"Argonauta is dedicated to helping individuals and companies achieve positive transformation"

Maria Gonzalez Blog
Mindful Leadership

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a Relaxed Body

A relaxed body is vitally important, because it is your gateway to a relaxed and calm mind.  In my experience, one of the most common complaints and concerns people have is that the mind is agitated, busy, and at times seems like a run-away train.  In trying to calm the mind, the result is often frustration and discouragement.  The more you try to quiet the mind, the worse it gets, the greater the chatter and the greater the stress.

If you want to calm the mind, then the most effective and quickest route is through the body.  By relaxing the body, the mind automatically becomes calmer.

The next time you are busy running from meeting to meeting or appointment to appointment, notice what is going on in the mind.  There is a very good chance that your mind is agitated with all that needs to be done.  Then, the next thing to do is to notice the body.  Again, there is a very good chance that your body is tight, perhaps your shoulders or neck are tight, your stomach might be in knots, your jaw might be clenched, etc.  They go hand in hand.  The body always looks to the mind and the mind to the body.  They communicate silently all day and react to one another.

The way to calm the mind is to start to become familiar and aware of your body.  Learn to recognize the signs of tension in the body before the mind spins out of control.  If you find you are already stressed, then immediately and systematically relax the body.  Train yourself to walk around with a relaxed body, no matter what you are doing, at work, at home, or while working out.

If you want to get started or deepen your ability to relax, you may wish to follow the Guided Meditation in the Mindful Leadership App. I have created over 70 Guided Meditations from which you can choose.  You can find the link at
www.argonautaconsulting.com

Post to Twitter

This post currently has no responses.

Create Sustainable Change through Intention

Posted on by admin

Ever wonder why most people do not succeed in maintaining and realizing their New Year’s resolutions?  In fact, studies estimate that 92 percent of people fail to achieve the goals they commit to on New Year’s Day.  That is astounding!

My thought is that one of the contributing factors to this alarming failure rate is that when we make a resolution, we are reflecting a view that something is inherently “wrong” with us, and that it needs to be corrected in order for us to measure up.  If you start from the view point that you are somewhat defective, you are looking to change with one strike already against you.  Then, when you fail to achieve what you set out to achieve, it only proves your point…there is something wrong with you…and now you have proof.  Hence, you are then worse off than when you set out to make your resolution.

I would like to offer another view and another strategy that has a greater likelihood that you will be successful.  The view is this: there is absolutely nothing “wrong” with you.  You are perfect as you are; all you may need to do is to “adjust course”.  Any time something is not working for you, all you have to do is adjust the course you are on.  If you were sailing and had set a course for your journey and suddenly the winds shifted, you would not stubbornly stay the course.  That would be absurd and dangerous.  Instead, you would assess the situation and you would adjust your course.  The same applies to things in your life that you would like to see changed or that require a change.  Framing it in that way enables you to start from a place of empowerment.  This way, you are in control and empowered to make the change.

And this is how you put the strategy into play: the critical element is creating an intention.  Where the mind goes, action will follow.  So, begin this whole process by setting an intention for yourself.  It could be an intention for the year, for the month, for the day.  All that matters is that it be concrete, clear and concise.  Remember, you are in control, so you can adjust the intention as you see fit.  If conditions change during the time period for your intention, all you need to do is “change course”.

It is deceivingly simple: start from the knowledge that you are perfect as you are.  The Universe created you perfectly.  You just may need to periodically change course to be the best you can be.  And, now create an intention that reflects your deepest desires.  Napoleon Hill put it well when he said, “if you can conceive it, you can achieve it”.

Post to Twitter

This post currently has no responses.

The True Spirit of Christmas in Action

Every so often you see such a display of love, compassion and humility that it needs to be shared.  In the last blog I talked about reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas.  In this blog, you will see a 3-minute video that illustrates the true meaning in action.  As you watch, notice how the children’s love affects you.  It is truly humbling and heart warming.

I would like to thank Michele Chaban for sharing this video.

