The theme for this month is Conscious Fitness. This is critical for leaders because energy, stamina, drive and the capacity to execute depend upon physical, emotional and mental fitness.
What does it mean for a leader to be consciously fit?
I believe in the core of Eastern philosophy; what is in the microcosm is in the macrocosm. The fundamental organizing principle is around life force energy; it is within us and outside of us. The yogis believe that violating the innate wisdom of the body is the fundamental cause of suffering and disease.
Yogi Amrit Desai writes: “In yoga, we define health as ‘Self-Realization’. When you remove the obstacles that are physical, mental and emotional, the true wisdom of the self, the healing intelligence, is freed from the control of the mind. Yoga helps free the body’s innate healing power at the physical, mental and emotional levels.”
This directly relates to leadership because we cannot create in the external world that which we do not possess internally. Conscious leadership requires physical, mental and emotional fitness.
Leadership has a conscious presence
At the mental level, check in with yourself about your own presence. Presence is the capacity to connect first within so you can express who you truly are in the world. Ask yourself these questions:
- How often are you plugged in and tuned out?
- When in conversation, are you deeply listening or multi-tasking?
- When in presence of another person, are you thinking about the past or what you want to say next?
- While talking or eating, are you looking at a screen?
- When walking in nature, are you listening to the sounds around you, or to the electronic ones from a device?
By developing an awareness of your own presence, you can extend your impact and influence to others most effectively. The converse is also true; when you are absent to your own true nature, you create absence in the relationships around you.
Leadership includes conscious eating
We are what we eat. When we fuel our bodies with nutritionally vacant foods, we starve ourselves. Fast, processed food cannot be digested properly by our bodies. Overeating results from not having foods that are satisfying to our own body. Undigested food becomes toxic, resulting in disease.
Personally I don’t diet, but engage in a conscious approach to eating. I have discovered Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, and have been thrilled with the results. Ayurveda promotes healing from the outside in.
Yogi Amrit Desai writes that in Ayurveda “all toxins, poisons, physical illnesses and inhibitions that appear in the body are the symptoms or effects caused by mental and emotional conflicts that arise from chronic stress-producing, self-destructive behaviors and habits. Ayurveda combines herbal treatments and proper diet to restore the body’s natural balance, while yoga restores balance and equilibrium to the body and mind. Yoga works on the inside out and helps the body release unconscious causes of disease.”
How to eat consciously? Become aware of the connection between the food you consume and how you feel when you eat it.
- Do you have sustained, focused energy or just a short-term burst followed by a crash?
- Do you eat to appease your moods or what you know nourishes your body?
- Do you only eat when truly hungry, or on a time-based schedule?
Leadership involves conscious physical movement
Movement is critical to maintaining vitality and well-being. We have become a nation of sitters, and have the physical breakdowns resulting from this. Back pain and associated ailments cause absenteeism and rising health care expenses.
The antidote is simple; get up and move! Any kind of movement works, however I recommend a balanced approach, including flexibility, strength and endurance. Commit to alternating between focus on increasing heart rate, building muscle, and stretching and maintaining muscle and joint flexibility and balance.
Consider adding yoga and breath-work to your current regimen. By adding a type of physical movement that allows you to experience pure sensation in the body, you will develop more conscious awareness.
Look at these three areas of your leadership. What are you willing to do to become consciously fit? You and the world will be better off because of it.
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