Today was pure, sparkling magic for me. I hope it was for you as well, both in small ways and in large, spectacular ways. I spent the entire day in a meadow on Mt. Tam with Chris Kyle and a group of hearty souls doing a nature based leadership workshop. I said “yes” to the invitation with no real understanding of what to expect but I was thrilled to be with Chris & Charmaine, trusting that the setting would be beautiful and that I’d be led in the workshop with skillful support. What a transformational day! I’ve done plenty of workshops, but never have I sat in nature and considered how nature-based mindfulness practices might inform, inspire, and offer new insights for my work life and my leadership skills. I’m so jazzed to go to work on Monday!
There was a variety of exercises that Chris led us through today, but the one that really resonated for me was the cairn-building exercise. This was part of an overall segment on choice and how we make choices, both small and large. We were instructed to mindfully locate our building materials; rocks, mostly, but we could also include leaves and sticks and anything we found in the meadow or on the forest floor. I managed to build a tiny cairn by stacking 7 small stones, one on top of the other. I learned that although it might have been my choice to build this structure, I was, essentially, collaborating with nature, with the rocks themselves, with the wind, so willing to playfully blow over my small stack of stones. I also noticed that the structure held more readily when I was still and truly present in the building process, carefully (oh-so-carefully) placing one stone on top of the other, being sensitive to how they “sat” together. And this feels like a metaphor for me. How I build the cairn in nature could be a reflection of how I lead my team at work and the realization that hit me so powerfully was that I’m much happier and more productive if I bring a steady & open mindfulness to the whole endeavor.
Here's how I apply the lesson. Ever since COVID hit, I’ve been leading my team in a 3 minute meditation at the beginning of our weekly group meeting. I then invite each person (there are 7 of us) to do a quick check-in by sharing with us one thorn and one rose (one challenge, one joy). The whole process takes maybe 15 minutes out of a one hour meeting but I feel like it’s important because I want to have some sort of awareness of how the everyone is doing and I want to encourage mindfulness. However, the last few weeks have been a tsunami of chaos (we’re in Q4 after all and “supply chain” is a thing) and so I’ve eliminated the meditation and the check-in because I know how overwhelmed the team is and I want to give them as much time as possible to assign to what my thinking mind tells me is “real work”. Today, it was made abundantly obvious to me that the meditation and the check-in are essential to well-being and essential to doing the work from a more grounded place. As I write this now, it seems like a small epiphany, but in the moment, it felt huge and clear and important. I’m bringing back the meditation and the check-in to the meeting! Oh, yes! We need to stay present at work too! And we need to let ourselves be seen and support one another in that revelation process, even in the corporate setting. Now, all I need to do is figure out how to get our group outdoors together, most preferably on Mt. Tam, but that might be difficult since everyone else is based in NY. Ha! We’ll get creative.
The point is that there was both joy and profound new insights gained in the workshop today; the exercises, the skillful & inspired space-holding, the wise and generous contributions, and mother nature, who held us all so tenderly in her arms. It was a gorgeous day to be outside, rolling around in the meadows of Mt. Tam!
And tomorrow we’ll roll around together on the dance floor. Our dance practice is another groovy route toward mindfulness and community building. And the bonus is that we get to have fun doing it!
Stacey Butcher will provide the music and the skillful invitation to conscious movement via Zoom and Open Floor beginning at 9:45am Pacicif.
Here’s the link to the drop-in tickets: https://www.openfloordance.org/drop-in-tickets
Let’s move our bodies to music, Loves!
Awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.
Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
~ John O'Donohue ~
I wish for you the perfect day, beginning right now, as you read this (even if there is hardship and grief in your life; still, there is also beauty and wonder and love).
P.S. I saw a baby snake today and I just about squealed in delirious, child-like delight! Oh, sweet nature, you bring so many gifts! Thank you.