I hope you enjoy it!

http://www.sunnyskyz.com/happy-videos/3572/Underprivileged-Kids-Are-Offered-Two-Gifts-One-They-Want-And-One-Their-Parents-Want-They-Can-Only-Pick-One

 

Post to Twitter

This post currently has no responses.

Reflecting on the Meaning of Christmas

The holiday season is quickly approaching and we are a week away for Christmas Day.  The busyness and stress level are palpable.  There is more on the To Do lists than time available.  Shopping is at a feverish pitch.  And in all of this commotion, it appears that many have forgotten what Christmas is all about.

I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.  If we quiet all the noise around this holiday we have fabricated, we see that this is a wonderful opportunity to regenerate.  As the days are shorter and nights are longer, the early darkness beckons us to slow down, not speed up.  If we listen to nature, we will notice a deep stillness.  And, there is a very deep and healing peace in this stillness.

When I reflect about the meaning of Christmas, for me it is about love, compassion and deep humility.  When we combine these with the stillness that is there in every moment, it can be a very healing time, if we take the time to notice and reflect.  Certainly Christmas is a Christian religious holiday.  But, it is much more than that.  It is a time to spread goodwill to all beings that grace this planet; a time to reflect on the fact that we share a common humanity and a common Source.  This is a Divine time to put differences aside and notice the Oneness of all.  And we can see this most clearly, when we stop for at least a moment, to catch our breath and slow down.  By slowing down we are better able to bring joy to our lives and the lives of others, and to savour the holiday season.

This week I heard a beautiful Christmas song I had never heard before.  It is called “Mary, Did You Know” and is written by Michael English.  The song was performed by Jordan Smith, the winner of the Voice this season.  Jordan has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard.  But, what is most inspiring about Jordan is his ability to be completely present when he performs.  He performs with the most incredible humility.  And as he sings, we are privileged to hear the Divine sing through him.

I hope you enjoy it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7Ux80jK3bI

I wish you a Merry Christmas, a peaceful and joyful holiday season, and may 2016 be filled with many blessings and Mindful moments.

Post to Twitter

This post currently has no responses.

Taking a Pause on November 11th

I always think of November 11th as a time to pause and be still, not just at 11:00am, but, all day.  When you do, you realize the enormity of this day.  We are pausing for so much.  First and foremost I feel gratitude and respect for those who have sacrificed so much.  My gratitude, extends to those who through the ages have fought for the hope of a safer and more peaceful world.  Now, that may sound like a political comment, and those who know me, know that I do not make political statements.  So, I would encourage you to here these words from a different place, a deeper place.

That gratitude I just mentioned extends beyond those who fought.  It goes to their families who also sacrificed a great deal in having to live without them.  Then there are those who have come back and experience the pain and effects of war every day.  And, that is the first layer of November 11th.

But, there is much more.  On November 11th I always pause and reflect on the pain humans cause one another, other beings and the planet as a whole.  We don’t pause enough to reflect on that.  If through the ages we didn’t and hadn’t caused one another such pain and suffering, there would not be such a need to pause and reflect on this day.

When we practice Mindfulness, hopefully we are pausing to notice our behaviour and our thoughts all day, every day.  And by catching ourselves, by purifying ourselves of our patterns, we start to cause others less pain, we walk more gently on the earth, we see all creatures as part of us.  We no longer see a division between ourselves and others.  We know we can not possibly harm another, without harming ourselves.  This then evolves to experiencing compassion towards others.  True compassion always includes action, to relieve the suffering of others, in some way.  Without action, there is no true compassion.  Without action, compassion remains intellectual.  By allowing it to remain at that level we can turn away and forget, so that the pain does not really touch us.

Add to this compassion with action a healthy dose of wisdom.  And, when we aspire to live each moment with compassion and wisdom, everything changes.  That is the pause the world needs.  A pause that includes the realization that “I” need to purify and clear “my” patterns, so that “I” cause no harm.

