Mindful Leader: Know and Heal Thyself

Turbulent Thoughts

I have had a spate of recurrent dreams. They have been a bit turbulent and unsettling. But this has been my subconscious life.

It has been like I go to sleep to find that I am a shiny ball inside a pinball machine getting batted back and forth.

On Dreams on Turbulence

The main story line is this:

I’m teaching a class or doing a presentation and I start without setting the context and reviewing the agenda. From there, I am propelled from a series of quasi-urgent events and tasks that keep me from my own preset agenda. Each evening as I slumber, night becomes day in my head and I become a pinball, swatted and propelled from one unintended obstacle to another.

The day swallows me as I am it’s unsuspecting victim.

You don’t need to be a dream interpreter to get the message. The demands of the day are taking its toll. Shame on me for not recognizing it sooner!  I wonder how many others are in the same place.

  • Packed agendas
  • Too many demands
  • Constant calls for one’s attention
  • Decision after decision that need to be made

Chances are that you not only get my drift, but that you too are also living some degree of this turbulence in your world.

Recalibrating for Results

I can’t help but be reminded of some basic tips for being more mindful, attentive to self and body, and resilient. They follow. (For you purists, please excuse the use of brain and mind interchangeable in the tips that follow. I opted for snazzy subtitles.)

1. Listen to Your Body 

Our bodies are remarkable early warning machines. Before the constant onslaught of nightly dream-based messages, there are daytime signals.  How does your body respond when overtaxed (or better yet as you head there)? Do you have a stiff neck, lower back pain, tightness in the head/chest/elsewhere, tired legs, irritable bowels, etc?  When you notice the signal, take action. Several strategies follow.

2. Get Out of Mind

Take a few moments to shut down and recharge. Meditate, do deep breathing, pray, nap—whatever floats your boat. For more on these strategies as well as others, visit http://stressinstitute.com/stress_reduction_management.asp

3. Feed Your Mind

According to recent neuroscience, glucose and carbs are it! They are the fuel that feeds the brain. A glass of OJ or lemonade can literally help you recharge.

4. Let Go of Limiting BS (Beliefs Systems)

Telling yourself day in and day out about how harried and overtaxed you are doesn’t do much in terms of priming you for positive action. Instead start the day with a new mantra or affirmation. Perhaps something like “I’m a centered and skilled professional who can not only manage, but excel at work today, by focusing on the right things.” 

5. Let Go of Worries

One of my favorite parables comes from either the Zen or Buddhist traditions (actual source uncertain). It follows.

Two monks, on a journey, came to a stream. The current was strong and the water deep. At the same time, a young woman was also at the water’s edge—wary to cross. Yet all needed to get to the other side. One of the monks, picked her up, carried her across, and placed her gently on the other side. The three parted company.

The monks continued on in silence for a number of miles. Finally one monk spoke. “You know it is against the rules to have contact with a woman. How could you do that?” To which the first replied, “I put that woman down miles ago, it is you that has been carrying her this whole time.” 

What do you need to let go of?  Why not adopt an old tradition for use today? Use the worry doll method—except do it both day and night. Neuroscience shows that my simply naming our emotions and thoughts, we quell and quite the amygdala.  Why not take it a step further and literally tuck those worries away by assigning them to a doll or slip of paper placed in a drawer. Literally and mentally keep them there until you are ready to deal with them.

6. Get Attached 

According to attachment research by Jim Coan, connecting with others, even strangers under the right conditions, provides comfort.  Reliance on caring others lessens the load, literally, in the brain.

7. Get up, Get Moving

Good ol’ exercise is another key. It provides 5 mind blowing benefits.  It reverses the detrimental effects of stress, lifts depression, improves learning, builds self-esteem and enhances body image, and leaves you feeling euphoric.

What will you do today?  Better yet what will you do each day over the next week? Even better yet – what can you do to help others?


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Rosaria (Ria) Hawkins, PhDis the president of Take Charge Consultants
She helps leaders & organizations build mindful strategies that ensure long-term success
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Image Sources: pallassana.files.wordpress.com

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