Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Mindful Spontaneity January 28, 2013

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meditation“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Today, I meditated. And it was good.

Many people meditate on a regular basis, and at a times in my life I could have counted myself among them. Many others seek to create the space in their lives to develop and maintain a meditation practice – but experience only sporadic success. And many more – still “want” to meditate regularly – but just never quite get around to doing it enough for it to “count”. This can happen despite how good it feels when they have success. These days, I am sorry to say – I am somewhere in the latter two camps. Though I do “get there” with what can be best described as sporadic inconsistency – my general sense is; it is never quite a enough – it happens too infrequently and I never give myself enough time. (That said – I am a fan and regular practitioner of a number of brief “awareness, breathing and centering” meditations which are relatively quick – 2-4 minutes. And I do find them helpful.)

You see in my mind – I have some idealized notion that the best time for me to meditate (and I am talking about a 15-45 minute practice here) would be the first thing in the morning. My thinking is, at this time of day – a meditation would serve to clear my brain for a peaceful and productive day. (Of course this is also the time of day I also want to squeeze in everything else, too – writing, exercising, etc. They all seem like they would work best first thing in the morning.) On an intuitive level – it makes sense to me – but on a practical level it just isn’t a good time for me. Maybe because I already spend quiet, reflective time most mornings; enjoying the birds in the yard, watching the early morning sky, sipping coffee contemplatively on my porch. Most days – it is a calm and “meditative” start to my day. And as my mind and body shake free of the sleepy cobwebs that cover my morning countenance – I quietly find myself attending to other simple morning rituals – breakfast, shower, putting away dishes and that sort of thing until it is time to begin work for the day. Making a list of projects, priorities and tasks, catching up on emails and then just getting down to the actual business of the day. It works for me – but try as I may – I just haven’t been able to squeeze meditation (or any of the other items) into my routine, on a regular basis.

And so they fall into rotation at other times. After dinner – can work well for walking. Writing works on quiet afternoons or evenings. And meditation? Well – that’s the tricky one. If I am too tired in the evenings – I fear I will just doze off to sleep. In the afternoons – I am usually busily wrapping up my work and shifting into dinner/family mode so – it often gets lost. So what was different about today you may ask? Well this time when I thought about meditating after working for a couple of hours, I simply – did it. I didn’t try to plan a more opportune moment later in the day – I simply stepped away from what I was doing for a half hour and did it. And it was lovely…

Also a departure from my meditation “norm”, today I found a lovely bit of meditation music to accompany the experience. You see, typically, I just sit quietly – but the addition of the music added a lovely, purposeful “sacredness” to the moment. And I discovered a cool website for downloading music for the mind, body and soul: http://mysoftmusic.com/new. Good stuff. I chose a piece that was just the right length of time, I was clear about the visualization I wanted to use in my mind and I just went for it. And it was particularly sweet.
Ommmmm… Ahhhhh… And afterwards? Afterwards I felt clear, and calm and centered and quite simply – I just felt really good. And the experience has propelled me through the rest of my day.

For me, it feels like I accomplished something – which of course I did AND it is ironic when you think about – because that something – was sitting quietly and “doing nothing”. But the paradoxical nature of meditation and its effects are part of what I like about it. (A quick search on the internet will pull up numerous examples of how meditation benefits its practitioners on a multitude of levels, but I am not going to delve into that here.) Now, I don’t know if this is going to be the “new normal” – but I can certainly see how it might work for me to make it – just that. It’s fitting really when one contemplates the meaning of mindfulness – to allow myself to meditate rather than to attempt to force it into a schedule.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that story with you today. As someone who spends a lot of time, planning and has a strong commitment to thoughtful contemplation and creating structures to support your dreams – I guess I want to also acknowledge that sometimes what is called for is allowing for the organic progression of things. Mindful spontaneity, if you will. A good reminder to me to allow myself to trust my intuition and be in the moment. What about you? What are you going to allow yourself to do? Peace…

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Thoughts from a Dancin’ Fool March 29, 2010

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I am a fan of an occasional show of reckless abandon. For me it usually takes the form of dance, but I suppose there are other forums for such displays. This weekend I went to hear a great funk band from New York with a few friends and I (as expected), danced to my heart’s content. Their music just has that “great beat” that you need to get your feet a tappin’ and your body a movin’ and once the music begins I just can’t resist the urge to get up and start shaking. Whether my friends were beside me on the dance floor or not – I was happy to be up there just “doin’ my thing”.

