Heard a speaker tonight talk about mindfulness in one’s life. One concept that stood out for me was that of how we get in our own way. He suggested reframing our lives.
His point was that we are taught in this culture to follow a path, for example, to high school, college, job, better job, even better job, retirement. He called this the path of knowledge and the development of the “supermind,” a term he did not like. His philosophy is that one should stop somewhere on that path and engage the “supramind” instead, and be on a path to wisdom. He maintains that the way to do this is through mindfulness, which he defined, according to my notes, as purposely paying attention to the present moment, without judgment, and to do this every moment, and the next and the next. He challenged us to anchor ourselves to the present moment and exist, for a time, nonconceptually. As a thought comes to mind, call it interesting and go back to paying attention to one’s breath. His studies indicate that this practice actually increases our productivity. Corporations are beginning to embrace this practice. He talked of the importance of living a stress-free life and someone made the comment that with stress 70% of one’s brain is hijacked. He added that to experience belonging and oneness one must reduce the stress that makes us feel threatened, powerless, helpless and in despair.
He wore black beads on his wrist, not just because it was a typical thing worn by someone who is into such spiritual exercises. He wore them because his sister died young, without warning, at age 30. It is to remind him of the impermanence of life, and instead of living the “paint by numbers” superself life, to live the “blank canvas” of the supraself life, a life of wisdom and authenticity. He urged that we use mindfulness to reframe how we think of ourselves. He gave an example of learning to see oneself for the first time, and fall in love with the person. He asked us to answer the compelling question, “How am I not being my authentic self?”
Speaker was Dr. William Brendel who teaches at St. Thomas.
I follow a few rules in order to live in this world. Some of them were learned in my life coaching training at Adler Graduate School. One is to hold people as clients as “creative, resourceful and whole.” If a person is on my doorstep asking for coaching, I will believe this to be true.
Adler states that we are social beings who want to belong and find our place in a group. Have you been in a group where you have nothing in common with others? What do you do? Do you change your behavior to fit in? Do you look harder for something in common? Do you keep quiet and observe? Lately I speak up and share my perspective, to the surprise of the listeners. I then tuck up their chin to close their mouths and enjoy the teaching moment.
How we react to the world is a choice. Do we let something get to us? Or let it go? I know that to let things go is very hard, and it requires strength and diligence. It sometimes seems impossible to do. Adler also recognizes that we are motivated by setting goals, not by being nagged into action. No one likes being nagged.
Adler states that how we see the world is not based on absolute truth but on how we assign meaning to it. We look for patterns into which details will fit. An experiment was done at Harvard Medical School where they took some kittens and brought them up in a room that had only horizontal stripes. When these kittens grew up, they could see nothing other than a horizontal world. They took some other kittens and brought them up in a room that had only vertical stripes, and when these kittens grew up they could see nothing other than a vertical world. Of course, it had nothing to do with the belief system of these cats.
Life coaching can help you see more than vertical or horizontal stripes. Through conversations and questions to challenge your perspectives, it can help you find a goal that will make you want to jump out of bed in the morning. Life coaching honors your values and sees you as creative, resourceful and whole.
An Adlerian life coach holds that
• The client is creative, resourceful and whole.
• We are social beings who want to belong. and to find our place within a group.
• We are self-determining and creative. We shape our destiny and we decide how we will react to the world.
• We are goal-directed, not pushed by circumstances, but pulled by our goals.
• We give meaning to life. There is not an absolute truth, but reality or truth is how we feel about it and what it means to us.
• We are a part of a whole, and look for patterns into which details will fit.
I am seeing the need to establish another ritual in my life. I’d like to have a morning ritual beyond running for the bathroom and dodging hungry cats.
In college, Wednesday night was “Ritual Night” for my friends and me. At 10:30 pm, no matter where we were in our studies, we all gathered at Culla’s Tavern. Culla was still alive at the time, and would spend her time playing Yahtzee at the end of the bar with her friends. The place served only 3.2 beer, but a pitcher was $1.25, so it was just a matter of processing more to build up to a comfortable buzz. There were hardboiled eggs, nuts and chips behind the bar. I remember three songs played on the jukebox. Songs played were, “10th Avenue Freeze Out” by Bruce Springsteen, “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton and “Shattered” by the Rolling Stones. There were pinball machines like Star Trek which were 3 games for a quarter. The place was a dive, but on Augsburg College property, it was a bit of an embarrassment to the school. I understand the bar was not charged rent so the college could keep it off the annual report.
I will share one ritual that I do when I am driving.
1. Gratitude – say all the things I am grateful for at that moment. I am told one cannot hold depressed thoughts at the same time as one holds thoughts of gratitude. I will look for that article.
2. Requests – I have read everywhere in my research that angels are waiting for us to ask for help. Like vampires at a threshold, they can’t act until we ask for help.
3. Benevolent energy – I ask the universe to send energy to a list of people. This gets to be like prayer, I suppose. I am told the angels know the list and there is no need to recite it each time. I usually say “send benevolent energy to the usual suspects.” My angels must have a sense of humor, as I have not yet been struck by lightning for my “phraseology” of these prayers.
4. Intention – I restate a commitment to myself and the world, visualizing how I see it happening. This crosses into manifesting, picturing something as if it already happened.
5. Listening – a recently added step. I realized I was not listening for an answer. Answers can come in as sentence fragments or snapshots of images. Since I started paying attention, this information is happening more often.
Having a ritual in one’s life, whether it is drinking cheap beer and playing pinball, or a list of prayers and angel requests, is important. Good to stop, switch gears, and recharge oneself. As I consider my new morning ritual I can’t help think it involves first cranking up the tune “Safety Dance.”
I don’t remember a day when I did not see my dad refer to a map, a dictionary, or a volume of his 1964 World Book encyclopedias. Knowledge was not only respected in our house, it was required to be accurate as well, as gauged by the documents noted above.
I grew up in a world of facts and measurements. There were no approximations in my childhood home. Something wasn’t “about 400 miles” but “356 if you take this freeway and 425 if you take these highways.” The time was never “between 2 and 3 o’clock” but “2 o’clock and you arrive at 1:50.”
My dad was an engineer and lived in a world of black and white. I take after him, in my need for logic, order and control. Every job I ever had has required working with very specific information. There were no estimates. How many times have I said, “What date was the check mailed? What was the amount? What address was it sent to?” I step outside the workplace to encounter people who will be over “between 8 and noon” to fix the fridge, or will do something “later” or they will “call back on Tuesday” and don’t – and I am lost.
I have been able to use this to my advantage by being a copy editor and proofreader. I can use my need for perfection to bring a document as close to that point as possible. I get satisfaction in that way. Still, living in a world of approximations, procrastination and vague agreements cause stress in my life. Being a control freak controls my life and I am forever the teenage girl by the phone, waiting for it to ring.
The role of “hero” figured strongly in this weekend’s science fiction convention, Comicon. The celebrity guests have all played heroes on tv or in movies. People chose to wear costumes of characters who are their heroes.
My studies indicate the definition of what we consider a hero is changing. We generally picture swashbuckling, dynamic heroes, loaded with sex appeal and boldness: the Han Solos of the world. I see the new heroes as ones who can maintain their calmness amidst chaos. I think Jack Harkness of the tv show “Torchwood” counts as a new hero.
We would find strength in his peace and be confident in his actions. His first choice won’t be to brandish a sword. He will still succeed but not by violence and battles, without good cause.
Can you think of other heroes and determine which fall under the old paradigm, and which are under the new?