Anger & Fear

By Helen Williams

We are often asked to teach workshops on anger management for people who struggle with the explosiveness and impulsivity of their angry reactions to daily events in their lives. For many people, anger is their “go to” emotion, the emotion that arises first, has the loudest voice and is their default reaction, and people are desperate to learn ways to manage, modify, control, change and redirect their rage.  In the heat of the moment, flipping into anger can destroy relationships, jobs, opportunities and even lives as some of you well know.

It may surprise you to know that I have never run an anger management workshop in all the years I’ve been teaching courses, classes and workshops on aspects of Personal and Self Development, Mindfulness and Authentic Living! Interestingly, I’m not going to run one now either because rather than learning to manage anger, the focus of our upcoming Mindful Living Workshop will be on understanding why anger has become our default setting, what lies beneath this noisy emotion, and how fear plays a pivotal role in anger’s explosions.   We’ll also look at how anger can go underground for some people and become a deep ice-cold sense of repressed feelings.

Come along prepared to share some of your anger experiences, hear from others about theirs, and participate together in new and different ways of tackling anger and fear in your daily life.

We look forward to welcoming you to this thought-provoking, stimulating and informative evening which is run as part of our fortnightly series of Mindful Living. Contact us to register and join us!

Self-Reflection

by Helen Williams

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Who are you looking at?

Who is looking back at you?

Who are you looking for?

On some level or another, all of us are seeking ourselves whether we know it or not.

We all have beliefs, ideas, thoughts and attitudes which govern our thinking, our knowing and our living. Changing our thinking, our long held beliefs can dramatically change our daily lives.

Try looking at it this way…..

“We live in a house of mirrors, and think we are looking out the windows”

Fritz Perls

Take a moment to think about what this sentence on self-reflection means for you.

It is talking about how we perceive ourselves and our surroundings – how we fail to see that life reflects us back to ourselves. Because we keep on looking out the windows, many of us take forever to realize that we are looking at ourselves mirrored back to us by others and by the events of our life.

If we see that our negative feelings towards others are reflecting back to ourselves our own sense of negativity then we can do something to help ourselves forward. By continuously looking out the window and putting the ‘blame’ on others we fail to utilize all the power in the moment.

Changing our perception of the problem by seeing the reality as it is reflected by us and to us, brings empowerment, change, discovery and consciousness.

As we learn to look for that reflection in the mirror rather than to project our senses outwards we gain a sense of responsibility for our own lives. Our authentic self begins to shine through.

This journey towards authenticity is not for the faint hearted! There are monsters hiding around every corner and they are mostly the monsters of our own making – our egoic self and all its responses to our lived experiences. A sense of authenticity is one of our deepest psychological needs, and people are hungrier for it than ever. Even so, being true to oneself is not for the faint of heart. Join us in courageously connecting with our authentic selves in our Authentic Living course on Thursday mornings.

 

“Who we are looking for is who is looking”

Francis of Assisi

Dejate Fluir

por Isabel Galiardo
Anoche vi ‘’Arrival,’’ uno de esas americanadas de alienigenas.

En un momento dado de la película se plantean la siguiente pregunta:

¿Que harías si conocieras lo que va a ocurrirte en el futuro? ¿Cambiarías algo? Que pasaría si fueras capaz de ver el resultado futuro de tus decisiones y acciones?

Me pare por un momento para hacerme la pregunta y para mi sorpresa me encontré respondiéndome un contundente: No, no cambiaría nada. Ahi lo deje, termine de ver la película y me dormí sin darle mas vueltas al asunto.
Sin embargo al despertarme esta mañana he comprendido mi negativa a cambiar ni un ápice de mi biografía. La razón es que si lo hiciera mi vida quedaría mutilada e incompleta. Mi vida solo tiene sentido si cada parte esta presente. No puedo eliminar ni añadir nada a este puzzle perfecto. Cada pieza es imprescindible. Cada evento, cada encuentro, cada interacción es parte de mi proceso, sirve a un propósito y manifiesta un orden invisible, un sentido.
Tengo la sensación de que la existencia se despliega ante mis ojos mientras yo participo activamente en ella. Soy la audiencia y el actor al mismo tiempo.
Si acepto esta verdad puedo vivir en armonía con la vida, asistiendo al discurrir de los acontecimientos como parte de un orden que se expresa momento a momento.
Respondo de la mejor manera posible a lo que la vida me trae, sin esfuerzo, sin tension y sin miedo porque se que no hay necesidad de anticiparme al futuro o de volver al pasado. Cada momento me entrego a la experiencia con honestidad y apertura sin interferir ni resistirme porque comprendo que no tengo ningún control sobre la vida. Tampoco necesito volver al pasado para reprocharle nada a nadie, ni siquiera a mi misma, porque me doy cuenta de que cada experiencia ha sido necesaria y que cada momento es perfecto.
En este extracto del Tao Te Ching se nos desvela esta magica  paradoja acerca d ela existencia:
”Las cosas emergen y les da la bienvenida.
Las cosas desaparecen y las deja marchar. 
Tiene pero no posee.
Actua pero no espera”.

