Tag: mindset

Slow Down and Do More

Slow down and do more.

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR on Unsplash

Slow down and do more. You might think these two things don’t belong together. How do you work slower and do more? Would that work? I think so! 

As a younger parent working full time, I felt like I had to be rushing around all the time. I was often trying to do more than one thing at a time. Of course, now we all know there is no such thing as multitasking. Rather, you are just switching from one task to another and ultimately not doing any of it very well or faster. 

The first time I practiced mindfulness, I was trying to focus on one task with all my senses. I decided to focus on scrambling my eggs in the morning before work. I used all my senses and scrambled the eggs. Normally, I would try to check emails, make lunch, or something else on my to-do list while I made breakfast.

Standing Steady Between Praise or Blame

“When we find our center and our balance in the midst of these opposites…. we can find our ease and our freedom in the midst of these changing winds.”-Gayathri Narayanan

Photo by Jean-Pierre Brungs on Unsplash

What does standing steady between praise and blame mean to you? How do you respond to praise and blame? Do you crave and seek out praise? Do you resist, ignore, or avoid blame? As an educator and a school leader, I was told to develop a ‘thick skin’ or ‘armor’ when blame and negative comments came my way. Alternatively, I was told to soak in all the praise when it came my way. I was not standing steady between praise and blame. I was being pulled from one end to another, placing my value and worth on other people’s opinions. I have realized that may not be the way to go and there are other options.

From Stillness to Clarity

Stillness can lead to clarity.

Photo by Geranimo on Unsplash

Stillness can lead to clarity. My yoga teacher mentioned stillness and clarity as he encouraged us to hold a pose. The more I thought about this idea, I realized that you can reach stillness in many ways, actually being physically still is just one of them. 

I often think of my best ideas or solutions, when my mind is still but maybe not my body. Stillness can be interpreted in many ways. I recently saw a funny advertisement for a mattress where a person wakes up from a good night’s rest and exclaims, “I know where my passport is!” I don’t know if a good mattress or one night’s sleep can bring you this much clarity but I have experienced moments of clarity when I feel stillness. 

Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity

Lao Tzu

I define stillness as more than being physically still.

Pay Attention to Failure

What is failure telling you?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

What if we pay attention to failure, really think about what it is trying to teach us, and make future decisions based on our past failures? We can approach failure in many ways. We can decide to ignore our failures and move along. We can feel shame about them and not address them. There are so many ways to deal with failure. We could think about each failure and wonder what it can teach us. What is a failure trying to tell you? As my yoga teacher would say…Falling out of a position is an invitation to try again. That is how I am trying to embrace failure nowadays. Failure is an invitation to get back in and learn from it.

When I was just out of college, I moved to New York City and started my job search. I went on job interview after interview in the NYC publishing world.

Be a Human with a Human

I first heard this phrase when attending the ten-day intensive part of my executive coaching certification through Berkeley. “Be a human with a human.” noted one of the faculty coaches before they launched us into one of our first practicums where we coached a stranger in front of each other and received feedback. I was so nervous and was at the beginning of this journey, not feeling like I had the skills as yet to do a great job. A lot of self-doubt was creeping into my mind until I heard this phrase. Being a human with a human seemed doable to me. It was a reality that felt approachable, comfortable, and true. After all, we are just two human beings talking to each other. 

I saw the true expression of this phrase in a brilliant movie. Recently, I had the privilege to watch an early screening of Ava Duvernay’s new film, Origin, about the author Isabel Wilkerson’s journey to writing her book Caste while coping with personal loss.

Composting Your Thoughts

Photo by Toni Reed on Unsplash

Do you ever feel like your mind is buzzing with thought after thought? This happens to me often. I used to think it would help to get rid of or suppress the thoughts, then I could be mindful and focused. I was wrong! That did not work! I recently learned about composting thoughts as a strategy to deal with the sometimes constant unhelpful rumination in my mind.

First, I notice when I am having a stream of thoughts. Then, as my meditation teacher taught me, I visualize each thought as a green bean in a colander. As each thought comes up, I take a green bean out of the colander and sort it. Helpful thoughts, crisp and firm beans, go in the bowl and unhelpful thoughts, mushy and discolored, go in the compost bucket.

At first, I thought I was throwing out the unhelpful thoughts but then I thought about how compost turns into nutrient-rich soil, eventually.

Broadening your Circle of Comfort

Have you ever tried to broaden your circle of comfort?

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Have you ever tried to broaden your circle of comfort? Did it feel risky? Scary? My very wise and thoughtful meditation teacher, Gayathri, recently spoke to our class about this idea of expanding your comfort zone. Somehow, this wording landed much better with me than the usual phrase of saying, ‘Take more risks.’ It felt more expansive and doable. It felt less scary. 

I am a person who generally enjoyed a small comfort zone for most of my life. I like structure, predictability, and daily routines which sometimes led me to have a small comfort zone and in turn, led me to see many things as full of risk. I have had many transitions in my adult life. In these transition times, I am often faced with a decision of whether to expand or contract my comfort zone.

Take What Works, Leave the Rest

Do you hear the opportunity in this phrase?

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

Take what works and leave the rest. I have heard this expression a few times in various settings. At first, I thought, is this what you say when you don’t feel like completing something? When I was growing up in an immigrant family that came to the U.S. in the early 1970s, my dad would often hold us captive for his many lectures on life, hard work, and success. One of his frequent lines to us, especially if we complained about something school-related, was, “90% of life is doing what you don’t want to do.” So basically, get over it and just do it! Recently, my 24-year-old son was complaining about something at work and he said, “I know what you always say, 80 % of life is doing what you don’t want to do.” Hmmm. That did not sound like positive parenting when I heard it said back to me that way.

It’s Not About the Destination

It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

I am sure you have heard these statements before. Recently, I was in a yoga class and the teacher said to lower your head towards the floor. Then he said, it’s not a destination, just think about how you might head that way. Hmm, I thought. This statement resonated with me. 

I used to function under the premise of working by setting a goal and achieving it. Then I would set a new goal and achieve that. Almost like jumping hurdles in a track race. I moved along in my career and in parenthood like that for many years. I would go through the routine for work and home day by day, accomplishing tasks and meeting goals.

FOCUS ON THE JOURNEY

Now further along in my career and in parenting with two children over twenty, I do things a bit differently.

Challenge without Strain?

Can you have a challenge without strain?

Photo by Luemen Rutkowski on Unsplash

Recently while holding a pose in yoga class, the teacher mentioned that you should feel challenged without strain. I wondered about these two words. I used to think a challenge had to come with strain. There was no other option. How do you separate the two? Can you separate these ideas? The practice of yoga and meditation has helped me to discover that yes in fact you can separate challenge and strain. 

Challenge and strain are two different things that sometimes co-exist. Challenge is defined as something new and difficult that requires great effort by Meriam Webster’s dictionary. Strain is defined as stretching to maximum extension and tautness, to injure by overuse, misuse, or excessive pressure. 

Growing up in an immigrant family, I was taught that challenge and strain were inextricably connected. If something was difficult and arduous then it was worthwhile.