The “art of the pause” has been on my mind, as I was recently a participant at a Cindy Biggs retreat (SeeBigg.com). The retreat entitled CONFIDENCE, COMMUNICATION AND CREATIVITY Women’s Leadership Retreat was held at Mohican State Park.
I attended this retreat in order to bond with three amazing women. My intention being, to get to know them at a deeper level; to build a stronger relationship than is possible across the board room table or in our local coffee shop. What I walked away with however, was the sense of being more comfortable in my own skin.
What does, “to be more comfortable in my own skin” mean?
The Art of the Pause…
Consider taking a moment to take a few deep breaths. In…and Out…extend the exhale as long as it’s comfortable for you. Ask yourself, what does it mean to be comfortable in my skin? And simply note the physical sensations that arise. You can journal any ah-ha’s or words that arise in your awareness.
The day and a half retreat focused on confidence, communication, and creativity, and it was the creativity piece of this retreat, led by Lauren Rader, which moved the entire learning aspect from a mental dialogue about confidence and communication, to experiential learning.
“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
The retreat, for me, was timely. If your reading this post, most likely you know about my new business, Mind Body Align, and the vision I have for women in our community.
Starting this business has thrust me out of my comfort zone and into the public eye, triggering all of my “not good enough”, “not smart enough”, and “who are you to…” gremlin thoughts. Starting and building a business with these gremlin thoughts as consultants can be crippling and would, over time, have a devastating effect on me and the business.
So, what do I do about the Gremlins?
Interestingly enough, the focus for much of the creative part of the retreat was confidence. The act of using pastel pencils to draw the sensation of no-confidence and then inversely, the “knowing” sensation that accompanies confidence, shifted something inside me. The image shown above is how I visualize myself in the state of being not good enough.
I teach and practice a form of meditation called Yoga Nidra and Mindfulness. These practices are great for noticing and “being present” to the thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they arise, and for accepting rather than resisting the thoughts and emotions.
Take a moment to bring your attention to your body. What physical sensations do you notice? You can start at your feet by noticing the felt sensation of your feet on the floor. Then move up your body and include your heart and your breath. Are there any thoughts or emotions present? If it feels right, journal what you notice.
You may have heard the quote, “What you resist, persists”; mindfulness practice, and the practice of Yoga Nidra supports attention to, and acknowledgment of, all of the thoughts and emotions that are moving through your awareness.
In some ways, I feel this retreat experience has closed a circle for me. My drawing of the image of the Gremlin, “Just Not Good Enough”, simply poured out of me onto the paper.
When the image was complete, I felt a deep sense of relief; something akin to opening the closet to reveal the “monster.”
Drawing the image; giving the experience shape, form, color, and texture (possibly even a face), on the heels of my practices with Mindfulness and Yoga Nidra; attending to the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations of an experience, felt like finally slaying the demon. I left that retreat center Friday afternoon after having opened the closet door and illuminating all of its dark recesses.
Take a moment to pull out some markers or colored pencils and draw. Draw anything that you might feel at the moment. There is no judgment here…and no one will see the result, in fact, I challenge you to keep it as your very own secret…like a journal entry.
In conclusion, I want to thank the amazing leaders of the retreat: Cindy Biggs, Lauren Rader, and Ethel de Jesus Tabora.
Thank you for giving me another powerful tool to support my voracious appetitive for personal growth and learning. I can honestly say I am a better, more enlightened, person today because of the gift you generously give through your work. Namaste’ my friends, I look forward to working with you again in the future!
Annamarie Fernyak is the founder and CEO of Mind Body Align LLC based in Mansfield, Ohio. She is a certified life coach, mindfulness meditation teacher, and serial entrepreneur. The development of the MBAwareness Education Program was conceived while Annamarie was volunteering to teach mindfulness in a local middle school and found that the teachers and students were struggling to grow calm for their guest teacher, students seemed unable to pay focused attention, and the teachers were growing frustrated.
Annamarie’s focus was to create a program that would transform the lives of the students. She focused on hiring a licensed teacher to create and instruct the mindfulness-based social and emotional learning curriculums to elementary and secondary school students and teachers. Due to the challenges associated with global health concerns, Annamarie’s mindfulness education program is further now evolving into online mindfulness education focusing on teaching tools that reduce stress and support a life where people can feel more at ease. We also teach as a part of corporate wellness programs.
In 2017, Annamarie launched Align Mindfulness which is a FREE app downloadable from your app store that sends prompts a few times a day, bringing attention to what’s happening in your world. Intentionally simple, these reflections help you build a well-rounded “mindfulness” muscle by offering variety in where you place your awareness.