LD’s Perspective on…Taking a Moment on Not Being, Being; and What it Means to Find Stillness in Our Leadership Presence

Personal Growth & Development | 0 comments

This holiday season felt different. It was genuinely the first time in my life where I could surrender my mind and connect with my heart – in deep rest, existing without the noise of my mind or the babble of the outside world. Over the last years, my body has been on a healing journey and during 10-days of silent meditation, I finally found the depth of intimacy within my own being to openly experience what true being feels like. I accessed a previously untapped space beyond the mind; beyond my usual ambitious and aspirational world of dreaming, goal-setting and strategizing, and even beyond my ego of performing. It was during this time of retreat and reflection where there was just nowhere to be, nothing to see, nothing to do, except to witness the mind, to observe the stories, and then there was an opening to my being; an aliveness that penetrated my non-existence. This led to the realization that no matter where I am, what I do, I simply am.

So why am I sharing this? For the last 20 years of my career, I have been engulfed in psychology; humanistic psychology, sports psychology, neuroscience, sociology and the study of human development and performance. This field of my career has spanned across continents from shaping high performance mindsets in sport, to creating high performance and thriving wellbeing cultures in the workplace. I have studied, taught, facilitated, coached and have been a true advocate for the power of navigating our minds in building habits, rewiring thought patterns, attitudes and expectations; all of which are abundant and aligned with individual values system that help unlock creativity, potential, resiliency and so much more.

It is through intentionality; conscious choices of our thought life that we are able to exercise our North Star, recover from setbacks, disappointments, injuries and life happenings. Tools that one can tap into to challenge one’s narrative and views of the world; for we know that we act and behave in accordance to the “Truth” as we believe it to be – not necessarily “the truth”. It is through our mindset and attitude that we can build our muscles of #eq including optimism, self-control, manage emotions and exercise compassion. And even though I knew all of these elements from a research and intellectual perspective, during this holiday I was able to move beyond the mind and exercise mindfulness on a whole new level.

In essence, I took a vacation like no other. A break from my own narrative and storytelling, from my non-existence; I learnt to be joyful, peaceful and at ease in my own silence and way of being. I became a witness to myself. Yet, the question remains, who am I?

What does it mean to go beyond our conceptual understanding of life and the power of our minds? How can we possibly come to a place where the noise of our inner world and that of our chaotic (supposedly “connected”) noise of the outer world becomes still.

During this retreat, we meditated for 6-7 hours per day. It took me at least 3 full days to release the stories of my own ego. By day 8, my body had physically surrendered to just being: my nervous system was rested, my heart engaged, and my soul rejuvenated. There were tears of joy, of sadness, of grief, of excitement. There were thoughts that were awful – mostly directed towards my own self; there were dreams ignited and memories revisited. My body ached from the stillness and yet, #transformation evolved. What happened was that I started to wake up my character, free from the conceptual mind and I took a step further into compassionate, curious self-inquiry through meditation, continuously asking the question, Who Am I?

I began to wonder if we were to deconstruct ourselves and what we put out into the world, what else remains? If we remove our titles, our accomplishments, our egos, our traumas, or dreams and desires, it’s fascinating to be aware that something remains, something that is unchangeable – an energy, a spirit, an aliveness, an intimacy of pure bliss.  

Exploring our spiritual being through mindfulness is an impactful way of untangling ourselves from associations and identifications of various forms – letting go of control and power, letting go of addictions, letting go of material obsessions, letting go of the ego. It is in this space where we learn to observe the thoughts and stories and meanings we assign, and not get stuck in the content of our thoughts.

Through this process, I learnt to see that the heart is our largest organ of knowledge and I was able to both practice and witness consciousness. 

You see, as leaders, as people, our minds feel safe through knowledge and knowing; we need certainty, control, the need to strategize, as the mind is quite linear – we like to plan and be logical. How can we let go and let our heart lead, based on intuition – not necessarily know, learn to surrender? What if we choose to be free from compulsion? When craving something, can we give space to witness the feeling – even just for a 1 minute? Can we be free from it? Can we sit with it? Can we witness it? Can we choose to experience something, develop awareness, then throw it away or move beyond it. Can we as leaders learn to sit in a question, to be present to our people, without having the need to react?

Naturally in this practice, I started reflecting on #leadershipdevelopment and how we aim to empower leaders to be led by our humanness versus our doing-ness. So, while I have been an experienced #eq practitioner for over a decade, I have a new appreciation and advocacy to develop highly #mindful #authentic #leadership in pursuit of #humanizing the workplace and our sporting ecosystems.

Slowing down makes you aware of what you’re missing when you are moving too fast. Getting in touch with the present moment helps you make clear choices, respond instead of react, and appreciate the endless richness of being. All valuable leadership qualities.  

Behind every word spoken, there is something better – silence. And in this silence, we give space for others to tap into their knowing.

My reflections on why meditation should be a practice for every aspiring leader:

  • It moves us from doing to being
  • It moves us from reacting to holding space and being present
  • It moves us from distractions to focused attention
  • It moves us from comparison to leading with intuition
  • It moves us from control to empowering others
  • It moves us from leading with pure data and logic to leading with heart or combination of both
  • It teaches us to be free from ego and moves us to humbleness & openness (It’s ok not to know)

What are the impacts?

  • Greater awareness for self and universal attitudes of love, compassion, peace
  • Comfortable with silence and the not knowing which will give your people space to contribute and explore options together
  • Access humanness; to see people, to recognize beauty, to celebrate, to forgive, to be grateful
  • Learn to listen to your heart, so you can be authentically you and make decisions based on your values rather than what the world asks of you

So where do we begin? Ask yourself, what does the present moment ask of you?

And now as I’m gently emerging back into the busyness of our working world, I’m learning how to integrate these practices mindfully as I know that to understand the depth of our non-existence is a lifelong journey, and I’m committed to it; especially as a coach and exercising presence to witness, and listen to what people are not saying.

Do you have contemplation practice, and what works for you?

Laura Dowling

Professional Coach & Facilitator

My name is Laura, but everyone calls me “LD”.
LD Performance Consulting provides emerging and experienced leaders, individuals and teams with world-class, customized leadership development and facilitation services that build confidence, unlock talent and improve performance.