments you have the opportunity to make quantum shifts.  And prepare for them…  Do your homework, dot the i’s, cross the t’s, but also prepare your energy.  Allow yourself to replenish & conserve through stillness leading up to event’s beginning, and you will be amazed at the power you have harnessed, and the endurance, vibrancy, engagement, and wisdom you will have available to you.