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Are You Really Listening?

As I have been pondering how to inspire more people through conscious leadership, I have been hearing a voice in my head and it is saying one word…

”LISTEN!”

I teach listening as an art form.

The way someone is listened to can bring forth their best thinking. If you listen well, people find their own creative solutions to their problems--they naturally go deeper in their inquiry and see where they have limiting beliefs. If someone is listened to with generosity, it can unfurl their wisdom. If you listen for a person’s magnificence, they will show it to you!  

  In order to listen as an art form, you have to work your listening muscles in a new way. Here are some steps to begin:

  1. HEAD - Listen to the content of what the person is saying. Be able to reflect back what you are hearing, not every word, but the main idea and the key details. When someone hears what they are saying repeated back to them, it clarifies their thinking and they relax because they feel heard.
     

  2. HEART - Listen to what feeling is being experienced as they are talking about the content. Do you hear sadness, anger, fear, joy or sexual/creative feelings? Let them know what you are sensing as they are speaking. Ask if you are accurate and they will get more curious.
     

  3. BODY - Listen for what they most want or care about. This may come in the form of a gut feeling or intuition. It requires listening underneath the words that are being spoken and sensing the deeper motivation for them to be sharing with you. Why are they talking about what they are talking about?

As you listen this way, it will require that you drop some old habits, like listening to fix their problems, or listening to see how it relates to you, or listening to be right, or listening for when it’s your turn to talk.

Instead of falling back into these old patterns, listen from curiosity and openness.

Here are some simple ways to practice listening more deeply in your day to day living, both to others and to yourself.

  • Before jumping out of bed in the morning, pause for a few minutes and listen to your own head, heart and body.

  • As you head into your next meeting, pause to get clear on what your intention is.

  • Before hanging up the phone, check to see if there is anything else that feels important to say.

Cheers to practicing a deeper way of listening, to ourselves and others!


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Investing in Your Spiritual Bank Account

Investing in your 401K is a common practice, but how regularly do you invest in your spiritual bank account? How often do you dedicate yourself to going inward, meditating, listening, or praying? This is an essential investment, one that has given back to me ten fold...one hundred fold.

Some symptoms that your account is low are:

  • feeling disconnected from yourself or others

  • a lack of joy in simple things

  • feeling empty, dry, or brittle

  • feeling burned out

I personally make a deposit almost everyday and when I don’t, my whole day feels different. I feel “off”, less in touch with my intuition, or I easily get stressed out. We all have loads of things to tend to in our busy lives, with our work, our bodies, our homes, our children, our relationships, and the list goes on. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and think that there isn’t enough time, but what I’ve found is that with regularity, a little bit of time goes a long way.

 My husband Jack and I do a practice together each morning. We roll out our yoga mats on the bedroom floor, light a candle, and practice yoga for twenty minutes, followed by a silent meditation for fifteen minutes. After we meditate, we might gaze into each others eyes, or we share our thoughts before jumping into the day. I feel more connected to myself and to Jack starting my mornings this way.

Here is a way you can invest:

  • Start with 15 minutes as your goal. If that means that you set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier in the morning, do it. Create the most potency by layering practices up. I use the insight timer app on my phone, which lets me select from gongs, bells, or chimes, and you can set it at intervals of three so that you devote five minutes to each practice as a starting place.

  • Meditate: Tune into your intention for the day before you begin and bring that intention to your practice. To open up your creative thinking, breathe with curiosity.

  • Move: Stretch, breathe, or practice yoga. If you want guidance, YogaAnytime.com has a selection of classes for all levels that range from 3-45 minutes long.

  • Write: Start with writing a question that you want to explore at the top of the page and then see what answers come when you allow yourself to write in a stream of consciousness.  

And here’s another truth: these kinds of habits are incremental, which means that each day you do it, the power grows.

The point of this practice is to open up your vitality, your breath, and your passion and cultivate your connection with God, universe, spirit.

 Use your imagination, find what you love, and create your own practice. Make daily deposits into your spiritual bank account and drink from the well of your practice to replenish and add to the richness of your life.

 Comment below or head over to my Facebook page - One Shift: Igniting Genius Leaders with Grace Clayton and share with me your practices and what enriches you.

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Stop Trying to Figure it Out

This morning I was with my husband on our Sunday bike ride up Mountain Charlie, near where I live. Mountain Charlie is a particularly special hill, as it has the perfect ratio of uphill to flat, so that just when you think you can’t make it any further, it gives you a thirty second rest to catch your breath. I personally love climbing hills, and as we were riding side-by-side, my husband told me about when he was trying to qualify for Ironman. He was training up in the mountains and when he would look up to the top, he could see people riding and they were so small they looked like ants.

From that perspective, he thought he would never make it all the way up. What he did to keep himself going was he reminded himself that he could keep pedaling, right now, focusing on the ground in front of him. He knew he could do that. And what he learned was that little by little, one pedal at a time, he consistently made it to the top.

In my coaching work, I find that in communication, people get out ahead of themselves, essentially looking up at the top of the mountain, and think they need to figure the whole thing out before they communicate. The truth is if we just pay attention to what we are aware of in this moment, then the next piece of information will be revealed, and ultimately the resolution will become clear.

Awareness unfolds one layer at a time, rather than all at once.  We don’t get down to the full truth of an issue until we’ve gone through the layers.

Imagine a cafeteria where the trays are spring loaded and as you remove the top one, the next one pops to the surface. Remember that it doesn’t work to dig down and try to get to the seventh tray. Instead, you lift off the first tray, then the second, until eventually you get down the that seventh. This is also how effective communication works. You start by simply saying the first tray, or the first thing that you are aware of. Once you reveal the first tray, what’s underneath that pops to the surface, and then what’s under that and so forth until you reach the bottom.

