In the Driver's Seat
A crazy amount of change has been happening…and the real challenge for me has to do with staying in that energetic state of mind that is my LEARNING ZONE.
I am discovering the point where I can flip over into my panic zone straight out of my learning zone without notice and without drawing breath.
For me the trigger is a feeling of ‘not good enough’. My ‘not good enough’ manifests as panic, rigidity and downright shut down.
When I manage to stay in my Learning Zone – that is the zone that is outside my comfort zone, that stretches me and grows me – I get to reap the benefits: excitement, aliveness, anticipation, and mostly flexibility. When I flip over and find myself out in terror-tory I can easily sink into panic – like being at the door of a perfectly good plane with no parachute on my back – no thanks.
The I-ching this month talks about not forcing and perhaps allowing a change to emerge and being ‘flexible’ enough to allow a change in a conviction. This for me this is key to helping me navigate back to my learning zone. Sometimes it’s as easy – and as hard – as asking the right question.
Last week I was locked out of my emails….my life line. I was not able to get onto ‘the system’ so I was not able to complete what I perceived as my work for the week. I admit to a few very stressful and panic moments. Feelings of helplessness, frustration and well, I’m sure you can all recognise that…I was in reaction most of the time. When I finally found some space from my panic, and asked myself: “I wonder what I can learn from this, why is this be happening now?” I realised that I needed some space to take a breath. It was like a gift – if I could have seen it. Ok, you need a few days off – here you go! What a shame that I didn't see that earlier and relax into something I couldn’t change anyway. What a waste of energy really that I could have channeled into chill-out!
There is an adage that we never change unless we HAVE to. Something will inevitably come along to force our hand and make us move in some direction. I think in this time of major upheavals on the planet, it might be time to take back that power, and bring in some proactiveness. I have decided that I need to really change my reactive nature in the face of not feeling good enough. I ‘know’ that my best IS good enough, so I choose to change. I have a choice where I choose to live; in my comfort zone where life is safe, easy and slightly boring; in my panic terror-tory where life is stressful, anxious and frustrating or in my learning zone where life is challenging, slightly risky and edgy, exciting and alive. If the question that I ask is: where am I living now in this moment? What is my answer? Am I in choice and I allowing myself an attitude of flexibility of conviction? If I can choose learning, I can choose…I am in choice…I am in the driver’s seat.
As we came through the recent equinox, where day and night are the same…it got me thinking about balance. In ESP we talk about the wagon wheel of life…how all 4 aspects of our lives – physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual need to have an equal listening to. That is, if we are focussing too much on one aspect to the detriment of the other 3, then our wheel is not in balance and will not turn as smoothly. It would be like being flung around the rim, not centred at the axis of the wheel. Yesterday a family member who drives an audi demonstrated the alarm that goes off in his car when one wheel is under-inflated. His car told me that there was a wheel that was out of balance and needed attention. If only we had a similar internal system.
I know, for instance, that if I spend less time on my physical than perhaps I could then I feel out of balance because of it. My body has a way of letting me know about this – with aches and pains, more weight, feeling tired or getting sick.
Intellectually I can get an alarm bell going off if I am feeling bored. For me, intellectual pursuits are linked with creativity. If I am not firing my creativity synapses, I will feel bored and lethargic. Stimulation of the intellect is called for – reading, writing, painting, music, singing. Particularly singing for me!
Emotionally I get an alarm if I am going down the path of staying back at the river. There is an old story – not sure of it origins – about a monk and his apprentice walking by a river. There is a woman at the river needing to cross. Their vows are such that they are forbidden to touch women. The woman begs for help to cross the river and the monk carries her across. About an hour later, the apprentice is very troubled and remarks to the monk that he should not have helped that woman that it went against their vows. The Monk said: “I left the woman back at the river, have you?” I am so often reminded that if I am carrying extra emotional burdens then there’s some leaving at the river I need to do.
