Friday, 25 November 2011

Six Simple Resilience Practices - Week One: Become Present

One of our strongest values at mygapyear is sharing.  We have come across some great authors that have produces some very valuable works that we would like to share with you.  For the next 6 weeks we will be sharing the works of Doug Silsbee, a coach from North Carolina who focuses on Presence-Based Leadership Development.  Please note that the below text is WRITTEN BY DOUG SILSBEE and simply being shared by mygapyear in the hopes that it will benefit those following our blog.  Please check out Doug's website for more information on his practice.
Become Present
This is the foundation of all the rest of the moves. It is simply the recognition of choice.
When I was angry (I had a bit of a temper as a kid!) my mother would tell me to stop and count to ten before doing anything rash. The primary power of this doesn't lie in the counting or even in the period of time that allows us to choose a wiser course of action. The major benefit of this little trick is that, in the very moment of choosing to count to ten, we are exercising choice, rather than acting out of the force of instinctual habit.
Many of us have had such experiences: we have an emotional reaction to a situation, we respond automatically and our response makes the situation worse than it was.
The fundamental principle underpinning all of our work on resilience is that, lacking the inner state of presence, we are much more likely to constrict our field of view and react to events in ineffective and habitual ways. When we are fully present and relaxed, we are able to see and choose a full range of alternatives.
One of the quickest and most reliable means to bring ourselves into the present is to do a quick body check, bringing our attention from the abstract and chaotic world around us into a quiet awareness of our own internal state. Do these steps, one at a time:
·       Let go of whatever problem you're wrestling with for a minute.
·       Notice how you are sitting, or standing; notice your shape. Straighten your back, letting your shoulders drop, and bringing your gaze up horizontally.
·       Breathe, taking a couple of deep breaths and noticing how your chest rises and falls with each breath.
·       Sense the pressure on the bottoms of your feet where the floor is pressing up, and, if you're sitting, the pressure on your back and buttocks where the chair is holding you. Take a moment to feel this.
·       Notice any places where your body is particularly tense, and simply let those places relax.
So, what happened? How is your inner state different? From this present state, what alternatives are revealed?
With even a little practice, this series of shifts in attention can take almost no time. Like counting to ten when you're angry, it's making the choice that is important. The simple act of choosing, in the middle of the urgency of your day, to stop and become present, is itself an act of resilience. (Another centering practice can be found here.)
While this can be used as a simple stress management technique, I've never been an advocate of increasing our ability to endure fundamentally unhealthy situations. Rather, my claim is that coming into the present is the foundational first step in any process of self-mastery.
Practice this often during the coming week. Repetitions will build, over time, your capacity to manage your inner state and to be at choice in any circumstance.

Doug Silsbee, PCC
Presence-Based Leadership Development
3717 Bend of Ivy Rd.
Marshall, NC 28753