The Exchange of Presents Demands your Presence

Presents

Tis the season for presents/presence and there is no better time of year to practice both the giving of your heart as well as the giving of your attention.

Have you ever noticed, I mean really truly noticed that when you give a gift to someone you feel as excited and/or nervous to give as the person feels to receive? There is anxiety: will he/she really like what I chose to give, there is anticipation: Oh I can’t wait for him/her to open my gift, there is heart: I really paid attention this year to what he/she said they needed. If you are prone to just hand a gift to someone and allow distraction to take you away from the actual opening of the gift then you are missing out on all the magic of that moment. Being in the present with the person receiving a gift is a gift itself.

Where in your body do you feel this anxiety, anticipation and/or generosity?

In what ways is your energy transferring to those around you?

It’s an amazing connection, a coming together moment for the giver and receiver, where synchronicity is so aligned only the uninterrupted presence of awareness in the opening of the gift, the present, could break the bond. It is the height of mindfulness or intentional attention. How many times during the year do we use intentional attention in our daily lives?

“To allow ourselves to be truly in touch with where we already are, no matter where that is, we have got to pause in our experience long enough to let the present moment sink in; long enough to actually feel the present moment, to see it in its fullness, to hold it in awareness and thereby come to know and understand it better.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are

The question is how can we give ourselves the present of presence all the time? It’s a magical feeling to be so engrossed in the moment of giving that we don’t pay attention to time or space or what comes next. This deep concentration, this deep immersion of presence is called flow and scientists believe that the pathway toward inner peace and happier human beings is through these flow moments where we are so absorbed in the moment we occupy that there is no room for past or future. Author and psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Ph.D., considered by some to the be the father of the concept of flow, says,

“flow experiences occur in different ways for each person. Some might experience flow while doing a sport such as running or playing tennis and some might experience flow while playing an instrument. Some people might experience flow in the simple act of giving a gift whether it be an actual gift to unwrap or the act of volunteering and giving of their time and energy.”

If you are ever in a situation where you want to get a handle on what is happening in this exact moment, breathe. Practicing presence is as simple as deep breathing. Your breath is always with you and you can stop in the middle of everything you are busy with to take purposeful breaths and calm your brain and your heart and your spirit and create focus and intentional attention. There are more ways to give yourself the present of presence. Here are a few to take with you in your bag of goodies this holiday season:

“…the concentration is usually possible because the task undertaken has clear goals and provides immediate feedback.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Turn off your thinking mind and tune into your now mind. The health benefits of mastering being in the here and now are significant. According to an article published on www.ecoinstitute.org “these health benefits include a reduction in stress which we all know reduces the risk for heart disease, lowering blood pressure, reducing recurring pain, and is a boost for our immune system. This boost is accomplished by increasing our antibodies and brain function by our body’s response to our thoughts both positive and negative.”

You won’t be leaving anything important behind if: You let go of old thoughts or let go of what if thoughts. You will however be gaining awareness and color and vibrancy in the moment you occupy by accepting what is happening right this moment and all this moment is giving to you.

Let go of the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda mindset: Each new moment that presents its gift to you has the ability to be a gift for your heart and soul. Give in to what is being offered by enveloping yourself in the passion, authenticity and energy of now. By letting go of your expectation of what the moment could or should or would bring, allow the moment to unfold in all its organic splendor and guide you.

No Restrictions. In helping my clients set goals and create their own avenues of accountability we create if/then statements. For example: A client wants to lose 10 pounds by the end of the month. The if/then statement might say, “If I feel like having a sugary snack after dinner then I will drink a hot apple cider or munch on an apple instead.” In the present or gift of presence this would be the one time when your prepared mind could hinder complete flow of enjoyment. Let go of the if/then thinking and align your mind with the here/now thinking. Notice how much more rich and emotional the here/now mind perceives life in its raw and real time. If/then changes your course and forces you to control the gift of the present which then has the potential to control the outcome. Here/now allows you to just enjoy flow in the moment for what it is without the stress of barriers or diversion.

