Sunday, March 30, 2008

Clear Seeing, Calm Abiding

I had the great pleasure of practicing at YogaTree in San Francisco yesterday, with Darcy Lyon and a room full of delightful people including my beloved friend Trixie. Before we began the practice, Darcy set the theme to get us aligned. She spoke of the twin pillars of our practice: clear seeing & calm abiding. To me this meant lining up two aspects: developing the ability to truly see -- i.e., not just see everything as what's happening to me -- and the quiet wisdom to consider, peacefully, what is unfolding, then act. Slowing the mind down, thoughtfully.

To illustrate the theme, Darcy re-told the story of Julio Diaz which appeared on NPR Friday morning, and which you can read and listen to here:

Simply put, Julio was able to see past what was happening to him and saw instead what might be motivating his mugger and where that mugger's life was heading. His compassion for the teenager completely changes the situation, probably completely changes the kid's entire life.

As Julio says at the end of the story, "I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It's as simple as it gets in this complicated world."

Seeing so clearly, then acting quietly and thoughtfully from that seeing, has the potential to shift everything.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Every moment, be grateful

Yesterday evening's yoga teacher is not my favorite. I am put off by her very serious followers and by the tone of her classes -- plus, I always think she talks too much. And that's odd: when I consider that statement, I realize that some teachers whom I adore also talk a lot. It most likely goes back to that tone I mentioned earlier.

Nevertheless, she does, among the many things she says over the course of an hour and a half, sometimes come out with complete gems, such as the title of this post.

What would it be like to remember, in every moment, to be grateful?

I'm going to try this and see what happens. My guess is that it'll force me into the present, since gratitude seems like a Now activity. I'm grateful in THIS moment, for THIS moment, not hung up on past or future, where I generally get caught. What a way, also, to accept what comes, to embrace what comes, even if it's an email that would normally get my hackles up or another interruption of my train of thought while I'm at work...

Every moment,
Be Grateful


Friday, March 14, 2008

The question of vulnerability

I spent 26 weeks working with a coach in 2007, during my self-proclaimed Year of Me. I became interested in coaching mostly because I recognized that I could do a better job of communicating at work, and was particularly interested in working with Ian Blei because he starts from the enneagram. I'd recently done an enneagram test and found that I liked it as a way of understanding my own and other's reactions and styles. Ian is phenomenal, and I got so much out of the process.

The main thing that Ian showed me from the very beginning is that I had/have a tremendous fear of vulnerability, to the point that I created a carapace around myself, an impermeable and indiscriminate suit of armor. I could go on for hours about why, but that's not the point. Paradoxically, it turns out that letting down my guard and being vulnerable, actually makes me more successful at work and elsewhere. This was reinforced for me lately by something in "The Power of Now":

Until there is surrender, unconscious role-playing constitutes a large part of human interaction. In surrender, you no longer need ego defenses and false masks. You become very simple, very real. “That’s dangerous,” says the ego. “You’ll get hurt. You’ll become vulnerable.” What the ego doesn’t know, of course, is that only through the letting go of resistance, through becoming “vulnerable,” can you discover your true and essential invulnerability.

But I am stunned by the ways in which I continue to perpetuate the "hard" outer shell - which has been coming back to me lately when I consider people's reactions to things I say, which I think are funny but which it appears they interpret as evidence of my mean-ness. I am thinking, in particular, about certain snarky comments I've made of late about Joe's chronic coughing and divorce. I've had the impression, from things people have responded, that they think I am without compassion for him, without love, when honestly nothing is farther from the truth.

So I'm reflecting on my pattern of hard and snarky speech which is at odds with how I want to be in the world, and which really is a throw-back to the armor and the fear of vulnerability. More work to do!