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Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Inner Activist



Inner Activist

The world does not need more ideas about how to fix it.   This is hard for me to admit.   We all have a responsibility to help the world, but if we try to impose our ideas about how to fix the world then we get too many cooks in the kitchen and a muddy sentiment soup.   You may think we need more Jesus; I may think we need more Krishna.   Some fight for socialism; others for communism; still others for democracy … Democrat vs. Republican … This vs. That.   We do not have an idea shortage.  

My Beloved used to be a fierce activist.   She picketed and protested.  She stayed up all night.  She cried and she fought.  She probably yelled a time or two and swore for the cause.  And, there is honor in that.   As she stepped into her path as a healer, she learned that changing the system with ferocity only led to the energetic echo of ferocity.  As Mathew said, hate begets hate (26:52) and evil begets evil.    Or, said differently, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” – MLK

It is non-violence which has changed the world and social policy – because of the inner activism involved.   It is those who held steady as they were spit upon and cursed – who resolved to hold their inner sanctum above all else in the face of oppression.  

We don’t need to convert the world to another theory.   No one needs to win for us to all work together.   To create an enlightened world, we just have to be an inner activist.   We need to discover what we have to uniquely offer the world.  If we contribute the best of what we are then we will see the best in others.  Our projection will be our reflection and we won’t live in a world of lack.  

Deep inside of us, there is a deep want to express oneself and be relevant, validated, and purposed.   But, unless we can find this goodness inside ourselves, we cannot begin to really help others, because we see the world NOT as the world is, but AS we are.  

In spite of our ups and downs, frustrations, and times of confusion – in the kernel of human experience, there is goodness.  Back of all thought and things, there is love.  The Path of the Sacred Warrior – the Shambhala teachings of Chogyam Trungpa say that our work is to find that goodness – that sweet juice, which fuels all that is.      

Discovering real goodness, though, doesn’t have to happen on your vacation to Tahiti, during your hot stone massage, or even in your yoga class.   The magnetic nature of energy and intentionality works from a Feeling state, more than a Thinking state.  As Abraham would say, Feeling good really matters.   But, feeling good is generally thought of in “how to” terms.   We think about what we really want, and then we focus on “how to” get there.   The Rational brain usually wins here.   We question, analyze, self-sabotage, and get in the way of the natural Flow of goodness.  We plan for goodness just around the corner after we finish these 3 things.  

Goodness exists right now.   It exists as an appreciation for the miracle of experience in the simplest terms – not in winning the lottery or buying a new car.   There is a basic goodness in just being alive and knowing it…. Watching a sunset, listening to the sound of cars passing, feeling the wind on the back of your neck.   Goodness exists in the mundane.   In every thing there is beauty.   Finding goodness is just about waking up and noticing.   And, that noticing starts with you.   Noticing yourself.   Inside of you there is an awesome gentleness, one who feels so deeply and vulnerably, an awed and overflowing gratitude.  

Perhaps you’ve masked your inner poet and learned to critically think – analyze – compartmentalize.   The call is for us now to find that inner love again.   To look within ourselves and ask how we can better serve.   To look deeply at what makes our soul sing and to walk bravely our own road. 

A single match can obliterate a darkened room.   When you find your light, you will light the world.  

All is Love.

Namaste,
Ryan Pride

Dr. Ryan Pride is the owner of the Moksha Institute - a firm dedicated to turning this world around.   Check us out for more info... www.moskainstitute.com

 



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Puke on Enlightenment



Puke on Enlightenment

The amber hue marked the entrance to Big Bend Yoga Studio – the most notorious and original yoga studio in St. Louis.   We were stoked – smiling from ear-to-ear in giddy anticipation for that brief moment in time when Spirit soars, Mind releases, and one is able to dance freely in the Field.  

Our beloved teacher – Saul David Raye – was in from California.   Saul does not travel to St. Louis often, so this was a tremendous opportunity.   And, he was leading Kirtan.   Some of you don’t know what that means.   But, to a yogi – it’s the Holy Grail of transcendental connection.   Kirtan is the yoga version of attending a Phish concert on acid while someone is massaging your back and feeding you honey – only it’s not Phish and no one is dropping acid.   Instead, it’s yoga, singing, dancing, poetry, and love.   But, the environment, the words, the music – it is intoxicating and has the potential to abruptly divorce you from your mind and immerse you into Being and love.  

But we have kids.  Most of our friends who are heavily immersed in the yoga community are not Breeders.   It would seem that the path of the Seeker flows more easily without the beautiful encumbrance of children – as most of our yogi friends just don’t “do” the kid thing.   So, we hold the fort of the yoga couple – the spiritual dyad, sacred mirrors to one another – a feat difficult considering that the path to Enlightenment is ultimately a self-centered (purposely so) pursuit.  But, we try.   We balance between who gets to go to what training.   We remind one another to meditate or (in my case), remind one another when not to and just eat brownies instead. 

