“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!” ~Humbert Wolfe
The autumn equinox marks the arrival of the season of fall, traditionally seen as a period of changes leading to the dark of winter. This change in the amount of light is a signal to animals, plants and, before the light bulb, people, of changing seasons. Darkness can be a place of silent nurturance, where the slow, steady gestation needed for inner growth can occur. It’s a time to look inside yourself and reflect on what you see. It’s a time of focus. The hustle and bustle of the warmer months is dying down and you have more time to focus on change; it’s quieter and easier to listen to your inner voice.
As you watch leaves fluttering to the ground in the fall, be reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in your life. Autumn is a time for letting go
and releasing things that have been a burden. The energy of your surroundings changes, and as energetic beings you reverberate that. What fulfills you in the winter is not going to energize you in the summer. Just as what invigorates you in the spring will not humble you in the fall. Change is important. It keeps you alive and present; it keeps you going. And it’s the only constant you can rely on.
As the seasons change, it is a good time to take a good look at your health and lifestyle. Review your dreams, hopes and desires for your personal and professional life. Do you need to make changes to your behaviors to realign to your goals?
Whatever changes are calling you this season, honor them. If it’s your job, feel inspired and excited to begin the search for a new one. If it’s your diet, enjoy the bounty of nature’s harvest available in the fall. If it’s your exercise routine, be grateful that the heat of the summer has died down and it’s easier to be outside, enjoying nature. Whatever it is welcome that change into your life. Use this change in seasons, this change in the Earth’s energy to move forward, out of the now and into the new.
Learning about and living in harmony with the nature of each season will help you stay healthy. Live in harmony with the world around you, see that nature is slowing down and contracting; preparing to rest so it is good for you to do the same. Sleeping a little longer, eating warming, nourishing foods, and moving inward – paying extra attention to your internal life. This is the season for you to give yourself some extra attention and self-love. Be content inside; be thankful for your present state because it is a gift that is meant to help you experience your life in an exceptional way.
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
When is the last time you let go and had the pure joy and ecstatic feeling of play? Play is an important source of relaxation and stimulation. It gives us time to forget about work and commitments, and to be social in an unstructured, creative way. There doesn’t need to be any point or goal to the activity beyond just having fun and enjoying yourself. Play could be simply goofing off with friends, sharing jokes with a coworker, throwing a Frisbee on the beach, wearing a costume on a Holiday, building a snowman in the yard, playing fetch with a dog, a game of charades at a party, or going for a bike ride with no destination in mind. Play may or may not involve smiles and laughter; it is always accompanied by a feeling of “Yes, this is what I want to do right now.”
By giving yourself permission to play with joyful abandon, you can reap numerous health benefits.
- Play relieves stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Play has been scientifically provento be good for the brain. Older people who get regular exercise and play are less likely to suffer cognitive decline. Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.
- Play stimulates the mind and boost creativity. Play nourishes your ability to be adaptive and problem solve. It is nature’s great tool for creating new neural networks and for reconciling cognitive difficulties. When you play, dilemmas and challenges naturally filter through the unconscious mind and work themselves out. Even a few hours spent doing something you love can make you new again. One reason why play is such an ideal state of mind for creativity and learning is because the mind is focused on means. Since the ends are understood as secondary, fear of failure is absent and you feel free to incorporate new sources of information and to experiment with new ways of doing things.
- Play improves relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to be a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.
- Play can keep you feeling young and energetic. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Playing can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you feel your best. Play nourishes the spirit.
Incorporating more play into your daily life can improve the quality of your relationships, your mood, and outlook. Play can help you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss. Even in the most difficult of times, taking time away from your troubles to play or laugh can go a long way toward making you feel better. The good feeling that you get when you laugh and have fun remains with you even after the fun subsides.
It’s never too late to develop your playful, humorous side. Reclaim your inner child by setting aside regular, quality playtime. Give yourself permission to do whatever you want for the time you’ve allotted. Be spontaneous, set aside your inhibitions and try something fun, try something you haven’t done since you were a kid. Enjoy the change of pace; you never know what magic may happen!
People are living longer, staying active in the work force longer, and need to continuously learn to keep up with the ever changing world.
Your ability to anticipate your organization’s needs, tailor your learning to meet your own unique learning style, and acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to create value for your customers, employer, and organization is critical to your success. Information and knowledge in every field is doubling every 2-3 years, this means that your knowledge has to double every 2-3 years, just for you to stay even.
Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in your field. Learning is profit and competitive edge. The soul of business is innovation; the soul of personal success is the innovation of self. You can’t have one without the other. If you want to have, run, or be part of a business that succeeds in a time of change, you need to be willing and able to change.
Learning is a physical and emotional based process. It requires you to be connected with thinking, acting, and feeling. Active learning experiences (discussion, simulations, games, and role plays) change your brain as you learn new knowledge; you create new brain cell connections. These changes in the brain will reverse when you do not have the opportunity to use the skills you developed. Optimal sleep and silencing the mind through meditation will also enhance the availability of these brain cell connections.
To stay in the continuous learning and continuous growth mindset add the following active learning experiences to your daily habits:
Be great at your job
- If you want to get ahead, first be great at what you do. If you’re great at what you do, people will take notice and have you in mind for special projects and maybe even for a promotion. There are three way to do this:
- First, get clarity on the expectations of your current job.
- Second, ask your manager, customers, and peers for feedback and regularly ask what you can do to improve.
- Third, take action! Set and achieve learning goals.
