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Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Introvert Overload: Redefining Rest

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

13255700373_ba79650d8a_zThe other day I had an unusual Thursday. My typical Thursday involves an afternoon of clinical practice. This particular Thursday, in addition to my clinical hours I had a number of extra-curricular activities. It was a concatenation of extrovert-like activities intensified in a day.

First, I volunteered to man the booth for the Coaching Center of Vermont at the business expo. This was 2.5 hours of the kind of random, awkward, and draining encounters that I tend to aver as an introvert. I went to this event knowing that it would be a challenge because the “cause” is important to me. I am part of the Coaching Center’s new initiative: Vital Leadership Coaching (more on that in the future). I was happy when my time was done!

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From the business expo, I headed to a business-related luncheon meeting, exploring an opportunity to teach mindfulness to an organization.

From the lunch meeting, I went to my office to do my psychotherapy practice. From there I went out to dinner with friends.

It was bad planning to schedule multiple social events on the same day I had a big introvert challenge. But I soldiered through the day, enjoying myself throughout.

How did I do that? First, I recognized that I was spending a lot of energy and running a deficit. This helped me to frame the day and help me to prepare the best that I could.

Second, I looked for opportunities for micro-solitude in the midst of this busy day. I found these while walking to and from each of my appointments for the morning. It was a lovely spring day, and I used the walking time to be quiet in my mind and recharge some of my energy so I had my best energy to be present at each of my commitments for the day. During lunch, I enjoyed sitting in the glorious sunshine.

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Third, rather than resisting the schedule (or castigating myself for poor planning), I decided to ride the wave of extroverted energy. It was actually fun to do this, so long as it was just one day and not something I had to do everyday.

Fourth, I knew I’d need substantial recovery time. I had a window on Friday where I would have to take impeccable care of myself, especially because we had company arriving for the holiday weekend. That self-care needed to be restful.

I have recently been thinking about what it truly means to rest. Recall that “Get some rest” is the first step in your GPS for success.

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Getting adequate sleep is, of course, a necessary but still elusive foundation for most people. As a nation, we are sleep deprived. Assuming you are one of the lucky few who gets a decent night of sleep (I shouldn’t say lucky, but rather skillful), there is more to rest than being rested.

To rest is to be in a place where few demands are being placed upon us. We are beholden to no one in the moment. We don’t have anything we “need” to do. To this end, I set aside social media for the day and imposed no particular agendas on myself. I had a productive day but I tried to view each activity as a want rather than a should. A should places demands upon us and squeezes out the restfulness of any moment.

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Rest requires being unplugged for a period of time from our devices and media and also from the demands of our own storytelling minds. To this end, meditation helps and I certainly spent some time doing mindfulness practice. I also spent time doing nothing in particular. I gazed at the trees that are now in bloom, I watched the dogs play with each other and played with them too. I meandered from moment-to-moment with no particular agenda. This was rest and it helped to restore my energy.

Rest can be active or still. Sometimes trail running in the woods can feel like rest and at others times it is exhausting. Yesterday I decided to defer on the run. Being in a natural setting helps. By the end of the day, I had closed the extroverted energy deficit that I had accumulated the day before. Needless to say, I kept communications to a minimum whether by phone, text, or email.

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In The Awakened Introvert, I created an exercise for monitoring our energy in terms of activities that build energy and those that drain. You can monitor them throughout the week and tally the balance. Knowing how much you’ve expended can guide you towards restoration.

Oprah.com published an excerpt of another energy monitoring exercise and if you haven’t seen that you, you can view it here.

Right now, I feel like I need some more rest and when I finish writing to you, Dear Readers, I will turn off my computer and get some!

 

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Alone Time Requires Skill, Courage, and Planning

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak
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Photo Credit Rachel Jaoquim

I read an interesting piece on spending time alone recently by Cassandra Bodzak. In a culture dominated by extrovert values, being alone might seem like alien territory and mostly to be avoided. Introverts crave it, but everyone needs it.

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Meditation gives us a chance to be alone with ourselves for at least a little while and this is, perhaps, why meditation is growing in popularity–it is tapping into our huge unmet need for time alone.

To be alone is one thing, to be comfortable in that aloneness is another. We tend to laud the connection we have with others and sometimes forget that even the closest connections require space.

When a child develops in a secure attachment relationship, the security of connection also involves time alone exploring the outer world and attending to one’s inner world. The better the attachment, the more capacity for being alone that develops.

Do you get enough time alone with yourself in welcome solitude? Chances are the answer to this question is, “no.”

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How can you bring more alone time into your days and life? It starts with recognizing the need and then arranging your life to make it so. Again, having a daily meditation practice builds solitude into the very fabric of your day.

