Haiku #32

life pours on us in
layers,
uncovering truth
takes time
and patience

In response to the WDYS #91 prompt from Keep it Alive, by Sadje.


#poetry, #ease, #haiku, #hardship, #introspection, #life, #love, #patience, #poem, #poems, #truth, #wdys

The Reflection Series Part 9: The Power of Silence

In Leadership and Life

Photo by Tim Hüfner on Unsplash

This past week, I’ve been reflecting upon the power of silence; and, maybe more importantly how in that absence of sound and other stimuli there lives a very powerful reservoir. One that, as many of you know, I was not in touch with for many years.

In my reflection this past week, I’ve also been pondering how in today’s fast-paced, go, go, go, culture, I do have the United States in mind here, accessing silence is even more important. The paradox? It’s harder to access. Though not for the reason you may be thinking.

It’s harder to access, not because there is less silence available in the US. In fact, accessing silence has nothing to do with spaces and places. The reason that it is harder in the US to access silence is actually rather simple. It’s not valued, nor taught. In fact, one could argue that the opposite is valued.

Fast-paced, loud, go, go, go. Right? These may be horrible generalizations, yet take a look around any metropolitan city in this country, and what do you see? People moving fast, cars driving fast, animals moving fast. Habituation to a lifestyle that proceeds all of us, yet we also help to continue to perpetuate this lifestyle. Interesting.

In this post, I want to create a space to discuss some practices that anyone, no matter where you live, can take up to secure themselves a little silence each day. These practices are common sense. No great mysteries here. Yet, it’s the planning and doing and repeating that matter most in this conversation. (Re)habituation.

(Re)habituation

Photo by Omar Flores on Unsplash

Well, I’ve not defined a word in a while in a post, so let’s do that, shall we? Good. Here we go.

habituation

noun /həˌbɪtʃuˈeɪʃn/ /həˌbɪtʃuˈeɪʃn/[uncountable] (formal)

  1. habituation (of somebody/something) (to something) the action or condition of becoming used to something

There we go.

So, what then is (re)habituation? It simply means the process of habituating ourselves to a different set of stimuli, actions or conditions, while letting go of the ones we are currently habituated to. Simple. Yet, when we are habituated to an action or a particular set of conditions, it can be difficult to (re)habituate ourselves to something new.

I’ve written on this topic before, and think, especially right now, it is important for everyone to consider how they can get at least a few moments of silence in their lives each day.

Just a short 4 years ago, I never created silence for myself. In fact, I thought reading and watching television was, in their own way, silent time. And, when you don’t know how to access silence, and, in fact, are quite afraid of it, then watching TV or reading a book can seem like silent time.

Yet, accessing real silence takes practice. And, guess what? Once you’ve created a new habit to access silence, and you’ve done so for some time, you begin to realize that silence is always available. Even when you are busy. A paradox? Yes, and no.

Here are a couple things you can do on a regular basis to begin to access silence.

  1. Stop – when you are super busy. Stop. Stop, and set an alarm on your phone for 2 minutes and just sit there and focus on your breath. The way the air is inhaled into your lungs and the way it is exhaled out. Just 2 minutes. Do that periodically throughout your day. You will find that in just 2 minutes of silence, you can quiet your mind a little, and gain more focus. As you practice this 2-minute silence break, increase it after a couple of weeks to 3 minutes, then 5 minutes. It is amazing how much focus and mental equilibrium can be created out of just a few minutes of real silence.
  2. Walk – calendar yourself for regular walks. You can start with a 5-minute walk. If you’re at work, maybe it’s just around the area you work, inside or out, it matters not. What matters is to focus on your breath as you walk. As you take a step, inhale in, and as you take another step, exhale out. You can even count the steps as you take them. I still do this today without even thinking about it. Habituation.
  3. Listen – when you are super busy, stop what you are doing, and listen to your mind and body. How do they feel? Are you tense? Is your mind super active? If so, stop and breathe for a few minutes, or take a walk, as described above.
  4. Repeat – the most important thing about creating a new habit, or (re)habituating ourselves out of our current habits and into new ones is repetition. Daily is best. Yet, it is also important to set a schedule you can work with and that will feel good. So, if that’s every other day, so be it. Getting started is key, and then continuing as you are able will create more workability for you inside of creating a new habit.

Alright, there are a couple of things you can do to habituate yourself into a new habit, which will help you gain access to silent time everyday. Remember, if you forget, which will happen, or feel you don’t have time so choose not to access silent time one day, it’s okay.