Sense your way to presence. Play a mind game with yourself by paying attention to each of your senses, one at a time. This activity is great practice for presence and being mindful of the here and now. Pay attention to your breath, carefully watch how your hands touch things, observe what is going on right in front of you, concentrate on the smells all around you and see if you can name them, really dissect the flavors of your next meal, listen carefully when someone is speaking to you and try to detect the many levels of emotion being used in the conversation.

Purposefully create daily moments of presence. Go a different route home from work, eat lunch in a different location or pack a lunch that is different than what you normally eat, skip lunch completely and pamper yourself instead, take your hobby with you wherever you go and work on it at least once during the day away from home, learn something new today and bring it up in conversation. The opportunity for an awe moment is created in being present with intentional attention.

In the winter time I enjoy washing the dishes, even with dish gloves on because I am so comforted by the warm water cuddling my cold hands. It is a daily, year round chore but at this time of year the cold is a stark reminder of the blessing of heat. My appreciation level for warm water and keeping my family healthy soars. I find myself actually looking forward to this chore and instead of washing dishes 3 or 4 times a day t keep up with the mess I let it pile up so that I can spend real time appreciating the warmth. Bizarre, I know, but the presence it creates is magical.

“Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.” Steve Goodier

Call to Action

In what ways can you create presence during present giving?

Whatever level you are involved in while preparing for this holiday season, how can you be more mindful of each preparation step along the way?

Even if you are alone, how can you be present rather than wishing the time away?

 

7 Silent Steps toward Resilience

 

Resilient

“Your habit of avoiding mental and emotional discomfort is your #1 reason for your being stuck where you are in life.” Tony Dovale

Doesn’t it just cut you like a knife when you find words that hold up a mirror to the uncomfortable truth of you? How do you resolve to come to terms with that inner truth and change it if you don’t like what you see?http://journeyoncoaching.com/2014/01/30/aaaaaand-action/

I find comfort and hope in the word resilience. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; to show mental and physical toughness; the ability to spring back into shape.

Inside that strong, self-righteous word is silence.  For me the quiet silence of personal power sits in the midst of resilience to encourage me to overcome adversity and hardship in any form and be born again on the other side.

Right now I am in transition and at this moment choose to share my silence of personal struggle at becoming resilient. At almost any cost I will try to avoid mental and emotional discomfort and yes I do feel stuck a lot of the time. I want to be so resilient with the adversities that come along in my life that I could wear it like proud armor. The avoidance usually shows itself with people rather than in tasks that need tending to. Situations like cleaning the house or writing a new article or getting through a long day at work because I am looking forward to something better at the end of the day seem to be acceptable and manageable for me. I can face what needs to be done physically by playing mental games with myself but when it comes to people I am just a wet mop.

I don’t spring back into shape fast enough when it comes to verbally standing up for myself. I avoid conflict. I avoid saying what needs to be said when it comes to people I have to confront. I’m a great ally; great at helping other people work out their thoughts when they have to confront someone but just awful at helping myself.

What usually ends up happening is I walk away, never having said what needs to be said even for the sake of saying the one thing that I know might make a difference. I feel unspeakable.

Have you ever felt unspeakable?

The dictionary defines the word unspeakable as being very bad or evil; impossible to describe in words; incapable of being expressed in words; that may not or cannot be spoken.

Hard to believe with how often I write but when it comes to face to face discussions or as I refer to them, confrontations, there comes a moment when I feel unspeakable. I feel evil inside of my body because my initial reaction to anger is to lash out in anger and I hate myself for thinking and feeling so out of control. I have swirling thoughts that don’t connect in a coherent way fast enough for me to respond in a timely fashion or with dignity. Very often, days later I find that I can intelligently form rebuttals and responses that actually make sense. It takes me that long to form what I wish I could have said in the moment. Somehow I have not yet been able to find my voice. I feel such shame whenever this happens.

I imagine the outcome of what I truly want to be similar to two guys calling each other out for a street fight. They need to establish their position in the neighborhood and so they challenge each other to a fight. Someone will win and someone will lose but at the end of the day they will both have a mutual respect for one another as well as having established a place for themselves with the other kids that they will eventually refer to as friends. I want that. I want to be able to establish myself as someone to respect and be called a friend when the face off is over because I stood up for myself in a debate or confrontation of words.