This is hard work.  It requires a real commitment to being with our own pain, so much so that we have a full experience of it.  Having that full experience washes away our hurt and that paves the way for us to not cause others pain and suffering.  It all starts with each and everyone of us taking responsibility to do no harm based on our old wounds and to see that we all have the power to heal ourselves.  No one else can do it for us.  And, in so doing, we contribute to healing the world.

That is how I experience pausing on this important day.

Post to Twitter

This post currently has no responses.

True Awakening Requires a Balance Between Compassion and Wisdom

Posted on by admin

There is no real awakening without deep compassion. One may have insights and wisdom, having “entered the Stream” (traditionally the initial point of Awakening). But, if wisdom out paces compassion, there can be a serious imbalance. In fact, wisdom without compassion can lead to cruelty. And compassion without wisdom can play out in life as a bleeding heart and ineffectual.  Neither is true Awakening.

If one aspires to Awaken, compassion is critical as a starting point. One of the reasons compassion is a good place to start is that it can encourage humility. An imbalance where there is too much wisdom for the amount of compassion present, can deeply ingrain arrogance. Arrogance is very difficult to purify.

If you wish to develop both wisdom and compassion in equal measure, then it is worth paying special attention to both aspects, in both your formal practice and your Mindfulness in action.

As an additional step, you can examine your thoughts and actions through the litmus test of humility.  Are you clear moment by moment that all your deep inspirations, your creativity, your great ideas, comes from the Universe?  Otherwise stated, are you clear moment by moment that what makes you special, unique and effective is the result of your ability to be a clear and open vessel, receptive to the wisdom and compassion that flows through you from “Stillness”?

Post to Twitter

This post currently has no responses.

Chicago Tribune Article: Zen Commute Can Take You to a Better Place

Posted on by admin

I was recently interviewed by Alison Bowen of the Chicago Tribune about how to experience the daily commute with greater ease. She called the article: Zen Commute Can Take You to a Better Place.  I hope you enjoy the article.  http://trib.in/1OjO8CO

As you know, Mindfulness is a skill that can be cultivated.  And, with continuous practice it merely becomes a way of experiencing life.  This progression can be described as a continuum.  Without realizing it, you begin to live mindfully, regardless of activity.  In time, you find that whether you are performing a simple task, such as walking down a quiet street, or a complex task, like driving in rush hour traffic, you can be fully present and aware.  Then, as you become more and more “Awake”, all activities are experienced exactly the same.  Over time, it is possible to experience rush hour traffic, in a snow storm, with great ease.

Post to Twitter

This post currently has no responses.

The Power of Gratitude

Posted on by admin

Most of us know that gratitude is not only powerful, but, life changing.  But, why is this the case?  The answer is quite simple.  Gratitude is experienced in the present moment.  There is no pull and no push with what is happening in the moment.  For the period of time that we are grateful, we are “okay” with what is.  We are not trying to improve that for which we are grateful.  But rather, we enjoy and feel open to what is arising.

The state of gratitude then brings about a certain joy.  In this joy, we are then more likely to attract other positive experiences for which we experience gratitude.  This then becomes a virtuous cycle.

Two other realities are at play when we experience gratitude.  The first is that our own gratitude gives us a greater sense of compassion.  In that compassion, we experience an openness towards others.  The second thing that happens is that our wisdom deepens.  When we experience deep gratitude, we realize how wise it is to cultivate that gratitude.

When we cultivate gratitude, we deepen our ability to be in the present moment, and we experience greater compassion and wisdom.  Through this one strategy, we refine consciousness deeply.  And this makes us better partners, friends, citizens and leaders.

If you would like to deliberately cultivate gratitude and enjoy its benefits, you may wish to practice the following for 1-2 weeks.  Upon rising every morning, perhaps as you lie in bed, become aware and list all the things, people, circumstances, etc. for which you are grateful.  You can visualize then, list them in words in your mind, or do both, visualize and name them to yourself.  Then just go about your business.  At bedtime, do the same thing.  You may consider the same things you were grateful for in the morning or you may wish to consider the things you were grateful for during that day.  Then just go to sleep.

