Living in the Richness of the Moment–Part 1: Come to Your Senses

rich-moment.jpgMy readers don’t realize it, but I had a self-centered motive when I wrote Seven Sacred Attitudes®. I really wrote it to remind myself that living in the richness of the moment is a life-long practice, not a one-time event. Now, those of you in this blog community, who are all busy entrepreneurs, passionate about life and want to drink in every luscious moment, have asked me to write more about this practice. So here goes.

This is the first post in a seven-part series. The series is designed to help you start living in the richness of the moment. Right now. With this breath. The focus is on learning how to spend more time on the heart-centered present, even in the midst of your busy entrepreneurial life. And the first step is to:

Come to Your Senses
Your body is talking. Are you listening? Not to your mind and all you think about your body and what you should do for it, but to your body itself? Your body has much to say. Every moment. Right now, as you read this, can you come to your senses and access your inner wisdom? What is your body saying at this moment?

Accessing the inner wisdom of your body takes practice. “Practice?” you say. “Another ‘To Do’? I don’t have time for everything on my plate as it is right now.” Well, the practice of listening to the inner wisdom of your body doesn’t require that you do anything else—no new activity to schedule in your day— but it does require that you shift your attention.

Try this: Choose one activity that you’ll be doing anyway in the next 24 hours—preferably an activity you do outdoors. Decide to place your full attention on your body during this activity. Even if you use outdoor activities or exercise time for creative thinking and problem-solving, do something different today.

Place your attention on your body’s experience of the activity. Start small. Start with 10 minutes where you will pay attention. Not to your mind where the stories live—“Oh, I wish I could get this power-walk or run over with.”—but pay attention and stay present to your body. Take your mind off of the mental “To-Do-list” chatter and come to your senses!

Your body lives in this moment. It breathes now. Notice it in action. Discover what it has to tell you about this activity on this day for these 10 minutes.

Print this list out and use it to guide you:

•Notice your breath.
•Notice the air against your neck.
•If you’re swimming, notice the water against your muscles. Notice the sensation of the water against your face.
•Focus on the muscles in your legs as you walk, jog, bike-ride or swim or even if you use a walker or wheelchair.
•Switch focus and pay attention to your arm muscles.
•If you’re at the computer, notice your shoulders, neck and brow.
•Whether indoors or out, notice the sensation of your clothing against your skin.
•Notice the rhythm of your breath.
•Pay attention to the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves your nose.
•Pay attention to the sound of your breath as you jog, sit, or exhale into the water of the pool.
•Keep your focus on your body and your senses.
•Notice what your body is telling you.
•What do you learn from coming to your senses?

And try this: If you usually walk, swim or run for a certain distance or a certain time period, put away the timer, pedometer or lap-counting routine for today. Use your body as the barometer for a change. Without a watch or measuring distance, let your body tell you when it is done or tired.

If you usually sit at the computer until you have gone through all the email, written every response and use ‘being done with the task’ to dictate when you are finished, go ahead and set a timer for 10 minutes today. Stop when the alarm goes off and check in again with your breath, shoulders, head and neck. Is your body done? Is your body saying something? Is there something you have been pretending not to know?

We have been given the power to direct our attention wherever we want. Today, place it on your body.
See how it goes.
Just for today.

Let me know what you notice.

And let me know what you think, if you disagree with my thinking, or if there is anything about living in the richness of the moment you would like me to cover in this series.

Entrepreneurial Time Out

time-out.jpgToday, I came across a little video on the internet that packs a big punch. It’s called the 5.75 Questions you’ve Been Avoiding and it’s by Michael Bungay Stainer. What I loved was the time-out it gave me to stop and consider some thought-provoking questions that were big and delicious. (There’s a jaunty jazz track in the background too.) Take a break yourself right now, put your feet up and check it out. Write the questions down and spend some time thinking about them this week. To Michael’s list, add the following:

