Keep Your Warrior Bearing

When the kids at my daughter’s aikido class began leaning and slouching against the wall while waiting their turn to practice a position, I heard the teacher remind the young students, “Keep your warrior bearing.”  My ears perked up and I sat up straight, which was the intended effect.  I noticed the children moved away from the wall and focused their energy and their attention.  It was such a more affirming and powerful direction than “stand up straight.”
The teacher called forth and affirmed the warrior spirit that is already there in each of these children.  He spoke to their dignity and to their sense of self management for the sake of a higher purpose.
I am reminded that when we affirm our “warrior bearing” we are affirming our dignity line: our connection to our spine, to our vertical connection between heaven and earth.
Take a breath and allow your breath to expand your energy up and out like the branches of a tree.  Allow your exhale to flow through you like a ribbon of light into the center of the earth.  Be aware of your spine.  Be aware of your dignity line.  Be aware of how your being is the connection between heaven and earth.

Stillness in the Midst of Complexity

“I create moments of stillness to hear my soul speak. “  Gina LaRoche
Often our response to addressing the complexity of our times is to do more, faster.  We can become addicted to speed, an addiction that is reinforced and affirmed by our culture and society.  At times  we may find ourselves leading with the same conviction that speed is the answer.
When I notice that my pace is speeding up (and I am grateful on the days when I actually notice!) I wonder what I am missing.  What important signals and cues am I not noticing in my rush to get things done?  And what sweetness of life am I zooming by in my effort to do more, faster.
When I create moments of stillness, I can hear my soul’s wisdom and truth guide me along my journey.
Take a breath and allow your breath to expand your energy up and out.  Allow your exhale to flow through you into the center of the earth.  Be aware of the space around you.  Be aware of the space within you.  Notice the stillness of this moment.  Be in this moment.  Listen.

What would be life giving?

One of my colleagues begins meetings and conversations about projects with the question:  What would be life giving?
So, when faced with a challenging project or task, I remember to ask,  “ How might I or we approach this project or conversation in a way that is life giving?”
The question invites me to expand rather than to contract, to look up and out, rather than down and away.
Take a breath and allow that breath to expand your energy up and out.  On  your exhale follow your breath,  like a ribbon of light,  through you and into the earth.  Be aware of the space around you.  Be aware of the space within you.  Ask yourself , “What would be life giving in this moment?”
  Inhale…. and on a long, slow exhale, listen to the response.

What are your resources?

On the aikido mat, I notice that if I focus just on the punch or strike that is coming towards me, I forget that I have resources.  When I see the space around my adversary and his hand, I can more skillfully redirect the punch by using the space around us.  Space is my resource on the mat.  If I just focus on the punch, I don’t see the space and don’t benefit from it.
We have a tendency to be very articulate at describing the challenges and problems in our lives—to focus on the punches and the obstacles.  What if we could get just as articulate in describing our resources?
Take a moment, get comfortable, and…

Breathe in and expand your energy up and out to reach the sky.  Exhale, and bring your awareness to your breath as it circles through your body and into the earth.  Be aware of the space above and below you, on either side of you, in front and in back of you. Be aware of space as a resource for you throughout your day.  And be aware of all the resources that are around you and that you can benefit from today.

Lizard Push Ups…and deep bow to Wendy Palmer

Take a breath and allow that breath to expand your energy up and out.  And on your exhale follow your breath,  like a ribbon of light,  through you and into the earth.  Be aware of the space around you.  Be aware of the space within you.  What if there were just a little more awesome and shiny in your being?
I had the awesome privilege to spend this past weekend in a Conscious Embodiment workshop with one of my Aikido and Leadership Embodiment mentors, Wendy Palmer.   There are so many gems I’d like to share.  Today I want to describe what Wendy calls the “lizard push up.”
Have you ever noticed how your posture slides lower and lower throughout the day; how your belly caves in and your shoulders slump down and soon your head is cranked forward, your chin almost resting on your computer keyboard?  Does that ever happen to you?  Maybe I’m not the only one!
And have you noticed how this contraction impacts your mood, your sense of possibility, optimism, and courage?
So, what if you expanded your energy upward and lifted your torso from your core, concentrating on creating space in your belly, between your ribs and in your chest.  Lift your eyes up to take in the horizon for a moment. There:  YOU HAVE JUST DONE  A LIZARD PUSH UP!
Now take it a step further and imagine that there is just a little more awesome and a little more shiny in your being.  Notice how your mood shifts, how your thoughts shift and notice what is possible for you from here.
Certainly if a lizard can do this many times a day, we can!!

