If you want to know how you can improve your experience of the world, it’s a very simple, two-part process. I won’t say that it’s an easy process, because it isn’t. But it is a practice that, once engaged can help you to improve your sense of well-being and confidence in the world.
Step One – Cultivate Inner Flexibility
The only constant in life is change, therefore it seems crazy to resist it and yet most of us do. We resist because we don’t deal well with the unknown. We don’t like change because it forces us to reevaluate everything once more. We don’t like change because it means that we actually have to pay attention to our surroundings instead of to what is going on in our heads. And yet, if you look at any spiritual practice, this is exactly what they espouse – getting out of your head, being present with and questioning everything, being willing to shift what isn’t working for you and accept what you cannot change. These are the tenets of spiritual presence practice. So why resist it? Instead embrace it by cultivating the inner skills that allow you to navigate the waters of change more effectively.
Practice Planning for Change
One of the easiest ways to develop your inner flexibility is to practice planning for change. What if you lost your job? How would you cope? What if you got a divorce or found a new partner? How would your life change? What if someone close to you died? What if you won the lottery? What if you took a vacation, went to work via a different route, tripped and broke your leg, got cancer, joined a gym, won an award, lost 40 pounds, gained 40 pounds, traded lives with the guy across the street – what if? Ask yourself over and over again – “what if?” Planning your answers makes your brain stretch into new pathways, create new scenarios, expand and develop its ability to be flexible.
“You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it.
You must learn to see the world anew.” – Albert Einstein
Develop New Paradigms
Once you’ve gotten good at making plans using your own ways of thinking, seek out other ways. It is often the case that we can’t see the solution to a problem because there isn’t one in our paradigm. But if we can learn to think with other people’s minds – from their perspectives, using their ways of approaching an issue, then the solution becomes readily apparent. Doing this level of work requires more effort, but reaps rewards across all aspects of your life. It opens up new vistas and expands your consciousness in ways nothing else can.
Step Two – Let Go of Planning
Being in your head is one of the worst ways to be present. So while we’ve been cultivating all of this new information for us to think about, we’ve also been checking out from the world around us. So the last step in the process is – once you’re convinced that you can come up with a plan to deal with anything – stop planning. You’ve mastered the skill and the plans that you are forced to make in the moment will be enough to keep your skills intact. Now it’s time to just be with what is to see if it actually requires a plan or if you can just sit with it and watch it evolve. (See the post on Don’t React, Respond!)
Sit with this new way of being – cultivate your mental flexibility – and watch your world, your consciousness level, and your confidence expand exponentially.