A few weeks ago I was reading from John Kabat-Zin’s book “Wherever you go there you are”. He writes about our frequent impulse to “always try and squeeze in another ‘this’ or another ‘that’ into this moment”. Just another phone call, quickly adding another activity on my way home. I know this very well – the people that knows me well often says that I am very optimistic about time and what can still be squeezed out of the moment.

This impulse, writes Kabat-Zin, doesn’t care about what it is feeding on as long as it’s feeding.  And through these impulses we often miss the current moment, often making us unavailable to other’s etc.  He mentions the idea of voluntary simplicityas:

“doing only one thing at a time and making sure I am here for it”

This is such a simple but challenging idea for me. It might mean going fewer places in one day than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more. Wow, isn’t that powerful?

And as I was busy reading this, my little boy Luc asked: “Daddy can we play cards?” I was about to tell him I just just need to squeeze in another page of this book when I realise this was such a moment! I chose to say “yes let’s play” to really make sure I am there for that moment with him.

Kabat-Zin mention that these opportunities disguise themselves as distractions and this is so true. Be open and aware of these impulses as you go into the rest of this week and rushing towards the end of this year. Be aware when your inner voice says: “just another this or that” before you stop. Or when you get so carried away with eating that you miss the moment of the meal or the smell of the coffee.

Response…

Identify one domain in your life where you can go and practice voluntary simplicity – write it down or go to be there now! Think small. It might be to simply taste the next meal or wait a while longer before you rush away with the next email. Maybe even cancelling the next meeting to make sure you finish the previous one!

Or join me for a day retreat or a labyrinth session to create space for this.

Do one thing at a time and be there for it!

Keep it simple.

In May I joined a group of bankers for a day at Liliesleaf museum. They were thinking about sustainability and how banking can be part of “passing it on”. During the day we also reflected on what we are part of in terms South African history and each one of us had a different experience and position in terms of our history – in a short soulful reflection we were encouraged that each of us has an unique human spirit and that this was not broken despite challenging past stories – the story of Liliesleaf was showing us this.

When we walked the museum tour I saw the following quote:
“There exists no they and we, only us. Solidarity is and has to be indivisible…” – Olof Palme

During that time I was busy reading Jon Kabat-Zin’s book, Wherever you go there you are, and found a lot of synchronicity when reading about his reference to “Selfing”. Selfing is the tendency, according to Larry Rosenburg (Cambridge Insight Meditation Centre) to construct out of almost any situation a “I”, a “me” or a “mine”. This often makes us operate from a limited perspective. Out of virtually any moment our thinking mind slips into “my” moment, “my” desire, “my” knowledge, “my” idea, “my” feelings and “my” problem.

Kabat-Zin says:
“If you look deeply for a stable, indivisible self, the core you that underlie your experience, you are not likely to find it other than in more thinking.”

All of this made me wonder about self-development, individual growth and how I often forget that “I” am part of…how quickly I slip into the “me” and the “I” and forget to think relational and collective. We often live and work in a culture of individualism. How the emphasis on “who I am” and “what I do” can create internal pressure and false or limited identity conclusions. And just as I am writing this I read about  Neymar Jr, being sold for £200m in European Football (a team sport by the way), to better build his personal brand! And this in a time of extreme poverty in Africa, recession and other life challenges. The world is a challenging place to find perspective, isn’t it?

Take a few moments to consider the following questions:

  • How can WE recognise the process of Selfing in ourselves through ingrained habits of comparison?
  • If we recognise this, how can WE stop trying so hard to be SOMEBODY defined by external forces?
  • Instead maybe for a moment just experience your own unique being (spirit) and what you are part of whether it is your team of colleagues or your family.
  • How can I appreciate the team of people around me?

Selfing is present in my life and so applicable in different contexts – I can start by taking things less personally. When something happens maybe it is not ME, maybe it just happened – it is easy getting into “I” this and “me” that. I certainly want to be more present to that and show my appreciation and dependence on others more!

 


 

Recent Developments
I am spending more time with individuals, teams and organisations on soulfulness. We had a small group joined for a Labyrinth walk at Rustenberg Farm in June and reflecting afterwards on life, work and leadership. I continue to do quarterly retreats where we create space for guided reflection, walking and sharing.  It is also a privilege to talk to leaders and teams about the small sustainable ways we can move towards soulful life. I am learning more and more that experience and practice go so much further that theory only.

Please let me know if there are any ideas, requests or soulful stories. Remember your story might just help somebody else!

 


Upcoming events: Please join us

  • DAY RETREAT | 8 September 2017 9:00-15:00 Blaauwklippen Manor House Stellenbosch. Make an appointment with yourself to stop, reflect and recognise your own “selfing” dialogue – Info & bookings
  • SAODN 19 October 2017 @ 13.00 Cape Town // Bringing humanity into the workplace. I am speaking at the South African Organisational Development Network on soulfulness in the workplace, as well as recent developments. Click here for more info.

Go well,

Just before Easter we went camping on the coast as a family. The last morning I was woken by an irritating tapping sound on the roof of the tent – it had to be really constant and irritating to wake me up at 6 (I confess, I am not an early riser)! When eventually I left the warm bed and went outside I saw the rain cover gently tapping (blowing) in the wind. After I fastened it my eyes, half closed, caught a glimpse of the beautiful colours in the sky just before sunrise. I am rarely outside at sunrise!