Spiritually for me, I notice when I am feeling stressed about time, energy, money or direction, I am not paying enough attention to my inner world and some ‘me’ time is needed. I love the saying that if you don’t feel like you have enough time to meditate for 20 minutes a day you need to do an hour! If time, energy, money or direction feels like an issue, I commit to meditating more.
It’s all about balance. How are you travelling? How is your wheel feeling? Are you hanging on for grim death round the edges or are you centred in the axis, stable and solid with the whole of yourself?
Flexibility….how do we manage it?
A number of times over the last few weeks, I have been speaking to groups about the topic of flexibility. I’m constantly on about how flexibility is a useful state to hold in any presentation and allows you to truly be there for your audience.
This has got me thinking, what exactly is a “state of flexibility”?
A state of flexibility I believe involves all three realms, emotional, intellectual and even physical. The physical we can work on easily enough through exercise, yoga, tai chi etc. So how to work on the others? I believe non attachment is a key. Non attachment seems to instil an idea of flexibility.
I woke up with a phrase yesterday “Hold your values lightly”. I thought this was really exciting. So it’s about having values, having ideals and having opinions, and holding them lightly (ie without attachment) – so that you are able to listen and hear other values, ideals and opinions; to be OK that they are different from yours, and to even perhaps learn from them. If I am rigid with my opinions, they become dogma and I will never be in a state where I might learn from another’s ideas.
As a presenter, it’s important to stay a learner. What is the point of going into a situation where you had the idea that your audience wanted to know about cloud accounting, and when you get there they don’t even know what accounting is! Is it going to be useful to them for me to continue on with my prepared presentation and ignore that they completely don’t understand the basics of what I am talking about? Probably not, I would think. It would be of more value to stop and be ‘flexible’ enough to acknowledge where they are at and to meet them there.
To develop flexibility I also believe in the approach that it’s not about me! If I am coming from a position of positional power and I have things I want them to learn, then I am probably going to approach a presentation with my ego firmly upfront. The problem with that is, that egos are prone to bruising, and audiences’ responses, reactions and that monkey mind in my own head can be perceived to be negative, and my ego will jump to the defence. If I am coming from a position of service ( of personal power) then it’s not all about me – it’s about my ability to serve, to put my audiences’ needs at the fore and to go into dialogue and conversation, rather than lecture.
Making Sense of it all....
When so much violence, anger, fear and tragedy are surrounding us it is pretty hard to remain centered. How do we make sense of the senseless? How do we come to terms with so much death and destruction on our doorstep and for some of us it has crossed a threshold and come into our homes.
We have all been touched – we are all being touched. The world really is on the brink of so much and so many decisions that us as the 99.9% who have no influence or can barely make even a ripple of impact on the direction our world is heading, are more and more feeling helpless and hapless, as we are bombarded with the nastiness of human nature & the power games of those in charge.
I hear about war zones and can have tentative opinions about Gazza, about Iran, about Syria; in reality those warzones seem far away from my comfortable little life in southern Australia. Even hearing of the atrocities of our current government treating people seeking refuge worse than animals are treated, I feel like I can only scratch the surface of actually making a difference and encouraging reason to prevail.
When a plane with so many innocent souls are blown out of the sky, it somehow makes it all the more personal. This could have been any of us. The fact was, it was any of us. I am part of a wider community in mourning for a couple who were a living and breathing part of this community only last week. I had worked with one of them facilitating writers workshops as part of my previous job. I had met his wife. I did not know them, but they were part of the fabric of my community. Any loss in my community is my loss. The grief is as personal as it is communal.
For me, the post effect of this carnage is that I have a more heightened awareness of a world in strife, of a world enmeshed in anger, blame, hatred and violence. I’m now reading the stories of Christians in Iran and I know them as my story; I read about the cruelty of war zones in all of the many hot spots and I feel them as though they were happening in my back yard.
We know they are happening in our own back yards. The world is our yard.
I was reminded of the words of Martin Luther King “only in the darkness can we see the stars” as used by Christine Milne – Head of the Australian Greens last week. She used this in the context of the repealing of the Carbon Tax by the Australian Government. For me it has a broad and very pertinent relevance for the state of the planet.
