By title, I am a leadership coach. But, I like to think of myself as a leadership optometrist. I help people trade in their worn-out, old prescriptions through with they view life for an upgrade. With new lenses they learn to see differently; hopefully better and with more clarity. As vision shifts and sharpens, reality and action line up in new and exciting ways. People often step into dramatically different territory in multiple areas, including relationships, performance, and self-confidence.
I know this because it was true for me. I had been a juggler. I juggled all the demands of modern life thinking I had it all. In reality, “it” had all of me. When this reality struck me, I began a prolonged period of transition and searching for new meaning and purpose. In working with many clients spanning a diversity of industries and roles, I realized that although our challenges are different, they almost always stem from the same fundamental problem: the inability to access a calm, centered presence.
Three Simple words: Be, Know,Do…..
Fundamentally, those of us who work in the field of transformational leadership can and should be helping people learn to access an integrative presence. From this place, all action, effort and conversation is easier and often more effective. Our relationships and our world are transformed. When people ask me how they can be more effective in life, I know that when they are ready we will eventually have to address the issue of connection/dis-connection from “self” (or what they thing of as “self”)
It seems much of the western world needs to be reminded of three simple words: Be. Know. Do. The idea of “Being” should precede “doing”, but, for many of us this is sadly, not the case. We define our worth in the world by how much we do, how busy we are, how many Face book friends we have or how many e-mails we receive in a day. For many people this “doing” precedes “being”; if few ever get around to actually “being” ! The results is overwhelm, burnout, dis-connection, and even disease. Before doing, we need to focus on what it is to “be”; be present, be aware, just be. In order to access this powerful presence, we need to calm down the highly active sympathetic nervous system. This is the part of our brain/body that is logical, conscious and active when we are awake. It is the part of us responsible for “thinking and doing.” And it is also the part that is activated when we feel stress. Our obsession on “doing” has, unfortunately, become a modern day reality for much of the world.
Homeostasis is just another word for Balance.
Our bodies were designed to be in “homeostasis.” For this to occur, we need to access “polarity,” using both the sympathetic and the para-sympathetic nervous systems in balance. Instead, we live most of our lives in “duality”; we ignore the para-sympathetic nervous system, and only access it deeply when sleeping. However, learning to access the para-sympathetic system when conscious and awake, we can tap into the right-brain; the part that is receptive, intuitive, and allows us to visualize and create. It is alos the part that engages us in “being.”
The easiest way to access a calm centered presence, one that allows you to “be,” is through the breath. It is free, universal, and can be done almost anywhere (except while driving a car)! Once you are secure in your sense of being you are better able to organize a hectic work schedule, facilitate a complex conversation, and to share the best parts of yourself with those whom with you work, live and love. Make this the year in which you begin to consciously connect the missing pieces that have kept you spinning around on the hamster wheel. Start by developing a practice of centering.
Hold your breath till you can no longer hold it.
Begin with just one minute per day in the morning. Set an egg timer for 60 seconds and practice breathing in through the belly as if sipping air in a straw below your navel. Visualize bringing the breath up to the top of the lungs as the belly expands first and then
the chest cavity. Hold the breath till you can no longer hold. Release the breath from the top of the lungs down and out through the belly. Repeat at least 5 times. Pay attention to the sensations in your body, the colors, feelings, or emotions that you feel as you breathe in this way.
As you develop proficiency with the short practice, lengthen the practice to be five, ten, and eventually 20-30 minutes. If you can’t sit for long periods of time, lie down. The important thing is to be completely relaxed, yet conscious and awake.
Aristotle said “We are what we practice.” We are always practicing something. Are you practicing “being” as well as “thinking and doing?”
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