Letting go of walking your talk so as to dance ;-)

yes.. to dance your talk is more fun, than to walk your talk.. I can assure you.

——-

A friend who I have a deep regard for, Tana Paddock, who runs a beautiful practice along with her partner Warren, Organisation Unbound out of Cape Town, South Africa on read this blog post. Something in it resonated with her and their work and she asked me if she could make a podcast based on this. And I said, why not? So once she called me while I was holidaying in Kalimpong, Darjeeling and sitting in a small net cafe, this conversation happened.

It may interest you to either listen to it even before you read the blog (if you are the kind who prefers voice to text) or read this and then listen – or not at all. But I would recommend you do listen- it brings out some interesting nuances:

Dancing the Talk – Podcast

Here’s the blog post that inspired the above Podcast:

“there is nothing to attain

there is nothing to sustain

so let-go of all the strain
love all without restrain”
– nyanasanti

For many of us, esp in the field of training, people development, developing leaders etc., a favorite line is ‘Walk your talk’ or ‘Practice what you preach’ and we feel that we must bridge the gap between knowing and doing’.

And yet, consider this– (highly recommend that you take a minute to pen the response to these 4 questions)

–          How many people would you say who you have met ‘Walk their Talk’ completely?

–          How do you feel and treat yourself when you notice that you are not walking your talk?

–          Why might have God designed a universe in which many of us do not walk our talk completely?

–          Might you be better able to walk your talk if you could be a little more lighthearted about it and not beat yourself up?

My contention is simple (not equal to easy) :

–          We waste far too much energy striving and struggling to practice what we preach. Thus sapping us of a lot of vitality which could be used do what we enjoy and are gifted with.

–          We often do not recognize a profound paradox that the beginning of any enduring change is a deep acceptance, indeed loving of what is- for example, our inability to walk our talk

–          We rarely pause to notice how life ‘uses’ what we call our ‘flaws’ to enable a flow. That there is a sacred intention for the adversity and pain. Many of you would have come across that lovely story about the pot which was cracked who was feeling so depressed until he discovered how the leakage of water was used by the universe to water the flowers.

–          Our human-ness enables people to reach their greatness. Being truly ordinary is extra-ordinary. Simple is not easy. What is obvious is not often practiced.

“… while it is your Divinity that they seek, it is
your humanity that lets them take it from you.”

– Habib Adam Kayce, adamkayce.com

–          If you can see even partly what I am saying, you will be better able to walk your talk- when you let go of the desperation to.

–          We end up teaching what we most need to learn. The best coach is never the best player. I believe that many of us in the profession of facilitating awakening are given a difficult path in terms of walking the talk so that we may develop compassion and patience with others.

The rest of the newsletter is about what has helped me to the one thing that can ensure that I walk my talk more 😉 If you think that is a contradiction, its not. It is a paradox. Parker Palmer says, ‘In a paradox, opposites do not negate each other – they cohere in mysterious unity at the heart of reality’

This is best illustrated by the story of three students arguing in front of their Zen master. One said, ‘After all these years, I am convinced that enlightenment is about a deep practice which requires effort and perseverance’ To which the master says, ‘You  are right’ The other student says, ‘What I am certain is that you cannot get enlightenment by pursuing it, you need to let go and allow it to happen’ The master nods and says, ‘You are right’ The third student, perplexed, asks- ‘How can both be right- effort and let go?’ To which the master smiles and says, ‘You are also right’

So, while I have taken the effort to show you “why you should not walk the talk”, now I will share with you the most reliable way I have found you can walk your talk. Can you hold this paradox? Not only does this embody the story but also builds on the last vZine –‘The 10 minute Magic’ – which I suspect most of you who despite liking the idea did not put it into action.

The secret is not really a secret– it is so obvious that you will most likely disregard it. What I am suggesting is a daily practice. I like the Sanskrit word ‘Sadhana’ After more than a decade of wanting to have a decent daily practice, Some nuances which have helped me might help you also.

The first nuance is: the truth that is hidden inside words which reveal the depth of the word- Sadhana – look deeply… Sad- ha!- na.. Not ‘sad’ nor ‘ha’ –(happiness)- when its ok to feel sad or happy, we contact a region beyond both, beyond right doing and wrong doing, there is the delicious reality.

