Mindful Spirit

This is What it Looks Like To Surrender

As you’re reading this, I’m preparing to spend a week – alone – in a monastery.

Odd, huh?

That’s what I keep telling myself too.

Of course, that’s what my logical brain wants me (and you) to believe.

It wants me (and you) to believe that, despite an unmistakable and ever-growing desire to commune with whatever is “out there”, this doesn’t have to mean that I’m “out there.”

After all, spirituality is woo-woo and mindfulness is serious business, right?

I was reminded of this recently when I attended a Mindful Leadership Summit along with four hundred other colleagues and peers. Together, we shared tons of giddy stories about how mindfulness is seeping into all corners of business, government, and education. There was talk of meditation rooms next to conference rooms, Quiet Time caucuses in Congress, children as young as two learning the art of emotional control, and mindfulness-based stress reduction tools that are massively helping soldiers with PTSD.

For those who believe the fate of humanity is hanging on the brink of a cliff, take heart.

Collective consciousness is rising.

Since I assumed this rise included an open discussion of spirituality, I decided to broach the subject in front of the entire conference crowd.

“Mindfulness at its roots is a Buddhist practice,” I said from the audience, “so what role does spirituality play in our charge to carry the message?”

You would have thought I stood up without pants.

The panel onstage made a quick-but-clear distinction between mindfulness in Buddhism and mindfulness in business that painted them, naturally, as church and state. Afterwards, the moderator – an editor from Mindful magazine – made a point to tell me that, despite being a Buddhist himself, he considered mindfulness “very much a secular phenomenon.” Also, just in case I missed the memo, an attendee found me later in the day to drive the point home.

“When you say ‘spirituality’ I have to believe in something,” he said, “and I don’t want any part of that.”

I get that spirituality can be messy.

Apart from the fact that nobody likes having it shoved down their throat, we’ve all borne witness to the enormous suffering that comes when one tribe proclaims itself better than another. All things considered, it’s easy to see why so many of us take a “thanks but no thanks” approach where this topic is concerned.

Still….as I sat in the front row of the Mindful Leadership Summit listening to truly impressive research on how the brain works, there was a part of me that wanted to stand up and scream, “YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MIND?! Where does the Mind – that level beyond the physical senses where we’re all connected – fit into this narrative?”

There’s obviously enormous (and much-needed) talk in the mindfulness community about equanimity in business; however, without the spiritual foundation of knowing that we are all – quite literally – One Being in different forms, the closest we can get to True equanimity is – at most – empathy.

In short, it’s the difference between looking at another person and saying “I understand you” versus “I AM you.”

If you think this sounds nuts you may want to unsubscribe because my work is about to get “out there” – albeit with the intention to go INto the Mind.

After all, the Mind is where our wisdom lives – wisdom we block with our judgments, grievances, comparisons, etc. – but wisdom that can also lead us to power, peace, and joy IF we allow it.

For a long time I’ve been wanting to talk openly about these things but my own block has been fear.

Fear of losing corporate gigs by using words like “God” and “spirit” on this blog.

Fear of losing readers, some of whom may be eye rolling already.

Fear of turning off science-based colleagues in the mindfulness space whose work I was just getting to know and vice versa.

Needless to say, this constant “should I or shouldn’t I go there” rumination has created a tremendous amount of anxiety and so – after returning home from the Summit – I told myself the same thing I tell clients on the cusp of big change: The only way out is through.

In other words, after a certain point you can’t “think” your way out of a problem anymore. You have to act and, in the process of taking action, you learn, tweak, regroup, step back, and step forward.

Of course, this is classic “mindful” advice – and so now let me give you a real-time example of the “new” layer I’m adding publicly for the first time: Surrender.

The truth is, I don’t know how all of this is going to turn out.

I can’t pretend to know what this means for Minute Mindful, my business, books, speaking, or anything else for that matter. All I know is that I want to talk about what I want to talk about and the more I’ve tried to control every piece of my life the less those pieces ultimately looked how I thought they would anyway.

So – after almost four decades – I’m going to stop “controlling” and start surrendering.

As we move into 2015, I invite you to join me.

Clearly I have no idea where this road will take us, but I do know that there will be plenty of mile markers along the way that will attempt to answer big life questions. Accordingly, the first sign on our journey together is a flashing caution that reads: We will talk about God here.

And now that I’ve finally put it all “out there” it’s your turn.

You cool with this?

If not, I totally understand. You may have joined this list for “go get ‘em girl!” career advice and are now surprised to find that I’ve flipped the script. If you decide to leave, no worries and no hard feelings.

But if you’re up for a brand-new adventure, then strap in because we’re going deep.

Our first stop?

Stay tuned for more from that monastery. 🙂