Mindfulness Practice: Your Point of Power

Mindfulness

Given the chaos of our times, all of us suffer, on some level, an anxiety about what might happen next.  Where will the next threat come from?  What’s coming that will impact my family, my livelihood, my security and peace?  So today I wanted to talk with you about some ways you can maintain your sense of balance and equanimity by returning to your personal point of power. The key is to learn to learn the knack of mindfulness, or living in the Now.

Of all the moments you have ever lived or ever will, the present one is the one that holds all the gifts–this very moment, right now.

Now–and only now–holds the miracle of your beating heart, the power to direct your attention, the power to experience the richness your senses provide.  Now is when you feel.  Only now holds the power to notice, to imagine and to choose. Now is the only moment in which you can act.

Because now is the moment where your spirit intersects your body and where consciousness infuses your mind, now is you point of power.

Freedom from Anxiety

When you’re wholly focused on what’s happening in this instant, allowing yourself to accept whatever it offers, you place yourself in a position where you can enjoy its multiple layers of dazzling richness.   Your feelings of worry and anxiety dissolve, because both are based in fears focused on an imagined event in a non-existent future moment, not on what’s happening right here and now.

Even if the present moment holds a crisis, by bringing your attention fully to it you center yourself, allowing you access the full range of your inner resources.

The mind simply can’t ride two trains of thought at the same time.  Bring it back to the present and you will be in the only place where it’s possible to create the decisions and actions to move you toward an outcome you prefer.

In his Introduction to his book The Power of Now, spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle gives this advice:

“Realize that the present moment is all you ever have.  Make the Now the primary focus of your life.  Whereas before you dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the Now, have your dwelling place in the Now and pay brief visits to past and future when buy generic klonopin online required to deal with the practical aspects of your life situation.  Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment. . . Say ‘yes’ to life—and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”

Practice Makes Perfect

Because we’re creatures of habit, learning to be mindful of the present–and to return to it when our thoughts and emotions carry us off down their accustomed paths–takes a little practice. Those familiar paths, even when they’re unpleasant, are built right into the neural pathways in our brains.  The more you practice, the more you aid your brain in building new pathways, ones that lead you to the here and now.

The peace and freedom of being in the present can take a little getting used to.  Compared to all the intensity that negative fantasies generate, it’s easy to feel disoriented in the present.  We’re not sure what to do with it, and rather than stay here and explore, we let familiar habits draw us away.  But its openness to the present, a willingness to explore it, that brings us freedom and peace, allowing us to experience the ultimate truth of our own being.

The Now is not some static place where everything stops. It has endless depth and breadth and motion.  Attend to it and you experience its kaleidoscopic, ever-changing nature—and the nature of the Grand Awareness, which, at your core, you are.

Mindfulness Tips

One interesting way to anchor yourself in the present is to tell yourself in words what you are doing:  “This is me, reading about my point of power,” or “This is me, stretching.”  It’s a helpful practice to play with.

Your senses are always bringing you information about the present.  You can practice directing your attention to the sounds you can hear, to what your skin is feeling, to how the light is casting shadows, to what fragrances are in the air.

You can practice paying attention to your breathing, focusing on the movement of your stomach and lungs, or on the changing temperature inside the tip of your nose as air flows in and out.

You can find more detailed information on practices that will bring you into the present in my article “Mindfulness by the Minute.”   Or you may  enjoy practicing with one of the brief, helpful videos provided at Instant Mindfulness. 

If you’ll weave increasing visits to the Now throughout your day, it won’t take you long to appreciate the clarity of mind they bring and the enhanced abilities they provide to focus on whatever task you choose to do and to make more enlightened decisions.

The present truly is your point of power.  Dip into it often.  It will let you make the most of life and bring you gifts of great awareness, peace, freedom and effective action.

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The Liberating Power of Honesty

Power of Honesty“Honesty is the best policy,” Shakespeare said.  We’ve heard that quote a thousand times.

But it’s his next sentence that cuts to heart of things:  “If I lose my honor,” he said, “I lose myself. ”

With those two simple lines, the old bard told the whole story.   Evade the truth and you lose not only your honor, but your undermine your own reality.

Positive psychologists recognize the association of honesty with integrity and genuineness, too.  In fact, when Martin Seligman  and Chris Peterson  first identified the character strengths, “honesty” was listed as “honesty/genuineness/integrity.”   In the VIA Character Strength Survey report, you’ll find this description of the strength of honesty:  “You are an honest person,” it says, “not only by speaking the truth, but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way.  You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a ‘real’ person.”

