How conscious do you want to be?

The other day I came across the most gorgeous graphics. They came by way of Integral Life, and in particular, the work of Beena Sharma and Susanne Cook-Greuter. Their article and work is titled  The Stages of Leadership Maturity. 

As fate would have it, the same day I came across this work, I was scheduled to present a lecture on “QUANTUM LEADERSHIP” at Case Western Reserve University. My presentation opened with the following quote:

“Becoming a leader is the same as becoming a fully integrated human being.” – Ken Wilber

The deeper I move into my own “work” both personally and professionally, I see  how true this is– and it reaffirms, once and perhaps for all, why I do the work I do.

We cannot improve community/public health or have flourishing enterprises UNTIL we help individuals become leaders of their own lives.  How? Through education of the behaviors that comprise what many, including myself and my colleagues, call “21st century leadership skills”.

These “soft skills” are actually quite potent and necessary. Behaviors such as  cooperation, kindness, contemplative practices, mental and emotional awareness and regulation, among many others practices are necessary proficiencies for all of us because they support our becoming integrated human beings.  

All of these “coincidences” reminded me of a little chart I put together a few years ago as a way to describe the stages of awareness (consciousness) relative to health and well-being. (LINKED HERE) [NOTE: this table was very much inspired by the work of David Hawkins’ MAP OF CONSCIOUSNESS]

Without having a gauge for “where we are”, it is difficult, in this third-dimensional space of ours, to know where we can still go, and that there is more…that there is hope….that there is peace.

How conscious do you want to be?  It is your choice. It is your work. Everything you need is actually right here and now.

When Life Gives You Lemons

The old adage goes something like this: if life gives you lemons, make lemonade (or add vodka!).  Both approaches are optimistic and speak to the human capacity to rise above adversity, even celebrate it!

Still, when life’s sour episodes flood our hearts, they are often a wake-up call to do something different, something more, and perhaps, something else.

To choose to grow through something that is inherently painful, even tragic, seems paradoxical. But to “dress it up” or “drink-it away” without realizing its full potential is tragic, too.

So yes…..make a lemonade, make a lemon cake, make cocktails, and then, when this is all said and done, take the seeds, plant them, and see what happens next.

Practice Seeing the Good


This suggestion, to practice seeing the good, is a simple, powerful, and life-changing one.

While at first, this may feel fake, stupid, or even disingenuous, there are solid and scientifically-backed reasons why implementing such a practice will improve your life, work, and health.

Intentionally changing our neurocircuitry and neurochemistry requires attention, followed by action. With every thought, emotion, and action we create, or don’t, we are literally creating “code” in our body. Consequently, this creates a vibrational sequence (we now know that everything in the universe is energy) that either promotes or hinders our health and well-being, and that of those closest to us (see the work by Fowler & Christakis on connection and the power of networks).

When we practice seeing the good, we are affirming life as it truly is. When we affirm and accept, we create less resistance– in fact, we are yielding to what is…and when we yield to what is, we are free (yes, free!) to chose, move, create from a place of clarity and conviction, not one of fear and anger.

When we begin to see through the lens of gratitude, arguments become obsolete (you are only arguing with yourself, anyway); competition becomes a repugnant option; and you see, quite clearly, that supporting and enhancing your own trueness is what makes true progress occur; not destroying the other, but consciously creating the new you.

It seems paradoxical that something as gentle as gratitude, could be so powerful.  Like any other contemplative practice, it has the potential to transform the way we live and work…but only if we practice it.

Asking Better Questions

Being bilingual has informed me in ways I’m still discovering.

Having a vast range of words to describe the color of the ocean, for example, has shaped the way I see the ocean, and life.

Ultimately, we are, each of us, an expression of what we think we are and what we are capable of in this world. The quality of our lives, which is shaped by the words we use and the thoughts we entertain, time and time again, do steer our course.

But, what happens when we question this? When we challenge even our own long-standing language and notions, when we, like Rilke invites us to practice “living in the questions.

Learning a new language, albeit French, Mandarin, or love and appreciation, will change you through sheer expansion of awareness. To me, that is the most incredible and fun part of being a human being; that just by getting a little “software upgrade”, we are immediately improved.

