STILL: an invitation.

You only need to be STILL.

Wait, come again? You mean me?

My reactions to "BE STILL" range from "okay, sure: I will hold the yoga pose for a little longer?" and "I will rest, no problem: just give me an idea of how long." Translation: I am capable of anything but stillness. (Photos included to prove my delinquency...no one is perfect, right?). 

How about you...Have you ever been forced to be STILL? In that forced state - physical or otherwise - could you find calm? Find acceptance? Discover peace?

In a world that moves so quickly and when sudden stillness is required, it can seem as though we are no longer able to participate. In that moment, A LOT COMES UP. The countless emotions and thoughts are a rushing flood. The intensity makes one capable of anything but being still. Internally and externally the tensions rise. Forced stillness, midst whatever circumstances or phase in life, can be impossible. Still steals freedom. Or does it?  Could deeper inquiry reveal something of opportunity in pause? 

This is my recent inquiry, and new ask of myself: What if I decided to be STILL? 

Headstand&Boot

On Valentine's Day, I was physically forced to be still. "How long?" was my immediate question in the ER. And the answer, unknown. My instant reactions - born out of fear - manifested themselves into a few big tears (admittedly to my embarrassment). I am familiar with injury. I am familiar with trauma. I am not well acquainted with unknown durations or vague 'strategic' direction personally. Like I said, I am anything but still. And I certainly was not interested in whatever lesson this was intended to teach me in 2017 (at first!).

Swallowing hard over and over since that moment, this circumstance continues to ask me to make a choice between impossible or possible. limiting or limitless. crutches or creativity.

HURT OR HEAL. 

Have you been confronted with something recently that asks you to pause for an ambiguous length of time? Perhaps a broken bone like me or something far, far worse.

What happened? What choice did you make? How did it feel? How did the feelings change? What did you learn?  I don't know what 2017 has brought upon you already. Whatever it is, I can only imagine it's required you to show up big, to make some big choices. Rest assured this will just keep on well past 2017, it is what it is.

So I share my situation as an invitation to embrace the pauses when they come; an offer to try on ways to practice new disciplines that may serve you in holding on through the ambiguity, the change. Even steps to healing, to peace:

Decide to be still. Bring on breath. Invite a moment to scan your year thus far without passing any judgment. As thoughts begin to rise, bring yourself back to your breath; lengthen each inhale and exhale. Use inhales to recognize what comes up, noticing briefly (at the top of your in-breaths), and then on your exhales let it go. Extinguish everything with each out-breath. Empty completely, creating space within yourself with your breath for as long as you have the breath to do so. Then begin to inhale new life. For any hurt or aches, remember that where your awareness goes, prana flows (as a yogi also encouraged me this week).

Choose an affirmation. Let the affirmation take the form of "I AM ______." A couple examples might be "I AM CONFIDENT" or "I AM HOLDING ONTO NOTHING" or "I AM UNSTOPPABLE". I was recently guided through yoga nidra and reminded that affirmations reveal what we see for ourselves, what we are becoming. Affirmations often stay with us for a long time, perhaps  all our lives. Consider affirming yourself with one right now. Why not?

Whether forced or invited, stillness can create opportunities. STILL bestows freedom uniquely yours to cultivate something new. It is a choice worth making. This is what I am learning. So I have decided to cultivate a practice of stillness all my own; to recognize I AM HEALING. Often physical hurt is asking us to notice a much deeper hurt within ourselves. As my vision board for this year reminds me, I have many areas in my life that could use healing. That healing for me is not going to come from "do, but Who."

Where do you land in stillness? Will you accept the invitation? Remember any challenge is an opportunity to get creative, so start laughing at your inner innovator. You will heal faster! And with this invitation and any others you might open, be gentle with yourself.

You are fought for. I promise.

Energy.

ENERGY. It's a POWERful thing!

Our energy level affects us and how we show up each day.

Explore that with me:

You walk into your meeting after a sleepless night, the expectations on the discussion outcomes are high, and the personalities in the room are unpredictable. How is your energy? 

Flip it.

Time to enjoy an hour of happy after work, and in whatever shape that takes for you (sipping, sweating, swinging, sky's the limit). How about your energy now?

I don't know where you stand, but the second scenario leaves me lighter: a sunny forecast and excitement in my veins. I am ready for anything in that hour. With a positive outlook and high energy, I am more likely set up for stronger performance. Take it further: I am set up for a better experience and it's more likely that those around me are too. 

Somewhat obvious, yes? Yet how often do you take an inventory of your energy? If so, what do you do with that knowledge to serve you best in the moment?

        

During a facilitation last year, the Emotional Quadrants were informally introduced to me as a technique for taking inventory. This 2X2 matrix offers a way to assess your outlook and energy.  

Based on where you land, use strategies to shift in order to make it an hour of happy rather than unpredictable.

Simple, proven strategies include breaks for walking, hydrating, breath-work or coloring. And don't just take a break, I mean TAKE THE BREAK WITH INTENTION.

Do that by disconnecting through a physical action (like a short walk) to HIT RESET. Then try drawing your attention inward with your breath, lengthening it; as thoughts come up, use your breath to acknowledge (inhale) them and release (exhale) them out, coming back to deep breathing for a few minutes. Actually allow the break to restore and rejuvenate you.  Build these breaks into your day, your week, month and year. Give yourself the space to truly be your best self.

For me, the middle of the month can land in burnout or survival state. The annual high from January resolutions may leave us in a lull too. Today as I work towards fresh air, I'll not be taking a short break. I am hitting reset towards recovery with a few days away.

Sometimes we have to take inventory to realize a short break won't cut it. It's not easy to untangle yourself and take a longer reset, I understand that fully. But it's much harder to stay in the pit of low energy + negative outlook. Don't do that to yourself, you are worth more.

Consider your energy throughout this year. Use this 2X2 or another tool you might have to gain perspective and greater awareness on where you are energetically. Let that learning guide your steps to your best self, always. Interested in exploring more strategies? Be in touch!

Finally, this post would be incomplete without recognizing the Human Performance Institute for their brilliance, and to Billy McMillan for sharing last year. Inspire #hummaninnovation.