During this week’s studies of dialogue processes, I focused on inquiry, meditation and presencing. After reading several explanations of mediation, where we learn to pack away thoughts and live in the present, I stared at a glass. I didn’t process it by what it might contain, or what it did contain, but for what it is: a beautifully carved piece of crystal, reflecting and refracting ambient light and shapes. I then considered how we’re innately drawn toward this way of thinking. We’re often caught by the fleeing moment of a beautiful sunset, a graceful melody, a playful child, yet we also place much energy into prejudice and hate based on experiences or predictions. By appreciating the unique creativity of the unknown, foregoing preconceived judgments, we become more aware of our present purpose. This week, I practiced an awareness of body, breathing, emotions and thought.
Awareness of Body
By appreciating the unique creativity of the unknown, foregoing preconceived judgments, we become more aware of our present purpose.
By bringing awareness to your body, you focus on receiving information from your senses, as well as your overall positioning and motor control. When I drank my coffee, I focused on processing the feel of the cup and its position, watching the filled cup’s contents quiver in my hand. I sat up, noting a slip in my posture with my coffee in hand. Taking a sip, I noticed a splash over the top of my tongue, which I reflexed in a way to keep the hot beverage from slipping underneath. We can draw parallels to how we carry on conversations. When we communicate with a goal of generative dialogue, we must pay attention to word choice, body language, changing expressions, evolving thoughts and better notice our own attempts to download ideas, rather than build new ones.
Awareness of Breathing
I noticed that periods of stress lead to shallower, quicker breaths. Also, moments of focus, like taking a sip of coffee or squinting to read a memo, are associated with respiratory pauses. What’s more, I noticed that people who’re uncomfortable, discretely covering up signs of anxiety, yawn. Perhaps these uncomfortable yawns are so compelling because stress leads to restrictions in oxygen, which call for bringing awareness back to breathing, sidelining our worrisome thoughts, returning to a homeostasis. During aerobic exercise, I’ve often benefitted from moments of clarity. It’s like harnessing an oxygen-rich incubation that fuels illumination, or “aha!” moments. When I practice meditative breathing, I feel myself relaxing into my body. Likewise, when we communicate with shallow ideas, we promote irrational ideas or fearful attitudes. Without awareness of our breathing, we easily lose control of our rationality. By appreciating this relationship, we can work to encourage deeper, more generative dialogue, which calms our nerves by forging new understandings.
Awareness of Emotions
I’d say I’m sensitive to my emotions. As I watched my website crash this week, I found myself scrambling for answers in server software and settings, or bugs within template coding. I emailed domain hosts and template designers – whose fault is this? I rubbed my face, as I tend to do, sort of triggering a mental reboot. I stopped looking for an answer to a problem, as it obviously lied in an area inaccessible by my computer or programming skills. I started looking for a new solution, a way to best mitigate the current situation. Since my blogging site is powered by WordPress, an open-source Web-publishing platform I’ve used for years, I decided to subscribe to its hosting service. That transition would eliminate the need for me to upgrade template and core files in the future, as well as purge the threat of plugin programs littered with viruses. What’s more, I’d save about $200 in hosting fees per year, while increasing my site’s reliability and speeds. By updating my domain’s name servers, I’d keep my same URL. By refusing hasty emotional reactions, we can return to thinking clearly about the present.
Awareness of Thought
I consider myself invested in my thoughts and routinely open to changing them. By watching my thoughts like a theatrical presentation, it’s easier to understand the context that’s influencing them. Also, increasing an awareness of them helps prevent habits that drain the capacity for divergent thinking. This week, I decided not to work in my office. I grabbed my laptop and sat in boardrooms, a lunchroom and other new spaces. I found myself acutely stimulated to tackle ongoing projects, as well as re-examine some of my previous projects. I often write stories for my job in communications, and I’ve learned that it’s best to start them in one place, and then finish them in another. Moreover, I’ll frequently type in 12-point Times New Roman, and then switch to 20-point Arial, as it helps keep me exploring the content’s colorfulness and purpose, not lost in text blocks. When we’re in conversation, it’s important to consider how our surroundings are mixing with our assumptions and feelings for a project at hand. Are we thinking, or trapped in thought?
— Dustin Senger (@DustinSenger) March 12, 2013