And here I had a choice – I could either get back into lazy, idling mode, get back into bed still irritated by the wind that woke me, OR I could choose to make something of this unlikely early morning wakefulness. Maybe it was a gentle whispering Voice in the wind: “Wake up, wake up, seize the day and meet Me at sunrise. I chose to respond and make something of this moment. I went for a walk. I found a rock overlooking the ocean towards the horizon, bathed in pink and purple shades of skylight. I realised that my phone wasn’t with me which meant that I couldn’t capture the moment with a photo to post – another wonderful piece of synchronicity and an opportunity to choose – it forced me to just be there and picture the moment through my eyes – not falling into the trap to capture and send or post it, so easily part of the consumerist sharing culture to show where I was.

I took time to breathe, be present and wait for the colours to change, for the sun to slowly start showing itself as the day broke…truly a soulful moment through my choice and response!

In one of his daily reflections during his Lent40 series titled “choose life” Brian Draper referred to Anthony de Mello who said:
The great tragedy of life lies in how much we miss. Human beings are born asleep, live asleep, and die asleep. We raise children asleep, handle business deals asleep and enter the office asleep – spirituality is about waking up!

Soulfulness is about waking up, isn’t it! You have a choice to slip back into same old, same old, with negative energy, or to wake up! As I did. I wasn’t awake when I got up to fasten the rain cover, I awoke in that moment when I saw the colours and made a choice.

Go and be the choice, choose to be aware and to respond. Isn’t it so important at the moment in South Africa to CHOOSE our responses with great care and wisdom?

Which small choice can you make today to be the response, to wake up and not be asleep: during the next business meeting, the next interaction with a friend in need, the next conversation with a loved one or even the next time you walk or travel along a familiar road? It might even be to be present for the smell and taste of your next cup of coffee.

I learned that even the gentle (sometimes irritating) whisper of the Wind can be a reminder that I have a choice and it gave me a beautiful soulful sunrise.

May you wake up and choose to see soulfully!

Go slow!

A start with a difference…

It is almost the end of January again. And here we are, risking to slip into the same patterns as last year, picking up speed with the risk of thinking “same old, same old”. But it doesn’t have to be that!

Remember what Tony Schwartz said:

“We live in a gray zone, constantly juggling activities but rarely fully engaging in any of them – or fully disengaging from any of them. The consequence is that we settle for a pale version of the possible.”
Take a few moments today, when you can, to pause… (if not now, come back to this later, but do come back).

Take a few deep breaths and become aware of the you that are present in this moment. Do not try to DO (think) anything profound – just give yourself a few moments to BE present. What is it that will drive you this year and what expectations will the ego place on you which will create pressure? How can you be good to yourself, how can you give yourself space? What is it that keeps you from fully engaging or disengaging in a specific moment?

Remember that change (shift) happens through small, practical, sustainable steps, not big leaps. And as we come to the end of the first month of this year, it is a good time to stop and think which small changes you can make this year that will keep you from the “same old”, “same old” patterns? Think small. How can you make sure that you do not settle for the pale version of the possible?

Here’s a question: If there is one thing that you could do this year (or not do), that will create space for you to be more engaged what would it be? Think small. It might be a moment or space every day to take a deep breath. It might be to be more aware of a specific tree or hill that you pass every morning on your way to work. It might be to be more present when you watch your children play or to listen better in a specific relationship.

Awaken to what is emerging for you…

How do you respond to this awakening? Write is down, put a reminder on your phone or share it with somebody to make yourself more accountable. You are not doing it for anybody else – do it for yourself!

May 2017 be a year with small sustainable and aware steps, with lots of soul, where you won’t settle for the pale version of the possible!

Go slow!

andre

It has been a good few weeks since we gathered organisations, leaders, coaches, psychologists, pastors and individuals for a week with Brian Draper. I am sharing a few personal reflections to keep us aware, to pass it on if you like and to be present to what is emerging amongst us. My overbearing experience during this week was that it doesn’t matter what the context is, we are all looking for the same thing – ourselves! Whether we talked to business leaders, coaches or individuals during the retreat, people were able to re-connect with themselves, their surroundings, God and what they are part of. I realised that it is through small sustainable practical steps that we move into our own journey of transformation – not the big grand achievements, rather the simple stuff. That is what makes SHIFT HAPPEN!

I again realised how in different roles and contexts of life, our own ego-talk pressures us into comparison, competition and control and it was fascinating to help individuals to stop and “overhear” their own ego-talk and think about the effect it has on life, work, family etc. This realisation helps us to move into spaces of collaboration (instead of competition), relationship (not comparison), and just claiming our own gifts (instead of control).  Through this I had to ask the question again: “what matters most to me”? Isn’t this a question that in our fast paced world we need to continuously cultivate and be honest about?

In my own journey with Spiritual Intelligence my belief was strengthened that we need to help each other to move toward soulfulness through small practical sustainable steps and I am so excited to continue working with organisations, leaders and individuals towards the path less taken towards a life of more meaning, more connection and less competition! May you take the time to experience the small nudges of your soul and receive the wisdom to know how and when to act.

andre