October 10th, 2016
As a young boy my mother would take me to temple on the High Holy days. She would admonish me to sit still, reflect on where I had messed up during the previous year and make amends so that I could start the New Year with a clean slate. At the time, I remember thinking that this all sounded a bit kooky. Transgress all year, go to shul for a few days to make amends, then go out and misbehave all over again?!?
Which of course is exactly what I did.
It’s only as an adult that I finally started to put together the value of deep reflection, heartfelt atonement and commitment to doing better. I am just now beginning to understand and appreciate the incredible impact and karmic reverberations of reflection and repentance.
In addition to avoiding the repetition of past mistakes, there’s much to be said for going one step further, such as practicing random acts of kindness and beauty. Or not so random.
Maybe we can find a way to reset our Snap Judgement Meter. Breathe in and breathe out. Slow down enough to be able to meet people where they are as opposed to where we think they should be. Almost always it takes a willingness to look compassionately at whatever might be going on for others at any moment in time and accept them for who and where they are. Here. Now. Without judgement.
It seems like many of my coaching clients and their teams experience a similar dissonance in the workplace; quick on the draw to judge others and themselves for that matter. All this does is lead to poor communication, challenging work flow and disappointing results. The solution may not be as simple as meditating or mindfulness practices, but it certainly can’t hurt. Almost every day we see new evidence of the effectiveness of a daily practice. Just this week, in the online New York Times, I discovered this whole section devoted to How to Meditate and why it’s so helpful and healthy. Sounds True is a wonderful resource worth checking out for their Mindfulness Daily program (amongst other great offerings). There’s always the Understanding Ourselves page on my site (scroll down towards the bottom) where you’ll find great articles on meditation and mindfulness, along with some good readings on Communication and Leadership (further up the page, Sections listed alphabetically).
Even if you’re not celebrating the Jewish New Year, the fall is still an opportune time to put these practices of reflection and mindfulness to the top of your to-do list. The change of seasons, the abundance of the fall harvest and the age-old time for ‘back-to-school’ seem ripe with possibilities.
What do you do to slow down and reset? Any practices you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s to full and bountiful reflection!
September 19th, 2012
Guest blog by Alexa Cole, VP of Client Services, Cole Consulting
Yesterday I participated in a call by the Wealthy Thought Leader, Andrea Lee, called “Coaching Skills for Highly Uncertain Times.” It was comforting to participate on this call and have the gentle reminder that things aren’t just hard for me and for my clients, they’re hard for most EVERYONE right now. These are uncertain times, and it’s the way we navigate through these times that make us stronger and wiser human beings.
Andrea Lee provided a wonderful tool during this talk on how I can help my clients get clearer about an ultimate goal and how to drive to that destination, being sensitive to the fact that our route is often circuitous. What she didn’t talk about, and what I’d like to address today, is how we can best take care of our minds, bodies, spirits and souls through these uncertain times.
According to Dr.Stone, a prominent and well-respected teacher, “the reason why we have these various bodies is so we can interact with and experience the various dimensions of reality. Our physical body allows us to experience and interact with this Earthly plane. Our emotional body gives our Soul and Spirit a “house,” so-to-speak, on the emotional plane, and our mental body allows interaction on the mental plane. We are multi-dimensional beings, and this is why we have multiple bodies.”
The road map, or action plan, is also important but I find it can be hard to discern the right action steps to take when I am overwhelmed or exhausted. Usually feeling depleted happens because I am not making the time or space to get in touch with my true heart’s desire.
I propose a four-part alignment exercise to use as a centering device for when you are going through a difficult decision called, aligning your four bodies.
1. Aligning the mind – What do I need to have clarity on before I can move forward with my decision? What is left unresolved in my mind?
- Homework: Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, making two columns. On the left write “Content” at the top, on the right column write “Context” at the top. Record each issue or mental block you may be having such as “I don’t feel I deserve to have a job in the field I want because I lack experience” and in the Context column next to it write down all of the limiting beliefs you may have around the issue such as “I lack confidence because…”, “I can take a class to gain more experience…”, etc. They can be positive or negative blocks but writing them down often helps free your mind from the burden of your decision.
2. Aligning the physical body – Carve out half an hour each day for the next three weeks to dance, walk, go for a run, or whatever you like to do for physical activity that is pure enjoyment.
- Homework: When you move from this activity to your job or other tasks in your day, be aware of your feet firmly planted on the ground for rooting into the energy of the earth, our greatest resource.
- Before bed: When you’re lying in bed at night, imagine breathing into your feet, legs, hips, stomach, all the way up your body. This will bring you into your body and re-ground you for sleep and relaxation.
3. Aligning the soul (or emotional body) – What are some things that make you come alive, or feel very fulfilled in your life? What brings you a sense of calm and joy? Alternately, what are some things that leave you feeling depleted or lackluster?
- Homework: Spend at least one part of your day doing something that makes you feel happy and vibrant, and less time in your week being with people or activities that drain you. Especially when going through a difficult period or decision in your life, it is important to keep routine around things that feed you and provide you with emotional support.
4. Aligning the spirit – Whether you are a spiritual or religious person, or you feel most connected in nature or with people you love, get in touch with how you like to connect to the world around you. It may be through music, art, travel, or church. For me it is feeling a sense of community when I get to share a meal with those I love or meditate in the mornings.
- Homework: see if you can spend time each week connecting with your own inner spirit and the spirit around you. If you don’t currently believe in a drawing force that connects us all, perhaps look into a non-denominational meditation or church service. I find it incredibly helpful in times of turmoil to have a sense of unity with others in the spiritual sense.
By getting in touch with these four parts of ourselves, our heart can release into the present more fully. It is easier to face decisions head-on because we feel nourished and grounded, ready to take on whatever comes our way. Use this method as a tool for making a tough decision, or just use it before bed, calling in your four bodies mentally in order to put each part of yourself to rest at the end of a long and productive day.
Let me know how it works for you and if you have any suggestions or feedback, please let me know in the comments below.
January 31st, 2010
Authentic leadership… a term bandied about quite a bit these days.
And for good reason. It is exactly the kind of leadership we hunger for — in our politicians, our sports heroes and at work.
But what exactly is it? Maybe, like pornography, hard to define but we know what it is when we see it. Lately, especially in the political and sports arenas, leadership has seemed more pornographic than authentic.
October 30th, 2009
Ok, the World Series is upon us, and, as an old fan of the Yankees, having grown up with Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, the stuff that heroes and legends are made of, you might think that ‘ground balls’ references that particular fall classic. Nope. Ground balls, is to fly balls, I learned the other day, as slam dunk is to sinking a three-pointer at the buzzer, from the opposite end of the court.
Forget the sports metaphors. One’s easy. The other is hard. What I learned about the beauty of ground balls occurred while playing outside with my nine-month old retriever puppy, who, in the seven months that we’ve been raising him, has not gotten the hang of retrieving, at all. Until I threw him a ground ball. And then another. And another…