Silence can make us nervous thinking we need to fill the void, but there is immense strength in silence. All sounds, from a whisper to a classical symphony, arise out of silence and disappear into silence. But silence is always there beneath sound and is the space where sound can exist. We tend to think of silence as the absence of sound, but silence has its own weight and quality. When you listen to silence, you can perceive its intense depth and power. Taking the time to experience silence calms the mind and rejuvenates the body. Silence is the void where we can hear the many sounds that we often ignore - the voice of our intuition telling us the truth, the sound of the breeze blowing, the hum of the radiator, and the noises we make just because we are alive. One way to experience silence is to wake up before the rest of the world has come alive. Try not to move into activity, and leave off the lights, radio, and television. Sit still and simply listen. You may hear your heartbeat or your breath, but keep your attention tuned to the silence that surrounds you. Stay this way for as long as you can, and allow the sound of silence to penetrate your body until it moves into your core. Feel the gentle, pulsing waves of silence and allow it to cleanse you. Five minutes of communing with silence can leave you feeling vibrant and connected to the universe. At night, choose a moment after everyone around you has retired and tune in to silence. You can also experience silence throughout the day. Even in the midst of activity, moments of silence are always present. Usually we ignore or feel nervous around silence and try to fill these moments with sound. Yet silence is always there - vast, potent, and available for us to step into any time we choose.
Like birds flying in a “V,” when we feel the presence of others moving along side of us, there is little we cannot accomplish.
As they swoop, drift, and glide, inscribing magnificent patterns across the sky, birds are serene displays of grace and beauty. Long a source of inspiration, birds can be messengers from the spirit realm, or a symbol of the human soul, as they cast off their earthly mooring and soar heavenward.
An upturned wing, a graceful flutter, all so effortless and free… More magnificent still is the inspiring sight of birds migrating, progressing steadily across the horizon in a solid V formation that is a singular pattern too unique to be mere chance.
Pushing steadily forward, this aerodynamic V reduces air resistance for the whole flock. With wings moving in harmony, the feathered group continues its course across the sky, covering more ground together in community than as individuals.
When the bird at the front gets tired, she will move to the rear of the formation where the wind drag is lowest, and a more rested bird can take her place.
By learning from the example of our winged guides, all of us can feel empowered to take on daring challenges as we chart adventurous courses.
Feel the strength of others moving alongside you, as their presence lends power to your wings during this journey across the sky of life. When buffeted by unexpected gusts, we can choose to find refuge in the loving shelter of friends and family. We may even marvel as an otherwise difficult day passes by like a swift wind, as a kindred spirit charts a way for us through the clouds and rain ahead.
If your wings begin to ache on your journey, look around for somebody else to fly at the front for a while. All of us move faster when we move together. Let your ego drop earthwards as we all soar ever higher.
We have to nourish our insight into impermanence every day. If we do, we will live more deeply, suffer less, and enjoy life much more. — Thích Nhất Hạnh
I am sitting in Boulder, Colorado at the end of July. The hum of Summer is everywhere. Nature is asserting her way effortlessly with exponential ease. The encroaching abundance is tapping at the window panes. Self-seeded sunflowers are following the sun and rocking in the breeze. Somewhere a radio plays uplifting tunes and Winter feels like an almost forgotten era, an ice-age ago.
And yet, as a first-time visitor to Colorado, I am curious about the long Winters. How everything will recede into what T.S. Eliot called the deadlands: that dormant peaceful sleep. I can’t help but stare at the enthusiastic, leaping-green foliage and tune in to its amnesia of Winter where I too am seduced and can hear my own being whispering how Winter, this year, will never arrive. How can it? In this very moment, there is no place for Winter… it is impossible. Everything is awake, even in the deep of night. Everything is alive and communing with each other.
The hum of Summer is everywhere.