Once you’ve recognized the need and made the arrangements, you may still need to grant self-permission to enjoy this time. It may feel selfish to withdraw from others in this way. You may have to set limits on others to get the space you need.

Now that you are alone with yourself you are not in the clear. Being alone and enjoying it requires solitude skills. Are yours honed? Are  you feeling disoriented by being disconnected from others and reaching for your phone to provide a bearing into the next moment?

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Sitting quietly alone is not always easy. For the same reason, meditation is not easy. The mind does not want to sit still and be quiet. It wants to do something–anything–other than sitting and breathing. People and information provide boundless distraction from the existential reality of this moment.

The invitation is to look within. Not necessarily deep within as the meditation image often suggests but just looking within without the usual distractions. We can find plenty right below the surface once the busyness has cleared.

Now we have something to work with. While this is an act performed in solitude it is still a relational act–we are attuning to ourselves. We are cultivating a relationship with ourselves and becoming more intimate with the energy of our life in this moment (and all the moments to come).

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This intimacy is based on open, clear, and non interfering perception. Whatever arises in our experience, we can greet it with curiosity, acceptance, and willingness to learn from it.

Being alone takes courage. Can you brave it today?

You can learn more about building solitude into your life in my book, The Awakened Introvert. Available now.

 

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Protect and renew your energy as seen on Oprah.com from the Awakened Introvert

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

4.1.1I am pleased to share that Oprah.com has published an excerpt from The Awakened Introvert.

It’s on the “Shift Your Life” section of Oprah that provides interactive ways to make changes in your life.

They took an excerpt from the energy chapter and provide an interactive energy chart that you can use to chart your energy throughout the day. It provides three sample work days and a non-work day.

I have found this tool to be very helpful in managing my own energy and I really plan my day around the predictable ebbs and flows.

You can enjoy it here on Oprah.com.

 

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Conversationally-Induced Comas

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

3b06654rA recent cartoon in The New Yorker portrays a couple having coffee on a sidewalk cafe. The female member of the couple is lying prostrate in her chair, being attended to by EMTs. One EMT says to the other, “She’s in a conversationally induced coma.” Can you relate?

This cartoon is similar to the 1878 Currier & Ives illustration of a man who was “talked to death.”

I remember a good friend of mine, a strong extrovert from Texas, loved to talk. We used to play hockey early in the morning and they guys would tease him for his chattiness. Unabashed, he replied, “I was born talking!”

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The type of talk matters. A few minutes of superficial banter can lay me flat more than an hour of purposeful conversation. This is typical for introverts.

Talking on the phone seems to amplify the energy-strain. I don’t know why this is, but talking on the phone can be stressful. I can feel that strain in my voice and sometimes it is hard to recover until after the call is made. Other times, I am relaxed. The energy says more about me and where I am at rather than who the caller is.

The Buddha went out of his way to make speech its own item on the Noble Eightfold Path. He could have subsumed it under action, since speech is a form of action but he didn’t. He cautioned against obviously harmful speech actions such as lying and he also included gossip and idle chatter (the Buddha revealing his true introverted preferences).

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I am fortunate that I have days where I don’t have to talk, at least to human beings. Do you have enough silence-of-speech respites in your day? It’s important to give the voice proper rest as well as the emotional energy reserves that fuel the voice. It’s also important to take care of the instrument of the voice itself.

Quiet-based self-care strategies for energy and voice are available in my workbook: The Awakened Introvert. Get your copy now!AwakenedIntrovertCF.indd

 

 

 

 

Previous Posts

Introvert Overload: Redefining Rest
The other day I had an unusual Thursday. My typical Thursday involves an afternoon of clinical practice. This particular Thursday, in addition to my clinical hours I had a number of extra-curricular activities. It was a concatenation of ...

posted 9:20:24am May. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Alone Time Requires Skill, Courage, and Planning
I read an interesting piece on spending time alone recently by Cassandra Bodzak. In a culture dominated by extrovert values, being alone might ...

posted 9:44:48am May. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Protect and renew your energy as seen on Oprah.com from the Awakened Introvert
I am pleased to share that Oprah.com has published an excerpt from The Awakened Introvert. It's on the "Shift Your Life" section of Oprah that provides interactive ways to make changes in your life. They took an excerpt from the energy ...

posted 2:01:41pm May. 15, 2015 | read full post »

Conversationally-Induced Comas
A recent cartoon in The New Yorker portrays a couple having coffee on a sidewalk cafe. The female member of the couple is lying prostrate in her chair, being attended to by EMTs. One EMT says to the other, "She's in a conversationally induced ...

posted 11:20:58am May. 12, 2015 | read full post »

Be Mindful and Be Lovely
It is always a joy to discover a new poem that captures the spirt of mindful living. The late poet Galway Kinnell said, “To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for ...

posted 9:12:44am May. 04, 2015 | read full post »

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