The Science of Peace

The Science of Peace

With scientific conclusions and statistics to back them, bold scientists are rephrasing the wisdom discovered by meditating yogi sages thousands of years ago.One such scientist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, calls what she discovered our “deep inner peace circuitry.” Taylor, a Harvard brain scientist, had a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Her “stroke of insight,” as she calls it, gave her the rare opportunity to study her topic matter, the brain, from the inside out. Even more astounding, she experienced cognition solely through the right hemisphere, recovered fully enough to speak eloquently and scientifically about her experience and shares with the world what we, as a human race, can learn from her experience.

The right side of the brain processes the here-and-now; it takes in all the sensory input of the world around us and creates a collage of the present moment. This side of our brain experiences emotions and intuition. It thinks subjectively and learns kinesthetically through the movement of our bodies, and sees the big pictures and connections in the world. As Dr. Taylor puts it,“I am an energy being connected to the energy all around me through the consciousness of my right hemisphere.”

The left side of the brain, on the other hand, deals with thinking linearly, objectively and logically. It processes sequentially and picks details out of the present moment, categorizes and organizes all of those details, associates them to past experiences and projects them into the future as possibilities. The left is the language processing center responsible for all of our brain chatter.

Dr. Taylor learned from her experience that, “we are the life-force power of the universe, with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds, and we have the power to choose moment by moment who and how we want to be in the world.”

She then says with ferocious conviction, “I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will be.”

Contemplative practices teach us to activate this “inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres.” Through slowing down, observing our body and deepening our breath we relax, switch on the parasympathetic nervous system and choose, as Dr. Taylor suggests, who and how we want to be in the world.

Watch as Dr. Taylor eloquently describes her “stroke of insight” in the video below:

Source: ElephantJournal.com

Here you can create the content that will be used within the module.

8 Steps to Mindful Being

8 Steps to Mindful Being

1.  Moderate your convictions.

Thinking in absolutes and holding to convictions without ever considering the viewpoints and perspectives of others is counterproductive to peace. While this may be convenient because it allows you to act with the confidence of absolute conviction, it blocks other realities in the world and can easily lead to conflict and divisiveness. It is hard work to remain open-minded but far more rewarding because it transforms you and promotes a lightness of being.

  • Moderate your absolute convictions by always being ready to question and to reflect. Accept that your beliefs, faith, passions, or opinions are but some among many other beliefs, faith, passions, and opinions in the world.
  • Find a variety of things to do in your life if you’re finding yourself slipping into immoderate stances about other people. It’s hard to be immoderate when you’re busy doing a range of things and seeing a wide range of people from all walks of life.
  • Cultivate your sense of humor. Humor is a peace-lover’s disarming charm; few fanatics are ever humorous because they’re too busy taking themselves and their cause too seriously. Humor allows you to release tension and to show up the repressive tendencies of extremist thinking.

2.  Be tolerant.

Tolerance in all that you think and do will make a difference in your life and in the lives of others around you. Tolerance for others is about appreciating diversity, the plurality of modern society, and being willing to live and let others live too. When we fail to tolerate others’ beliefs, ways of being, and opinions, the end result can be discrimination, repression, dehumanization, and ultimately violence. Practicing tolerance is at the heart of living peacefully.

Rather than jumping to negative conclusions about other people, change your own perspective and nourish the good in others. Seeing others as interesting, special, and caring beings underneath their bravado, anger, and torment, can bring about a great change for the better.

3.  Practice happiness.

  • Avoid violent movies and news reports of violence.
  • Surround yourself with peaceful images, music, and people.
  • Embrace healthy eating habits.
  • Spend time enjoying nature – from a window, a park bench, a walk in the woods, etc.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Look for opportunities to be in the silence.
  • Be mindful in what you do, how you do it and what you speak.
  • Practice speaking pleasant words in pleasant tones – avoid vulgarities.

4.  Reflect.

Practice reflective listening. Spoken language is imprecise, and people under stress often say things that mask the real things they’d like to say. John Powell said that “In true listening, we reach behind the words, see through them, to find the person who is being revealed. Listening is a search to find the treasure of the true person as revealed verbally and non-verbally.” The importance of reflective listening to living a peaceful life is that you stop seeing people purely from your perspective and start trying hard to dig down into what another person is really saying and meaning. This can lead to effective give-and-take rather than reacting according to what you think you hear by inferring and guessing.

5.  Be mindful and present.

Dwelling on what should have been and reliving past hurts, conflicts and annoyances will keep the mind frozen in a state of unrest.  For there is no “outcome” that satisfies. Seething about the matter does not resolve . . . it only aggravates. Take long deep breaths, breathing in the negative and breathing out the peace.

