Three Words for 2016

blackeyedHave you chosen words to guide your intentions for the year to come? I’ve been thinking about mine.

CHANGE. RESOURCE. BENEFIT.

There they are, for those of you keeping score at home. If you care to know how I arrived at them and how I feel about implementing them, read on. I hope you’ll spend some time reflecting on three words for yourself, and will share them (along with a link to your reflections) in the comments below.

CHANGE

I did one of those Facebook quizzes a few days ago, and their crapshoot algorhythm generated the word “Change.” NOOOOO! I quickly departed from that page, and did not share the results publicly. However, their suggestion has stayed with me. Last year, 2015, I served on my Meeting’s Peace and Social Action Committee, and also worked and supported political change in Houston. I was seen as an activist, and began to see myself in that light, as well. The current social and political climate, locally, nationally, and worldwide, is volatile. I have always taken to heart the famous words of Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Add to that the words of Moshe Feldenkrais: “Change happens whether you want it to or not.”

The I Ching is subtitled, “The Book of Changes.” It counsels that we observe change without being perturbed by it. That we do not force change, but rather allow it to happen on its own. And, that we can adapt and continue, whether the conditions are obviously favorable or not. As a Feldenkrais teacher,  I create the conditions for change, not the change itself. This is an important and humbling distinction. I already see new focus, new understanding, and new possibilities for navigating change for myself and for my students in the coming year.

RESOURCE.

Maybe you’re like me:  I continually underestimate the resources at my disposal, both internal and external. I have a long history of life experiences where, seemingly at my depths, exhausted and tapped-out, I still was able to find within myself a resource I didn’t know I had. “Resource” is also a funny punny little shorthand for a profound spiritual concept: “Reconnect to the Source of All There Is.” I always have what I need when I can remember to re-source. Then, I am always resource-full.

Most of my clients come because they are in pain or difficulty. Others simply are propelled by the desire to be “better,” in some way that is meaningful to them. They view me as a valuable resource, and I am so grateful for that. This word-of-the-year RESOURCE reminds me that I can help them to discover or create their own resources for problem solving and for living more fully. We can know that abundant resources are always available, even if we have to search for them.

BENEFIT

Benefit is related to “beneficial,” which means “good for you, in the best possible way;” and shares a root with “Benediction,” which means “Blessing.” How do I make the world a better place? How do I bless others? How does my work benefit others? How does it benefit me? Benefit also implies a bit of a two-way street, as in “mutually beneficial.” Benefits that go only one way are unsustainable.

At its worst, the word “benefit” can be reduced to a crass attitude of “What’s in it for me?” At its best, however, “benefit” guides me to ask and discover – what is the highest and best intention for all concerned? Are all parties better off than before? Perhaps the benefit is not obvious. Sometimes, we need to discover the benefit of the benefit, and illuminate it.

I believe the word “benefit” will be a touchstone for health for me. In the choices of the relationships I sustain, the foods I eat, the projects I pursue, the idea of benefit – and mutual benefit – will protect me from burnout and resentment. I want to be actively engaged, appreciative, and moving as an agent of change, a resourceful resource, and a blessing for all concerned.

The conscious awareness of the words CHANGE | RESOURCE | BENEFIT is transformative.

Happy New Year. Bring it, 2016.

[“My Three Words” is an annual exercise created by Chris Brogan. You can read more about it at http://chrisbrogan.com/3-words-2016/

You can also read My Three Words for 2015 here.]

 

 

 

 

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Today’s Quote: Saint Francis de Sales

Slow on Road“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”  — Saint Francis de Sales (1567 – 1662) via BrainyQuote.com

This sounds a lot like Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904 – 1984), who would often direct his students to move quickly, but without hurrying. What does that even mean? At first hearing, it seems like a zen koan, one of those paradoxes that leaves you scratching your head and no closer to enlightenment. But as I practiced the Feldenkrais Method, I experienced what he was talking about. Beyond teaching people to notice when their muscles contracted in uncomfortable and inefficient patterns, he was also teaching a way to find peace of mind. He taught that straining, hurrying, or over-reaching are signs that we’re being driven by some unconscious notion – or habit – that has nothing to do with being present in the moment. One might say that our ego takes over, and achieving our goal becomes more important than the way we get there.

Saint Francis de Sales, a Roman Catholic mystic during the early years of the Protestant Reformation, recommends a practice of mindfulness when he says, “. . .do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.” When “the whole world seems upset,” in any moment, his solution is to return to the spaciousness and peacefulness of a quiet and calm mind and spirit. My common first reaction is to want the upset to be solved immediately. When I try to “muscle my way” to a solution, my ego is in charge, and even more difficulty ensues. To act from a quiet and calm mind takes a lot of practice!

Saint Francis de Sales makes it sound very simple. But I have the sense that he knew such a practice would not be easy. I think he knew the world would always seem upset, in countless small and large ways. I imagine that he spent a lot of time in stillness, waiting with a quiet and calm spirit for guidance from the still, small voice within.

Quickening

a coffee percolator, made obsolete by drip coffee makers
Creative Commons image via Wikipedia.

Something has been percolating in me for awhile now. Perhaps an old-fashioned spiritual word to describe it would be “quickening:” a feeling of vitality, of energy, of purpose that comes from within. It seems that I have many words. They are words for me, and they are words to share with you. This page is the place to hold those words.

Quickening is interesting because it has nothing to do with going faster, doing more, or squeezing/cramming/forcing more activity into an already overburdened schedule or psyche. I understand that this quickening has only been made possible because I have two places that provide a respite from the modern relentless spinning hamster wheel of demands and distractions. One is my practice of the Feldenkrais Method®. The other is the practice of the Quaker Meeting. Each steps away from “the world” in order to step back in, at a higher level of functioning. Both use time and space in interesting ways to make more of each.

The Feldenkrais Method and Quaker Meeting help me to engage in a process where simplicity is a result. Inside that simplicity is deep love for what Moshe Feldenkrais called “human dignity,” and what George Fox called “The Light” or “that of God in everyone.” When I discover those attributes in myself, I can see them in other people. Sometimes, I seem to elicit them, or provoke them in others. That person begins to realize their own potential, their own capacity, their own “vowed and unavowed dreams.” I understand that this — perceiving, provoking, and nourishing growth — is my life’s work.

If you’re looking for simplicity, I am, too! Let’s search together, shall we? I have a feeling that it’s a “journey, not a destination” kind of thing. I’m game, if you are.