Mindfulness is amazing
Published: September 26, 2019
My last post talked about how I was struggling. Realize that I understand we all struggle and each of us have our own path, obstacles to overcome, and individual struggles. I am not trying to relate the entrepreneur struggle and my personal path with others that need to deal with oppression, racism, inequity, sexism, bullying, harassment, and many other horrible things! This is a first-world problem that as white cis-male born in the United States to a family of educators that I am lucky to deal with it. I understand that...somewhat. I don't know what your obstacles are and I can't share your story...but I can share mine and the strategies I use to navigate them.
Mindfulness is at the heart of my journey now. Generally I am an overly optimistic person. I remember times in college where I would say (and genuinely in my naivete, believed) that life is too short to be angry. Ignoring anger and labeling certain emotions as bad are not the way to thrive in life. Thich Nhat Hanh's amazing book Anger was really a seminal book for my growth. Tapping into that anger and culturing and soothing it as opposed to letting it fester is a wonderful thing. Approaching each conversation through honesty and not looking into ulterior motives in other people is also a breath of fresh air. As a child there were times I felt taken advantage of (only in an achievement sense--not in any way related to trauma) and navigating collaboration is something I am currently working on. Finding the subtle duality of self and team is a tricky balance for me. My greatest athletic memories come from team success and sharing success with others is much more enjoyable!
So what actions do I take to thrive?
- Journaling. Keeping a personal journal is great for me to get my thoughts down on paper and having them materialize is a much better way to deal with them than having the conversations in my head.
- Silent Meditation. Currently I am loving silent meditation to calm my mind and allow the thoughts to fall by the wayside. I usually get some clarity on the root issue which is generally not the initial thing that was making me angry or frustrated. Going a little deeper and taking time so I don't 'surface skim' is something I am working on and trying to break habits that have formed over 42 years. Meditation is hard at first. I remember the first sessions I did in Thailand and I couldn't sit still and focus on my breath and thought it was stupid. (as my amazing wife Deanna says though: if you think something is stupid or boring it really means you don't understand or it is too difficult--great advice for dealing with misbehavior in class)
- Music: Music helps me focus and allows my mind to fall to the background and let my heart take over, which clears the way for the meditation to become prominent. Currently I love the Good Vibes - Binaural Beats channel on Youtube. Amazing soundtracks to work to and stay focused as well!
- Motivational Videos: Sometimes you need a quick jolt to get you going and nothing works better than a great espresso...I mean Jason Silva's amazing Shots of Awe. Wow, the videos are so amazing and can transcend to other states in just a few minutes! They are like instant goose bumps and a great way to progress towards working on crying when tapping into your emotions :) Can you believe he does them in 1 shot with no editing on those
- Power Poses: I love the thoughts detailed in Amy Cuddy's TEDtalk on Power Poses and employ them whenever I have an important meeting or presentation coming up. I love the feeling of standing in my own power! These physical motions help me get grounded in my own power and prepare me to speak my own truth.
- Friendship: Talking with someone else is great to bring levity to my situation and outside of my own head. Also this usually comes with coffee or some other ritual of daily life that can bring me out of that track. Find someone in real life to converse with or via online modes. It can even be asynchronous with a Twitter chat or some other discussion area. Connecting with people about my passion really helps fill my cup.
- Acknowledgement. Sometimes telling someone else I appreciate them or saying thanks is huge for me. Gratitude is amazing, especially as it is done without any expectation of reaction or reciprocation.
I wouldn't have gone as deep down this path on my journey without my amazing wife. My life is so much deeper and rich as a result of things we have done in life, many times taking the road less traveled. Actively seeking opportunities for growth can sometimes seem daunting or something to put off for another day when you have more time or are feeling better. But actually, those are the times when I feel it works the best. In a super stressful teaching day, taking 2 minutes for a power pose and a quick 3 minute silent meditation reset me when I had no other breaks. 5 minutes of magic!