6.  Find inner peace.

  • Make conscious decisions about what improves or beautifies your life while discarding the rest.
  • When you’re angry, find a nice quiet place to stop, take a deep breath, and relax. Turn off the TV, stereo, or computer. Get out into nature if possible, or go for a good, long walk. Put on some soft music or turn down the lights. When you feel calm again, get up and get on with your life.
  • At least once a day spend ten minutes in a peaceful place, anywhere where you can just sit quietly without distractions.
  • Living in peace means more than living in the absence of violence. Try to cultivate peace in all areas of your life by reducing stress as much as possible.

7.  Be the change you wish to see in the world.

  • Change yourself.
  • Be part of the solution.
  • Talk to other people about their views of peace. Share ideas about ways to help create a more peaceful world and ways to embrace differences without falling into conflict. You might like to make videos to place online, or write stories, poems, or articles to share with everyone about the importance of peace.
  • Help others.

8.  Broaden your understanding of peace.

You’re free to choose your own path. Everything you’ve read on this list is a suggestion. It  is not seeking to impose itself on you, At the end of the day, living in peace will be your of yourself and your response to those around you.

Take a Mindful Moment: 5 Simple Practices for Daily Life

Take a Mindful Moment: 5 Simple Practices for Daily Life

Set your intention. By doing so it becomes more likely that your words, actions and responses— especially during moments of difficulty—will be more mindful and compassionate.

Intention refers to the underlying motivation for everything we think, say, or do. From the brain’s perspective, when we act in unintended ways, there’s a disconnect between the unconscious impulses of the lower brain centers and the conscious, wiser abilities of the higher centers like the pre-frontal cortex.

Given that the unconscious brain is in charge of most of our decision-making and behaviors, this practice can help you align your conscious thinking with your primal emotional drive.

This practice is best done first thing in the morning, before checking phones or email.

Mindful Wakeup: Start with a Purpose

  1. On waking, sit in your bed or a chair in a relaxed posture.Close your eyes and connect with the sensations of your seated body. Make sure your spine is straight, but not rigid.
  2. Take three long, deep, nourishing breaths—breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then let your breath settle into its own rhythm, as you simply follow it in and out, noticing the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you breathe.
  3. Ask yourself: “What is my intention for today?”Use these prompts to help answer that question, as you think about the people and activities you will face. Ask yourself:

How might I show up today to have the best impact?

What quality of mind do I want to strengthen and develop?

What do I need to take better care of myself?

During difficult moments, how might I be more compassionate to others and myself?

How might I feel more connected and fulfilled?

  1. Set your intention for the day.For example,“Today, I will be kind to myself; be patient with others; give generously; stay grounded; persevere; have fun; eat well,” or anything else you feel is important.
  2. Throughout the day, check in with yourself.Pause, take a breath, and revisit your intention. Notice, as you become more and more conscious of your intentions for each day, how the quality of your communications, relationships, and mood shifts.

 

This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Mindful magazine.

7 Inspiring Traits of Compassionate Leadership

7 Inspiring Traits of Compassionate Leadership

The driving forces of exceptional leadership are desire, self-awareness and, most importantly, compassion. Effective leadership cannot prevail under negative circumstances such as putdowns, dishonesty, demands, frustration, denigration, manipulation, fear or micro-management. These negative forces create high turnover, a lack of productivity, a lack of motivation and a negative attitude in those required to produce.

To be great, leaders must have the necessary empathy to inspire understanding and knowledge in team members. Empathy is key. Empathy begins with taking an understanding of life from the experience and perception of another. When empathy is present, defensiveness decreases and something positive replaces it. Empathy opens doors and removes confusion. It softens the minds and hearts of others. When people are open, this is exactly when the compassionate leader can be more creative in solving problems in ways that drive productivity and long-term success. To follow are seven traits of compassionate leadership.

1. Learning

Compassionate leaders understand that no matter how great they think they are, they are still surrounded by other intelligent people who are full of ideas that can enhance their skills and knowledge to lead even more effectively. When leaders operate as if they know everything, they harden themselves to new ideas by stubbornly assuming they have nothing more to learn to be effective in their role. There is no compassion in that mindset. Leadership requires learning. Leadership is the sum total of mistakes made, and the learning and growing it takes to remain patient, yet persistent, in their objectives. Compassionate leaders possess the modesty to continually seek feedback under the belief system they can only grow their team to the extend they grow themselves.

2. Removing barriers

Compassionate leaders immerse themselves in the daily grind with their team, helping them face and solve problems harming productivity or hindering reciprocal communication when closing deals. Removing barriers is twofold. Leaders have to understand the internal emotional patterns of each team member, which patterns hold them back and which promote them into success. Leaders need to help team members work through their defeatist thoughts and encourage new patterns of thinking to help them be more successful going forward. Once team members start thinking in terms of success rather than failure, leaders have the role of helping team members talk through ways to remove any external barriers with others they may face when closing deals.