1. What is already in place that supports me in my entrepreneurial wellness?

2. When it comes to my overall wellness, what am I pretending not to know?

3. What (and who) makes my heart sing that I have forgotten about lately?

4. When it comes to my wellness, when would NOW be a good time to make some changes?

And send a post to let us know some other questions you are inspired to add…

Balance: The Entrepreneur’s Key to Wellness

istock_000003796974xsmall.jpgBalance. The illusion is that it is a static state. Nothing could be further from reality. Try this: stand on one foot, lifting the other from the floor a few inches. Stand like this for 1 full minute. Simply notice what is happening in the ankle of the foot you are standing on. No doubt, you can feel small, almost undetectable movements going on in your ankle. Your body is course-correcting — shifting subtly so you remain upright. This is how your body naturally achieves balance. It’s those tiny shifts that do the job. So my question for you to consider today is this: where do you need to make small shifts in your business and life to bring about even higher levels of wellness?

Once upon a time, my own business and life were so greatly out of balance that small shifts did not do the trick. A car accident and health challenge were the wake-up calls to do some major course-correction. But there were clues way before that. I just wasn’t listening. Now, I look for clues every day. You can, too. But first, define wellness for yourself. No doubt some clues to balance will be right there.

Does wellness for you include time outdoors everyday? Does it include a healthy financial bottom-line in the business? Does it include a weekly lunch meeting out of the home office? Does wellness for you include 6, 7, 8 or 9 hours sleep each night? And how do you judge whether you are in balance?

In the stand-on-one-foot example , balance was determined by this criteria: were you able to stand on one foot for 1 minute? How will you determine if your entrepreneurial life is in balance? How will you define wellness? I encourage you to do more than think about this.

Take some time out, eyes closed, and begin to imagine the experience of balance. Get a strong sense of how balances feels in your body by actually shifting yourself into your perception of a balanced state — perhaps a state where you are relaxed, yet quite alert. Notice your breath. Notice your posture. Notice your heartbeat and yet at the same time, notice the air temperature. Just notice. Take a few deep breaths and spend some time writing about balance. But write about the feeling, rather than what you would be doing if your business and life were in balance.

I emphasize the feeling of balance because it can be home base for you. A place where you return regularly. At any point in time, you may be course correcting back to this place of balance. In this way, you will come to appreciate subtle shifts — to your nutrition, to your activity level, to your busy-ness factor — as the powerful tools they are. Subtle shifts on a continued basis keep us in balance.

I described my own return to balance in a recent interview with Monica Flores, owner of SistersInBiz.com In the interview, I mentioned that role models, mentors, and a coach all play vital roles in helping me live a balanced entrepreneurial life. Find the role models, mentors and coaches that will help you do the same. They can help give you perspective, advice, input, and feedback to help you make those subtle shifts that will keep you returning to your “home base” of balance.

What helps you live a balanced entrepreneurial life? Let us know.

Retirement for Entrepreneurs — A Way to do it Well

car-getting-new-tires.jpgWhile standing in line at the UPS store recently, I browsed through the greeting card rack near the counter. I glanced at a few Birthday cards, spun the rack, and in the “Retirement” section, came across a card with a photo similar to the one here – a car in the shop getting new tires. No message on the outside of the card, just the photo. I opened it up. The inside message read: “Look at this phase as a chance to do some Re-Tiring! Congratulations!” I couldn’t think of anyone I knew who’d be retiring soon, so I bypassed the card, but the image and sentiment made me smile and got me thinking…

Since this blog is dedicated to wellness for entrepreneurs – no matter which phase of entrepreneurship we are facing – I want to be sure to cover all those phases we face or will face. The posts so far have been geared toward new and seasoned entrepreneurs, but I really haven’t tackled the issue of retirement yet. So this week, I contacted one of the best authorities I know on the subject of retiring well — my friend and colleague, Dr. Peller Marion.

Peller is a successful entrepreneur who counsels entrepreneurs and others about their businesses and about retiring well — she is also a role model of someone who is in process of retiring well herself. Practicing what she preaches, Peller spends her retirement time teaching part-time at Dominican College, doing yoga and swimming, writing, and counseling others when the spirit moves her. I asked her what she had to say about the retirement phase of entrepreneurship and she sent me the following article for today’s post. Read and enjoy and/or pass along to an entrepreneur who wants to retire well!

