Ursi's Eso Garden
Your Competent Esoteric Guide
Thursday, 29. May 2008
Take a pause for reflection: Slow down. Stop. Relax. Still. Center.
Be mindfully present.
Pausing to reflect may seem counter-intuitive. Often we want to move forward, to work hard and succeed at whatever it is we endeavor. But the most productive way to do so may be to simply stop working for a while.
When we remove ourselves from the frenetic pace of day-to-day life and business, we can begin to see clearly what is really going on--both within ourselves and in our worlds. We can become more fully present. We can make room for new solutions and ideas to germinate, take root, and rise to consciousness.
Consider the following thoughts by Richard Carlson (excerpted from his book Don't Worry, Make Money):
"Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success. It is a passive way to pinpoint solutions and strategies with the least amount of effort or wasted energy. It's the opposite of 'trying too hard,' of forcing an answer. Reflection is more a matter of allowing an answer to unfold right before your eyes, often with little or no effort on your part.
One of the benefits of reflection is that it enables us to get our egos out of the way. In a quiet state of mind we are able to see things clearly including our own contributions to problems, new ways of doing things, and the ways we get in our own way. Reflection allows us to sense our self-imposed limitations and some of the blind spots in our thinking."
What are some of the benefits of mindful simplicity?
Why should we pause to reflect?
to prevent burnout, fatigue, and chronic illnesses
to sustain resilience through life changes
to improve relationships
to tap your inner wisdom and intuition
to identify life priorities
to cultivate mindfulness
to improve focus and concentration
to enhance productivity
to spark your creativity
to improve confidence and inner strength
to deepen your faith
to restore balance
to enjoy and appreciate life to its fullest
You are kinetic. You are successful because you do, you act, you decide.
How do you stop the forward energy long enough to reflect on the choices you are making?
A shift to mindful simplicity can be likened to putting a small rudder on a large ship. A massive ship is turned more easily by placing a smaller rudder on a larger one. Mindful simplicity puts your focus where you have greatest leverage. The smallest changes enable the largest shifts over time. With a minimal effort, you can make a qualitative shift towards a balanced and whole life.
Taking a simple pause for reflection is one way to begin.
Reflection is an individual matter. There is no one way to direct ourselves to the state of physical and mental calm necessary for reflection. But there are hundreds of thousands of experiences which can promote and produce calmness. Some may take only a few seconds, others are longer. The activities in this site are possible strategies for you to try.
Give yourself a few minutes each day, a few hours each week, a few days or weeks each year... for a purposeful pause...
Try the activities in the following sections:
Sense, Recreate, Relax, and Center.
S e n s e
Come back to your senses (literally)!
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D., a college professor and workshop facilitator on stress management, wrote an excellent little book titled, The Art of Calm: Relaxation through the Five Senses. In it he offers a very quick and usable list of suggestions for taking a pause to relax through attention to each of our five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
Some simple activities, many of which are inspired by Seaward's book, and further food for thought are provided in the five sections which follow:
Look. Listen. Smell. Taste. Touch.
When our eyes see, we assume that we see. But we don't always see intentionally. Often we see only enough to categorize images associated in our memory. Vision may be the sense we use most and take most for granted.
How can we look mindfully?
Consider light, color, pattern, shape, and texture. Take a bird's eye view or an ant's perspective. Put your awareness totally and completely in focus on that which you view.
The real voyage of discovery
consists of not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.
-- Marcel Proust
... sky - nature - drawing - art - night - people - siteseeing ...
Try some "look" activities.
Sound is energy made audible. When an object makes a noise, it sends vibrations (sound waves) speeding through the air. These vibrations are then funneled into your ear canal by your outer ear. As the vibrations move into your middle ear, they hit your eardrum and cause it to vibrate as well. This sets off a chain reaction of vibrations. Thus, we hear not only with our ears, but also with our bones, muscle, and skin as we sense vibrations. Not all of us interpret those vibrations in the same way. Thus, one person's symphony is another's noisy disturbance.
How can we hear mindfully?
The notes I handle no better than many pianists.
But the pauses between notes--
ah, that is where the art resides.
-- Artur Schnabel, Austrian pianist and composer, 1882-1951
After silence, that which comes nearest
to expressing the inexpressible
--- Aldos Huxley
Trees are the earth's endless effort
to speak to the listening heaven.
--- Rabindranath Tagore, Fireflies, 1928
Find yourself some good vibrations.
... night - birds - wind - water - music - solo ...
Try some "listen" activities.
It is fair to say that our sense of smell is the least used and the least appreciated of our five senses. Yet the variety of smells we are sensitive to is amazing and the memories they can invoke are impressively powerful.
Sniff a rose or freshly cut grass. Close your eyes and recall the smell of hot coffee or the aroma of freshly baked bread. Scents evoke many images and sensations so common we don't give them much thought. The olfactory system, which senses and processes odors, is one of the oldest and most vital parts of the brain. The part of the brain that registers olfactory sensations borders the neurons which store our memories. This is why when you catch the faintest whiff of chicken noodle soup cooking on the stove, you can be immediately transported to your grandmother's kitchen.