So, here we are.    The night is upon us.   The humming of the Harmonium is beginning.   The yogis are assembled.   Smiles and open hearts abound.   We give our children (4 and 6 year old girls) the 3rd version of the “talk” about mommy and daddy’s very special spiritual time and how important it is to “behave.”   We pray that our youngest son (barely a month old) will take solace in his mother – National Geographic style.   After our final yelling at the children in the back who haven’t heard a word of what we were preaching, we pretend we weren’t the parents just yelling at our children, we put on our Zen face, and we stride into the Studio with the warm feeling of hope beckoning.    Maybe tonight will go okay.   Maybe the girls will dance.   Maybe William will sleep.   Maybe… just maybe.   

We sit down.   Saul begins by talking about the state of the world, the universal Field, love, union, and the Path… the songs begin to build, dancing begins… my oldest daughter taps me on the shoulder.  

“Daddy, I feel a little sick in my belly.”
“Oh… are you sure?”
“Daddy, I need to go to the potty.”
“Okay, sweetie, let’s go…”

I tip toe through the crowd of yogis, hand-in-hand with my daughter – and still buzzing with hope and possibility for the night…   And, then it happens.  
She opens her mouth in slow motion and releases a torrent of vomit all over the room.   Trying to cover her mouth, it spills between her fingers like a horrific waterfall of disappointment.   She looks at me with those eyes that say “what is happening to me?” just before releasing her second round.  Then a third.  Then a fourth.    The smell invades quickly.   I look helplessly to my Beloved.   Her eyes are closed and she is in the Flow of the music.   I am here.   Alone.   Immersed in the chunks of my daughter’s vomit, staring at the stains on the yoga studio rug and walls and steeped in the smell of wrongness.  

Inside my head, I curse and lament existence.  And, then, just as quickly, I attend to the cleaning that must be done.  I remind myself that the Brahmin Priests were not allowed to step into their roles as guru until after their children were reared fully.   I remind myself that I am learning service and humility.   I remind myself that my children teach me patience, service, and unconditional love.   I remind myself of this - just as a secretly covet the lives of those freelancing non-breeders and their travels and their dancing and their naps in the middle of the day…  

Of course, we had to leave our teacher and our Kirtan.   I think we got in at least half of one song.  As we climb back into the car amid protests from high-pitched wee folk and to the sound of a hungry 3-week old, I look over at Sheila and our eyes meet.   A wry smile creases her lips and there is a timeless moment of soul gazing and instant understanding – of empathy and surrender.   This is our dharma.   This is our yoga.  

We can chase enlightenment like shooting stars – blanketing ourselves in the warmth of spiritual experience and soulful expression.   But, these ecstatic moments fade like the smell of a new car.   Everything changes, always.   Enlightenment isn’t warm and fuzzy.   It’s the gap.   It’s finding that moment of serenity – the pause of presence.   The Masters were able to hold this space perhaps longer.   For me, my work is to find it while wiping the vomit stains from my knee caps.    And, that ain’t easy.   But, perhaps it’s a better teacher than losing myself in the reverie of chant and sway.  

At least, that’s what we parents tell ourselves.   So – puke on enlightenment.    Perhaps in the aftermath, there will be a glimpse – a tiny crack – in the fabric of circumstance, revealing a space – a gap – a moment of Being in the swarm and swirl of chaos.  


Namaste,
Ryan

Dr. Ryan Pride is the owner of the Moksha Institute, a firm dedicated to improving Wellbeing  - for you or your company.  A profit-for-purpose company, the Moksha Institute applies Ancient Teachings for the Modern Time in order to transform striving into thriving.  For more information, please go to: www.mokshainstitute.com
 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Engagement. What if we Got it COMPLETELY Wrong?



It’s just business, right?  How much money is there in the employee “engagement” world?  Engagement models are sold like popcorn in movie theaters to Executives doing their due diligence in trying to show employees they care.  

And, it’s no wonder.  Working today is looking pretty grim.    Only 20% of us report being happy at work.    And, that is alarming, because your happiness impacts --- everything

Literally.  Your happiness quotient, if you were to give yourself a score, would highly correlate with almost every area of your life experience here on Earth - your health (90% of what we see the doctor for is stress-related illness), your relationship satisfaction, your work performance, your overall wellbeing….   This list could go on.   

Companies should be interested in their associates’ happiness.   The link between happiness and performance is no longer debatable.   We know that when you are happy, your brain actually works better than when you are not.   A lot better, as it turns out.   For example, when positive, you are 31% more productive than when in a neutral or low mood state; if you were in Sales, you’d perform 37% better; if you were a doctor, you’d make decisions 19% faster and over 20% more accurately…
So.   Happiness is a good thing.  All of the sudden, those millions of dollars spent on consultants on engagement seems worthy.   Phew.   What a relief… 

But, what if we got it wrong?

I worked internally as a VP of HR.   We did an engagement survey.   We measured how our associates felt about their job, their team, their boss, their working environment, their benefits, their compensation … 

And, when we found low scores, we developed “action plans” to address these low areas.  We painted the walls and institutionalized recognition programs.  

Our scores the next year were the same.   

Regression to the mean?  Ask enough people, everything is a 3 right?   No. 