Retiring Well: Crafting A Nourishing Retirement
by Peller Marion, Ed.D.

My dad used to take out his violin on the weekends, tune the strings, and practice for hours on end. He played the songs of the big bands: Glen Miller and Guy Lombardo. His weekend music was as familiar to us as the suppertime stories he told about how he once had an orchestra that performed on the radio in the early thirties. Those performances were how he made his living before he met my mother one summer evening, while playing music in the Catskills. Music was in his blood. But after he married and had kids, my dad went to work for the post office. Once he said, “It’s rare for a person to combine their vocation and avocation.” It all felt very romantic and sad to me. He died having pursued his vocation and his retirement with his music still left inside him.

My dad wasn’t an entrepreneurial spirit. Had he been, maybe he would have found a way to bring his passion for the violin into an entrepreneurial venture. And maybe that passion would have carried over into his retirement so he could have retired well. But there are many people who are entrepreneurs who still don’t retire well.

Some spend their lives working extremely long hours, so when they do retire, it’s like being let out of a self-made prison. They hit the retirement ground running. I have a friend like that, who, five years into retirement, is still a force of nature, unstoppable doing all the things that she’d put on hold while she had her business.

There are others who retire and find their days stretch like vast wastelands. They’d gotten used to so much busyness in their entrepreneurial lives that when set free, their identity becomes lost. They’re adrift.

I believe there is a way to retire well — a way to work long into our sixties and seventies, eager to continue to experience the fulfillment that our entrepreneurial work brings us, but working less and slowly phasing in those new things we want to learn. It starts with understanding and appreciating what this phase of life offers us.

While the first half of our lives was all about acquisition — finding the right work, the right partner, and raising a family — the second half of our lives is about divestiture — simplifying, focusing, pacing, and redefining what success means at this new life stage. It’s a more respectful view of retirement as far as I’m concerned.

And since the word and concept of “retirement” is popularly seen as “the next to the last chapter” in our infatuated-with-youth-and-energy culture, I suggest we take the more respectful view. At parties, when people ask you what you do, and you say, “I’m retired,” you have no doubt seen them avert their eyes and scan the room to find someone else to talk to. Instead, I like to say, “I’ve cut back to find my voice”, or “I’m discovering my creative abilities”, or “I’m going on some adventurous inner and outer journeys.” It makes for great conversation and helps me affirm the riches of this life phase.

So, just as structure defined me in my entrepreneurial career life, non-structure plays a defining role in my retired life now and is healing in itself. I look at my appointment book these days and I’m delighted to see that I have the whole day free to do as I please. Not beholden to clients or contracts, I live on my own terms.

Each day I ask myself, What do I want to learn about today? Where would I like to go? Who would I like to spend the day with? It’s a delicious way to shape my day and my life.

Sometimes our years of hiding our authentic selves from others just to fit in and exceed in our careers has been so successful, that we no longer have access to our own voice. This is a time to unapologetically give ourselves permission to do those things we’ve put away and hidden from ourselves — so unlike my father, we don’t die with the music still left inside us.

Taming Stress from the Inside Out

tyg_new_book_shadow1.jpgOne of the greatest wellness tools I’ve ever discovered and used came in the form of a small book with a huge message: Taming Your Gremlin®. My love of the book lead me to study for a year with the book’s author, and master Gremlin Tamer, Rick Carson. To this day, Rick’s Gremlin-Taming® wisdom helps me bring about wellness in my daily and entrepreneurial life. His on-going coaching is a vital part of my business life and personal wellness program.

If I’m deep into a complaint of a stressful situation, one of the skills Rick reminds me to use is the powerful technique of “Simply Noticing.” In order for me to see that I am the one causing my own stress (because then I can choose whether to continue or not), Rick has me actively look at how I stress myself.

This activity is much more than a mental exercise — my whole body/mind/spirit gets involved. I jump in and answer a series of inquires to help me do so. I’ve now learned to do this for myself. When I use Rick’s technique, I take a thorough inventory of exactly how I’m stressing myself. (It is, after all, my unique way of creating stress for myself — so who better than me to explore my own self-stressing techniques?)