Sipping ice tea, I close my eyes and imagine the white forgotten wonderland; everything snow-capped and snow deep. Some of this green will hibernate and find its new breath somewhere between April and May. But a lot of this verdant splendour will simply die. And I’m filled with a simultaneous sense of Trust and Acceptance. There is no place for grief in this present moment; no place for conversations about the impermanence of life. Right here nothing is born or dying–it is exquisitely changing molecular shape and endlessly manifesting into countless organic configurations.
My thoughts turn to those I love who have slipped into the deadlands; who have given up the ghost. And I now feel my grief smiling as I think of their old body-vessels molecularly coursing through the icy rivulets into Gold Lake; becoming the indigo of the petals of the blue mist penstemon; the shout of the gold stonecrop moss; the irrepressibly subtle lichen determined to spruce up every rock; the intelligence shaping the deciduous bushes or the ever-green resilient pines; the soft fur of a chipmunk’s tail; or the generous Summer rains and all the wildflowers sign-posting my way HOME as I walk around the lake.
I am grateful that my direct experience with death and grief has evolved into a loving acceptance and a peaceful trust in this alchemy–mystery that we call Life. And I have known all too well the grip of grief who, like a relentless hurricane, told me over and over and over that inner-peace will never, ever return.
But it does. And it will, And it is.
My loved ones are everywhere on this material plane. They have never been anywhere else. Their life-force, their essence, their spirit is having yet more dance lessons with the Divine.
The metamorphasis fills me with trust and acceptance.
I cannot think about the infinite metamorphosis of Existence without calling upon Hafiz…
Deepening The Wonder by Hafiz
Death is a favour to us,
But our scales have lost their balance.
The impermanence of the body
Should give us great clarity,
Deepening the wonder in our senses and eyes
Of this mysterious existence we share
And are surely just traveling through.
If I were in the Tavern tonight,
Hafiz would call for drinks
And as the Master poured, I would be reminded
That all I know of life and myself is that
We are just a mid-air flight of golden wine
Between His Pitcher and His Cup.
If I were in the Tavern tonight,
I would buy freely for everyone in this world
Because our marriage with the Cruel Beauty
Of time and space cannot endure very long.
Death is a favour to us,
But our minds have lost their balance.
The miraculous existence and impermanence of Form
Always makes the illuminated ones
Laugh and Sing.
Nov 14, 2017: Weekly Curated Thought-Sharing on Digital Disruption, Applied Neuroscience and Other Interesting Related Matters.
By Paul Axtell
Curated by Helena M. Herrero Lamuedra
There’s a lot of advice out there about how to make meetings more efficient and productive. And while it’s true that leading focused, deliberate conversations is critical to organizational performance, meetings aren’t just about delivering results. There’s another outcome that leaders should be paying more attention to: creating a quality experience for each participant.
What is a quality experience in a meeting? I define it as when employees leave feeling more connected, valued, and fulfilled. Of course, you should still be focused on achieving the meeting outcomes, but thoughtful meetings and productive ones don’t have to be at odds.
We begin by asking people to reflect on their best team experience and answer two questions: What does a powerful group look like? What does it mean to be powerful in a group?
The second question typically elicits answers like these:
- “I never left anything important unsaid. When I spoke, I felt like I was being heard, and I believed that what I said had an impact.”
- “It felt like I was really a member of the group. Everyone seemed genuinely interested in each other and in what was going on in our lives.”
- “I knew that I added value, both in the meetings and outside of them.”
In other words, each group meeting added to the experience of being a productive, valued member of the group.
Here’s what I’ve seen leaders do to create that quality experience:
Work hard on being present. Take adequate time to prepare so that you can be available and attentive before and during the meeting. If you’re running late because of another meeting or still thinking about how to conduct this meeting, you’ll be preoccupied and not truly available for anyone who wants to connect.
Preparation allows you to relax about leading the meeting and pay more attention to “reading the room” — noticing how people are doing as they walk in, and throughout the meeting.
