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.
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?
I chose to use poison in the garden today. To get at that rotten grass that has roots that go all the way to China and cuts through garden gloves if you try to pull it out. I thought I would blast it – the technology was there right in my shed. So blast it I did…and then I got to feeling guilty and thinking.
So what of my inner weeds. Should I blast them, or pull them out and risk getting hurt. Should I let them grow and overtake me and my vitality; let them hold me back, tie me down. Most often there is the temptation to lock the inner weeds away in the basement and throw away the key. But that’s the thing with weeds, they thrive in the dark and they have a sneaky way of coming to the surface when you least expect it. From their dark home they go on influencing…and growing.
I decided the metaphorical poison I use for my inner weeds is presencing, by that I mean coming right into the present moment and seeing what’s really there. The inner weeds took root sometime in the past. Somewhere in the past I started to believe things like “I am not good enough” or “It is all my fault” and those weeds took hold and I fed them with my belief. They thrive on belief you know.
The key is composting . From the present moment I can make a choice to compost those weeds. Bringing them out into the light helps first. Naming them and owning them and making a choice to add them to the compost so they “fertilise the future” as my friend Amanda Fleming would say. This is the technology in our tool shed. Like Tinkerbell – we need to believe in fairies to make them real. It takes perseverance, honesty and willingness and often this can feel like hard work. It was a powerful realisation – the garden will be pleased. I’ve decided to put the work in rather than use poison the next time.
Can I have a say please...
I’ve been way distracted by the goings on in Australian politics. So distracted that all I have done is write to politicians to express my horror, amazement and utter annoyance at the crazy waste of time and space that are our leaders are using up. To be honest, I don’t actually believe any of our current politicians display anything that remotely even scrapes the surface of leadership. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Labour and Liberals – not sure which is which.
Yes we live in a world of duality. Right, wrong; man, woman; big, small; right and left?. It amazes me that not more of us walk around with a split personality. Centuries of this kind of thinking have conditioned us all to be split down the middle. To have strong opinions and unchangeable stances on one side or the other.
Where is the leader that can hold their centre. Not the centre politically speaking, and not a mamby pamby hold no opinion, or wait for what the polls say excuse for a leader. Not someone who wants to react to a yes with an immediate no. Not someone who doesn’t take any time to see, but judges on first look. Where is the someone who can hold a neutral space?. Someone who is lead by their value system which is a value system that values the all.? That takes time and has the ability to truly listen.? Who goes for the win win.? Who leads from the heart.?
OK – so obviously I have way too high a standards? But hey, I am living in this world after all. Can I have a say please?
I am a chronically early person. I arrive 10 minutes early for everything. Even the dentist! I’ve always been early, was even born early. My nickname is early Merly. I find that my anxiety levels rise when I have to be somewhere, to do something. When someone else is dependent on me to be there – even if that is the dentist. I have made an agreement and I will honour that above everything else in my life. For some reason my sense of living in the present goes out the window and I take a step into the future – and surprise surprise, carry some anxiety with me.
I never have allowed my white rabbit to really surface. Just the thought of it causes me stress. I saw how is worked just yesterday on the road – driving anywhere it’s hard not to come across someone who is late, late, late for a very important date…so important that anything that gets in the way is treated with distain and a loud blow of the horn.
I’m starting to realise that there is little difference between that stressed out person who is very late and very important to me who feels just as justified in ‘being stressed’ to make sure I am 10 minutes early.
All that talk about Timey Wimey (Dr. Who ref) stuff is really so irrelevant when we think about it. What perspective am I coming from? If its true that anxiety is always about living in the future, which I do believe, then here is my challenge. To remain in the present. To be where I am now and know that from there I can make decisions about how I want to be. From here I find that I will always be exactly on time – in alignment with other people and knowing that the time is always perfect.
Life is not a business to be managed; it’s a mystery to be lived. My goal is to live more like a sage…a sage always walks, (S)he never runs, (S)he may be in a hurry but (s)he never runs.
What is your relationship with time?
There is trouble brewing…right here in the great southern land…Trouble with a capital T, that rhymes with E; that stands for Election! (Apologies to the Music Man!)
For my non-Aussie readers, Australia is heading for a federal election in September. Our current Prime Minister happens to be female. The gender card is on the agenda and the proverbial S**t is being slung. I’m over the 1950’s school yard antics! It is all a big fat (!) distraction from the lack of policy and real debate. I mean...seriously. What is going on?