Within a short time you will likely start to notice a certain lightness and inner joy for no specific reason.  The joy just wells up from within and becomes a source of inexplicable energy and creativity.

 

Post to Twitter

This post currently has no responses.

Gaining the Greatest Benefit from Summer

Posted on by admin

We all look forward to summer –  the sunshine, the warm weather and the opportunity to relax.  But, unless we are very deliberate about the relaxation and regeneration, we may find that summer flies by and we are suddenly into the frenetic pace of September.  One of the issues is that we try to cram too much into a short period of time.  When we do this, we push away time for relaxation.

And when we don’t take the time to relax, one of the casualties is time for reflection.  Essentially, we drive away time to “do nothing”.  It may seem wasteful to “do nothing”.  But, nothing could be further from the truth.  It is when we take time to do nothing that we regenerate, creative ideas flow, and we feel more at peace.

Our drive to accomplish every moment of the day may actually wear us down.  So, by slowing down, we can become more productive when we are back doing what we need to do.

So this summer, you may wish to take time to smell the roses or the coffee.  You may wish to look up at the clouds and do what you might have done as a child…just contemplate the shape of the clouds and watch them move by.  You may wish to listen to the birds.  And you may find great peace in being still.

Post to Twitter

This post currently has no responses.

Golf Is the Great “Purifier”

Posted on by admin

Anyone who plays golf knows that it can be both exhilarating and frustrating not in a round, but on a single hole! It is a difficult game in the best of times.  Every round is different, every hole is different, and every shot is different.  This sounds very much like “every moment is a new moment” doesn’t it?  And it’s not hyperbole.

Golf tests us completely.  If you want to learn about your patterns and deeply reveal your beliefs, then just play a round of golf.  Jack Nicklaus, holder of the record for most golf Majors in a career, said that when he was playing well, he only hit 3, and at most 5, perfect shots in a golf round.  That leaves plenty of opportunity for potential frustration depending on your expectations and beliefs.

As we play we notice how we react to life in general.  We can witness how we behave when we are winning, when we are losing, when we are embarrassed or humiliated, when we are disappointed, when we are tired. Essentially, every challenge in life arises on the golf course.  And the way we respond or react on the golf course is generally how we react or respond in life.

If we have any shred of a perfectionistic tendency, it will become very evident.  Have you ever expected to hit a great shot every time you address the ball?  That sounds pretty perfectionistic and not an uncommon expectation by many.  How about control?  How do you feel when someone takes several practice swings…on every shot?!  Do you ever feel the need to ask them to “stop it”?!  The reality is that perfectionism and need for control are very big issues that get highlighted on the course.  Our resilience is another issue that becomes very visible.  How we come back from bad shots says a great deal about our resilience in life.

Now, what I am referring to are patterns.  Anyone can behave in a particular way on occasion.  It is when we typically respond in a particular way, that we know it is a pattern.

You also learn a great deal about someone’s values.  If someone cheats on their score, it is likely that they may not be completely honest on other issues.

We can also learn a great deal about positive qualities.  With some people, you will notice that they feel deep compassion when someone is having a difficult round and do what they can for that person, even if it is just sending a positive intention their way.  There is also the way people approach competition.  Some people feel true joy when they see a competitor hit a beautiful or very difficult shot.  Some are very encouraging of others no matter how they themselves are playing.

Now, you may have heard me speak of “purification” in the past.  In the book “Mindful Leadership”, I describe it as dissolving patterns that are not helpful in our lives.  We can do this deliberately through our awareness and presence of mind.  We can make this a habit, to diligently observe those things we don’t like about ourselves and very gently and persistently, through awareness and equanimity, wash away the patterns.

Through personal experience, I have come to the conclusion that golf is a fantastic way to purify.  As all of our patterns, sooner or later, will become evident as we play, we can make a commitment to make golf a Mindfulness practice.

It takes true Mindful leadership to witness our own actions and reactions, moment by moment, and with equanimity, courage, and honesty, we can purify that which gets in the way of being the best we can be.

Post to Twitter

This post currently has no responses.