Demonstrate empathy. People associate attention with caring — your attention matters. Observe, listen, ask thoughtful questions, and avoid distractions and multitasking. Empathy is a learned skill that can be practiced by simply setting aside your phone and computer for two to three hours each week and really listening to someone. Meetings can be your primary place to hone this skill.
Set up and manage the conversation. Ask the group for permission to deliberately manage the conversation. It’s important to establish some guidelines about distraction. Ask people to:
- avoid using technology unless it is pertinent to the topics
- avoid any distracting behavior — verbal or nonverbal
- listen and respect people when they’re speaking
- invite others to speak if their view needs to be heard
Include enough time on every topic to allow broad participation. This means having fewer agenda items and more time allocated to each topic. As a target, put 20% fewer items on your agenda and allow 20% more time for each item.
Slow down the conversation to include everyone. I like the idea of social turn-taking, where you have a sense of who has or hasn’t spoken and whether the conversation is being controlled or dominated by one or more people. You don’t need to set this up as a rule, but you can model it as an inclusive style of conversation, so people become more likely to notice who hasn’t spoken yet.
To implement this practice, call on people gently and strategically. By gently, I mean make it feel and sound like an invitation — not some method of controlling participation. By strategically, I mean think through, during your preparation, who needs to be part of the discussion for each topic. Ask yourself:
- Who would be great at starting the conversation?
- Who is affected by the outcomes and therefore needs to be asked for their view?
- Who is most likely to have a different view?
- Who are the old hands who might sense whether we are making a mistake or missing something?
Check in with people at specific times. Begin each meeting with a question: “Does anyone have anything to say or ask before we begin?” Ask it deliberately and with a tone that signals that this conversation matters to you. And then wait. Pausing conveys that you’re not interested in getting to someplace other than right here, right now — that this conversation matters. Don’t spoil your pauses by making remarks about the lack of response or slowness of a response. People often need a few moments to reflect, find something to say, and think about the best way to express it. Just wait.
Once people realize that you are willing to pause, they’ll become more aware, and when they have a question, they won’t worry that they are slowing down the meeting.
High-quality conversations with broad participation allow people to get to know each other in ways that lead to friendship and collaboration. It’s the act of being with other people in an attentive, caring way that helps us feel that we are all in this together. Crafting a quality experience in your meetings takes time, but it’s worth it.
1. a fine cord of flax, cotton, or other fibrous material spun out to considerable length, especially when composed of two or more filaments twisted together.
2. twisted filaments or fibers of any kind used for sewing.
3. one of the lengths of yarn forming the warp or weft of a woven fabric.
verb (used without object)
1. to thread one’s way, as through a passage or between obstacles
2. to move in a threadlike course; wind or twine.
Curating Own Life to Find Joy… and Space!
The process of moving to a smaller place is like the process of reviewing one’s life. You are faced with everything, from major to minuscule, from your birth to your first and second marriage, your kids successes and misses, your passed away parents, your siblings-their spouses-ex spouses-kids-hobbies-travels, your husbands do’s and don’ts and everything imaginable and unimaginable in the form of paper, glass, porcelain, wood, metal and fabric.
Interesting process this to decide and weight what to carry on for the following fifty something years (LOL) or just identify, honor and kiss good-bye.
Things not only get in your way when you start the moving process (actually you bump into things in unexpected ways), they also get into your dreams… prompting people -dead or alive, impossible situations and extreme feelings.
I am happy to give myself the opportunity to curate the next stage of my life. When space is scarce, decisions are impeding -shall I devote square feet to pictures of relatives I don’t know-never met-will never meet or to my notes from a situation or trip I plan to recreate in my next blog? Shall l keep my son’s undecipherable statue from kindergarten or my late Mother tablecloth -that I never used but cherish.
Decisions, decisions on space -in your closet and your mind.
More space, less noise, more living.
Breathing in, I am Here. Breathing out, I am Now.