For me, when I am dancing it is all about the beat and the movement. It is truly a “primal experience”, by which I mean there isn’t a lot of thinking going on. I am 100% in the moment, just listening and moving and smiling. And afterward, exhausted and sweaty I feel renewed and revitalized by the experience. It is a forum in which I am completely comfortable and at ease, though a lot of folks seem to experience self-consciousness while dancing, I have to say that I luckily do not. And it is just that, the experience of tapping into something without thought that I find so refreshing.

The experience of dancing allows me to do something which in other forums I have to approach in a more intentional fashion. It is the experience of being 100% in the moment, and 100% focused of the experience at hand, without thought or analysis and without effort. There are other things that allow me to be in the present for instance, it is a big part of how I prepare myself when I am getting ready for a coaching session with a client. It is part of the process that allows me to open to my intuition and to ease up on my intellect, though in these cases like many others it is a conscious shift. Dancing is a given for me, there is no prep needed. Finding the places and experiences in your life to let go and just be are little gifts with big impacts. My recommendation for the day, find the thing that allows you to just sink into the moment, and treat yourself to a little quiet time with the simplest of yourself.

 

Considering “The List” March 17, 2010

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Day off… What to do with it? I have several things I would like to be doing with my time, several things in multiple categories that I “have to do” (paperwork, errands, chores, projects, business) and of course there are those things that take your time that just happen (meals, shower, etc.) You know – “The List”. For me, it is actually helpful to write things down on a physical list, something I believe I got from my highly organized mother who wrote lists and notes for everything. Without it I inevitably end up getting to the end of the day and realizing all the little things I had intended to do – but forgot. It’s not very sexy, not spontaneous or even particularly creative but it works for me – mostly.

People who know me would generally agree that I am a “very organized person”. It’s just the way I function and the alternative is definitely a less than attractive option. Disorganization simply makes me feel uncomfortable and out-of-sorts, so staying organized is just the easiest way to stave off that discomfort. Additionally, I find that my life is so busy, that without a list, my time fritters away with little show for it at the end of the day. And quite simply, there is something to be said for the little sense of victory you get when you get to cross something off of it.

But really the key to the whole thing is – prioritizing. Writing out the list of what you want to accomplish in any given time period requires that you spend a couple of reflective moments thinking about your time, what you want and what you need. You could say that the list itself is a set of action steps based on your own personal needs assessment. Taking the time to gather your thoughts and make decisions about what needs your attention  and what you need to do to accomplish and reach your goals, be they big or small,  is actually pretty important.

Now I am not saying that one can’t simply abandon the list at times. Things come up – priorities shift – our days and lives are not fixed and stagnant. Allowing yourself to be spontaneous and react in the moment to changes in circumstance is just as important. But having a roadmap – be it mental or physical allows you to think ahead and really consider what you want to do with your life. As they say – “Plan for the future and live in the moment”. Anyway, that’s all for today, on to the next item, and now I can cross “write blog” off my list and attend to the next item on my agenda.

 

The Paths We Take February 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:12 am
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I have an active imagination. When left on its own – my brain is a whirl of activity. It is one of my greatest assets and biggest challenges. I don’t see things from one side only. Instead my mind has a facility for floating around each individual idea and considering the possibilities from all sides. It’s a very busy place in there – and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Nonetheless it poses specific challenges.

When I write one of these blogs for instance, I have to work very hard to contain all the possible tangents that tempt me at every turn. I prefer to write in a “stream of consciousness” fashion, and am often surprised myself at the final results of my meanderings. There has been more than one occasion when I sit down at my laptop – thinking I am going to write about “x” only to find that I have just completed a blog about “y”. For the most part it works for me. I have grown to be flexible and open-minded with the process, thankfully, for if I was not it would surely be a very frustrating experience.

Now this technique probably wouldn’t work for me in all settings, but in this genre it doesn’t seem particularly problematic. Which leads me to the notion of flexibility and forgiveness, is it better to adjust and bend or to stay firmly on a single track? One could say that in order to meet your objectives you need to define a specific path and stay on it in order to reach your goals. Or you could take the stance that the journey itself is a goal worth exploring, it may take you longer to get there but you will learn more on the way. In coaching, one of the primary activities is helping folks to define their goals and to take the necessary steps to achieving them, but it is imperative that you work with what is best for the individual rather than adhering to one particular technique.

Because really – the two approaches are not mutually exclusive anyway. I do believe in setting goals and in defining specific and attainable steps to get you where you want to go. However, sometimes it is necessary to be flexible in your approach – life is not always linear – and giving yourself a hard time about getting your goals completed can be more counterproductive than helpful. As long as you keep the end goal in mind and your efforts continue to pull you in that direction – exactly how you get there is less important. Some people work well with structure and clear and concise limits but allowing yourself the autonomy to create a path that works for you seems like the most useful approach to reaching your goals.