When team members stop bringing leaders obstacles to overcome, their days as a leader will soon end.

3. Impact

Compassionate leaders live to help others and make no room for selfishness on the teams they lead. Greed has no place to prosper when selfishness is not part of the program. These leaders live with an attitude of abundance and prefer to look at what team members need rather than at what team members aren’t doing. Compassionate leaders make no room for pessimism. They view challenges with interest rather than dread. This attitude sets the tone for team members and keeps morale high.

For these leaders, success is less about riches or fame and more about having a deep and lasting positive impact on all who are served. The compassionate leader seeks to understand people, knowing that understanding is the doorway into having the greatest impact on guiding others.

4. Standards

Compassionate leaders hold themselves and their ethics to high standards. These leaders are ethical and expect every one of their team members to be the same. Ethics are the building blocks upon which success of any kind is based. These types of leaders strive for nothing less than excellence. Some team members may not be used to an environment where excellence is expected of them. To inspire them, compassionate leaders show high levels of integrity in their daily actions. This helps to gain the trust and confidence of team members who are new or unsure.

These types of leaders trust team members will live up or down to their expectations; therefore, they set the bar high on quality but keep it within reach. When quality is expected, team efforts naturally increase.

5. Influence

Compassionate leaders seek influence, not authority. They don’t demand, they encourage. They lead with hope. They guide, acknowledge and support team members to combine their efforts, skills, talents, insights, passion, enthusiasm and commitment to work together for the greater good.

These types of leaders find their purpose in bettering the lives of others. Compassionate leaders use the power of their role to lead others into the discovery of their own unique power. They view the growth and development of the people they lead and the communities they serve as the great makers of their success.

6. Passion

Compassionate leaders understand that people who are driven want to be part of something meaningful and influential. These leaders hold a deep concern for how their team members feel and what they’re getting out of their work experience. They do all they can to inspire team members to give nothing less than their best.

Leading requires the skill to inspire passion in others who may not know how to get in touch with it on their own. These leaders encourage team members to approach every task they do, down to the smallest details, with determination. These types of leaders are powerful because they understand that success comes to those who fully dedicate themselves to a cause. Compassionate leaders know there is nothing more powerful than a person who is driven from their heart.

7. Team

Compassionate leaders hold the wisdom that great things in life or business are never accomplished by one person. Excellence is a group effort, whether that be a team, a company, a society or an entire civilization. For teams to succeed, they need leaders who support and guide them to stay focused, especially when the stakes are high.

Compassionate leaders bring their team members together to work as a functional unit. They lay the groundwork for their team to have the best chance of success, and then take great joy in sitting back and watching team members shine individually and collectively. These leaders have no problem taking the lead when the team is in danger and no problem stepping to the side to allow their team to experience the successes they have accomplished on their own.

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Another Type of Morning

Another Type of Morning

We all do it! We wake up in the morning thinking about what we need to accomplish in the hours ahead of us. Or we mull over the details of what happened to us the day before – good and bad. It’s the kids, or an ailing parent, or bills that need to get paid. It’s an inconsiderate manager or coworker, or a nagging headache. Our thoughts become perpetual, forming themselves into full-on entities causing worry, anxiety and stress. At some point, our thoughts become real, the anxiety heightens and we bolt out the door challenged to make something of the day bringing all the heaviness of those worries and anxieties with us.

We now know that, from volumes of research and scientific data, this type of morning is not the morning we should wake up to. This is not the morning that fuels our compassion for ourselves or others. These are not the thoughts that serve our spirit or our health. This type of morning, with the noise from our thoughts, the distractions of television, or a need to engage in all that is digital before breakfast, is not the morning that serves our souls.

So, what to do about this morning, this troublesome morning, this highly kinetic and energetic morning? What do we do about the cumulative affect of these mornings on our inner peace and well-being.

WE STOP.  WE TAKE A DEEP BREATH. AND THEN, WE BREATHE AGAIN.  And with each breath, we release and let go. We suspend those thoughts and the energetic activity for a few minutes to simply be in “the moment”.

Now as simple as this sounds, it is one of great challenge to many of us who think the morning should start in 3rd gear.  This other type of morning, this new morning, is a “no gear” morning. It is a mindful morning.  We start it by doing nothing except to pay attention to the breath. And in that breath, we inhale all of the thoughts we want to turn into realities in that moment, and we release them. We let them go as we exhale. Not to worry, they are our thoughts. They will be back. But this is a new way of taming those thoughts and the many thoughts that will follow. INHALE . . . EXHALE. We may not even get out of bed right away. We may just lay there for a few minutes, breathing and being.

That’s the other morning, simple, unobstructed, undisturbed, unchained and unhooked.

Try it and let me know how your “other morning” feels.