Appreciation: The Breath of Life

Take a breath.  Breathe into your center and expand your energy up and out like the branches of a tree reaching for the sun.  And exhale a long, slow breath.  Allow that breath to connect you deeply with the earth.
The Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Breathing in, I smile, breathing out I relax.  This is a wonderful moment.”  When we pause for a moment and appreciate what offers us life, beauty and vitality, space is created for more of what we appreciate in the world.
Take a moment now and notice all that you appreciate around you.   And know that what you appreciate, appreciates.  Practice appreciation this week.

Celebrating the Power of our Hearts in Leadership

Take a breath, expand your belly.  Breathe in vitality and clarity.  Allow that inhale to extend your energy up and out like the branches of a tree.  Allow your long exhale to spiral through you and into the center of the earth.  Inhale again………and  on your long exhale notice the softening of your chest.  Allow yourself to sink into your heart, allow yourself to sense your wholeness.
In Aikido, my teacher, Sensei, reminds us to sink into our hearts to connect with our power, our strength.  When I am faced with an adversary who is twice my size, which happens often to me, I want to tense up of course, and flex my muscles.   Yet I know that I cannot rely on my muscle strength to bring my opponent down to the matt.  When I sink into my heart and bring my opponent to my center, then I realize my true power.
In the day to day activity of leadership we face opposition that can appear insurmountable.  If we go after it with brute force, it may not budge. Or it may budge at considerable cost to our energy and to our relationships.  When we sink into our hearts and speak and act from that place—we can be formidable!
What do you notice when you sink into your heart?

Coaching and Facilitation

What would it be like to experience a little more courage today?

The late Vaclav Havel reflected on the nature of our era as a transitional period:  something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born.
I don’t know about you, but I am aware of previously certain structures in my world coming apart and releasing their hold.  In some cases, like the recent movements towards marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, I experience this as a welcome transformation.  In other cases, like the fragile state of the world’s strongest currencies, the euro and the dollar, the transformation leaves me a bit uneasy.
Courage comes to mind as a powerful force in the face of radical uncertainty.  The word itself originates from the word for heart in French, coeur.  Just like the heart, courage resides in the core of our being.
It serves me to get in touch with the place in my being where my courage dwells, to reinforce and nurture that place, to experience it like a powerful river at the core of my being, fueling and resourcing me.
Sit back in your chair.  Feel the chair supporting you.  Feel the floor under your feet.  Relax your hands  in your lap.  Take a breath, expand your belly.   Allow your long exhale to spiral through you and into the center of the earth.  Inhale again, extending your energy up and out.  On your next exhale, drop into your source of courage.  Notice where courage dwells.  Is it in your spine, your heart, your feet? 
Ask yourself:  What would it be like to experience just a little more courage today?

Say NO on purpose–Invite a powerful YES

In January I said “no” to renewing my board term with an organization and with a group of colleagues that I absolutely love.  I have served on this board for seven years in a collaborative engagement that has enriched my life immeasurably.   Why did I say “no” then?
When I checked in with myself, I realized that the quality of my presence and my energy were waning for this particular engagement.   I couldn’t go on pretending that my enthusiasm was at a high.  It was time to make a clear decision, to take a stand in response to what I felt in my center.  It was time to say NO.
Saying NO, I released stagnating energy and made room for a new or deepening YES to what calls me into my future.  In taking care of myself, I also serve the organization by creating a place for someone else’s YES.
When we choose to live in integrity, our actions are aligned with what we know to be true in our hearts, mind, and gut.  I notice that checking in and listening to ourselves and our deep knowing take practice.  For we may have unwittingly been in a practice of overriding what we know deeply to be true.
Take a deep breath, feel your belly expand.  Allow your breath to extend your energy up and out, like the branches of a tree.  On your exhale, drop your attention to your center.  Inhale and exhale again.  Gently ask yourself the question:  What it is time to say no to?
Give yourself permission to hear, sense and experience what it is time to say “no” to, so that you invite a more powerful YES.

"We are the music makers and the dreamers of dreams"

“We are the music makers and the dreamers of dreams,” begins O’Shaughnessy’s poem.  What is your capital D, Dream?
Maybe you don’t know all the words or all the notes to your dream.  Or maybe you hear that voice that wants to convince you that your dream isn’t good enough or that it is too big to achieve.  Take a moment now to quiet that voice.  And breathe in the possibility of your Dream.

Inhale, connect to the feelings, images and sensations of your Dream. 

Exhale and fill  the space around you with the possibility of your Dream. 

See yourself walking confidently into your Dream.

 
What is the next obvious step you can take towards living this Dream now?