There are no demerits here. It’s about creating more workability by increasing your focus, attention, and mental wellness, something everyone needs, and leaders must have.

Leadership and Silence

I’ve found accessing silence one of the most powerful concepts and practices of my entire life; and, remember, the person writing this post did know how to access even one minute of real silence until about 4 years ago. True.

Yet, when we create the time to be silent, to quiet our minds, to listen to our bodies, and to just be, what we get back is so much more. We get more focus, attention, and mental wellness, and we also get more insights. Insights into our own humanity. A sacred and beautiful experience.

Here are five few ways that silence has impacted my life and leadership.

  1. Mental Flexibility – when we are mentally flexible, we are open and willing to listen and learn.
  2. Calmness – remaining calm under great pressure and stress is key to keeping yourself and your team on track and in alignment.
  3. Clarity – developing clarity means that your communications will be more clear and understandable. Communication is one of the most important functions in leadership, so being clear, concise, and understandable is key.
  4. Patience – the ability to demonstrate patience shows your team that even under extreme pressure, you will remain open and flexible. Demonstrating patience will give your team more confidence in you as a leader.
  5. Deeper Understanding – to lead, you must understand yourself well; and, you must be able to relate to all people, staff, peers, customers, clients, everyone. Developing a deeper understanding of your own humanity, means that you develop a deeper understanding of all humanity, which makes you more relatable, empathetic, and compassionate.

There are many more ways that silence has impacted my life and leadership, yet these are important for all of us, and for leaders they are critical. The ability to be mentally flexible, remain calm, have clarity, demonstrate patience, and create a deeper understanding of yourself are skills that every leader needs.

Remember, then, the next time you feel overwhelmed at work or in life, create silent time for yourself. It can even be 1 minute to start. What matters most is getting started.

It’s about accessing the silence that is always within you; and, watching that grow over time, as you continue to practice the act of creating silent time for yourself.

#clarity, #creatingnewhabits, #creatingsilence, #deeperunderstanding, #habituation, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #life, #mentalflexibility, #mindfulness, #patience, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #reflection, #selfdevelopment, #silence

A Developmental Moment #5: Patience as a Concept and Practice

Expanding our Patience While Limiting our Reactivity By Understanding and Practicing Our Emotional Intelligence

The past few weeks, I’ve been thinking more about patience, and just how important being patient is in all aspects of life. For sure, patience was, and is, something that I continue to be present to, as patience was, and still is in some ways, something that is a developmental opportunity for me.

How do you feel about the concept and practice of patience? Do you think it affects how we interpret the world, and how we, for instance, function at home and work?

I think it does affect all aspects of our lives, whether we are aware or not.

In this post, we’ll explore a couple of ways to expand the concept of patience by unpacking the stimulus response system, and by exploring ways we can increase our patience, or, conversely, decrease our reactivity. Ready? Good. Here we go.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

The Stimulus Response System

In some ways we are programmed to respond to our environments. As we navigate our environments, our brain takes in data and information, let’s call them inputs, processes them, and then runs through a selection of outputs, or responses. Pretty simple, yes?

Yep, pretty straightforward. The issue? Good question. Well, if we never question our responses, and simply react, we can become reactive, which means that an event occurs and we react without pause. Super helpful in an emergency situation.

In a non-emergency situation, however, it is not always as helpful. There are ways, however, that we can slow down the stimulus response system, which creates a space for more choice.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence has been written about for a long time. Very simply, having emotional intelligence means that you understand that there is a space between a stimulus and response, and you can access this space. Accessing the space between a stimulus and response, also means that you are able to make more choices and handle emotions that arise more readily. Important.

Learning about and practicing emotional intelligence is important for all aspects of life, and is particularly effective in our relationships. When we can slow down and increase our choices, we, at the same time, increase the outcomes that are possible in each situation.

Home and Work

As we learn more about our emotional selves we create the opportunity to reduce reactivity, and understand our own humanity. For instance, anger was something that was present for me a lot of my adult life. There are many reasons this is so, knowing today, I was only ever upset with myself for not living the fullest life possible. Knowing this is helpful.

Additionally, understanding that anger can arise, and not mean that I am an angry person is also helpful. We must be careful with the concepts we internalize. If we internalize concepts, such as anger, as part of who we are as a human being, we then become an angry person. It’s just how it works. If, however, we understand that anger is an emotion that, like our thoughts, will arise, yet is not indicative of who we are as a human being, we are immediately freed from the concept. Super helpful and liberating.

Further, it is important to understand that our emotions not only affect us, they affect everyone around us, even if we are unaware. It’s not possible, for example, to carry anger, and to not give it out. We will. And, when we do, then all we see is anger, because, in fact, that’s what we are creating.