See - happiness does not exist outside of you.   It isn’t just around the corner.   It isn’t found in the next promotion, or when you leave this job.  It isn’t in that new pair of boots or that shiny new car.   In fact, if we know everything about your external world, we can only predict 10% of your long-term happiness.   90% of your happiness has NOTHING to do with the external world, but rather – how your brain processes the world.   In short, what you make of it.   Whether you see it positively or negatively.   How you filter the world. Whether or not you are bothered by that person with 25 items in the “20 items or less” grocery store line.   

Our model of engagement completely assumes that if we change the external environment, we’ll make people happier.   And, that just does not work.   It never has, really.   Happiness is an internal process.   

The performance associated with happiness holds firm, though.   So, if we can get associates to be happier, everything thrives – performance, energy, creativity, innovation, mood…
You can.   But, the process is an inside-out one.   This is what we specialize in doing.  We are re-writing employee engagement by focusing on the individual.    We start with leaders, because organizations mirror their leaders and cast a shadow across their organization.   We hold leaders accountable to their internal work.   When leaders are conscious and present, the character values of a leader – honesty, empathy, passion, composure … emerge naturally and without effort.   

If you spend time investing in engagement models – know this:  the engagement models you are investing  in are accounting for maybe 25% of the variance in predicting 10% of happiness – or about 2% of happiness.   The other 90%? – it’s in the person.   Change their filters, change everything.  

WE have programs that do this work.   Gratitude at work, random acts of kindness, daily meditations, yoga, leadership mindfulness training … these represent the new paradigm shift that is already happening!   

We’re representing the other 90%.   

The Moksha Institute
 www.mokshainstitute.com

Why?  Because there is no other choice for us.   How can we help to heal our world when so many of us cannot see our way to joy due - overwhelmingly - to how we feel about our workplace.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Beliefs are Powerful


Your thinking rules are determined by your beliefs.   These rules categorize and encode information as you experience the world – putting away into those buckets those experiences that validate your beliefs.   This is a process known as “hypothesis testing and confirmation bias.”  

And, for many of us, we believe we aren’t good enough - that we aren’t lovable as our most authentic self.   That means we see the world through this lens and then filter experiences through it.   All around us, we see threats and validations of our own hypothesis of our worth.   And, for many of us, our self-worth is low to moderate, at best.  
  • Are your thoughts kind to you? 
  • How often do you beat yourself up? 
  • How often to you criticize the mirror’s reflection or the impromptu comment you made in the 
  • meeting?

A thought is a chemical messenger, echoing through the body like the aftermath of a rock guitar solo… or jazz… or funk.  

It’s happening right now.   It would be in your best interest to know who this “someone” is that chatters so much.    So, let’s explore this ‘thing’ called consciousness: 

What we now know is that your body is a verb, not a noun.   It is an activity.   It is a process, not a thing.   Back of you is consciousness and that consciousness sits outside of ‘stuff’.   This is not pseudoscience.   If picked apart by tweezers, we would end up as a pretty large pile of atomic dust, none of which had EVER been alive, but all of which had been you.
  • All the atoms of your body come from the stars – quite literally.  Under a quantum microscope, you look more like a galaxy spinning - than a suit of skin.   You are recycling stardust, spinning, and recycling in and out of YOU all while maintaining the illusion of solidarity.     
  • Atoms are coming into your body and leaving your body at every second and in this moment.  
  • Your body is not a structure, it is a process.   At the level of sub-atomic particles, everything that you see is changing.   Particles are coming and going. 
All around us – EVERYTHING is moving and vibrating.    A rock vibrates very, very slowly.    
You vibrate much faster.  
  • When you look at the body, you see stuff.  Heart, lungs, skin.
  • Get a bigger microscope and you see molecules.  
  • Get a bigger microscope and you see atoms.  
  • Get a bigger microscope and you see subatomic particles.  
  • And, that’s the building blocks of you, me, and everything.   And, also where it gets pretty fun!!!

Radioactive studies have proven that at this moment, you have a million atoms in your body that once belonged to Gandhi, Jesus, and Alexander the Great.  Chew on that!  In just the last 3 weeks, a quadrillion atoms have gone through your body that have gone through every living creature on this planet – a tiger in Africa, a lemur in South America, a yellow Labrador in Wisconsin, a Redwood in California, and that lunch lady in Knoxville, Tennessee. 


Wellbeing is a state of being created from your thoughts.  

Thoughts matter.   If you are experiencing anything less than a thriving work environment, then you are quite literally affecting your ability to thrive.   Negative thoughts produce negative actions.    More, your perception will be filtered through the lens of your beliefs about life and work.   If you believe work is hard, stressful, or intense, that’s exactly what you’ll see and experience.   If you experience it, you’ll feel it.  

Namaste,
Ryan

Dr. Ryan Pride is the owner of the Moksha Institute, a firm dedicated to improving the wellbeing of individuals, teams, and organizations through culture transformation and leadership development.   A profit-for-purpose company, the Moksha Institute applies Ancient Teachings for the Modern Time in order to transform striving into thriving.  
For more information, please go to: www.mokshainstitute.com