Marathons, Mindfulness and Love

by Helen Williams

Recently I spent several days exploring the absolute beauty of the city of Prague, walking the old streets, attending recitals and concerts in the stunning beauty of historic churches and cathedrals, and enjoying excellent and abundant food!  However, what actually moved me to tears and encourages me now to write was the lived experience of ‘stumbling’ by accident upon thousands of runners participating in the Prague Marathon.

I stopped to watch and simply couldn’t tear myself away.  Found myself moved to tears and wondered why?  I don’t run!!  Not even to the nearest lamp post!  And yet here I was completely absorbed by the energy of it all, watching these runners labouring hard, intent on their next step, aware of their bodies, the noticeable pain on some faces, their heaving chests and sweating bodies, all present in the moment.

I wandered on and found myself at the 32 km mark, hordes of people cheering, yelling, clapping and encouraging the runners – multitudes of languages spoken, but all in the language of enthusiasm, support, caring and encouragement.

And then it struck me!  I am feeling so deeply touched by all the caring that surrounds me on all sides.  People sending loving, considered encouragement to each other, all at one with the purpose in front of them – to run their best for themselves and for their teams.

Such a spirit of unity and connectedness is deeply moving to be a part of.  I stood there for nearly 2 hours and enjoyed every moment of it.

This is Mindful awareness at its best.

Why Workplace Mindfulness isn’t just about Being Happy

by Cindy Stocken

So is mindfulness at work really about always being happy and cheerful? Never complaining and forging forward without ever being tired, stressed, frustrated or generally jaded? Do HR departments run wellness sessions to create a better work/life balance or just create the appearance of effort while the pressure to compete demands more and more from us? Is it just another distraction from what really matters? What really matters anyway?

No wonder so many people view mindfulness at work with a cynical eye. Either they are being promised happiness or a “cure-all” for stress but then discover that it isn’t what mindfulness is about at all. The trite idea of happiness feels forced and inauthentic – and mindfulness as a word is being overused to the point that it feels like that team member who always uses the word “collaborate” but loves only the sound of their own voice. Too many trainings out there make people feel inadequate, negative or in need of fixing – and equate mindfulness with positive thinking. It’s not.

Mindfulness is not about being happy (although once you connect with true awareness you can find great joy in the full range of experiences – not just the pleasurable ones). Mindfulness is not about being positive and mindfulness is not about changing who you are. So what is it then and why are the benefits of it cited as invaluable by so many business leaders? How does it increase productivity by a reported 10 – 12%, decrease perceived stress in the workplace by 28% and make leaders feel 80% more effective? By understanding what mindfulness is we can dispel what it is not as well as identify some of the foundations underpinning its real benefits.

Awareness

Above all mindfulness is awareness. It is what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls being “awake”. If you have ever had those low vibe days at work where you feel like all you achieved was your physical body being in the appropriate chair in front of your computer but know that you made no real impact; you will know what disconnection is, what mindlessness feels like. If you have ever struck flow, when the channel of your skills, purpose and vision feels like a running river and you work with high energy, connecting with others and inspiring your team – you will know what it feels like to be awake.

Mindfulness is being awake, but it is also being aware of the present moment, on purpose. It is choosing to notice that you have drifted off in a day dream or into the rabbit hole of distraction (whether its procrastination or an overly snug comfort zone) and then choosing to come back to what is happening now.

Lastly it is witnessing and living in the present moment without judgement – as James Baraz says “without wishing it were different”. This is what opens us up beyond what we normally allow ourselves to experience, overcome anxiety and soften the feelings of pressure and stress. It doesn’t change our environment but brings our awareness to our experience of them – without trying to fight our response by judging it. It’s hearing that voice in your head and noticing it – rather than believing it. It is being awake as a conscious experience of being alive. This commitment to the present moment is what lengthens the space, as Viktor Frankl identifies, between stimulus and response. If we aren’t so busy being somewhere else we can use that bandwidth to be here instead and it gives us a lot of extra room to play with. So what happens in this space that we have now created?