Setting an Absolute Standard

We all like to think of ourselves as basically honest.  But, as I said in an article about authenticity“We all have areas of our lives where we’re pretending to be something that we’re not.  We pretend we’re on a diet, but the truth is we’re sneaking Twinkies when nobody’s watching.  We pretend we’re hard workers when we’re mainly goofing off.  We pretend we’re being faithful.  We’re pretending to be happy.  We’re pretending we’re in favor of an idea that we don’t find appealing at all.”

If you’re seeking to be a whole, happy and flourishing, being “basically honest” isn’t good enough.   Every time you do a little end-run around the truth, you lose a part of the truth of who you are.  Every time.  Even when you tell yourself that you’re being kind.  You can be compassionate and honest at the same time.

When you pretend to yourself, you cheat yourself of the opportunity to look squarely at the things that you wish were different and to take measures to change them.

When you are dishonest with others, you sabotage the trust that’s the bedrock condition for any relationship to thrive.  In addition, your own sense of trust gets shaken.  How can you believe what anyone else says if you are dishonest yourself?

Setting a standard of absolutely honesty for yourself prepares you for moments of temptation.   Because you begin with self-honesty, when you look within, you see an honest human being.  And that gives you the strength to put the truth first—even when it may mean humiliation, or that someone may think less of you, or that you may look ill-informed.

Every lie you tell out of fear strengthens the fear.  Every truth you tell strengthens your courage and confirms your integrity.  And, as Marianne Williamson says, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”   Our own truth emboldens others to tell theirs.

Truth is Freeing

Practicing absolutely honesty is incredibly liberating.  You find the power of living according to your own beliefs, preferences and desires instead of trying to mold your behavior according to others’ expectations.  You learn to trust yourself completely and to take full ownership for your decisions.  Your relationships get cleaner and clearer and deeper.  Your stress decreases, and life becomes both more interesting and more fun.

If you would like to put it to the test for yourself, take The 24-Hour Truth Challenge® and see how it feels.  If your experience is like that of others, you’ll discover honesty’s power in a vibrant, new, liberating way.

To learn more about authenticity and honesty, see: Authenticity: The Hero’s Journey and Want Happiness? Be Truthful.

This article is one of a series on the 24 Character Strengths.  You can find the others by clicking on the “Article Index” tab above and scrolling down to “Strengths, Individual.”

If you enjoyed this article, please do pass it on.

Illustration by RAWKU5 at stock.xchng
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Keeping on Track: Tools for the Road

Three cool tools for expanding your positivity . . . Free for the taking.

Where’s Your Positivity Ratio Today?

The magic number is 3:1 – three positive experiences for every negative one. Achieve that and you pass the tipping point where you begin to move in a continuous upward spiral toward ever more positive living. Surpass it and you’re begin to soar.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, whose research uncovered the positivity ratio, has a 2-minute online test you can take that will give you your score for the day.

If you use it consistently for awhile, you will not only get a sense of your level of positivity, but increase your awareness of the kinds of emotions you’re feeling throughout the day and gently incline your mind toward those activities that bring you more joyous living.

For a wealth of insight into the benefits of positivity and solid, scientific methods for achieving it, I whole heartedly recommend Dr. Fredrickson’s vibrant, joyfully written book,  Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive

You can listen to Dr. Fredrickson talk about her book here:

Are You Staying on Course?

How strong is your commitment to positivity? Did you intentionally use a positivity practice today?  Did you:

  • Remember to smile?
  • Extend kindness?
  • Take time to notice the goodness in your life?
  • Get in touch with your gratitude?
  • Engage in interesting work, or an absorbing hobby, sport or creative activity?
  • Practice mindfulness?
  • Work toward doing more of a beneficial activity, or less of a detrimental one?

Keep track of how many days in a row you practiced by using this free online tracker: Don’t Break the Chain. Or, for a free tracker that will also send you email and Twitter reminders, enroll at Create New Habits.

Need a Mindfulness Nudge?

Hop on over to Wayne C. Allen’s blog, The Pathless Path,  and pick up a free online timer that will remind you at random intervals to pause and center yourself in the here and now.

Wayne describes himself as “a simple Zen guy [who] writes about living and relating elegantly.” In 2007, as he was writing about paying attention, he remembered that a bell is rung at random intervals in zen monasteries. When they hear its sound, the monks pause to evaluate their level of presence. He had the timer created so that all of us could participate in remembering to be present as well.

Just go to the link above to download the small program and easy installation instructions.  And while you’re there, treat yourself to some of Wayne’s lively, heartfelt, and thought-provoking posts.

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