Practice for moving into flow
This practice is adapted from the work of Wendy Palmer.
It is a way of re-centering the body and coming back into a place of flow.
Sit comfortably and gently close your eyes
Notice your breath
As you inhale imagine your breath is a spiral column connecting to the lightness of the heavens
As you exhale imagine your breath is a spiral column rooting you into the ground
Inhale to the heavens
Exhale to the ground
Inhale to the heavens
Exhale to the ground
Notice the energy field around your body
- is it even front and back? even it out
- is it even on either side? even it out
- is it even top and bottom even it out
Place your hand on your belly, imagine your hips are your favourite mountain
Place your hand on your heart, imagine your heart is your favourite ocean
Place your attention on your mind, imagine your mind is the wide blue of the sky
Consciously relax your shoulders and jaw
Find one quality that you would like a little more of to take back
Ask your body “what would it be like if there was just a little more……” (ease, confidence, stillness…..)
Coaching and art
I am frequently asked to describe what coaching is. It can be summed up by a line from Leonard Cohen’s well known song, Dance me to the End of Love: “Show me slowly what I only know the limits of.” The lyrics of the song were published together with a selection of paintings by Henri Matisse and the page inserted in this post remind me of the often circuitous and iterative way that coaching brings about its results. Through practice, through the mind and also working with body, coaching brings us into a way of being that seemed impossible before.
Coaching takes a heuristic approach. It is discovery through experimentation. In this way it can be like an artistic process, creating space for the linear and objective-orientated as well as the creative and flowing. Writes Diane Lennard in Coaching Models: A Cultural Perspective (2010): “I believe there is a strong relationship between the arts and the cognitive process of inquiry. The artistic process of experimenting with word images, sound, and movement is a form of heuristic inquiry. It involves exploring new combinations of these elements, investigating how they interact with one another, what responses they evoke or don’t evoke in others. Discovery, trial and error, observation, and evaluation are essential throughout.”
Death and dying
How do you view your own death? I was impressed by this delivery on the subject of death by Steven Jenkinson, ceremonialist and author of the book “Die Wise” (2015). He talks about how as a culture there is death phobia and that there is poor grief literacy. “That people’s right to die badly is routinely defended.” It touched on something that has long made me uneasy: this relentless quest to “not die,” to prolong life no matter how poor the quality of that life is, a denying of dying. Jenkinson invites his audience into a different relationship with dying. He talks of “dying well” as a responsibility to our ancestors and our heirs.
I shall be open now to making death my trusty companion, a daily reminder of my mortality, so that perhaps I might seize the day more fully. Embracing mortality is well supported by the spiritual traditions and some measure spiritual development by how welcome death is to the individual. In the “Book of Joy,” the Dalai Lama describes how he practices a meditation five times a day that takes him through death and rebirth and reminds the reader how “it is the nature of all things that come into existence to have an end.”
And of course, symbolically, without death, there cannot be something new. In “The Mythic Tarot” written by Juliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Green with cards illustrated by Tricia Newell, Death is a black figure in a cloak, a symbol of the experience of mourning and the necessity to prepare for a new cycle. “… Death, represents that in-between state where we are brought face to face with the complete irrevocability of our loss, before the sense of new growth has begun.” In the image, the figure of Death receives gifts from tiny people, these are the seeds that will grow in the new dawn on the horizon, on the other side of the river.
Educated by Tara Westover
This quotation sums up the book for me. It is about the choice and the cost of following our own truth:
“I will offer, one final time, to give you a blessing,” he said. The blessing was a mercy. He was offering me the same terms of surrender he had offered my sister. I imagine what a relief it must have been for her, to realize she could trade her reality – the one she shared with me – for his. How grateful she must have felt to pay such a modest price. I could not judge her for her choice, but in that moment I knew I could not choose it for myself. Everything I had worked for, all my years of study had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind. I had come believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self–create. If I yielded now, I would lose more than an argument. I would lose custody of my own mind. This was the price I was being asked to pay, I understood that now. What my father wanted to cast from me wasn’t a demon: it was me.” From Educated by Tara Westover, 2018
Deep work by Cal Newport
Adapted from a post in Smarter Living on the New York Times on 14 January 2019
Deep work is the activity of focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It describes, in other words, when you’re really locked into doing something hard with your mind.
In order for a session to count as deep work there must be zero distractions. Even a quick glance at your phone or email inbox can significantly reduce your performance due to the cost of context switching.
Every time you switch your attention from one target to another and then back again, there’s a cost. This switching creates an effect that psychologists call attention residue, which can reduce your cognitive capacity for a non-trivial amount of time before it clears. If you constantly make “quick checks” of various devices and inboxes, you essentially keep yourself in a state of persistent attention residue, which is a terrible idea if you’re someone who uses your brain to make a living.
Two rules for “Deep Work:”
- Don’t get distracted by the internet and social media. People need to be way more intentional and selective about what apps and services they allow into their digital lives.
- Drain the shallows. “Shallow work” is anything that doesn’t require uninterrupted concentration. This includes, for example, most administrative tasks like answering email or scheduling meetings.
If you allow your schedule to become dominated by shallow work, you’ll never find time to do the deep efforts that really move the needle. It’s really important to aggressively minimize optional shallow work and then be very organized and productive about how you execute what remains.
It’s not that shallow work is bad, but that its opposite, deep work, is so valuable that you have to do everything you can to make room for it. Instead of focusing too much on what’s bad about distractions, it’s important to step back and remember what’s so valuable about its opposite. Concentration is like a super power in most knowledge work pursuits. If you take the time to cultivate this power, you’ll never look back.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying
Marie Kondo says that we should hold each item in our home and allow it to speak to us, we should ask ourselves the question: “Does this spark joy?” If not we should acknowledge and appreciate the purpose of that object in our lives and let it go. Kondo writes in her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying:”
“Sort by category, in the correct order, and keep only those things that inspire joy. Do this thoroughly and quickly, all in one go. If you follow this advice, you will dramatically reduce the volume of things you own, experience an exhilaration you have never known before and gain confidence in your life.”
If you sit still….
All that you are seeking, is also seeking you. If you sit still, it will find you. It has been waiting for you a long time.”
CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTES
Watch your mind, how it comes into being, how it operates. As you watch your mind, you discover yourself as the watcher. When you stand motionless, only watching, you discover your self as the light behind the watcher. The source of light is dark, unknown is the source of knowledge. That source alone is. Go back to that source and abide there.
Yoga gives you a way to create inner sanctuary
“Yoga gives you a way to create inner sanctuary: a safe haven that cradles you and gives you strength when you need it most.”