The whole picture
Thoughts to ponder...
Defense - the action of defending from or resisting attack. Shielding, guarding.
Defensiveness is something I have mastered throughout my life. And this isn't a good thing. I defend my defensiveness as expressing my truth, expressing my loving intention, expressing the work I AM doing behind the scenes. So why should I let others tell me I'm not doing enough, I'm not being supportive, I'm not trying? It's something I find incredibly hard to wrap my head around...it's like someone telling me I'm actually a unicorn, and me having to just hear that? (Although...how coooool!) I think I'd make a pretty sweet unicorn 😬😬😬
So I've been reflecting on this. A lot. I've been asking for guidance, for understanding, for the ability to create space. And guidance came. Defence means we are being attacked, or in opposition to someone, therefore me defending my truth still says "we are not on the same team".
Processing the opinions of others is TOUGH, oh boy is it tough, when you know your intentions, your capacity, your truth. So how on earth do we stomach the accusations without the hurt and the need to defend? Maybe we commit to space. Followed by compassion. Followed by careful selection of words (because you cannot pull those bad boys back into your mouth) that include the appropriate tone and genuine inquiry into what this other person may have H O P E D for - I used the words hoped for here because needs are well...going to affect how we hold ourselves up - our basic human needs, but our hopes, well they are our desires. Our ideals. Maybe they turn into our expectations.
After several conversations with @dalbyandco on our recent holiday, he worded this perfectly. We can desire anything we want. But unless the other person in the relationship is aware of those specific desires, we cannot put expectation and our own disappointment on them. It's true. Just because we want or desire or expect something from our partner, our friend, our colleague, our family, doesn't mean they are able to provide that - whether it be physically, emotionally or spiritually.
We enter in professional relationships with clear expectations from our employer, both on a basic operational level and in fulfilling and representing a particular side of their business, their creation. When we slip up, we sometimes have to sit, and absorb that feedback (rightly or wrongly) and it would be rare to curse and defend and attack - because our JOB is at RISK. Yet in human relationships, without such contracts in place, without such clear expectations of one another, without such clear and precise requirements like show up at this time, wear this uniform, be progressional and represent my brand well, without too much RISK - it's a tangled mess of complexity, of swallowing our truth, of absorbing our hurt, of being more than you have available but still not enough to satisfy. Human relationships are TOUGH.
We are in a relationship with everyone around us. We are also in relations with nature, with the person processing our shopping, with the other drivers on the road. But the depth in all of these relationships varies from superficial with great understanding to deep and potentially little understanding of what that relationship needs to survive and desires to fulfill.
So how do we know what is required, and how do we step from defence to the same team - we are all on the SAME team. We reconnect to ourselves. We reconnect to nature - doing these 2 things alone would invite space and perspective back in. From there we begin the practice of processing the opinions of others - not defending our own actions and beautiful intentions, but processing (understanding) the reason for that opinion. Understanding the part we played. The careful selection of words, and tone to enquire, and the reminder that you can do all of this, and sometimes STILL not meet the needs of others. Defence is resistance is FEAR. Space is compassion is LOVE. Be love. Respectful, compassionate, same team LOVE.
What does that mean? To me it means bringing awareness to everything we do.
Many of us have developed the ability to bring mindfulness to our training sessions, to our mat, whether we are practicing yoga, or pilates, and this is amazing, but with many more hours in our week spent doing things that are not training... It the during those many other hours we need to find that awareness
I'm talking about how we hold ourselves when standing - in line, at work, in the shower, how we sit in the car driving to and from work, or at our desk - often for lengthy periods...
We may spend 6 hours training each week, but there are 168 hours in the week, and outside of training and sleep time - there are another 113 hours in the week that we need to be "awake" for.
The way we hold ourselves in the situations I mentioned, as well as the way we react during stressful times will certainly affect our posture and our therefore our movement patterns, so bringing the mindfulness to daily life as well as during your practice - whatever that may be - will also improve your practice... Is seems simple! And it can be!