Some tips that helped me and might help you to get going and keep you on the path:

  • Decide to do it the first thing as you open your eyes. Before the illusion takes over!
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you slip but stay committed – recognize that this is the human journey and the egoic mind has a job to do (in terms of derailing you) and so does your higher self. Just notice and “wake up”
  • Remember the metaphor of the autopilot which keeps erring and self-correcting without getting annoyed with itself. And even though it is not on the path more than 90% of the time, it ensures that the flight reaches its destination by the willingness to make mistakes!
  • Be open to trying out different practices till the right ones finds you. I use a combination of Physical (Surya Namaskar/ Peaceful Warrior workout www.danmillman.com) , Breathwork-Pranayam), Intellectual (Reading, e.g. Swami Vivekananda, Jim Spivey www.revolutionconsulting.com ,  Writing), Emotional (Gratitude) – need not be all on all days. Variety helps me.
  • Don’t be too ambitious as you start- step by step, bit by bit you form a habit. Even 10-15 minutes thrice a week is good to start with.
  • Learn to love yourself in your ‘failure’ by recognizing the necessity of the human journey. Ask yourself, ‘Why is it ‘required’ that you slip the nth time?
  • Recognise that it is more about willingness than about will- that sweet spot between freedom and discipline
  • Make a list of what are all the possible benefits if you are able to get into a daily practice- the ripple effect that will have on your work, life, relationships, health- body and mind and also financial health!
  • If possible, involve at least one other person in your family and work. A small community of practice is good.

I had written this note as a vZine in Nov 2006 but found it pretty relevant today also.  With some minor modification I am posting it. One small para added.

My intention out of this note was  for you to develop a little more compassion for yourself and hence gentleness towards others.

The Veil

The veil that clouds your eyes shall be

Lifted by the hands that wove it,

And the clay that fills your ears shall be

Pierced by the hands that kneaded it.

And you shall see

And you shall hear,

Yet, you shall not deplore having known blindness,

Nor regret having been deaf.

For in that day you shall discover

the hidden purposes in all things,

And you shall bless darkness as

You would Bless light.

– Kahlil Gibran

Some books related to this note if you want to explore further:

–          Loving What Is – Byron Katie

–          Mastery- George Leonard

–          Awareness – Anthony D’Mello

–          Daily Afflictions.. The agony of being connected with everything in the universe – Andrew Boyd

–          Whoever makes the most mistakes wins – Richard Farson & Ralph Keyes

 

Slowing down to the Speed of Life..

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As we allow more space and reduce the pace, somehow, we invite grace.

I was conducting a program for a leading FMCG company and I shared with them this note (abridged version here) I had written many years ago. After reading this note one of the participants who had come from Singapore said that synchronistically he had read an article in the April 2010 Harvard Business Review with the title, ‘The Acceleration Trap’. He said that was the head version of this note and this is the heart version of that note 😉

An affluent industrialist said to the Master, “What do you do for a
profession?”
“Nothing,” said the Master.
The industrialist laughed scornfully. “Isn’t that laziness?”
“Heavens no. Laziness is mostly the vice of very active people.”
Later the master said to his disciples, “Do nothing and all things will be
done through you. Doing nothing really takes a lot of doing (and being ;-)). Try it!”

– Anthony de Mello, SJ, One Minute Wisdom
MORSEL: If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly
useless manner, you have learned how to live. –Lin Yutang

I have put together some of my thoughts and feelings along with sharing many of my readings which have pointed in a similar direction. Integrating and connecting apparently diverse thoughts is something I enjoy. As you will notice, many of the authors I have referred to come from different spaces- and yet, there is a meaningful tapestry of thought.

All my life one of my struggles had been to be action-oriented. I am a man of ideas which would often not get implemented. Wonderful ideas which can change people’s lives, even impact the planet!

I am slowly and surely coming to the ‘realisation’ that my wanting to hurry up actually slows me down. The busy-ness of the mind exhausts. And running around like a plucked chicken only tires the body. But that is precisely the malaise of the world I believe. Effectiveness does not come from haste. Greatness does not come from blind speed.

There is a Zen saying, “In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, but in the experts mind there are few.” (Shunryu Suzuki). And some Jewish wisdom ‘When there is too much, something is missing.’ What am I driving at? Where is all this leading?

In the frenetic pace of life, much of what I am saying may appear obvious. And yet, we often miss out some nuances, vital subtleties which differentiate the men from the boys (and women from the girls!) I will attempt to capture them here.

The very first aspect about time is that it is non-linear. Haven’t we all experienced that there are many times we get more accomplished in a day than we have in a week? How come? There is a certain flow, a vital energy that we are a part of that enables a huge achievement in a small time. More often than not we do not recognize this and continue to experience and live as if time were a linear reality. Not seeing that More is Less and Less is More.

I was recently reading a lovely book called ‘Momo’ by Michael Ende who eloquently brings out this painful reality in a fable. We all know that cliché that we have become slaves of time. We want to earn more so that we can have more and be more comfortable. Not recognizing that each day we have less and less time to really enjoy those ‘comforts’. Working late hours has now become a way of life which we don’t even question.

Another interesting book, ‘Your Money or Your Life’ brilliantly shares a concrete way for us to reclaim time and hence get back our life. The authors say that we think we are making a living but often we are making a dying! That unless we recognize ‘enoughness’, we end up spending inordinate amounts of time which does not at all bring us fulfilment.

Ricardo Semler (better known for his book ‘Maverick’) in his recent book with a title that’s like a wink, “The Seven Day weekend…Finding the elusive work-Life balance” talks of his successful experiment of having created and sustained and grown a group of companies across the world under the Semco banner. His organization has become a case study for many companies and universities across the planet.