I had a teacher once who said that if you think that there is a difference between male and female you are involved in seduction. So it has got me thinking about the difference. We are in a society where the only words we have to describe the gender other than male has reference to man in it…wo-man – the derivative of wifman which is a man’s wife. From what I can find, “female” comes from the Latin femella, the diminutive form of femina, meaning "woman". It is not etymologically related to the word male, but in the late 14th century the spelling was altered in English to parallel the spelling of male (of course!) (thanks Wikipedia!).
I have heard another take on the word female….FE being the chemical element of IRON – so in fact, Females are the ultimate IRON-MAN! (credit unknown)
But back to the difference. Sure we have different genitalia. Other than that I really don’t believe there is much else in it. My partner’s star sign is Scorpio, mine is Piscean. That is about as different as people are. We all bleed, we all ache, we all have different histories, but we all have a history. We all have opinions about things that might not be the same as our neighbours, but to be threatened by different beliefs is just not useful.
A few weeks ago, Victoria's new Women's Minister Heidi Victoria (confusing I know) said it would be naive to think equal gender representation could be achieved in Victorian Parliament because women are generally ''nurturers'' and politics is too demanding. (Read “too bullying to women”!)
We think that the natural state of a women is soft, gentle, yielding (or should be) It's just not true; Women do not need to grow balls to be in leadership positions. We need to be accepted as the same – as not different. We need to be accepted on face value with no preconceptions. We need to be judged by our actions and achievements just like men.
There seems to me to be a real issue here with the concept that we are being governed by a system that is not nurturing. Question – why can’t politics be nurturing? Shouldn’t the very system that is there to support us – the community, also support the people who are brave enough to take on positions of leadership? Surely we need this to be a nurturing support!
Secondly, by implication, this statement is saying that men are not nurturing. Well I have issue with this as well. Some of the most nurturing people I know are men.
So the following day across the world in the UK – Glena Jackson launches a tirade against Thatcherism. One of the strongest lines from her very cohesive speech was when she talked about Britain in war times, when women didn’t run the government, but they did run the country. This made me smile. Reminds me of the old paradigm adage that behind every successful man is a good woman. My hope is that those times are long gone, and that women can stand front of the line now…(sigh!*#).
Why are these men so threatened and think that it is OK to set examples to our community that allow the denigration of someone’s character based not on what they do but by the genitalia they happen to have. It set a scene that allows for sickos to believe they have a right to bash, rape, murder out of a sense of power over. I know that might be a big leap for some, but these are our leaders acting out this stuff and condoning the behaviour that it’s a hoot and hilarious to vilify on the basis of gender…its just another expression of the same belief.
Australian politics has disintegrated to the lowest of lows. Tit for tat, ball for bat; all bully tactics. Come on guys, grow up. Love is all there is! I am imagining a political landscape that came from the basis of love first. I don’t mind seeming naive!
A teacher of mine once said that there are no original ideas anymore; it is all just new and different expressions of the same idea. So a smart phone is just a new expression of 2 tin cans and a piece of string. An ipod is a new expression of a pianola. A car a new and different expression of a horse and cart. She said that in the early 90’s; before I had a computer at home. Before having access to ‘ideas’ at my fingertips. We all know we live in the age of the information revolution. We all can find anything we need to know about anything with a search and a click. So are we just re-imagining the same things or is there room for something really new?
I am loving hearing so many stories about young people re-imagining their worlds; coming up with amazing inventions that solve a problem. Here’s a couple of my favs:
A 13 year old boy in Massai invents a solution to lion attacks of cattle:
Next is this one on possible sources of power…I’m not sure of the science behind this, but I love the concept:
As the information age blooms and we are re-aligning our priorities towards new expressions that prioritise communities and connection over material things – well hopefully - I wonder if we are allowing the possibilities of re-creating a platform where we can grow completely new/original ideas? Have we reached an evolutionary stage that could possibly prove my teacher wrong? I for one would like to think that there is renewed potential for original ideas – things that we have never thought of; concepts that we have not even dreamt of. Unless we can imagine a brand new world with brand new ideas, are we doomed to the same same? Capitalism, so-called democracy and a money lead society is clearly not working. As Einstein said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”
Bring on the new ideas...please!