This helps me make sense of it all. For those of us working in the ‘light’ – whatever form that takes for us personally – the growth of the darkness means that our light will shine brighter. We may not have power and ‘influence’ on our side, but we certainly have the numbers. Our job as the 99.9% is to keep the light shining and shining a light when and where we can to counteract the darkness. For me that means making sure I choose love. Making sure I start with love for myself. Staying true to myself and remaining vigilant of when I am drawn into the anger, hatred and darkness and choose despair over consciousness and effect. For me it means going still more often. Making sure I read the good and uplifting stories as much as I read the death and destruction stories. Making sure I love those close around me ferociously, and extending that ferociousness out into my community who are grieving, and into the world that is brokenhearted.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear” Martin Luther King
Here is a link to a Calming the Heart meditation which also might help....
There is so much information coming at us so fast. It seems that everyone has an opinion about something, that there are people with really loud voices or really broad reach; people who can do things SO much better than I can.
It has taken me a while to learn that what I have to say matters. It is a constant learning to understand that my voice is important and even though it may seem sometimes that I am spouting the same thing that so many others are – I actually have a unique perspective on things: My perspective.
No one else has the same perspective that I do.
No one else brings the same experience, the same passion, the same ideas.
I am unique and worth listening to.
You are unique and worth listening to.
Keep shouting, keep talking, keep your own perspective.
Here's a link to an interesting article that questions the whole notion of loving what you do and doing what you love.
It raises some ideas that I hadn't really thought about in terms of creating a life. It is really saying that the whole idea of loving what you do and only doing what you love is devaluing 'real work' and therefore 'real workers' - meaning people who have jobs that we all rely on, but are by definition unloveable, like carers or cleaners - all service jobs infact.
So this has really got me thinking. We all understand the reality of this life, and the fact that to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads, we need to earn money. Some people earn more money than other people. Some people just have money and don't need to earn a cent throughout their lives. Some people choose not to want to have money and strive to live off the grid. Some of us are driven to help, some are drive to earn, some are just driven.
So is it the right question to ask whether we need to love what we do? Or is it better to ask: does what we do giving us meaning? If the answer to that is 'yes' then wouldn't we automatically feel good about ourselves? Then we can work towards loving who we are being; andbeing someone we love! I trust and hope that people who are called to serve are finding love and meaning through the work they are doing and the people they are being.
- Merryn ♥
How do we make peace with a values clash?
We choose our friends, our colleagues, our mentors and make choices about who we spend time with, or even what we spend our time doing, based on an alignment of values. To me, values are our basic ideals, the things that we truly believe in that make a difference to how we operate in the world. They are what define us. Our basic standards and the things that when all is lined up, help us feel happy, proud and fulfilled.
So what happens when we are dictated to by a situation we find ourselves in and we ‘have to’ align to values that don’t resonate with us? Like working in an organisation where values are set by the CEO with little or no consultation? Or finding ourselves in a country where the ‘leaders’ – who were instated by a proper and democratic system - are espousing ideals that are so far from our set of values that we may as well be living on another planet?
Well that’s how I feel. So how do I reconcile myself with this?
Democracy throws this up as a matter of course. The system is designed that I get one little vote – and make it count!! – and that is all I can say for the next 4 years! I do get to feel slightly placated by being able to lend support to alternative methods, independent bodies that can publicise that not everyone actually thinks that treating people who are fleeing vilification from their own country need to be treated as prisoners and outlaws in the country they are asking for help from; or that the planet needs looking after and climate change is real, and big business does not call the shots in my life (wish).
I guess if a values clash is happening at an organisational level, there is always an option to leave and find an organisation that I can align to, or create one myself. It’s not so easy when confronted with leaders of a country. I have a vision of something different. I will hold strong to my values, and know what is important to me and shout it loud and proud. I may not be heard by the masses, but I will be heard by my conscience.
Seek first to Understand...