As if I were teaching someone how I “do” stress, I answer:

  • What thoughts am I harping on? (Am I making myself look at all the worst-case scenarios? Regretting something? Worrying?)
  • What am I physically doing with my shoulders? (And my neck? Head? Eyes? Arms? Legs? Am I tensing? Staring? Squinting? Wrinkling my brow?)
  • What’s the quality of my breathing? (Am I breathing? Is my breath shallow, rapid?)
  • What else am I doing? (Screaming? Crying? Pouting? Grinding my teeth?
  • How else am I making myself miserable?

Then a remarkable thing happens – I begin to see my role in my own stress. Sometimes, I even burst out laughing. Inevitably, I catch myself putting myself in my own “stress” zone and making myself feel awful – which reminds me once again that, I have choice. Which leads me to remember that, as Rick says, “Feeling Good is primarily an inside job.”

How do you stress yourself? Give us lessons in how you personally go about it! Read Rick’s book, apply some of the Gremlin-Taming wisdom in your own life and keep us posted!

Wellness Coach Quote for the Day

One of my favorite quotes comes from psychologist and philosopher, Abraham Maslow. When I am in the “thick of things” — either lamenting over a previous day when my entrepreneurial life didn’t go the way I’d wanted it to, or worrying about the future — I rest my mind by reading this quote:

bluewater-ripple.jpg“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”

Abraham Maslow
1908-1970

Then I stop, notice my breath, and return to what is real and not imagined. Thanks, Dr. Maslow, for the reminder!

DIGESTIVE WELLNESS FOR BODY AND BUSINESS – PART 1 OF 3

woman-outstrtchd-arms.jpgWhat does digestion have to do with running a small business? Plenty! In the next three posts, I’ll explain how your individual wellness and the wellness of your entrepreneurial venture are linked more closely than you may realize. Today, I’ll share the metaphor and tips for working with the first of the metaphor’s three components.

The Digestion Metaphor
During nutrition school, I overheard a colleague discuss her protocol for clients dealing with digestive challenges. In addition to dietary changes and supplements, she recommended her clients use this affirmation to help keep their focus on a healthy digestive tract:

“My intake, assimilation and elimination are in Divine Order.”

I recently got to thinking how much this affirmation applies not just to our physiological digestion but, as entrepreneurs, to our businesses.

Just think about that affirmation for a minute: “My intake, assimilation and elimination are in Divine Order.” What a grand intention for a small business owner to hold! What a difference it could make in our business lives if we kept our “intake”, “assimilation” and “elimination” in Divine Order!

Application to Business
Breaking the affirmation down into bite-sized pieces will help make it useful. Take a look at the three components individually:

Intake: in the world of physiological digestion, intake refers literally to what we take into our bodies. As a business metaphor, it refers to all the things we take in as small business owners: new clients, email, snail mail, ideas, information from the internet and this blog☺, handwritten messages, marketing material from others, invoices, books, phone calls, text messages, new supplies, new equipment, audio and DVD material, and customer feedback (positive and/or negative).

Assimilation: in the world of physiology, assimilation refers to how our bodies break down food and liquid into the components it will use for fuel. As a business metaphor, it also refers to our ability to extract the business fuel from what is before us and put it to good use. Assimilation requires our attention. Our time. It requires sorting, extracting useful information, and making small or large shifts based on new information. This can be a challenge when we try to take it all in – to take in all the email, all the new blog posts we see, all the phone calls, all the new communication that comes our way. Assimilating means making sense of information and ideas, putting them to good use, and getting the most from each thing we attend to – (i.e. assimilating the new tax laws that my CPA just told me about.)

Elimination: in both the physiological and business worlds, this means getting rid of what no longer serves us after we have taken all that has been useful. Perhaps you clipped an article from a journal. Now you toss the journal. Maybe you implemented a new marketing technique and joined a networking group. It served you well last year. This year, it’s no longer the right vehicle. You stop your membership. As a business owner, you can eliminate: antiquated systems, books and materials, equipment, clients, staff members, procedures, and even attitudes that no longer move your business forward.

