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Is Your Mind’s Forecast ‘Hot And Hazy’? Try A Mindfulness Cooler

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Have you noticed the effect of this summer’s ‘weather’ on your mind? We all know that our bodies clearly tell us when the weather outside is too hot or too hazy. We sweat and we move more slowly. And we know what to do about it. We find some shade or air conditioning, and we find something cool to drink. Constant heat and haze are not healthy for our bodies and so we do what we can to mitigate the effects.

But what about the heat and haziness that can occur in our minds? Are we conscious of the times when that is happening, or do those conditions sneak up on us until they show up as impatience or anger? How can we begin to notice the condition of our minds more quickly and more routinely so we are not reaching the boiling point before we notice that something is not right? And what do we do to turn down the heat, and clear away the haze?

Notice the temperature rising

It can help to look at some of the factors that change the weather in our mind from clear and cool to hot and hazy. At the top of the list is a mile long to-do list. There simply is too much to do in too little time. We seem to always be rushing yet the list doesn’t ever get shorter. People are pulling us in many directions and we can find ourselves reacting to the tyranny of the urgent at the expense of what is important. On a deep level, we know this isn’t a skillful way to live, and we become agitated.

In close second is the lack of self-care…not enough sleep, poor eating habits, and no time set aside for strengthening relationships or cultivating our resilience. We tell ourselves there is no choice, this is just the way it is. Or we act from a place of insecurity and fear, saying ‘yes’ to everything and everyone, except ourselves. Again we know that something is wrong and we may begin to notice a sense of resentment or sadness about the way things ‘have to be’.

Of course these are not the only things that make it difficult to have a clear, calm mind. But they are the most common. And, whatever the cause, when our minds overheat they are much less likely to be focused, clear or compassionate.

Some simple mindfulness coolers

Challenge what is: take a look at your calendar for today. As you read through each item, pay attention to any sensations that may arise in your body (tightening in your neck, uncomfortable gut feeling, etc). Your body is sending you a message. Is there something you want to change? Take a small step toward the changes you want each day.

Punch a couple of holes in the autopilot day: choose two places in your day where you will take a few minutes for yourself. It need not be a long time, just long enough to bring your full attention to caring for yourself. It might be a cup of coffee that you actually taste and enjoy to the last drop, or it might be a 5 minute walk around the building breathing in fresh air and letting your body stretch out. Whatever you choose, pay attention to what you are doing and let go of ruminations about the past or plans for the future. For those few minute, just be in your own good company, caring for your mind and body.

Try these practices for a few days and see if you notice yourself meeting life with a little less impatience, anger and frustration, and a little more equanimity and clarity.

Wait! Are You Sure You Want To Go Back To Normal? A 3 Step Mindfulness Reflection

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All around the world, countries, businesses, schools, and communities are beginning to return to normal. Understandably, there is a great deal of excitement about seeing friends, family, and co-workers. And the idea of a restaurant meal has us all smelling the food already. For those who have been furloughed or terminated, the return to normal means the assurance of a steady paycheck and medical benefits which is, of course, critically important.

This pandemic gave us a front row seat to the reality that many things in life occur without anyone asking you if you want it to happen. You were told where you could go, who you could see, and even where and when you would work. You were taken out of your routine, and it may even be that many of your assumptions about how your life would unfold were being challenged. And all of that is on top of a microscopic invader in your community that threatened your life and the lives of those you love.

So much was changed without your input. It was unsettling and scary. And so, when given the opportunity, you rush to get everything back to as normal as possible.

But, if you stop for a few moments, and pay attention to your own body, mind, and heart, you might also discover something else. You might notice a little tug that is reluctant to return to the old way of doing things. Those feelings might arise from your ability to recall that aspects of ‘normal’ were exhausting. There were people and places and routines that you did not really miss and that you wish would stay away.

Before you race to put it all back just as it was, you may want to spend some time looking carefully at what is here, what nourishes you, what is aligned with your ideals? In short, you might want to answer the question ‘how do I want to be in the world”? I’ve listed below a 3 Step Reflection that may help you deeply listen to your own wisdom:

1. What roles did I play before the pandemic?

Sit quietly for a while and allow your mind and body to settle. When you are ready, make a list of all the roles you played before the pandemic hit your community. Try to be exhaustive with your list. Did you include things like mentor, best friend, committee member, volunteer, etc? Now highlight the roles that were significantly impacted by the pandemic. Read through your list slowly, noticing any sensations that arise in your body. Put a check mark next to roles that are fulfilling and a minus next to roles that are depleting.

2. What are the most important lessons I have learned about myself during the pandemic?

Here are a few questions to get you started. What do I miss? What do I not miss at all? What has been surprising? What did I learn about true connections? What did I learn about my courage, flexibility or strength? (Answer only those that feel relevant to you and be sure to add your own questions.)

Write the lessons down without editing.

3.When I imagine my best life, what does it look like?

To help you with this step, review the answers to step 1 and step 2. Once again it is important to refrain from editing yourself. Just write what arises.

What do you want to change or initiate to live your very best life-at work, at home, and in your community? With some added self-awareness comes your opportunity to create or modify your place in these historic times. What change is right here at your fingertips?

Now, today, choose to take one step that moves you on that path to change. It need not be monumental. One small step is all it takes to change the dance!