However, when we learn about and practice strategies that can increase our emotional intelligence, and at the same time, slow down our reactivity, we have new choices. New ways of being, and of releasing old concepts that we once believed in.

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

Closing Thoughts

Emotional intelligence has a direct impact on our patience. When we slow down our impulse to react to external stimuli, such as other people and events, and internal stimuli, such as thoughts and emotions, we create a space to choose being patient over being reactive. Important.

And, in the space we create to be more patient, we get to choose from a plethora of ways to respond (not react) to a person or event. Powerful.

There is one practice that has been instrumental in my practice of my own emotional intelligence, and that is meditation. I’ve written about meditation lots of times, and, in fact, it has been scientifically documented that meditation decreases reactivity.

As our reactivity decreases, we see and experience the world more slowly, our patience increases, and we are able to understand our thoughts and emotions on a deeper level. Which also means that we will understand everyone in our lives that much better as well.

And, when we understand ourselves and those we love and care about better, our relationships begin to blossom. Our relationship with ourselves, yes, and with everyone else. A beautiful cycle.

#conceptandpractice, #developmental-moment, #emotionalintelligence, #home-and-work, #leadershipdevelopment, #meditation, #patience, #reactivity, #selfawareness, #selfdevelopment, #slowing-down, #stimulusresponse, #understandingyourself

Patience

Photo by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash

The earth spins, and
The world moves on
By gone times
Are sometimes improved on

A little at a time, yes, and
Sometimes not at all

So we may call upon
That higher power
Which radiates like a flower
Of immense joy,

A sublime tower

Of gratitude and trust
Even in times of distress
Let It not be second guessed
Like all the rest, instead

Trust and know

That as you roam
Your home
Lay in wait along the road

You travel, your destiny

Already created some time ago, so
Have faith in that which you see
Even when you fear, and
Struggle to believe, know that

Patience is that which you seek
A steadying of the Mind, and an
Altering of the ties that bind

Break free
And live a life free of luxury
Induced worry and angst, which
Are common in case you can’t see

Simply believe and have faith
In that which you feel, for
Your truth, my friend
Has always been very real

#life, #love, #mindfulness, #patience, #poem, #poems, #writing

Blue Bird

Photo by gerhard crous on Unsplash

Recently, on a daily walk, I passed a blue bird. The bird was perched on a tree stump, waiting, watching. As I came around the corner, the bird looked up, seemed to notice me, then flew to a tree branch just a few feet away. I continued toward the bird, wondering, watching.

As I continued toward the bird, it again took flight, this time flying toward the park and the many trees surrounding it. It again perched on a tree branch, not too high, not too low, just about the right height for me to still see it, as if I was supposed to. I followed.

I drew closer, and the bird stayed on the branch. I wondered to myself whether or not the bird would once again take flight, not wanting to startle it, I moved slowly toward the tree. As I got closer, I had a realization.

The realization was this – that the the dance I was doing with the bird reminded me of writing, especially writing in previous years.

When I used to write, I would sit down with an outline in hand, and follow that outline as I was taught. It never occured to me that there was another way to write. Not for a long time. It was not until about a year ago, maybe 2, that another way showed up. Literally.

What I mean is that when the timing is right, and the subject is right, the words flow as if they were previously created, and I am remembering them. However, the words were, and are, not something I’ve created, nor written before. They are, however, words and strings of sentences, and concepts that I have thought of before, or learned somewhere before.

It is interesting. The real difference is the inspiration behind the writing. That is the difference to me. When I am inspired about what I am writing, as I am in this moment, the words just show up. Simple. However, when I am not inspired, as I was last Saturday, they do not come so easily, or I force them, which never really works, and is not in the least bit healthy.

I would know about forcing writing. I forced a 100 page thesis to completion about 5 years ago, only to have to start it all over again. Uncomfortable. Yet, as I’ve written in other posts, it is in the most uncomfortable moments where you can grow the most. Ultimately, redoing my thesis made me a better writer, and the thesis a better final product.

Where, then, do we find the inspiration to write; to have the words just flow as if they were always meant to find the page. That I do not know. I do know, however, that practice and patience help. As does an openness to writing in new ways, about new things. Effectively, trying something new.

So, when you find that the words do not come, be patient, and continue to write. Write something else. Try something new. Then, maybe in the writing of something new, or in the trying of something new, you will find the words will flow onto the page; and, may even make their way to the other pages of the other things you are writing.

#inspiration, #patience, #writing