I’m in the business of educating professionals. My success in that arena is very much governed by how well those professionals are able to serve their clients. But what does that mean? And how would I know if I was successful? For starters, it helps if I can dig down a little and articulate what I’m looking for as the ultimate outcome of my work. So here’s my mission. To educate professionals who will help the people they serve to create more empowered, authentic, and meaningful lives by trusting the wisdom of their bodies as well as their minds. They will do this using the processes of mind-body empowerment based on the ancient practices of yoga and recent applications of positive psychology and embodied mindfulness.
There wasn’t a lot of support in our world until recently to justify a mission like this. But the tide is rapidly turning. There is a growing volume of research evidence to validate this as not only an important mission, but one much needed in our world. We are learning that empowered people live longer and enjoy greater health into old age.(1) If needing to recover from a setback they are more resilient. In a study in 2008, Wood and others found that authenticity was associated with higher levels of self- esteem, life satisfaction, positive affect, and lower levels of negative affect, stress, and anxiety. (2) And it’s becoming obvious that a meaningful life generally supports greater joy and sense of abundance and satisfaction in life.
But what do we really mean by these terms – empowered, authentic and meaningful? Over the next few weeks on this blog I will explore and discuss them further. I’d also love to hear what each of them means to you in your life, because that is really what matters.
To begin this week, lets ask what does ” being empowered” mean? Take a moment and ask yourself what it means to you. Here’s my understanding based mostly on personal experience.
As an empowered person I am able to make decisions – even difficult ones – not from a place of fear, but from a place of careful consideration of multiple variables. Most importantly, I take into account the context in which the decision needs to be made and that no two situations are ever the same.
There is a lot in that statement! And a lot of what if’s also might arise. What if we are afraid? What if we can’t discern the difference between one context and another? And does that imply that an empowered person is unafraid?
First up, an empowered person might be very afraid. Fear is often present in many situations. But an empowered person feels the fear, acknowledges it, and then moves forward to do what needs to be done.
What if there are more variables than we can handle and things pulling us in different directions? This is often the case and you won’t be perfectly right 100% of the time. In other words, you might be able to look back and say I might have been better going with a different decision. Again no problem for someone empowered. They realize that there is never a 100% completely right choice. There are only different choices and different consequences. An empowered person begins with the end in mind and chooses the path that is most likely to lead to the desired end. They can do this because they are in touch not just in how they think, but also in the way the feel, the way they use their intuition or know, the extent to which they’ve built up their decision muscle from past experience and learned from it, and, the way they can focus their attention on only the present and what’s happening now as opposed to living from regret or unrealistic dreams. They know themselves and live in the present.
It takes about two years of intensive training for a Navy Seal to learn these skills, and they endure incredible hardship along the way. Only about one in ten actually make it through the training. Fortunately we don’t need to do all that to become empowered in our lives if we learn how to attune to mind and body and to become present centered. But we do have to begin and we do have to practice. You may not know it but using body awareness and body wisdom is one of the best ways to learn it. I’ve been teaching this now for some 30 years and have seen the results. There are many steps in the process but it can be learned. Awareness is key. Acceptance of what is happening is also important. Choice and Discernment play a key role. And self-knowledge (or being in touch with your Truth) is also important. And there are others.
These attributes are much more easily assimilated when your awareness around how they currently show up in your life is focused through an experiential process working with body and mind. The Phoenix Rising process is the one that we use and that our practitioners offer to their clients. There are also mind body exercises that you can you can try that will give you a taste of this kind of process, one of which is listed in the resources section below.
A simple beginning is to practice greater awareness of and attunement to your moment to moment experience of life through your body, in its pure form and without the need for commentary or explanation. Try it for a few minutes.
(1) Sharf, Barbara F. “Communicating breast cancer on-line: support and empowerment on the Internet.” Women & health 26.1 (1997): 65-84.
(2) Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Baliousis, M., & Joseph, S. (2008). The authenticpersonality: A theoretical and empirical conceptualization and the developmentof the authenticity scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 55, 385-399.
1. For a Phoenix Rising one on one yoga therapy session check our Directory
2. Listen free to the new podcast On Your Authority featuring Phoenix Rising’s Michael Lee with his good friends Staffan Elgelid and Matthew Taylor (on I-Tunes and Stitcher)
Please leave a comment on what an empowered life looks like for you.