In doing research on how to become resilient I have learned that I need to not be affected by what is being said. In other words I need to not take it personally. I should know this; it’s one of the 4 most powerful agreements http://www.humanpotentialunlimited.com/Summary-content.html. It is so difficult to stay neutral. I am a feeler. I am sensitive and empathic and sympathetic and my heart is in everything I do and say. However, being able to separate myself from the words that brought up an emotion may just help me to think more clearly and parse through options for an intelligent and balanced response.

Usually my physical response is to remove myself from the situation as quietly and quickly as I can even if this means losing employment. It sounds irrational and pathetic I know but once angry words are thrown out and the evidence shows that the anger seems to be the way that other person chooses to deal with his/her emotions then I’m out. I don’t choose to fight that way or resolve anything that way so I leave.

So the question I have to ask myself is how does it ever help me or the other person if I don’t engage? I can’t possibly be a teacher of possibilities if I can’t hold my own ground. I’ll never get the respect I want from that person or from myself if I keep walking away. Is it a form of turning the other cheek? At some point I have to speak and I have to say what needs to be said unemotionally and intelligently in the moment and THEN if I still feel that walking away is the best course of action I can do it with confidence in my decision.

There are subtle ways in which you and I can build resilience. Here are a few thoughts that have helped me so far:

  1. Breathe: I always tell my children that when they face a difficult situation try to take a deep breath and face it head on and remember all that it took to get through that tough moment. The great reward is that the next time you go through something difficult, and I promise you that you will, you will be able to have something to refer back to and build on.

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” – Thich Nhat Hahn

  1. Create Purpose: Why are you in this difficult situation? How did you get here? How can you successfully and purposefully make this a learning experience that can not only benefit your well-being but help others when they hear your story? Attach a strong meaning to what is driving you through right now and put power to the outcome.

“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear any ‘how’.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

  1. Network it out: Where is your tribe? Where are your peeps? Who is part of your army? Is the universe a part of your network? Is G-d? It is so important to have go-to people standing at the ready to help and support and guide and confide. Unload your burden if that is the only thing that will alleviate the initial pain and discomfort. Hearing yourself talk out loud to someone that you trust above all else drains the situation of a lot of power and puts the power to get through back in your hands.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”  –C.S. Lewis

  1. Ready, Set, JUMP: Launch yourself head on into the problem without a game plan. Just the momentum of knowing you have no choice but to solve the problem is momentum enough. Stay open and stay flexible to whatever solutions pop up. Let the road take you where it wants you to go and be determined to get out of this maze.

“Life is a gamble. There are no sureties. If you want something badly, you’d have to trust your heart and your instincts and then take a leap of faith.” –Alyssa Urbano

  • Time Heals all wounds: This discomfort won’t last forever unless you learn and do nothing. If you do nothing or take nothing from what you went through then the tough situation gets tougher and will keep coming up more powerfully than ever before.

 

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” – Pema Chodrin

  • Make a To-Do list: Brainstorm ways to get through this adversity. When you actually sit down and write out your thoughts and plans of attack it secretly empowers you to move forward. Creating a game plan, even if you are asked to abandon the plan along the way, builds confidence inside to help you know that you are capable of problem solving. You are able to make lemonade out of these awful lemons.

 

“The only thing more important than your to-do list is your to-be list. The only thing more important than your to-be list is to be.” – Alan Cohen

  • Choose YOU: The question is, if someone provokes you is it your decision to do nothing and walk away or is it your response to fear of confrontation? t get just as angry as the person you are dealing with. Staying calm and not letting your emotions get the better of you is admirable and mature but is there another way? Who do you want to be? In my case I want to be someone that will politely and succinctly argue, defend or rationalize back to the person looking for confrontation. I want to walk away having said everything that needed to be said on my part. I want to feel proud of myself at the end of the day that I did all I could to stand up for myself.

 

“Seeking excellence means choosing to forge your own sword to cut through the limitations of your life…” – James A. Murphy

Call to Action

Join me won’t you? Let’s hold each other accountable for the steps we take to build resilience in our lives. Our motivations may be different but the end result is the same; to feel proud and stand tall and live a life of honesty, integrity and self-worth. How will you get there?

Images by bing.com/elevateevents.com.au

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program.  Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.