I'm currently reading this fascinating book entitled "Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists are revolutionizing the way we live and work." It's so intoxicating that I'm reading before I go to work, on my breaks, and before bed.
The main focus is exploring the upper ranges of the human experience, and how those peak experiences can be used to improve satisfaction, performance, connection with others, connection with the Divine, and much more.
There are four signature characteristics that underpin these ecstatic experiences, according to the authors. They are as follows:
- Selflessness: an ability to step beyond the inner critic, and repetitive stories we tell, to see our lives with fresh eyes,
- Timelessness: a relationship with time that feels expansive, abundant, and always present,
- Effortlessness: the awesome feelings of enjoyment, control, and freedom that lend to intrinsically motivated actions,
- Richness: a depth and color to our experiences that allow for heightened perception, increased data processing, and amplified connection
Think flow .. on hyper drive.
Most of us have had at least a taste of this kind of experience--where you are so engrossed in the moment that time slows down, or feels infinite. Where you could care less about the past or future, and you find your focus heightened to new levels in the moment.
Meditation has been one of the key tools that continues to allow me to engage in such experiences. This started with a dabbling in meditation as I started the physical practice of yoga. It led me to a 10-day completely silent retreat, where I found comfort in the fluctuations of the mind and was able to find peace holding opposing viewpoints. It's also been a mainstay to keep me sane, grounded, and inspired as the various events of life unfold.
It also allows me to "clamber into the monkey suits of my everyday roles--spouse, employee, teacher, neighbor--except with the knowing they they're just costumes with zippers." (slightly modified from page 38)
And, this summer, I wore a whole lot of monkey suits.
While my mother-in-law was ill, I served as a care-taker, cook, and housecleaner. When she passed, I took on the roles of organizer for house clean-ups, scheduler for important meetings, and supporter of my husband through the emotional loss.
I also took on the role of recluse. It was much easier to get lost in some fascinating book on the deck, surrounded only by passing clouds and mating osprey.
Diving head first into the responsibility of project manager also came in handy, attending to the $100,000 plus budget set to turn about 50 properties in 60 days.
There were also moments I took on lighter characters, such as birthday girl, boat driver, wake surfer, golfer, cupcake baker, and auntie to the latest addition to the family, Jackson Mark Coco.
Just as with all roles and decisions, there are consequences.
My recent roles have changed some friendships. Some friends were unable to accept me as I am, and have chosen to go their separate way. New space has opened up and created the exciting opportunities for new relationships to grow.
Thanks to the passing of time, and the ability for meditation to provide a bit more perspective on my life, I can view the good and the bad, the old and the new, with a sense of emotional detachment.
It's what psychologist Robert Kegan of Harvard calls the "subject-object shift."When we can move from who we think we are (subjective) to being able to view, name, and discuss aspects of our lives (objective), we can greatly accelerate our personal growth.
Kotler and Wheal, authors of Stealing Fire, remind me that "by stepping outside of ourselves, we gain perspective. We become objectively aware of our costumes rather than subjectively fused with them. We realize we can take them off, discard those that are worn out or no longer fit, and even create new ones."
Life moving forward will certainly be full of uncertainties. Yet, I know that I have the flexibility, strength, and poise to handle any challenges.
I'm also looking forward to many new adventures, and how they will continue to expand my understanding of myself and of life as a whole.
In this moment, I'm taking time to reflect through writing. But, it all started with the practice of being still, breathing, and finding contentment via meditation.
I can't highly recommend this practice enough. There are others noted in the book, but I'll share those as I learn more.
What do you do on a daily basis to find more clarity?