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The Warrior Within

Our days are full – innumerous e-mails to respond to, crises with every phone call, employees with personal problems, disgruntled customers, business goals that haven't been accomplished … and the personal to-do list is just as long, if not longer.  With so much happening outside us and all these thoughts running around in our minds, we can easily get defensive and lose our focus.  Our “warrior” comes out with full armor and pulls us away from the present moment.  It's hard to keep our attention on any one thing as our minds swirl with the activities of daily life.

When you communicate with clients, employees or your significant other, are you really present in the conversation?  Are you in the moment, giving your full attention to that person, that situation?  If not, what are you thinking about?  What's more important than this very minute in your life?

I continue to learn powerful lessons from my horse, Jazz.  She's very sensitive – a “hot horse” by equestrian standards – but that’s what I love about her.  When I play and work with Jazz, I can always tell if I'm living in the present or if my mind is somewhere else or if negative thoughts are invading me.  It never fails and always amazes me.  When I'm riding and in the moment, with my full attention on what I'm doing, Jazz is clear on her direction and is calm.  But as soon as my mind starts to wander, thinking about what happened with a client or all the work I need to do, Jazz gets emotional, nervous and anxious.  The change in her behavior pulls me back to the here and now.  When I’m focused in the moment, beautiful things happen with my horse and we have a magical time together.

I’ve also noticed that when I’m aware and in the moment, staying fully present and paying attention to what’s happening no matter what I'm doing or who I’m with, the results are better than I could have expected; they are more powerful and more profound than I could have hoped.  But being fully present isn’t easy.  It requires you to tame the “warrior” within – to be a leader of your self, your mind, your actions and your interactions.

Recently, my husband and I watched a powerfully profound movie that spoke to us at many different levels.  "Peaceful Warrior" is well worth watching a few times to let the messages sink in.  Nick Nolte is a garage mechanic who mentors and dispenses sage-like wisdom to an Olympic hopeful gymnast.  In one scene, Socrates (the gymnast’s nickname for Nick) says, "I want you to stop gathering information from outside yourself and start gathering it from the inside.  People are afraid of what's on the inside… and that's the only place they’re going to find what they really need."  Wow!  He goes on to say, "Take out the trash.  The trash is anything keeping you from the only thing that matters – this moment, here, now." 

When I hear or feel the “warrior” inside me putting on her armor and preparing to fight some perceived battle (many times I'm battling my negative thoughts about myself or my abilities) – a battle that steals my focus from the present reality – I stop her.  And the more often I stop her, the more easily I’m able to recognize her battle cry.  I hear the first clank of her armor and I close my eyes for a second, focus my attention inward, and notice my breath and any tension in my body.  I slow my breathing, plant my feet beneath me, feel my body in the chair or the saddle, and welcome in my "peaceful warrior".  My peaceful warrior is capable of being in the here and now.  It focuses on the present moment, the most important moment of my life.  When I am my "peaceful warrior" self, amazing and beautiful things happen to me, my clients, my family, my horse, my life.  I am happy and enjoy my life, in the moment!  This moment is all we really have.  There is a saying that goes something like... "Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift... that's why it's called the present".

What might improve in your life by being fully present in the moment?  What are you missing by letting your “warrior” take charge?  How different could your life be if you embraced the "peaceful warrior" inside?

Strive to be a calm force, a gentle and peaceful presence in your own life.

July 2007 ISSUE

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