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The Joy of Silence… Even If It Makes You Squirm At First

Many people knew I went on a 5-day silent meditation retreat last month and have asked me “How was it!?” I think this captures the range of thoughts behind that question, and perhaps you’ll recognize your own reaction in here:

  • “I don’t know if I could handle that. That’s not for me.”
  • “Hmm, that could be nice but I don’t have time for that. Maybe one day.”
  • “Oh wow, silence for 5 days sounds great.”

When I heard others going away on these retreats over the years, I had that same range of reactions, first starting with the most resistance to gradually more intrigue. Mostly I thought it was for other people.

As my meditation practice has grown more easeful and rewarding over the last few years, I found myself curious if a retreat was for me after all. Something in me felt ready, partly to take on a new challenge, but maybe more so because of an ache in me to hit a reset button.

On the surface my desire for the retreat looked like a simple desire to escape the email inbox for a few days. That alone was starting to sound like nirvana. And I knew it was more than that.

It was a deeper knowing that I was being pulled too far into the sped-up, digital-driven lifestyle. It wasn’t feeling like the true me. I knew I needed to power down and find my true center. Don’t you crave that sometimes too?

Finding Center

 

It was time. I signed up (at Insight Meditation Society) and the sweet anticipation began, for a noticeable wait of 4 weeks.

Now that I’m back, I want to answer “How was it?” but it’s hard to put the power of silence into words. It was profound for me, in fact. I am tearing up as I write this.

I’ll do my best to share my discoveries. In this Western culture, we have such discomfort with silence and stillness… and we have a simultaneous deep need for it. I want to give you a window into the power of it.

I’ll start with this. Let’s take a pause, right here in this moment.

Inhale. Exhale.
Oh, that is kinda nice.
Maybe another inhale, exhale.
The inbox can wait.

Here’s what happened when I hit the giant pause button for 5 days.

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Your Inner Compass Is Better Than You Think

You know those success models you think you’re supposed to be following? Like from the loud guy on that marketing webinar that left you hyperventilating?

Consider the source for those models:
It is almost always from someone trying to sell you their course by using words like “This is THE way or you’re doomed.” Right?

Too many people are letting those salesy messages get under their skin, which makes them feel like a loser. I’ve had people come see me in tears after taking on those external expectations as gospel. With all the email and social media messages like that, it can be an onslaught of “You’re not enough.”

I’ve been there, comparing my messy side to those supposed success stories. And comparing my quiet style to those extroverted ways of selling. Their messages can be so compelling! And so paralyzing.

[Image: Your inner compass knows the way.]

Your inner compass knows the way.

When I naturally resisted doing it their “expert” way, because it just didn’t feel like me, I found things went much better! Wait, you mean my way, off the beaten path, can actually work for me? It was freaky to me when that first happened, and I didn’t believe it for a while, even after it kept on working.

I see in hindsight that doing it my way IS where the gold is! It’s not a fluke, it’s what works for me.

Ya gotta tune into your own instincts and your audience’s responses, not someone else’s prescription for you.

Your inner compass is better than you think. So much better than you think.

How Do You Hear It and Trust It?

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Is It Self-employment Induced ADD?

The most unexpected thing about becoming self-employed was how much trouble I had focusing once I was working alone. I wasn’t great at focus before, I admit, but it became a huge challenge without the structure and community of a workplace to go to.

I started thinking I was going crazy or that I’d suddenly gotten “self-employment induced ADD.” I would do housework when I needed to be working, to avoid facing that scattered mind, only to find that the head-spin would get worse and worse. Sound familiar? (C’mon, raise your hand. It’s so common.)

In our push-push culture, we think the cure for focus problems is to push ourselves harder, get more disciplined, learn better time management, etc. Right? But I believe a more effective cure is to get some co-workers… in a way that works for us. We need camaraderie to keep our minds sharp.

I know, introverts like me who love the peace and quiet of working alone will resist this idea, at first. Hear me out.

[Image: Humans are pack animals too.]

We are pack animals, just like wolves. The lone wolf success story is a myth. (Click image for source and Creative Commons license.)

It’s a big shift to go from working in a company with co-workers all around you, to working on your own. Even when you’re thrilled by the freedom, the shift away from the workplace community is stressful for anyone. I see it all the time with my clients after leaving a job, and I can honestly tell them and you: You are not alone in that stress.

I’ll explain how I have found my balance between people time and alone time, which has mostly cured my self-employment induced ADD. (I mean, I still need some other focusing tricks but the people connection has been the core solution for me.) Continue reading

Do You Like the Sound of SOULpreneurs?

How do you like the sound of the word SOULpreneur? More relaxing than the word “entrepreneur” I bet. I find a lot of introverts, women, and many others don’t like the word entrepreneur even if they like the idea of being self-employed. Entrepreneur can feel too salesy or money-focused for some people’s taste.

When you tweak the word entrepreneur to something that has more soul, it’s a lot more appealing to me and to a lot of people. And that’s what business really should be — ethical, purposeful, authentic. Right?

Many of us are following this new SOULpreneur paradigm for business… and making it work! Yes, aligning our hearts and wallets. One of the secrets is connecting with SOULpreneur community for refreshing validation, practical support, and inspiration. I’ll explain.

[Image: SOULpreneur connections are about heart-centered abundance.]

Connecting with SOULpreneurs feeds our heart-centered abundance.

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Oh Those Beautiful Interruptions

I’ve heard so many people being hard on themselves for not getting further along with their business by a certain made-up date. Actually, it’s been mostly women who express this worry.

So much to do and not enough progress! Sound familiar?

Yes, I’m one of those people with the “never fast enough” syndrome. There’s all those to-do items staring at me. There sits one more blog draft or program draft that hangs in limbo for months and months. My ego thinks I must finish everything in order to be a good person.

So, let’s rethink this.  Continue reading