Yesterday, half way up a Swiss mountain full of snow, with snow rackets that did not prevent sinking in up to my knees at every step. I had to stop every 5 to 10 steps to recover my breath. Meanwhile feeling a disconnect from the beauty of the environment.
At some point I realised that this was not only due to my somewhat failing physical fitness but also because I was mainly focussing on reaching the top. As I started to shift my attention to each and every step two things happened instantly. Instead of 5 to 10 I could now take 20 to 25 steps before feeling the need to pause. And I started to notice all kind of details of my surroundings such as a variety of animal tracks.
Should I resolve my shoulder pain with a quick fix operation or should I change my personal behaviour in order to resolve the source of this pain? Should I go on pushing myself or accept a drop in income now in order to create space and time to secure a more suitable and sustainable source of income for the rest of my life?
Even in such crucial topics as our own health short term interests (such as income or defending our trusted assumptions in live) almost always prevail are even when they are counter productive on the long run. And actions focused on realising what is good for us on the longer term are being pushed forward. This is not only true at a individual level but at group level (in organisations, politics etc.). In long and fruitless debates (in our mind or with others) we strongly defend our personal short term interests leaving us with the unsatisfactory feeling of knowing that we harm ourselves in the long run.
Reason for me to bring this up is that when we manage to discuss that very same topic whilst putting our personal short term interest aside for a moment (which is a challenge in itself), it very quickly emerges that we usually hold a very similar or non-conflicting views on the ideal longer term solution….. It then becomes clear that what seamed to be a difference in opinions in fact is no more then our fear of the short term consequences of that solution for our personal interests. This realisation creates room to move our energy from building defence lines to clarifying these very understandable fears and helping each other to resolve these.
Holland village, Singapore, 1996
I start to realise that my underlying intentions are becoming more supportive of live (and less about control of life). Whilst reading a lovely book about dream work by Jill Mellick, The Art of Dreaming, I discovered a nice overview of different intentions behind everything to you do. From a ‘traditional’ approaches on the left side to a more ‘innovative’ approach on the right side.
This overview has helped me to put words to my intentions and as a consequence to become more conscious about my intentions from moment to moment. Over time I feel I am (no wonder) migrating to the right side. In orange a few my personal favourites:
Evolving intentions from ‘doing’ to ‘being’
Analyse / Nourish
Interpret / Explore
Identify / Imagine
Hypothesize / Guess
Work on / Be with, Play with
Get a handle on / Fly with
Apply to life / Give life to
Theorize / Inquire
Break down / Connect
Defuse / Infuse
Think about / Create around
Figure out / Sustain the mystery of
Assimilate / Accomodate
Categorize / Allow to evolve
Understand / Appreciate
Study / Learn
Observe / Participate
Research / Experience
Translate / Learn the language
Decode / Delight in
Tell, write down / Paint, dance, sing..
Denote, connote / Imagine, amplify
Simplify / Enrich
A sharp and sensitive mind requires an open and vulnerable attitude. I’m therefore happy to be able to report some progress in this, quite challenging, area. As evidenced by Yoga poses that were previously totally impossible for me such as the (beginners version of the) bridge pose below.
In my case, when I try to change some undesired behavior, mental exercise provides a temporary solution but usually no sustainable results.
The good news is however that undesired behavior (ultimately) always translates into some kind of physical discomfort. Growing an ongoing awareness of these (small or large) discomforts in a compassionate manner somehow activates behavioral change in a healthy and sustainable way. Main reason being that physical discomforts are easier to spot, allow a more objective analysis and more difficult to hide or disregard than mental discomforts.
One of things I’m still struggling with is that I’m ‘preaching’ concepts like: transparency, openness, vulnerability, authenticity, natural purpose, sustainability etc. whilst I’m not fully there myself… So when I speak to others about this I also speak to myself!
Somehow that doesn’t feel right. My temporary solution is to be open about the fact that I’m not there yet. Hence this small post about the process I’m still going through!
Training the mind is quite a challenge. The picture below (I took in a Tibetan monastery 2 years ago) depicts a well known buddhist tale about the meditator (you and me), the elephant (representing our ‘mind’) and the monkey (representing ‘distraction’).
Whilst gradually moving the organizations I’m involved with towards ‘self management’ (to liberate their full natural potential) I encountered a number of personal issues. These may be worth sharing as my success / failure as a (former) director to understand and cope with these issues greatly influenced the pace and success of the transition of the organization as a whole.
As you probably know by now, my aim is to help people find and live their natural purpose in life. I recently read Blue Zones, a scientific study by Dan Buettner & National Geographic that supports my intuitive theorie on the importance of knowing and living your personal purpose. This study concludes that having a clear sense of purpose is one of the 9 differentiating lifestyle habits that make that people in these blue zones live a longer, happier and healthier life (past age 100!). Continue reading