The Practice of the Better

Contrast is one of our greatest teachers, and yet, we often miss the point.

When we choose to criticize, judge, or demean that which we find stupid, ridiculous or intolerable, we are, essentially, locking ourselves into a painful dynamic; one of divisiveness and self-righteousness.

In my experience, no one has ever helped me or changed my mind by telling me (or shouting) their “thoughts”. Being locked into a rigid dichotomy that blocks the creative and joyful insights that are available to us all, is painful. However, it is a type of suffering that can be healed within each of us.

Through practicing presence, self-awareness, and discernment we can easily see that there’s not only an alternative to criticism, but a much better use of our God-given talents and energy.

Criticism stems from fear– fear of “what” is up to you…but it’s deeply rooted in separation and desperation. Anytime we feel that “fear” rise within us, it’s a knock on the door of our mind, and an invitation to either enter into battle, or to yield, and instead, practice the better.

The better what? The better way. The peaceful way. The sane way. The way that places YOU at the helm and realm of possibility and of leading by example.

You have a better idea? Don’t tell us. Show us. Forget about tearing down the other— that’s easy.

Criticism is unmanifested creativity. Go create the better.

365 Days Together

In 2017, I took part in a beautiful experiment. The “365 Days Together” initiative by INSIGHT TIMER  challenged our community to meditate every day.  Given my schedule and commitments, I honestly wondered if I could even do it. I’m grateful that I tried.

How did I do? Well, while I did not meditate 365 consecutively, (my longest span was 332 days), I have, since the start of my time with this app, meditated for a total of 938 days, and sat for 995 sessions.

What I found through my practice is that even on the days I did not actually sit down and use the APP, I was moving through my day with a different awareness and energy. Essentially, my actual life became my spiritual practice that day.

While “sitting down to meditate” is critically important, what I’ve noticed is that my waking life; my thoughts and behaviors (e.g. the way I expend and conserve my energy and what I choose to create) have become their own meditation, too….which invariably makes me long for increased and deeper communion through my meditation practice.

There’s no question that meditation has transformed my life.  In order to become a better mother, educator,  coach, and writer, I had to become a better student. I had to be willing to begin again, and again, and again– to sit and practice radical presence, patience, and self-compassion. More importantly, I had to be willing to ask myself better questions. I had to be willing to miss the mark and to embrace these seeming “failings” as an inherent and essential part of my own journey and transformation.

This year, what are you willing to try for 365 days?

GRATITUDE YEARBOOK™

Have you ever wanted to keep track of the things you are most grateful for each day? Have you ever wanted to look back at the people, things, and experiences that helped you evolve personally and professionally?

The GRATITUDE YEARBOOK is a tool to help you capture life-changing and heart-warming insights, as well as invite you into the contemplative practice of gratitude journaling.

Here are the basic specs for the journal:

Amazon List Price: $22.00
7" x 10" (17.78 x 25.4 cm)
Black & White on White paper
162 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1983420030

The benefits of gratitude journaling and practices are numerous. At its core, practicing gratitude helps us shift and focus our attention towards the beauty and grace that is all around us-- even in (especially in!) the midst of challenging circumstances.

Done over time, these "soft practices" are actually quite powerful and life-changing, so much so, that companies and organizations are integrating these and other mindful practices into their professional training and development programs.

As personal development is inextricably linked to professional performance,  we know that taking the time to intentionally appreciate,  is one of the greatest investments one could make for themselves, and for those they lead and serve.

 

PURCHASE THE GRATITUDE YEARBOOK

Vocational Arousal

This provocative term, vocational arousal, came by way of the joyful and visionary Barbara Marx Hubbard. She, in conversation with Steve Farrell, were discussing the obvious (and necessary) shift in our collective consciousness, and what this means for humans as we now them…us.

Vocational arousal describes an internal yearning or calling to our highest work; to our specific “duty” while on Earth.  While this “calling” used to be experienced by the few, specifically those in spiritual vocations, artists, healers, nurses, physicians, and teachers in particular, this arousal is being expressed, en masse, by more and more people on the planet.

