What has always been interesting for me regarding the walls that I build is are they keeping me in or are they keeping me out. Walls protect against vulnerability. Vulnerability protects against the need for building walls. Sometimes I am so busy breaking down walls that I don’t see there is a door right around the corner.
This short video by Cleveland Clinic truly touches what it means to have Empathy. I know not what you are experiencing. There is no empathy without me being vulnerable.
In relationships couples/friends/partners realize that they have built a wall between themselves. One finally decides to break down the wall and works diligently to break through. When they finally get through, they realize to their dismay that each of them had been building their own wall. While breaking through their own wall, the other person’s wall remains intact. This was shared by my brother, Jimmy, many years ago and was an eye-opener.
Anger at others is my wall for keeping myself from admitting that the issue, whatever it may be, is about me and not about the other person or situation that angers me. One of the hardest lessons for us to learn. I must remind myself that the more conscious I become, the more sneaky and underhanded and nefarious my unconscious becomes. To say I will never get angry again is first step my unconscious takes to puff up my ego and forget Terrence’s 3rd century aphorism: Nothing human is alien/foreign to me.
This statement by Jerry Harvey, author of The Abilene Paradox, captures what Pema Chhodron addresses in her talk on “The Propensity To Be Bothered.” It is a way for me to remove myself from having anything to do when I feel wronged or hard done by. There is a belief that I am an innocent victim and somehow not involved in what has happened to me. I know I can find situations where there are innocent victims. However, I am looking at myself when I get angry and upset at someone for what they did to me.
I have learned that when I am upset, angry, bothered, ticked off that it says more about me than whoever or whatever situation I blame.
My tendency is to give intentionality to the person who has wronged me. Jerry Harvey statement about “Why are my fingerprints on the knife in my back,” has been helpful. Over the years those words have allowed me to observe the part that I have played in creating the situation. Often I and the people I have counseled when hearing those words have a new perspective about maybe not being the innocent victim.
Blame allows me to deflect a question I need to ask of myself: What role did I have in creating this situation I am angry about and blaming someone else for doing it to me?
In her book: How To Meditate, shares these insights. I have taken the liberty to put it in the first person as I am speaking only for myself:
I can be caught in the momentum and carried away, which usually means I start talking to myself about what’s going on. I churn it all up more and more, and it’s like the ripples go out and out and out.
When I choose to reinforce the emotion, when I choose to exaggerate it, when I choose to let the emotion run me, to let the emotion carry me away, then I start a whole chain reaction of suffering.
I set off an automatic chain reaction like those ripples. So in meditation, I train in letting the rock, the emotion, drop without the ripples. I stay with the emotion rather than turning to my automatic reaction, a reaction that has been habitual for me for years and years.
And believe me, two seconds of doing something so radical, so counter-habitual, of not setting off my chain reaction, completely opens my life to this working from the space of open awareness. And if I don’t reject my emotions, they actually become my friends. They become my support.
My rage becomes my support for stabilizing, for returning my mind to its natural, open state. Emotions become my support for being fully awake and present, for being conscious rather than unconscious, for being present rather than distracted. That which has been an ogre in my life has the ability to just sweep me away—or it can become my actual friend, my support. It’s a whole different way of living, a whole different way of looking at my same old stuff.
As I type this there are tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.
This same thing happens when I read a poem, hear some music, watch a play, or observe the virtuosity of a performance be it music, or dance, or athletic. It touches in me what is humanly possible and it is manifest right there in front of me. It touches my soul. It touches my human connection.
I know it took practice and time. The measure of performance is: Performance. And when it is executed flawlessly, I am moved. For a part of me knows what it takes to achieve that performance.
It also inspires me to stay with my practice. Being a world class human. Being better at it tomorrow than I was today while accepting myself
Buddha reminds me:
After thorough observation, investigation, analysis and reflection, when you find that anything agrees with reason and your experience, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, and of the world at large; accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it; and live up to it.
The ancestor of every action is thought. — Emerson
Steve Robertson reminds us in this Huffington Report article Mindfulness and Monkey Mind:
Our minds are abuzz with thousands of thoughts each day, all of which compete for our attention and a corollary action. The Buddhists call this untrained mind of buzzing thoughts the Monkey Mind.
