Tag Archives: mindfulness

FINDING YOUR LIFE’S WORK EVERY DAY

Ruminating on how many times I see an article promising the reader relief from their boredom (as in ‘find your life’s work’), I realize there was a time that I too seemed dumbstruck with the overwhelming needs in the world. But then I reflected on the previous few decades and decided I was already ‘living my destiny’ and I became empowered then to simply stay the course. Understandably, not everyone is as old as me, but my point here is that you may already be fulfilling your destiny whether or not you’ve figured out how to make a living at it.

We seem to have raised our kids to expect fame and fortune when one finds that magic destiny although those of us who’ve been down the entrepreneurial path know it takes a large fortune to make a small one – riches usually aren’t at the end of that rainbow. So what’s up with all of this? Did my parents spend so much time thinking they were missing something? I wonder if this is another one of those 1st world problems…. we certainly have the luxury to do a bit more than scrape together enough food to eat for the day and find a dry safe place to sleep at night, unlike many in this world.

Another misconception is that anything worth doing requires a GREAT idea. But most successful people, no matter how you define success, have had many small ideas, most of which didn’t pan out or were downright failures. So isn’t it more important to keep supporting your causes until you’re to the point you can reinforce them a bit more? Do we really think, like in some movie, some super idea will come to us in a dream? Then we’ll wake up, act as we never have before and take the world by storm?

The secret may be you are already doing your life’s work. You just haven’t found freedom there.  And that may be because freedom still involves sadness and loneliness. Is it how we’re defining freedom that has us stumbling? There will still be good days and bad days. You will still complain about the love of your life. The children you adore will be annoying and you’ll forget to take the garbage to the curb. Without the mundane, we can never appreciate the exciting and without suffering, we can never appreciate ecstasy. If your life feels meaningless, go out there and work towards solutions. Feed the hungry and clothe the poor. I know from experience that it helps put things in perspective. Otherwise my friends, you will reflect on a life a inaction when you are my age and realize you already had the answers but didn’t realize it at the time.

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Becoming More Powerful

Wonder_WomanMost women in a patriarchal society have a difficult time accepting that they are indeed more powerful than they’ve allowed themselves to believe and that mastering personal power is a conscious choice. We have been conditioned since birth to do many things very well, but few of us are terribly challenged by society’s expectations. But the problem of mastering your power is not limited exclusively to women and both genders have equal opportunity to educate themselves with the latest research and begin to explore the full capacity of their potential.

Self-help literature has cited examples and techniques for decades but it’s only been in the last 25 years, with the explosion of brain science and the study of brain neuroplasticity, that there is measurable evidence that we really are in control of our own destinies. Ann Cuddy’s remarkable research at Harvard, presented to the world thru a wildly popular TedTalk Psychology of Power , began with the question “Can you fake it till you make it?” Her research indicates that power is not moderated by gender and that hormones – and thus enthusiasm, confidence, lack of awkwardness, and physical health – can change with body postures. You can actually become more powerful through physiological changes in your body simply by power posing!!! 

I know we all tend to be a bit lazy but this information is so incredibly radical that we really can’t afford to ignore it. Body language has previously been looked at with regard to what was being communicated, but Ms. Cuddy’s research looks at the psychology of power from the point of view of nonverbal behavior. So where we are in the pecking order informs our hormones!! Those at the top have higher testosterone and lower cortisol – more power and less stress! And the way we demonstrate power in our culture with expansive movements that cover space with expressions of joy and pride are shown to be hardwired in us being the same in both sighted and non-sighted individuals!

So we have been given a road map here for becoming your true self, the self you want to be. But instead of relying on your personal strength and trusting your instincts which can be really tough, you can become more powerful through physiological changes in your body. It then becomes self-reinforcing.

Full details about Ann’s TedTalk can be found here: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en  and it’s also important to note that 80% of all yoga asana are power poses while all asana are self-nurturing.

So she asserts that

  • our bodies change our minds
  • our minds change our behavior
  • our behavior changes outcomes

So this leads me to ponder why any of us would not want to be an influencer. It brings us full circle to the culture in which we live. Not everyone can be  the alpha and since being the top of the heap changes you physiologically, reinforcement comes organically. We are all leading the life we want to be leading and if not, what is it you believe about yourself that’s getting in your way? Why are you negotiating your power and with whom? Being OK with the way things are right now (as some Buddhists might assert) doesn’t mean you can’t harness more power to be of service in more positive ways. Don’t kid yourself about what you want in order to protect a social order designed by others. If life was perfect here, we wouldn’t need you to step up but…. that’s not the case now, is it.

 

The Grounded Lifestyle

We’ve all been there, whether it’s part of your cycle, the weather, the family, or just overwhelm. It’s difficult to focus, you lose everything not physically attached to your body, your eating patterns are disrupted….life just isn’t bouncing along the way you want it to. And, unfair as it is, some constitutions find it far easier than others to remain focused and grounded. Others are thrown off by windy weather, changing seasons, missed meals, and erratic schedules. Reviewing this with some wise women the other day, I was reminded how easy it is to forget and how important it is for all of us to remember:

  • take time each morning for seated or walking meditation, prayer, or reflection
  • lying or sitting close to the earth for a short time is always optimal
  • eat legumes, unprocessed grain, meat and root vegetables
  • listen more than you speak
  • walking, especially in a pine forest or amongst trees
  • maintain a regular routine of eating, yoga chi gong or tai chi, and sleeping
  • go to bed by 10pm each night and awaken with the sun
  • limit use of electronics, especially after dinner
  • practice mindfulness
  • keep emotions in check – avoid doubt, fear, resentment, and anger
  • avoid prescription and recreational drugs and alcohol
  • get regular massage and bodywork
  • practice mindfulness as a walking meditation, in the garden, cleaning house
  • surround yourself with masters – in person, podcasts, or recordings
  • practice compassionate loving kindness
  • take inventory and make changes if necessary
  • find a way to be of service on a regular basis
  • develop a daily ritual of caring for yourself
  • make friends with your spirit guides and ask for help when you need it
  • maintain a creative outlet – whatever flips your switch

This isn’t a definitive list, just someplace to start the conversation with yourself. There are probably many other techniques – feel free to share yours.