July 22nd, 2015

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Become a Mindfulness Ninja

Over years of creating Ten Principles for Being Human: How to Turn Every Experience into Opportunity, I’ve asked myself if I could only choose one of The Ten to live by and teach which would it be? Which makes the greatest impact or is somehow the most valuable?

Hard to know! After all, when we STAY and turn off the world’s noise, we gather into the sacred center of our hearts and minds. Quiet, we can realize the balance of GAIN and LOSS, inherent in every experience that keeps us real. Balanced on the truth of life seesaw we Question the Definition of Ourselves. We analyze identity, and re-name ourselves based on our real and true qualities; on our own lives and experiences. We Take Full Credit realizing we’ve achieved, served, assisted and contributed in small and large ways that make other people’s lives better just by being ourselves! Now we’re able to use our personal quality Power Chip for good.

The Ten Principles work together in any order and each has its own truth, energy and essential purpose. And yet, in month five of studying the Ten Principles I am tempted to say, Become a Mindfulness Ninja may bring us closest to learning how best to BE FULLY HUMAN.

NOT Mindful, unfortunately, is far more common!

Here is me NOT being mindful: A dear friend’s sixtieth birthday party Saturday night. I was so excited but caught in lousy L.A, Malibu, beach traffic. Half an hour late (I am NEVER late! Aarrgh!) I arrive at an intensely over crowded lot and am flipped off by a crazy driver who doesn’t have a place to park! Is that my fault?

Finally saved by an attendant who takes my car but screeches off, I shiver and let it go, or so I think. Then I wend my way through a throng of paparazzi (certainly NOT there for me), being shooed away by another throng of security and gawkers, jamming walkways and craning necks to see celebs. I enter the restaurant; loud, crazy-half-wild bar scene at the door and follow a lovely, somehow calm hostess, ten feet into the restaurant proper and do something I have NEVER done before. Distracted and rattled, I slip, fall, go down on one knee (right, bruised beyond identification) and skid across floor on my other hip while balancing a pile of gifts. SO MUCH FOR A MINDFULESS PRACTICE!

Nervous, I try to stand, (in 4 inch heels, always a mistake) and fall again! Strike TWO for Mindfulness! Don’t even think “Ninja!” It reminded me (late, I admit!) of the essential, foundational, importance of mindfulness; even when the world as it is, presses against us from all sides. Had I been mindful that evening, I would have applied focused, concentrated attention, using my breath to calm and slow me down, becoming more aware of my thoughts, body and environment. If I was practicing being a Mindful Ninja what could I have done differently?

Featured Journal Entry:

Lisa asked to be first to share her Rise Up! weekend. “I admit I thought Rise Up! was a better alternative to learn ‘change behavior’ than hearing the live interview of my company’s 360 review of me; reading it was confrontational enough. july15-img-ninjaThe good news: my team said, ‘she’s an inspiring speaker’ and ‘fabulous’ at client development and loyalty. ‘Super at keeping our portfolio strong with financial performances.’ Unfortunately I scored near-zero on internal management: ‘too quick to dismiss concerns and feelings on both personal and professional issues; always moving so quick’ I don’t remember their names. So distracted I didn’t know what division they worked in; even when I put them there. ‘Only time she pays full attention is when a dollar sign starts or ends the sentence! ‘Money is what counts with her.’ OUCH!”

Lisa is tall, dynamic; a commanding personal presence. Like many CEOs, especially those that start their own businesses, she’s confident and hyper-determined. But she won’t sustain a company without paying closer attention to the people who helped her get there. But that is only part of her deeper concern.

“Do I really want to work on personal stuff? I thought, Lisa, take your lumps from the 360 review committee and change some things, like order donuts and coffee and be at the office fifteen minutes earlier to shake hands and talk to people. I thought, ‘when I make them more money they won’t care if that’s all that counts with me!’”

“Then, my seven-year-old daughter cried at dinner. ‘You aren’t listening mommy, my turtle died, my best friend moved away and I hate gym class and you ask, how’s your turtle?’ You say, ‘invite your friend over’ and instead of helping me with gym you tell me how good you were at my age! You don’t remember stories I already told you! Even when you’re home you’re not here!’ OUCH! If I can’t attend to my daughter maybe MINDFULNESS is a way to get my act together. I have to hear the in-person 360 review but maybe Mindfulness helps me listen to the lesson!”

Mindfulness is a process and a tool we bring to any situation. Mindful of our immediate senses, needs, where our breath is: running away with me or steady? Where our bodies are: settled? Limbs relaxed or shaking? Am I hungry and yearning? Gathered and balanced OR distracted by running dialogues of worry, hearing only my own opinions and judgments? Fidgety inattention Or HERE NOW?”

Mindfulness practice helps us get closer to ourselves. What is my heart telling me? Where is my body in space? What am I looking at? Am I aware of my seven year old as a whole person? Here’s a hint: you can’t be attentive to others if you’re not aware of yourself as a whole person. Nothing is as important as being aware of everyone and everything occurring in this present moment.

Lisa inspired us by the end of her story: “NO excel spreadsheet on whether I listened to people today! NO being CEO of the coffee room! NO happy face sticker for playing with my daughter as if she was another job with a scorecard. I will always be on the move! But with mindfulness I don’t move away from my own feelings, I face them, my fears and victories. I can be a MINDFUL NINJA: learn to hear, feel, sense my environment and myself while I still live my life. Feeling myself in the moment, I accept myself as I am. I look each person in the eye, learn his or her name, extend compassion and engage the day as it is. Success counts big with me but success starts with being real and human in this present moment!”

Become a Mindfulness Ninja and engage the entire experience in all its beauty and terror, confusion and challenge, joy and chaos. MINDFULLY we don’t turn away from suffering OR happiness; from our inadequacies, fears OR joys. No ONE is spared the difficulties and challenges of a living, breathing real life! Commit to gain full access to your mind, body, emotions and spirit and embrace life in the present moment. Mindful, we are FULLY HUMAN; Experience and Opportunity become ONE.

Featured Exercise:

  1. Go back and re-read my NOT MINDFUL story. What could I have done differently, MINDFULLY? GET better directions so I didn’t get semi-lost, which got my “angry-with-myself worrying mind” fired up and more confused. Instead of being present to my LOST upset, following my own advice and BREATHING, I could have ignored a cell call that interrupted my already risky concentration, which, BTW, got me MORE lost. WHAT ELSE? I could have moved WAY over to the side of the crowded entrance to the restaurant, put the gifts down a minute and BREATHED (3 FULL breaths attaches heart to mind) and NOTICED how jittery my body was, how ahead of my mind it was. I WOULDN’T have breathlessly rushed in, unbalancing myself. IF I’d been mindful I would have cautioned myself about crowded spaces and four inch heels and I would have had a chance to stop a fall! OUCH!
  2. After reviewing my story, think about a similar experience in your life when you rushed, felt disconnected from yourself and ultimately became unbalanced with your surroundings. Then make a list of what you could have done differently had you been mindful of body, mind and environment.
  3. Mindfulness Trainings are now available everywhere! On Audible, Google, at your local library etc., No excuses, GET TRAINED NOW! To be a NINJA start with breathing and paying attention. NINJA’s know how to take the inner mindful strength into ACTION in the world as it is!