Explore and apply what you learn
- Keep an open mind:
- On a regular basis take time to honestly assess your progress and current skills. Update your learning plan as needed.
- Follow your intuition – let your intuition guide you to make learning enjoyable.
- Keep a “Want to Learn” list; write ideas for new areas of study. Whatever motivates you, write it down.
- Identify your personal learning style. Maximize on how you prefer to learn. (This link will take you to a learning style assessment created by Marcia Conner, author of Learn More Now.)
- Actively silence the mind through meditation for at least 15 minutes a day. Sustained focus is essential for learning and creative thinking.
- Have a book to read, take it with you so you can read it when you have ‘waiting’ time.
- Spend at least 15 minutes a day on learning.
Develop leadership skills
- Learn leadership skills and take action on them. Leadership is everyone’s business. Anyone can be a leader in an organization, no matter their job. Leaders solve problems. Leaders make things happen. Leaders inspire others to be their best. Anyone can do that.
- Teach others – you learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning. Start a blog, mentor someone, or even discuss ideas with a friend.
- Spend more time with people who think; people who invest time in learning new skills.
- Get involved with organizations that teach skills. Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.
- Join industry associations and organizations that encourage and support individuals with learning current information and ideas on their fields.
Learning is life. Your vision and goals will be infused with a new sense of exuberance when you commit to learning what you need to learn in order to achieve them.
DEDICATE YOURSELF TO CONTINUOUS LEARNING AND CONTINUOUS GROWTH
Are you feeling frustrated because the meetings you attend are long and end with no clear outcomes? Research suggests a meeting with mindfulness creates a more efficient and successful meeting.
Mindfulness is not just a corporate trend, but a proven method for success. Mindfulness – being focused and fully present in the here and now – is good for individuals and good for business. Taking the time to practice mindfulness, whether it is simply taking a few deep breaths, or actual meditation has been shown to alter the structures and function of the brain, which allows you to learn, acquire new abilities, and improve memory.
Mindful meetings are being aware of the ‘now’ and create the opportunity for participants to be engaged, effective, and focused on the priorities of the meeting. This mindset creates an environment for exploration of new ideas and different perspectives.
Steps you can take to lead a mindful meeting:
- When planning the meeting, do your best to create a comfortable environment:
- Meet in an area with enough space for everyone to fit comfortably.
- Do what you can to ensure the room is not too hot or cold.
- Remind everyone to bring a beverage.
- Start each meeting with a pause. Ask each participant to take a moment to notice where they are and their current mental state. This will prompt them to bring their attention to the present moment. Moods are contagious, taking time to pause will allow participants a chance to breathe, regroup, recharge, and reset. Recognize where everyone is with compassion. A best practice for a starting a mindful meeting:
- Start the meeting by having participants close their eyes and take two – five minutes to just breathe. During this time ask individuals to let go of unneeded thoughts and to bring themselves completely into the meeting room.
- Share the intentions of the meeting, include intentions that go beyond the meeting. End the meeting with answers to the following questions:
- What have we decided here today?
- Who is going to do what, by when?
- How will we resolve the issues that are still open?
- What is likely to get in the way of us implementing what we agreed to today and how will we handle it?
- Ask participants to truly listen and participate in the meeting with curiosity, appreciation, or contribution. Encourage everyone to have their say, bring a different perspective, and support openness. This will prevent groupthink.
- Meet face to face, which provides a powerful sense of connection. If face to face is not feasible – use video conferencing, this will help participants see expressions and connect with each other on an emotional level.
- Respect the fact people have a limited attention span – keep meetings brief and to the point with breaks when necessary.
- Give the gift of time – end meetings a couple of minutes early.
By bringing just a bit more mindfulness to your meetings, you can take what most people consider the most painful part of their day and turn it into a highly productive, even enjoyable experience.
Breathe and be mindful.
Stop! Where are you? Where are your thoughts at this very moment? Are you trying to quickly read this post so you can check it off your ‘to do’ list and move on to your next task? Is your mind filled with activities you need to do? Are you thinking of emails or phone calls waiting for your reply? People you need to connect with? Or have these questions reminded you of tasks you need to complete? Are you caught up in the culture of ‘Hurry, I need to finish this task and move to the next!’? Take a moment, pause and take a deep breath. Yes, take a deep breath now. Breathe in slowly and deeply. Exhale slowly and completely. One more time. This time as you breathe in, focus on centering your mind, let the chatter in your mind float away. Be still in the moment. As you exhale experience the sensations of your body and your surroundings. One more round; while you slowly breathe in experience your current feelings, sounds, and surroundings. Be present in the moment, this current moment. Slowly exhale. Being mindful in the moment takes practice, the benefits are substantial. You will feel calmer, centered, and will experience a deeper sense of the moment. Your family, friends, and peers will also appreciate your mindfulness and the benefits it brings to them. Research shows clearing away distractions and living in the moment can alter the structure and function of the brain. Over the next couple of weeks raise the bar with being fully present during your daily activities. Take time to check in with yourself, being mindful of moments. Be truly present while you drive your family members to their activities, listening to and participating in the chatter taking place in the car. Be mindful during meetings, experience the verbal and non-verbal cues of your peers provide. Truly listen and experience what your peers are saying and doing. Step out of your comfort zone with mindfulness – slowly and deeply breathe in, now slowly and completely breathe out, one more time, deep inhale . . . full exhale. How do you feel? Do you feel more relaxed? Grounded in your thoughts? At peace with yourself? You have control of your mindfulness at any given time, where ever you want. The journey to mindfulness is yours! Enjoy your journey! All the best!