How You Can Stop Living In A State Of Constant Distraction

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‘Is it really June? It feels like April. I think I missed a couple of months!’

‘Is it 2020? I feel as though I graduated just last year but it was 5 years ago. Where did those years go??’

If these statements feel familiar, you are not alone. When I am teaching a Mindful Leadership workshop or retreat, these types of statements are commonplace among the professionals. Some go even further and speak about a sense of missing a decade or more. So, what is happening? Why are we missing our lives?

The short answer is mismanaged distractions. Distractions come from external sources and internal sources, and they are wearing out our body and our brain. External distractions grow exponentially each year. They come in the form of computers, smartphones, tablets and watches. And they come in the form of a plethora of apps and social media options. And that is just the technology. Distractions come from external demands of people as well. Family needs, workplace assignments and social interactions pile on the distractions as well.

Internal distractions, such as our ‘to-do’ list, worries, plans, and ruminations also distract us. Even when we are trying to pay attention to the moment, all these distractions pull us right out of the room! We are rarely present for our lives. And when we are not present, we are living on autopilot, and the moments slip away unnoticed.

It is possible, however, to meet the moments of our lives with focus, clarity and compassion. But to do so, we must train our minds to be present. This training in mindfulness and mindful leadership teaches us to notice when our mind is becoming distracted, and redirect it to the present. It teaches us to more consistently listen to our own wisdom so we can make conscious choices rather than be on autopilot. And one of the greatest powers of mindful leadership training is that it teaches us that our connection to others is strongest when we are present.

Presence is felt by others. In today’s world, we all need to recognize the power of this presence to help us authentically connect, to deeply listen and to heal.

Navigating Historic Times To Live Your Best Life. A 3-Step Mindfulness Examination

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You are truly living through a time that will be an indelible part of history, whether it is the history of your community, your business or your family. Is the new ‘normal’ that is emerging a unique opportunity for you to live your best life?

Right now, you can use some of the enforced stopping of ‘stay at home’ orders and the quiet isolation of social distancing, to reflect on the roles you are playing. What roles did you play before the pandemic? What have you learned during this historic global interruption of the everyday? Most importantly, what changes do you want to initiate in the new ‘normal’?

This is a golden opportunity right now to look closely at what is here in your life. Let’s take each question one-by-one and explore it with some mindful journaling:

1. What roles did I play before the pandemic?

Make a list of all the roles you played before the pandemic hit your community. Try to be exhaustive with your list. Did you include things like mentor, best friend, committee member, etc? Now highlight the roles that were significantly impacted by the pandemic. Read through your list slowly, noticing any sensations that arise in your body. Put a check mark next to roles that are fulfilling and a minus next to roles that are depleting.

2. What are the most important lessons I have learned about myself during the pandemic?

Here are a few questions to get you started. What do I miss? What do I not miss at all? What has been surprising? What did I learn about true connections? What did I learn about my courage, flexibility or strength? (Answer only those that feel relevant to you and be sure to add your own questions.)

Write the lessons down without editing.

3.When I imagine my best life, what does it look like?

To help you with this step, review the answers to step 1 and step 2. Once again it is important to refrain from editing yourself. Just write what arises.

What do you want to change or initiate to live your very best life-at work, at home, and in your community? With some added self-awareness comes your opportunity to create or modify your place in history. What change is right here at your fingertips?

Now, today, choose take one step that moves you on that path. It need not be monumental. One small step is all it takes to change the dance!

Do You Know How To Find Inspiration? A 4-Step Mindfulness Reflection

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Do You Know How To Find Inspiration? A 4-Step Mindfulness Reflection

Stop for a moment and ask yourself this question: ‘When was the last time I felt inspired’? Really inspired, not just interested. If you were inspired by something or someone, it would cause you to stop, to feel and to shift in some way. Sometimes those feelings go all the way to our core. And usually, those shifts affect our behavior, our relationships, and our career.
Inspiration is powerful. Who doesn’t love the feeling of being inspired? And who doesn’t want to be the source of inspiration for someone else? And yet, it is increasingly rare.
Did you stop and ask yourself the question above? If so, you probably had to go pretty far back in your memory to recall a moment when you felt inspired. Take a little time now to call it to mind again and, as you do, see if you can notice the ripple effect of that moment. Are you also noticing any sensations or emotions arising in your body-warmth, tingling, openness, excitement. This is the power of inspiration.
Now, explore a bit more. What specific elements of that moment do you recognize? Was there a courageous act or an act of amazing generosity? Was there an incredible discovery requiring out-of-the-box thinking?

Can you begin to find places to put those elements into your work and home life?
Today, more than ever, our society needs inspirational leaders. And you have the capacity to become one. It all begins with understanding what inspires you, and then finding small ways to bring that into your life. An inspired person lives with greater purpose and optimism. When you feel inspired, all those around you will notice it.
Here is a summary of the reflection steps to explore to bring more inspiration into your life and the lives of others:

When was the last time you felt ‘inspired’? (remember:not just interested, inspired)
What sensations and emotions do you notice as you bring that time to mind?
What were the specific elements of that time that inspired you (courage, generosity, risk-taking, etc)?
How can you bring more of those elements into your life-at work and at home?

Try this reflection a few times. What do you discover? Inspirational acts need not be monumental. Small steps can change the dance!
Be well
Janice