Thursday, July 31, 2008

Passion Plays

I went to see the band "Supergrass" at Webster Hall in NYC last night. Admittedly it's been a while since I've gone to a concert and having just taught yoga I showed up a little blissed and very sweaty. What was cool about this show was that there were so many people MY AGE there, and somehow it didn't feel like a roomfull of people hanging onto the fading glory days of youth.

One of my practices is to look for inspiration anywhere and everywhere - because when I do look I DO always find. In this case the inspiration came in the form of a guy my age, longhairish, wearing a concert tshirt, singing every word, jumping up and down, even drumming on his sedate buddy's shoulders to the beat of the drums. One glance said he is a musician and that being at that show was his equivalent of sitting with a master and having a religious experience.
Of course, it's easy to disregard a 40ish guy squealing for a band like a 15 year old girl in the presence of Justin Timberlake. When I observed him with my heart - I thought "DARN! Look at this guy's passion and excitement! How often do most of us feel that way? Do I cultivate an ability in myself to feel that excited and alive?"

Yeah, I think it does come down to cultivation, to consciously allowing ourselves to have a predisposition towards excitement and passion. Even a casual student of human nature or even pets will tell you that there is clearly a shift that happens over time away from excitement or "gung HO" and towards "ho hum". Granted, this anonymous fan could be a total cumudgeon outside of that venue, but the inner mechanism in him that allows for excitement and expression is still very much alive and kicking and drumming and singing. Is yours?

It seems to be that keeping that mechanism or permission for being fully present, joyful and expressed has lots to do with deciding to do so. Mindfulness gets pretty dry treatment in most descriptions, so think about how great it is to be totally present with your morning latte, to really listen to the crescendo on your iPod, or to really taste a great dessert. Sitting here in my office with my new puppy, Ruby, on my lap, cultivating this ability for me means delighting in writing these words and the meaning they hold, pausing to really feel the sweet pleasure of her warm belly moving with breath upon my legs, or maybe even shifting from those awarenesses and really feeling the sweetness of my own breath.

In a few minutes I have a sales call with the global team and we'll all talk about things like numbers, networking, sales goals, PR and relationship building - things that all have the power to excite but also trigger fear. I think I'll go make a cappucinno and let savoring the flavor teach me how to be fully present on that call.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nine Minutes till my conference call...

...and even after 19 years in corporate America, anytime I lead a conference call I get jittery. Mostly, I am humbled just knowing that this is a rare moment where people give their time and hopefully attention to a single topic, and that the next hour will be basically me spilling my heart and attempts at wisdom into a silent void of muted listeners.

Isn't it so that even over fiber optic we have an opportunity to really be present with eachother?
Because the topic of the call is leadership and fostering it in other people, I'm reaching for my favorite hindu coloring book, Dancing with Shiva and flipping to the explanation of Dharma. After all, can there be true leadership without dharma?