"Perhaps it's no coincidence that the sensation of smell is so closely tied to the breath, for it has long been known that breathing also promotes relaxation. Whether it's a deep sigh or a series of abdominal breaths, breathing combined with a pleasant smell is an unbeatable combination to practice the art of calm." (Seaward, pp. 86-87)
What scents do you find relaxing, soothing, exhilarating?
Give your nose a treat.
... coffee - seashore - flowers - baking - orchard - smoke ...
Try some "smell" activities.
We have almost 10,000 taste buds inside our mouths; even on the roofs of our mouths. In today's rushed society, people rarely take the time to taste and savor the food that passes through our mouths. Savoring the rich taste, texture, and temperature of culinary morsels is a diminishing art. Make a conscious choice to slow down and enjoy some good food and drink -- allow some tasty morsels and liquids to gently pass over your lips and tongue.
Have you ever thought about why foods taste different? Your taste buds can recognize four basic kinds of tastes: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. The salty/sweet taste buds are located near the front of your tongue; the sour taste buds line the sides of your tongue; and the bitter taste buds are found at the very back of your tongue.
Everyone's tastes are different. In fact, your tastes usually change as you get older. When you were a baby, you had taste buds on your tongue and on the sides and roof of your mouth. This means you were very sensitive to different foods. As you grew, the taste buds began to disappear from the sides and roof of your mouth, leaving taste buds mostly on your tongue. As you get older, your taste buds become even less sensitive, so you are more likely to eat foods that you thought were too strong as a child.
Treat yourself to a culinary expedition.
When was the last time
you had a glass of water
and really drank it?
-- Thomas Merton
... chocolate - wine - mint - tea - cuisine - ice cream ...
Try some "taste" activities.
The sense of touch is so important that infants die without it. Your other four senses (sight, hearing, smell, and taste) are located in specific parts of the body, but your sense of touch is found all over. While there are about 100 touch receptors in each of your fingertips alone, the sense of touch is essential for every square inch of your body. Your sense of touch originates in the bottom layer of your skin called the dermis. The dermis is filled with many tiny nerve endings which give you information about the things with which your body comes in contact. Pressure, texture, temperature, and humidity all play important roles in touch sensations.
As we move deeper into the age of technology
the sense of touch will play a greater role
in maintaining optimal health.
-- Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.
... barefoot - gardening - water - bread - pets - embrace ...
Try some "touch" activities.
R e c r e a t e
The word recreation comes from root words meaning "to restore to health," "to refresh," and "to create anew." Sometimes we need to refresh and restore ourselves. Reflection doesn't have to be a serious endeavor. It can be recreative, in the most original sense of this word, and fun.
The best way for some people to reflect is to immerse themselves in a recreative activity -- something that will refresh and renew the mind, body, and spirit. Whatever type of recreation you choose, it should be enjoyable to you.
What kinds of recreation do you enjoy?
Seek above all for a game worth playing.
Play as if your life and sanity depend on it,
because they do.
-- Robert de Ropp
... play, amusement, entertainment, diversion, fun, sport ...
Try some recreation activities.
R e l a x
One of the primary challenges to successful human life in this postmodern, millennial world is the challenge of too much: too much to do; too much to cope with; too much distraction; too much noise; too much demanding our attention. Typical responses to this are stress, panic, overwork, disillusionment, and distraction.
There is an antidote to such stress. It is called relaxation. Mental relaxation means the alleviation of anxiety; physical relaxation means reduction in skeletal muscle tension. Relaxation techniques such as simple focused-breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and music- or visually-assisted guided relaxation exercises, are easy methods for redirecting our kinetic selves to stillness.
Why is this important for businesses? As Richard Carlson says, "in business, people panic about practically everything--missed deadlines, orders not received, comments by others, fears of mistakes, negative trends. You name it and someone has panicked about it. Yet I've never seen even a single instance where the panic actually helped to solve the problem. Instead, panic is neutral at best and greatly interferes at worst. Panic tends to bring out the worst in everyone. It makes others (and you) feel tense and fearful. It increases the likelihood of mistakes, missed opportunities, and miscommunication." (Richard Carlson, Don't Worry, Make Money)
So relax. When you relax you allow your inner wisdom to take over. In the absence of worry, answers emerge.
... loosen up, unwind, rest, breathe easy, calm ...
Try some relaxation activities.
C e n t e r
When we are inattentive and uncentered, we can forget what is truly important. For centuries, Eastern philosophy has taught the lesson of centering. The Tao Te Ching tells us to "stay centered and prevail." How do we gain this self mastery? How do we find our inner center?
Find some focused quiet time. Being silent doesn't shut down your mind, it only activates a deeper type of intelligence -- an inner wisdom or perhaps a universal source of thought. If you have defined and examined a problem, you have all the information you need. The next step is to allow the question to settle like silt in water. A solution or next step will surface if you stop working so hard.
What are some practices which can help you develop this focus?
Distractions are the archenemy of attention.
-- Dr. David Kuntz, Stopping
The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass,
it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably
magnificent world in itself.
... ponder, contemplate, discipline, focus, be ...
Try some centering activities.
Found at Mindful Simplicity.
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