As entrepreneurs, we took a big bite out of life when we set up our own businesses. We need to be sure to manage that bite well. We need to be sure that the intake, assimilation and elimination of our businesses are in Divine Order. We need to be sure our bodies are in that same Divine Order. Over the next three days, I’ll give you some tips for all three components involved in both body and business wellness. It all starts with intake.

Intake – Focus on Your Business
Today, spend some time thinking about all you take in as an entrepreneur. By taking in, I mean all the things you fold into your business life each day. This can be an overwhelming task, so go slow. Chances are, many things are coming in to your business at high volume and a fast pace. Simply notice your intake. Take time out to list or just notice the things you take in each day. Glance at all you take in – a message on a scrap of paper, a business card, or your email in-box. Breathe. Glance at something else you take in – papers in your in-box, notes by your phone, or books on your book shelf. Breathe. And notice something else. This simple act of noticing is a practice in mindfulness for your business.

Now, it wouldn’t surprise me if you told me that your physiological intake (eating) matches the pace of your business intake. If that is a hurry-up-and-eat pace, perhaps it’s also time to take a respite on the physiological front.

Intake – Focus on Your Body
Sometime during the next 24 hours, make time for this juicy dining experience. The experience will be most effective if you can eat alone…preferably in a peaceful setting.

Place the meal in front of you and take a few deep breaths before you pick up your utensils. Take a moment to simply notice the colors of the food on your plate. Take another moment to breathe in the aroma.

Now pick up your fork and arrange your first bite. Take that bite of food into your mouth and immediately place your fork back down on the table. Chew your bite of food completely. Notice the textures and flavors. Savor the bite. When you have swallowed, then go ahead and lift your fork to arrange another bite. As you did before, take in that bite and place the fork back on the table while you chew and savor. Continue in this manner until you are full and satisfied. Take a final moment to just allow the experience to settle in to your bones.

Eating this way is a practice in mindfulness. It can remind us of the many flavors and textures that surround us each day that we let go unnoticed. Intake is the first component of the affirmation for digestive wellness of business and body.

“My intake, assimilation and elimination are in Divine Order.”

“52 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Thrive” – The List Begins…

people-jumping-sunset.jpgI love to say, ”thriving” when someone asks me how my business is going. The notion that things are flourishing, blooming, and prosperous fills me with delight. Likewise, I like to use the same word to describe my health and wellness. “Thriving” seems to capture that top-of-the-world feeling I strive for each day. So when I read the post on Angeles Arrien’s website this past spring, 50 Ways to Thrive and Survive in the Next Ten Years, you bet it caught my attention.

I chose a few items from the list and implemented them that week. I gave something away, talked to a neighbor, and explored a new walking trail. Doing so truly added to my feelings of wellness and “thriving.”

I’d like to co-create a similar list for entrepreneurs in the WellnessCoach.com community. I’d love you to join me in building the list. Tell me the ways that you increase your sense of wellness and help yourself thrive as an entrepreneur.

Let’s shoot for 52 ways to thrive – that could cover a year’s worth of weekly focal points. I’ll start:

52 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Thrive (The list begins…)

• Put plants in your office, water them often
• Pack your lunch at night; Take it to a nearby park the next day
• Set a kitchen timer to remind you to stand and stretch each hour
• Go barefoot in your office
• Ask for help 3 times this week
• Start a blog
• Visit a toy store at lunch; find something that makes you smile
• Hold a board of directors meeting on a conference line with a few colleagues. Ask them to brainstorm with you on a topic that’s been baffling you
• Expand your community – post to a blog at least once this week
• Write a haiku on your lunch hour
• Take a lunch hour
• Put cucumber slices into a pitcher of water; drink throughout the day
• Give a business book away to someone who might need it
• Breathe. Breathe deeply. Just breathe.
• Revisit your corporate mission and vision; rewrite so it makes you smile and tugs at your heart strings

What will you add to this list?