It starts with simply noticing your patterns - how you hold yourself, without trying to correct them initially, or analyse why you move that way. It continues with simply noticing more often... From there, we start to break these patterns... Learning how to move this human spacesuit we will be spending many years in is SO important, and I can tell you, when you learn how to breathe in it, how to move it efficiently, how to preserve energy and use just as much as necessary and where to move FROM - your mind will be blown just as much as mine - we hold a lot in, we treat our bodies fragile china
We need now develop a new understanding, we need to change our focus, we need to bring in some balance, and that starts with mindfulness
Mindfulness is not something we can practice "sometimes"...it is something we should incorporate into every aspect of our lives.
I went for a float tank session this week and had an amazing spiritual experience. I have these experiences whenever I remove myself from the existence that is busy day to day living, set an intention and then be 100% open to and accepting of what comes during meditation (which for me is either reiki, yoga, pilates, painting, sound therapy or floating which is sensory deprivation)
After this particular float session, I thought to myself "wow I need to set time aside to have an experience like this every few months... My next thought was - every few months?! This means in 90 days, I would be meditating/setting aside time to tune out once - 1 out of 90 days... When I look at it like this, meditating 1 out of 90 days is closer to not meditating at all, than making it a practice! Don't get me wrong, it's better than nothing, but it is not going to get me closer to where I want to be.
Mindfulness is something that has to be practiced daily, in every aspect of our life. It begins with being 100% conscious of everything we do. From feeling the water as we wash our hands rather than think about what we are doing next, to giving 100% of our attention to the person we are speaking to, listening - without thinking about our response, to thinking about what we are putting into our bodies - and why... It sounds like hard work, and it is, but it means taking responsibility for our own path, which means taking steps towards our goals, and our wellness to ensure we can be the best version of ourselves in this existence.
The difference between humans, and animals is that we have the freedom to choose. It would be silly to not to.
When you get tired of reciting the same "story" do you realise that you are in control of the characters, you are in control of each scene, and you decide how the story will end?
Clinging to our story - the reason why we are the way we are, what we lay victim to, the people who are to blame - it's all the bullshit we continue to tell ourselves to let ourselves off the hook. If we blame others, if we blame what happened "to us", it relieves us of responsibility... Well guess what... It's your story, you are the writer, you are the editor, you are the lead character, and everyone else who is a part of "your story", so when you become tired of writing it, and reciting it, and acting it out... Not to start telling a new story, but to cut the excuses and direct that energy to a life you want to live, amazing things will happen.
There are parts of your life that you can't control, but I believe there is more that you CAN influence. Small things, that add up to your moment to moment happiness, until that becomes your day to day happiness, and soon these things become unconscious, they become habit. You are without a story, without drama, and you may just be happier than you have ever been.
As we start to become more conscious of our thoughts, where our mind goes, where we direct our energy and the words that we choose to use, it is interesting to notice how we identify ourselves.
When you bump into someone after a long time and they ask "what's been happening?!" do you find yourself relaying your achievements or is it always what you perceived as the negative experiences that you recall first?
When something goes wrong during the day, or you feel unwell, or you injure yourself, do you become THAT story, retelling everyone and anyone who will listen for the rest of the day - replaying those same emotions over and over?
These emotions we attach to our circumstances do have an effect on our physical bodies, as do our thoughts - so it is critical that we start to become more aware of our behavioural patterns. Without trying to change them, first just notice them. Then notice them more frequently. From there, with more presence, there will be space in which we can respond, rather than react, choose our words, and start to live from a more loving and thoughtful space - for ourselves and also those around us.
I am not discounting traumatic events, or injuries because I too have experienced these and know how very real they can be. I've also been guilty of making them my "story"... But we are not our job title, our past relationships, our injuries or the mistakes we have made... They certainly influence who we are today, but I think it is important we accept these experiences for the impact they did have on our being and make the journey from here on in about what we HAVE learnt, what we HAVE achieved, what we CAN do...
If we start to recognise the emotions, patterns or injuries that frequently come up for us - we can start to use these as signposts in our life...
Stephan Klein say "for biological reasons, the direction given by pleasure and displeasure must aim, above all, to keep the organism in optimal condition. This is why pain almost always overrides other feelings. We are NOT supposed to ignore the signal that something isn't right"
Isn't that awesome?!
Start to recognise you patterns.
Start to notice how the words you choose, and the thoughts you pay attention to, make you feel.
Accept stress, be it in the form of pain, injury, anxiety as a signal that something is out of balance
And most importantly... Start directing your energy towards what you can control, the abilities you do have, and the people and things that bring you joy.
What will your story be?