The next time you are triggered in a situation, begin with saying what you notice and go from there and eventually you will make it up the mountain!

 

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Recipe For Rejuvenation

In my last letter, I spoke about the importance of becoming a masterful receiver as you are growing your capacity to give your gifts in the world. (If you missed it, read it here.) My husband Jack and I designed a staycation and found that it was a beautiful way to receive.
 

RECIPE TO CREATE YOUR OWN SOUL-SATISFYING
REJUVENATING STAYCATION

 

1. We invited some close friends to come and stay with us and shared our intention to create a staycation and be together in mindfulness, collaboration, authenticity, and play. 

2. We hired the cleaning ladies to come the day before.

3. We created a menu along with the friends who were joining us, using fresh food from our garden and the farmers market.

4. We set up a space for us all to do yoga together in the mornings. We practiced each day for about thirty minutes before breakfast.

5. We meditated twice a day for fifteen minutes. Sometimes we were silent, and other times we used Tara Brach’s guided meditations, which you can find on her website, here.

6. We planned an outing in nature, hiking or walking each day.

 

7. We all cooked meals together and shared in the clean up, so it was not only super easy, but a fun way to chat and be with each other.

 

8. In the afternoons, we included time for everyone to go off and do their own thing, whether it was to lie on the outdoor couches and read a book or head off to take a nap. 

 

9. Before dinner we shared outdoor cocktails, mocktails and music.

10. We asked everyone to be unplugged for those days and take a break from electronics. For many of us, we are so used to checking our devices that to interrupt this pattern and give ourselves some space can be a remarkably rejuvenating act.

 11. We created intentional dinner conversation themes.

  • One of the nights my husband Jack decided on the theme of Love. Each person told a story of love. This turned out to be a beautiful evening, with tears and laughter as we learned things we didn't previously know about each other.

  • Another evening we each started with the sentence "If you were to really know me right now, you would know that...".

  • At one breakfast, we asked each person to see if they were withholding any stories, judgments, or appreciation from anyone else at the table. This created a very lively conversation and brought us all closer together.
     

I 'm gifting you a step-by-step guide for how to do a clearing with someone. I know of no better practice to increase intimacy and trust in relationships. Download it here.

By the end of the three days, we were fed on every level—spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Conscious leaders grow their capacity to receive alongside growing their capacity to give in the world.

 

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A Conscious Staycation

The first half of this year has been action-packed with regular coast-to-coast travel, facilitating Conscious Leadership forums and teaching the Igniting Genius Leaders Immersion program. Bringing these consciousness tools out into the world is super exciting, fun, and challenging (in a good way), but here's the obvious and not-so-obvious truth: 

As you increase your capacity to serve others and give your gifts to the world, you also need to increase your willingness to receive. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the capacity of your giving is dependent upon your ability to be a big receiver.

After six months of focusing on the giving side, facilitating many people each day with focused, exquisite attention, I was feeling empty and depleted. 

My husband Jack and I had planned to take a vacation over the 4th of July weekend, but the idea of getting on a plane or even packing a suitcase was totally unappealing. When I thought about what I most wanted, it was to create some space to fill up my own tank and spend time with Jack and close friends. With this in mind, we decided to create a staycation.

Jack and I sat down together to make a list of the most important things we wanted to include in our long weekend, knowing that first and foremost, it had to be easeful. We came up with this list:

 Meditate twice a day and soak up the silence

 Practice yoga each morning before breakfast

 Have intentional conversations

 Eat healthy, delicious food, as much as possible from the garden

 Be out in nature daily

 Have plenty of open space for reading, writing, or napping


With my energy tank feeling pretty low, the thought of implementing this staycation seemed daunting. Little did I know how easy it would be and how much this time would give back to me and everyone involved.

By the end of our three days together, we were all so deeply fed on every level. I had truly received and felt gloriously rejuvenated, and we spent less than a fraction of what we ever had on a vacation.

In the next blog, I will share our complete how-to recipe to create your own soul-satisfying staycation.

 

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One Minute Presence Practice

I am delighted to publish this blog after almost a year-long hiatus from writing. My team and I have been busy developing my new organization: OneShift - Igniting Genius Leaders.  

There is more to be revealed about OneShift, and I will be in touch to keep you in the loop piece-by-piece. We plan to launch the new website this Fall, and in the meantime we will be sending newsletters filled with tools, practices and inspiration for conscious living and leadership.

One of my favorite topics these days is Presence. In my opinion, you cannot be a conscious leader without developing this skill. My definition of Presence is that you are aware of what is occurring right now. The place to begin developing the awareness of right now is whatever is happening inside of you. Three ways to focus on what is happening in this “now” moment are:

1) What current body sensations do you notice? You might notice the feeling of your feet against the floor, a pressure in your chest, or a buzzing in your head.

2) What is your current emotional state? Choose from the five core feelings of Anger, Fear, Joy, Sexual/Creative and Sadness. You may be feeling two or three of these feelings all at the same time.

3) What is the next thought that crosses your mind? This is literally noticing the next thought and speaking it. 

For me, in this moment, I notice a pulling between my shoulder blades and a pressure in my belly. I feel sadness, sexual/creative feelings, and joy. The next thought that ran across my mind is, "I better get downstairs to cut up the onions for dinner.” 

What I notice from taking a moment to describe my body sensations, feelings, and thoughts is a palpable sense of awareness, a deeper breath, and a feeling of spaciousness. This week, I invite you to try this presencing practice once a day, becoming aware of your current body sensation, feeling, and thought. If you want to take this practice one step further, speak them out loud to someone else. 

I look forward to sharing the riches with you that have changed my life and set me on this path.

 

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