Intuition

This awareness and presence and lack of attachment to a specific outcome opens up the next level of mindful work – which is an ability to hear your intuition and use it. This ability to tap into our flow, which so often before seemed mood or subject-dependant is actually a way of applying our wisdom to our purpose. It is the intuition that Malcolm Gladwell describes in Blink, the sense of leadership that Simon Sinek highlights as effective and authentic, and it is the intrinsic motivation that Dan Pink fires up in Drive. These make sense as we read them because we know them to be true – we have experienced flow before and know that our intuition is lit up when we do.

When we practice mindfulness and being consciously present in the moment we have a shortcut to this feeling. It isn’t fleeting anymore – it’s how we live. This is partly because mindfulness isn’t only about a formal meditation or practice away from our everyday routine – it is about being conscious in the daily action itself. It is why we speak about mindful living, not only mindful practice. When people report a 12% increase in focus, or a 17% improvement in work/life balance – it is because they are learning how to be present – not to be blown about in the wind of our thinking minds but be anchored in the now.

Understanding

With this awake awareness comes curiosity. In lieu of judgement we begin to wonder. Instead of handing out “positive” and “negative” labels we ask questions. This is the curiosity that sparks creativity and innovation. It’s the curiosity that enables leaders to coach rather than tell. It’s the curiosity that seeks to understand and then gives us the empathy and wisdom to be able to act as required. It’s the willingness and ability to learn and even apply what we now understand.

Grounding

So now we are here in the present moment, with full consciousness and the space for curiosity. Our senses and minds are fully open to a heightened awareness and because of this we can be more effective and resilient because we are able to consciously see/hear/understand what really IS happening around us – not what we wish was happening or wish wasn’t happening. This seems far from the ideal of perfect happiness because what might really be happening right now might not be good – but the readiness to accept it for what it is stops us from wasting energy and concern on the issue itself and gives us the focus to assess it, understand the root cause of it, make a decision about it, or creatively shift our actions as required.

You may have experienced working with leaders who have the clarity of mind to do this. They inspire us because they are accessible; we feel comfortable taking problems to them because we know that they aren’t going to get stuck on judging the problem but rather work with the reality as it is. They are honest and authentic as they work and are often the leaders who aren’t afraid to truly collaborate by making the meeting table a place to air what is actually going on and not just a ritualistic gathering of no purpose. Grounded, and dare I say mindful, leaders are exceptional in their ability to link their vision with a firmly rooted awareness of reality. They are able to tap into their intuition and connect with those around them by choosing to be completely present – meaning that they can listen, empathise and act in flow.

This is why mindfulness at work is about so much more than “happiness and positivity”. Wellbeing isn’t the exclusion of challenging experiences – it’s the compassionate attention of a deliberate way of living and leading.  This is what softens the anxiety and stress and gives us the space to be authentic instead.

 

For more on workplace mindfulness and the sessions that we run please email bindu@mindfulme.me or click here. 

Go With the Flow

Last night I watched ‘Arrival’, a Hollywood blockbuster full of aliens, cliches and cloying messages.

At one point in the movie the question was brought up of, what If you knew how events would unfold. If you were able to know the future and see the end result of your actions and decisions, would you change anything?

I paused for a moment to reflect and, with surprising immediacy and rotundity, said NO. When I finished watching the film I fell asleep and that was that.

However this morning I’ve understood the reason I refuse to change even one iota of my biography. If I were to extract the slightest event, my life would be incomplete, mutilated, partial.

My life is as it is because only in this way does it make sense. I can not add nor remove anything to this perfect puzzle. Every event, every encounter, every exchange, is part of my journey and is manifesting an invisible order, serving an unknown purpose, expressing a higher will. This speaks of a meaning.

Existence unfolds before my eyes while I participate in it. I am the audience and the actor.

If I understand this truth I can live at ease, without tension, simply accepting the flow of events, being in harmony with the natural order of existence expressed moment by moment.

The only way to do this is to live in the present. In the here and now, I respond the best I can,  without effort and without fear, to what is unfolding before me. I do not need to anticipate events when I recognize that I do not have the capacity to control them. I have no need to go back to the past, to repent or to reproach anything to others because I am aware that every experience is necessary and that every moment is perfect.

This excerpt from the Tao Te Ching reveals to us this magical paradox of existence:

Things arise and she lets them come;

Things disappear and she lets them go.

She has but doesn’t possess,

acts but doesn’t expect.