It is not only indigenous people who need to be fighting for indigenous land ownership, reconciliation and indigenous rights.
It is not only people with a disability who need to be advocating for ramps, hearing loops and the NDIS.
It is not only gay people who get to stand up for everyone's right to an equally recognised family unit.
It is everyone's responsibility to stand up for the rights of all to be equal.
It is everyone's concern that all people from all walks of life have the same opportunities.
I encourage all people to advocate for all people.
I encourage straight people to stand up for gay and gay to stand for straight.
I encourage men to stand for women and women to stand for men.
I encourage us to stand shoulder to shoulder FOR each other and WITH each other.
No boundaries, no distinctions.
So writers block has hit me like a tonne of HB lead. I’ve been sitting on my hands for the past month feeling uninspired and unenthusiastic. I feel like I don’t have anything extra to offer, than what has been said already. My perspective is introspective and therefore not relevant, not interesting.
So all of that being the case, I was reminded about the chasm that would be left if everyone in history who has ever written anything down, who has ever had an opinion about anything, kept their pencils sharp and never wrote a word; or kept their lips glossed and never spoke.
How bereft our world would be without the philosophy of Aristotle, Ekkhart Tolle, Depak Chopra, Caroline Myss. How empty would our imaginations be without JR Tolkein, JK Rowling, Stephen R. Donaldson (think I need to re-brand, MC Tinkler has a nice ring to it!)
Not to say that I am in anyway putting myself in that category, but maybe, just maybe there is someone out there who reads something I have to say and that makes all the difference to them on that day. Who am I to hide myself under a bushel and NOT let the world know what I have to say. Who am I NOT to try my best to be my best?
In the words of the wonderful Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
So here I am offering up some liberation. I will keep on writing. I will keep on opinionating. I will encourage everyone I meet to do the same so I can be inspired by them in return. For me that’s a key. We are ALL meant to shine. So I will celebrate other people’s opinions as I celebrate my own.…Let’s all shine on!
What do Feelings feel like?
Ok – weird right? Feelings actually feel like something? When I began this journey of awareness, I wanted to feel better. I was told that is one thing awareness brings…feeling better. I get to feel my feelings…better. That is I’d get to feel my anger better, my joy better, my sadness better, my love better etc? Not quite what I had in mind but there you go!
I heard the Dali Lama talk a number of years ago. His take on it was that working towards enlightenment was not about coming to a state of equilibrium in terms of feeling states, but being able to navigate all the feelings, the ups and the downs, the good and the so called bad, with greater skill. That would be a cool thing eh?
So let’s have a look at a few feelings….
Anxiety- I have heard that breathing is the only difference between anxiety and excitement, which can feel pretty much the same on a body level…right?...breathy, heart racing, sweaty palm kind of feelings. So it’s good to experiment with your breath when you think you are experiencing anxiety, which by the way, is often accompanied by thoughts about the future. So some nice deep breaths into your belly can ground that feeling into excitement. Wild…I relate to it…it can work.
Fear- can manifest as the hair standing up on the back of your neck, or nausea, or butterflies, depending on the circumstance. Fear which is actually a manifestation of being in danger is more likely the hair thing, and something to take notice of. Butterfly fear is probably something that can be worked with – like fear of presenting, fear of conflict (yep I really should have that conversation!) or fear of heights. Not necessarily rational but a real and a physical feeling all the same.
Anger –mmm for me, it’s very upwards, very hot. If I look back on times of feeling angry, there was also a tingling feeling on my skin and a feeling of a bursting of energy that needs releasing somehow. I’ve been told this is another feeling that can be re-directed by breathing and grounding it into motivation, into a positive healthy action.
Joy - is also an upward and outwards feeling. Lighter and more expansive than anger. Less hot and more light – if that’s a description?...and you’d probably be having a grin from ear to ear!
Love…love…love. What does love feel like? For me I relate to an actual expansiveness in my chest, like an opening of a flower except bigger. Maaaaawww …yep it’s a beautiful mushy feeling alright.
What are some of your feelings and what do they feel like for you?