The second nuance is that rarely do we separate the vital from the trivial. Blaise Pascal said, “The last thing we know is what to put first” In program after program when I ask people about how much percentage of their time they spend in the 2nd quadrant (Important but not urgent) v/s the others, it is an abysmal 10-15% on an average. To separate the Vital from the Trivial, we need time and space but who has that time, let alone space.

So, how do we navigate these habitual patterns which keep us locked in the prison of time? What at the deepest level are the answers to this seemingly intractable dilemma? Answers to such questions are never easy though they may appear simple.

Peter Senge said that “Small changes can produce big results but the areas of highest leverage are the least obvious” That is another reason why it makes eminent sense to learn to slow down. When you are engaged with higher leverage work, you need to work less frenetically. Life is more spacious. And fulfilling. How do we even begin to resolve that which we can see intellectually but struggle in living it? Obviously the answers lie at a different level of consciousness than the one that created it- was it not Einstein who said something to that effect?

The fundamental issue is that we are not in touch with the real. The illusion is far too hypnotizing. The industrial age conditioning about more is better, linearity and sequential assembly line thinking about of time and life has us caught in the matrix. Breaking free requires us to first of all acknowledge and be willing to not know. It requires a certain innocence of perception, a willingness to discover and let the answer surprise us. But who has the time for surprises.

Good is indeed the enemy of the Great. Like Gay Hendricks says, “We are so busy trying to prove that we are okay that we forget that we are magnificent” Somewhere in our upbringing, the environment (read- society, parents, teachers) did not cherish our greatness. And systematically ‘degeniused’ us. Not deliberately but unconsciously. But now we have a choice.

Are we going to live as an extension of our part by default or choose to live by design? Robert Fritz, one of my favourite authors recently wrote a book with a telling title, ‘Your Life as Art’. And to design your life is the work of a lifetime. Mike Jay has also done some very interesting work in enabling a design aligned to your soul. You may like to explore his book, “CPR for the Soul… Creating Personal Resilience by Design” http://www.cprforthesoul.com

God speaks to us in the gap between our thoughts. We require to access our intuition which only comes from connecting with silence and space. The supreme paradox is that unless we can slow down, we will not even get a glimpse of that infinite potential that lies in each of us. Stephen Covey in his latest book – The 8th habit – speaks of moving from effectiveness to Greatness. By accessing our voice, our authenticity. And inspiring others to find theirs.

Essentially, the challenge is to learn to connect to our essence, our purpose, our calling which whispers to us often and sometimes even shouts. This challenges us to step out of our comfort zones and live life at a very different level. From outside it seems a matter of courage. People have often asked me, “It must have required courage to step out of the secure corporate existence at an early age of 32 to follow your calling (which has been to learn and inspire learning)” I feel it was really clarity which gave conviction, not really courage.

In my journey, I have had the fortune and privilege of meeting many fellow travelers and teachers who have helped me, reminded me, woken me up to follow my heart. And yet I don’t learn easily. I compromise and get thrown off, everyday. I am reasonable. And get caught up in the mind.

Robert Fritz says,
“If you limit your choices to only what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all you have left is a compromise. You never have the same enthusiasm.
Because the human spirit will not invest itself in a compromise”

Paulo Coelho in his bestseller, ‘The Alchemist’ eloquently brings this forth in a dialogue between the shepherd boy and the alchemist.
“My heart is afraid that it will suffer” the boy confides
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself,” the alchemist replies. “And no heart has suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God”

So there is fear. Our biggest challenge. Which can be our ally.
In some ways, fear is inevitable. So instead of fighting it, can we like the aikido masters allow and encompass that which opposes. We have hardly learnt to deal with feelings in a way that the creative energy hidden in them can be harnessed, transmuted. Only in recent times we are learning that instead of suppressing or avoiding we can feel our feelings. Vicki Escude puts it well, “Congratulate your mind when fear stalks you because it is doing its job well! Then gently begin introducing new thoughts.”

I was inspired when I read ‘Seven Sacred Attitudes… ’ by Erica Ross Krieger. Two of those attitudes are, “Go Slow” and “Do less” – elegant, simple and effective. I have chosen her to be my coach to help me write my book which has been in my mind and heart for several years now.

In essence, there is wisdom in the paradox, ‘Slower is faster’ – one that we will recognize only if we have the willingness to pause, to reflect to smell the flowers, take time to connect with nature, to laugh loudly and hold a baby’s hand.

Doing Little
It puzzles people at first, to see how little the able leader does and yet how much gets done.
But the leader knows that is how things work. After all Tao does nothing at all, yet everything gets done.
When the leader gets too busy, the time has come to return to selfless silence.
Selflessness gives one center.
Center creates order.
When there is order, there is little to do.

– John Heider, Tao of Leadership

This tender 90 second film by Nitin Das is a beautiful way to end this piece:

SLOW

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