While it is a metaphor, Lee Thayer reminds us in Communication: A Pocket Oracle for Leaders
Communication is a bit like a virus. If I am listening to someone or something, my mind is involved and will be infected or afflicted by my complicity in the process.
IF i am going to speak or write something, I have already infected my mind with my thoughs and my strategies. Then, when I carry on I engage the minds of others, and then they are now “infected.”
…There are good viruses. And then there are bad viruses.
If I am reading, listening, or observing, my mind will be affected. If I am talking or otherwise “communicating” with others, their minds will be affected. If i am watching television or a video, my mind will be affected. It will be altered from then on, for good or for ill.
So what’s the lesson?
Avoid the bad germs that affect or infect my mind. Seek out the good germs. Do the same for others. Require them to do the same for one another. Both the health and the destiny of my life, my family, my community and the world utterly depend upon it.
Susan Scott of Fierce Conversations would put it this way:
My life succeeds or fails, one conversation at a time.
This is where I have to remember that all conversations are with myself. They just happen to involve other people part of the time.
So I am back to sitting quietly. Breathing and observing my breath. I get to observe my monkey mind and let the buzzing go. Quietly and calmly I bring my mind back to observing my breath.
Mindfulness is a practice. Practice makes permanent. Right practice makes right practice permanent. If I am not practicing I a coasting. And as the saying goes: When you’re coasting, you’re going down hill.
This video from UCSD Mindfulness Center with Jon Kabat-Zinn is a good reflection about coming to our senses.
It is with the heart that one sees rightly.
For what essential is invisible to the eye.
The Little Prince
We are back to the awareness that the way I think influences who I am and who I am influences what I do.
Lee Thayer in Leadership: Thinking, Being, Doing shares:
Behind and under and before every perception, every feeling, every decision and every action, there are habits. Habits of mind, habits of perception, habits of feeling, habits of reaction and action. “The World” about which we speak so loosely does not “inform us. We are “informed” by our own thinking and feelings about what that world is like and what is going on in it.
In short, The first and last leadership lesson is this:
We are led by our habits of feeling, of thinking,
of perceiving, and of understanding.
Get those right, and everything beyond becomes possible. Get those wrong, and the outcomes will always be something you didn’t choose.
When Susan Scott was writing Fierce Conversations, someone said she should write one about work and another one about outside work. Her comment was: Whether you squeeze an orange at home or at work what do you get? Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book title says it well: Wherever You Go; There You Are.
I remind myself: Be slow to react when triggered. I never know what the other person has been through or is experiencing.
This video from the Cleveland Clinic is a moving reminder of empathy is our human connection to one another.
You will enjoy the following Mindfulness Series from Evolution Counseling.
“The wisdom of the East presented in a way the Western mind can understand. Series of articles with meditations, philosophy, and psychology to help you achieve mindfulness in the 21st century.”
It is always a matter of perception.
Healthy Habits / Healthy World
Heal Thy Habits / Heal Thy World
If it is to be it always starts with me.
Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine shared the following suggestions:
What’s good for you is good for the planet; It’s just that simple. Keep this checklist of healthy habits on your refrigerator or computer desktop as a reminder that it only takes a few thoughtful acts a day to make a difference.
Meditate and Contemplate. Spend at least5 to 10 minutes a day meditating or in prayer. When your mind is at peace, you’re less stressed and more open to change. You become more mindful of your actions and how they affect yourself and the world around you.
Eat Two Vegetarian Meals. When you buy food that’s grown locally, you expose yourself to fresher taste and fewer pesticides. Eating less meat also reduces your consumption of saturated fats, and your carbon footprint. A vegetarian diet promotes heart health and conserves water, energy, forest lands and pastures.
Exercise for 20-30 Minutes. It’s great to go to the gym, but a brisk walk can get your heart pumping, too. Before you get in the car, ask yourself, “00 I really need to drive to this particular destination?” Then think how great you’ll feel after you walk or bike there, saving gas and reducing greenhouse emissions as well.
