God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference.Reinhold Niebuhr
I struggled with what to use as the topic for this post. I just kept thinking and thinking and thinking and nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Then I took a deep breath, leaned back in my chair, closed my eyes and just breathed. Deep… long… full breaths. The idea came to me. Serenity. That ever elusive, but wonderful, glorious feeling of serenity.
The typical definition of serene is calm, peaceful, and tranquil, like a serene sea, or a serene old age. Really, that’s in the dictionary, like you need to wait until old age to be serene.
There’s another definition which is more poetic and that is a clear or tranquil expanse of sky, sea, etc. I like that definition. I like to feel expansive. I like to think that way. It is the way I just felt when I leaned back and let go of the struggle to come up with a topic.
So, why bother?
Part of being serene for me is being able to have the time to look inward. I became a coach many years ago because the training I took to be certified gave me time and taught me how to look inward. I had been in business for a very long time and business is focused primarily outward. Outward to the measurements, outward to your team, outward to your co-workers and boss, outward to be seen and network for the business, outward to be trained. Outward. Never time to actually look inward.
When I finally took the deep breath and started to look inward I noticed I slowed down. I spent more time just being. You know, we are human beings, not human doings.
I asked myself, “What had I been running so fast toward? Even more important, What had I been running so fast away from?”
That question hurt.
When I was able to be honest with myself, and thanks to the guidance of some master coaches and mentors, I knew instinctively that I was running fast and furiously away from myself. I needed to spend a significant amount of time proving. Proving what didn’t matter, but always accomplishing to prove something to anyone.
Serene? Not at that time. Serene? Yes, I am more so now.
Serene can show up in many places and has been shown to have many health benefits when we stop and take time out through something like meditation. There is a landmark study that shows that meditation (taking time out) “showed dramatic increases in blood flow to the posterior cingulate gyrus, the region of the brain associated with learning and memory. It is the first region of the brain to decline in individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which helps to explain why the blood flow-producing meditation has such a profound impact on cognitive functioning.”
That’s enough to convince me to slow down, lean back, close my eyes, and take some deep breaths.
Serene…You bet I am!
When the crowded refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person remained calm and centered, it was enough. They showed the way for everyone to survive.Thich Nhat Hanh
Be that one person.