In my own work, I use the term soul-work to describe this calling–this yearning deep within each of us that is often at odds with the duties and responsibilities of one’s person-hood….or so we think.

To this end, several of my colleagues at Soul Publishing Group and I are sharing our own stories of vocational arousal. These narratives, many of them decades in their unfolding, describe the journey of shifting from conventional thinking, to one of a higher consciousness and state of being. Many describe the sheer panic, the struggle, the ridicule, the second-guessing that accompanies any journey that is guided by the soul, our higher-calling.  The courage and grit of these stories are a true testament to the power of the human spirit.

To be true to who you are is the single greatest gift you can share with others. Then, when we unite with others who are similarly inclined, the synergy and creativity that unfolds is beyond what any one single individual could ever do, or even imagine.  Of course, we can “sense” these things– deep within, but our human minds are actually limited when it comes to fully grasping the magnitude and effects of the consciousness of connection and what this means for life and work as we know it today.

What is calling you? What is your soul-work?

Leadership

Leadership, I’ve learned, means different things to people.

For me, my own views of what it means were informed by my career track, which included a decade or so in corporate America, as well as my work in adult education & community health.

What passes for leadership today; forcefulness, aggression, bullying, and shaming are actually, forms of abuse– and it seems many people feel that to be “strong, boastful, and loud” means that someone is not only a good leader, but that they are right, at the exclusion of other viewpoints.

Millions of people have grown so accustomed to tuning-in and following the loud voices, which our national media perpetuates, that they have forgotten to listen to the soft voice of their own soul.

Leadership is not something for a chosen few. Leadership is a necessary human practice that shapes ones health, career, relationships, and quality of life, and therefore our collective well-being and quality of life.  

Some may argue, and have argued, that none of this is “leadership.” Perhaps they’re right– perhaps we should call this something else.

Still, in the absence of a term that exemplifies the necessary power and energy that is required to make sustainable behavioral changes in one’s life and community, I sense leadership is a pretty darn good word.

There is a leader inside each of us. Are you listening to her voice?

Unmasking the “isms”

PHOTO CREDIT: NASA.GOV

On this momentous day (solar eclipse 2017), as I join so many others around our country and the world doing the deeper work required for mutual understanding and personal peace, I wanted to tend to the obvious; the “isms”.

The isms are co-constructed ideas. These “beliefs”, which continue to plague us and cause such suffering have landed squarely on our collective laps.

Clearly, it is up to each of us to “re-construct” new ways of thinking and being. Our health and the health of our world is at stake. That is how important this is.

We cannot, nor will we ever achieve understanding and peace through the use of force or fear. Sadly, we have a long and painful history of doing just this. Are you going to do more of the same? Or, are you willing to try something new to help reduce your own suffering and aggression?

As with all beliefs, these “isms” can be abandoned or changed at any time. Which are you ready to re-think and re-construct?

Consumerism– belief that the purchase and/or consumption of a product can reduce your innate sense of inadequacy.

Patriotism/nationalism – belief that your country is the best in the world and/or the only one that matters.

Ageism– belief that people outside your age group are somehow incompetent and/or unproductive.

Sexism– belief that individuals, who don’t have the same gender as you, are not as competent, and those who have multiple genders, somehow flawed, pathological, or confused.

Racism– belief that individuals from a race different than yours, are less human than you.

Terrorism (interpersonal, domestic, national and global) – belief that the annihilation, control, or destruction of anyone/anything that espouses views different than yours, is the only way to ensure peace, progress, and the good of all.

Unmasking your own “isms”:

  1. OBSERVE: Become aware of the ways you either contribute to or are triggered by the beliefs and behaviors of others;
  2. SELF-CARE: If/when triggered, separate yourself (by yourself, for yourself) to explore your own beliefs and do not seize this exploration until you understand your “why”;
  3. INTEGRATION: We do not help anyone or anything by “destroying” it/them, but by changing the dynamic, which requires a change in OUR beliefs and behaviors (not “theirs”).
  4. PRACTICE: Allow all that you “resist” to teach you about the fullness of humanity in order to practice personal peace.

This is deep and ongoing work—all of this. It is soul-work, and it is everyone’s “work”.