Recycle, Reuse and Refuse. It takes a lot of energy to manufacture new products and creates air pollution, too. Before you toss anything in the trash, ask yourself if you can recycle or reuse it. Then refuse to buy products you know harm your health and the environment. One simple way? Limit your use of plastic bottles, which often contain chemicals that can get into your drinking water and food.
Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, 2013.
The reality is that Earth Day is everyday.
You cannot watch this video without getting a shot of oxytocin. Happy Valentine’s Day.
He said: With Oxytocin in the body, it makes me do things selflessly. It is the generosity chemical. Generosity is doing things for people with no want of return. It’s a transaction if I do something for you and you expect something back. In the Liberty Mutual ad you see the selfless giving.
One of Simon’s recent Tweets:A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other. Stan Westreich, a dear friend, shared a story that reflects what it means to trust. In doing a deal with someone that was concerned with all the small type of a contract Stan heard his father say: I know a thousand ways to break a contract, but I do not know how to break a handshake. Do you want to shake on the deal?
Dan Ariely touched on this in his book Predictably Irrational. Ariely’s Chapter 4:The Cost of Social Norms speaks to these differences that Sinek touches on. These relationships are based on Trust and Relationship. The market norm is based on a financial transaction. If you turn a social norm into a financial transaction, the social norm based on trust and relationship goes away. Seldom if ever can it be regained.
In the book Message to Garcia, Rowan did the thing asked of him. He carried a message to Garcia. We need people, Hubbard says, who will be loyal to a trust. Take the message, do what needs to be done, never even asking “How?”
You need people you can trust in that way. Every leader knows that trust is indispensable to any multi-person task or endeavor. But in our “modern” organizations, we spend more time explaining why something wasn’t accomplished than would have been required to do it in the first place.
Trust is not primarily a psychological thing. It is not about feelings. Trust was the operational imperative in hunting bands long before there was any “psychology.” It is the glue that provides the necessary interdependence required for survival or success. But it depends implicitly upon competence.
And then it depends upon conscience. People who don’t have the necessary level of both are not to be trusted. On your flight from A to B, you have to trust your flight crew to have both.
…Publius Syrus, the Greek leader and philosopher who lived and wrote in the 1st-century B.C., had this to say: “It is better to trust virtue [meaning extreme competence] than fortune.”
Translation: Put your trust in competence, not in the hope that trusting others will enhance their competence. And it is even better to trust conscience than competence. A highly conscientious person will develop or find the competence needed to carry out any task to fruition.
Leadership virtuosos trust conscience and the capacity to learn how above all else.
Dr. Dzung Vo MD and his team at the Kelty Mental Health Resource Center created a program for adolescents who are dealing with chronic pain, chronic illness and depressive symptoms. Their hospital based program: Mindful Awareness and Resilience Skills for Adolescents (MARS-A) has been most beneficial for those who have been through it. When the finished video is published, I’ll let the mindful community know. Again it has: Impact!
Dr. Vo was one of the presenters at the 3rd Annual Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education, and Research presented by the UCSD Center for Mindfulness.
In the Healthy Lifestyle section under Mindfulness you can download for free, four audio meditations of Dr. Vo’s in MP3 format. A long and short Mindful Body Scan and also a long and short sitting meditation. There are other audio by Dr. Locke that can be downloaded.
You will also find their Mindfulness Quick Reference Sheet very helpful.
Now almost two months ago, the STOP sign outside my window gave me the message of what to do after my thyroid surgery.
Last Sunday, coming in from the garage after the Marathon Clinic, I was thinking of all the things I wanted to get done so I could watch the NFL games.
I don’t know why it caught my eye. It was one of Kip’s little potted plants that was growing at the top of the steps. I hadn’t seen it growing. Didn’t even notice it until that moment as its flower rested on the doormat. I hadn’t seen it micro-inching its way until thee two white specks rested their weary heads against the mat.
So again, the world shared it message with me. About taking time and that it is all about the Practice. Little by little. Millimeter by millimeter. Nothing spectacular, until I realized that it went unnoticed until I almost stepped on it.
What lesson has the world shared with you recently about Mindfulness?