Retreat Yourself

In late June 2014, I wrote a note in my phone of three simple “I am” statements to set the tone for my summer.  Pushing aside the millions of things to get done and ways to make two months off from the day job count, I set these “I am” statements at the core of my desires for that time.  At the heart of all of the “stuff” I had to do and wanted to do that summer, my true intentions were in these “I am” statements.  I typed:

I am

-reading.

-practicing yoga.

-mindful.

I didn’t even know what mindful meant or why I typed it— it just appeared there on the screen.  I am mindful… ok.  Let that sit.

I found a yoga studio near to where we were living.  I signed up for a month unlimited and then another month unlimited.  I took classes 3-5 times per week for the entire summer.  I am practicing yoga…  finally.  For months before that, I was thinking about it.  And I was telling myself that I “should” be practicing yoga.  But I never seemed to quite get around to it.  I let everything else jump the line and take up my precious time.  All it took was setting that clear intention: I am practicing yoga.  Like magic, I was.

I found two teachers whose style and energy matched what I was seeking in my practice and made darn sure to show up at their classes.  I dove all in, as I’m prone to do.  One of those teachers offered free guided meditation after classes, as the schedule allowed.  I stayed.  She shared about her practices, her studies through UMass. Medical School in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and her “real life” applications of these simple-yet-complex practices.  She had something here.  I hung on every word.

A friendship blossomed.  At the time, I hadn’t consciously revisited my note in my phone with my summer intentions, my “I am” statements.  But I was learning about mindfulness, that word I typed without knowing why.  My new mediation coach and friend recommended books that she was reading.  We started to hang out.  We shared this glorious spark of brilliance.  I knew I found a soul sister in Debbie.  Toward the end of August 2014, while rolling up my yoga mat after one of Debbie’s last yoga classes for the summer, I opened the notes in my phone… and there it was: I am mindful.  I manifested a practice, a coach and a friend with three words.  Don’t question the process.  Be open to being guided.  Set the intentions that are in your heart and take the action steps as they unfold.

This past Thursday, I had the honor of sitting at a full-day retreat of over 100 educators led by my soul sister Debbie and her colleague in mindfulness Cory.  They led us through the practices and applications of this life-saving, life-expanding gift called Mindfulness.  They are the real-deal.  I, who often cannot exhale without checking my phone 17 times, did not even check the time from 7:30 am until 4:35 pm.  That’s the magic that Debbie and Cory shared.

We learned about our relationship to stress, how to be with what is here, how to develop our mental fitness… I could go on and on.  I took 17 pages of notes.  But, if I can share only one take-away with you, it is this: replace resistance with curiosity.  Approach your day with an element of awe and wonder.

Debbie, I bow to you.  I am mindful.

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Curiosity

Often I’ll get a book as soon as I hear about it, like this mad dash of NEEDING this book in my life… but then I won’t read it for a while or forever.  I saw Brian Grazer on “Super Soul Sunday” with our Earth Angel Oprah probably a year ago, maybe even longer.  I downloaded his book A Curious Mind shortly thereafter. I started reading it last week.  I think that the delays of this nature are very purposeful—the information comes to us when we need it, when we are ready, when we can best benefit from the message.

Curiosity is more than just an adorable notion (or an annoying notion, depending on its source).  Grazer writes, “…one thing I know about curiosity: it’s democratic.  Anyone, anywhere of any age or education level, can use it…. even if your curiosity is suppressed, you can’t lose it.”  At what age or stage do we stop wondering?  I’m inclined to ask people a lot of questions.  I often joke that I want a talk show when I grow up.  I love doing Facebook Live talks with my oilers or my Rescue team.  Curiosity can level the playing field.  Listening to someone’s curiosity, the questions they ask of you, the things they read and share about opens up the possibilities of connections.  Those of you who live to help others, you’ll help them so much more if you listen to their curiosity, interests, needs, rather than just dictate what you think they need to better their situation.

Grazer talks about the efficacy of curiosity as hinged on the ability to pay attention to the answers to your questions and the willingness to act.  Curiosity is as much about wonder, asking and exploring as it is about listening, thinking and acting.  How many times have you asked a question, then completely tuned out the answer?  Did you not really care about the answer?  Did you have a “squirrel moment” of distraction?  Did you ask the wrong person or source?  Were you afraid of the responsibility warranted through the answer?

Grazer highlights an element of leadership, putting words to a sense that I’ve felt for a while now, a sense that has helped my day job life, my Rescue life and my Reiki and wellness life flourish: “I’ve discovered that even when you’re in charge, you are often much more effective asking questions than giving orders.”  Think about the effective teachers, coaches and mentors in your past (or present).  Who reached you best—the one barking orders or the one questioning, thinking about what will help you reach your goals and milestone?  Rescue life—I can “yell” at people who want to “get rid of” their rabbits or I can ask them how we can best help them either make their rabbit a source of joy in their family rather than a source of strife or how we can assist in helping them find a loving home.  The questions, rather than the chastising, are the only way people will potential recognize their responsibility in the matter (and life) at hand.  And in Reiki/wellness life—I’ll help facilitate far more healing if I ask, wonder and listen than if I prescribe and dictate.  Always.

I’m only 17% through the book but it’s cracking so much wide open for me that I was compelled to write about it already, rather than wait until I was done.  This just might join the ranks of the books that I buy copies of for “my people,” (The Four Agreements by Ruiz, The Happiness Project by Rubin, May Cause Miracles by Bernstein).  So, stay curious.  And don’t apologize for it.  Don’t feel weird or annoying for asking questions (but don’t be afraid to do some research of your own too!).  Let’s reignite our sense of wonder, our questioning and thinking, together.  Much Love.