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....