kristen lessig schenerlein
Yoga and Meditation to Center Yourself
Updated: May 31, 2020
Just over a year ago now I experienced something I had NEVER experienced in my life, mainly my career...and this went back to my first job as a “soda jerk” at a soda fountain housed in a small pharmacy when I was just 13 years old...so, we are talking about almost 30 years working in restaurants, nonprofits, small businesses, etc. I was “let go”...I knew it was coming as I was basically hired to grow and expand an area of the organization that was now heading in the exact opposite direction. I can recall saying to the CEO and head of HR at the time that my position was “fluff” and I completely understood. Honestly, I was relieved. I had been through an organizational turn around in the position I had held before it and I was not up for another round of that kind of work. So, what was I going to do now? I knew what I did NOT want anymore... However, I was not 100% clear on what I DID want. My solution to this dilemma was to sign up for a month of yoga at a local studio and practice yoga each and every day. I figured I would at the very least get myself physically healthy and ready for my next career move ...I never would have expected the journey that that time on the mat set in motion.
I did the 30 days...I felt amazing… healthy, clear, grounded, energized...so, I kept going...maybe not a full 30 days the next month but pretty darn close...then another month...and before you knew it I was enrolling in a Yoga Teacher Training program at that studio. A studio that I honestly felt like became a safe haven and a home away from home. I took classes in the morning and at night, whenever I could make it work around family and a new consulting role that I took on part time with a foundation that I honestly idealized and felt like I had scored a position with the likes of finance folks securing their first position on Wall Street! It was surreal...it was meaningful work and something that as a mom, I am super passionate about. I honestly began to feel like everything was starting to fall into place.
My 3 month teacher training began and over the coming weeks I somehow managed to not only do the homework ( each morning before 7am) but spent 15 hours each weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week. Now anyone with 4 kids at home can appreciate that this is near to impossible , especially when one is only a year old and one has special needs. Yes, my husband is a saint and an amazing man! The experience was life changing. I had practiced yoga for many years so I fully understood and appreciated the power of time on your mat. Of connecting to deeper levels of yourself. Of linking your breath with your body movements. Of practicing the art of “flow”. This training however, was so much more. We learned about holding space for others, about the power of active listening. How to read others energy and how to clear your own so that you could create experiences that supported others. We studied ourselves so that we could guide others on their journeys. Having always been an athlete, the training reinforced the meaning of “practice” to me. Showing up on that mat for the weekly trainings, for the observations, for the hours of studying asanas was not easy...but it unfolded for me and for my peers as it should for each of us, based on our discipline and commitment to show up on that mat each and every day...at home, in the studio...as a teacher, as a student...however and whenever we needed to.
To me this became a metaphor for my life...step up (to the top of the mat), get centered, flow, reset, repeat. I had begun just a few months prior, looking for what my next “career move” would be and now 6 months later, I was clear and focused and my career path was set in motion. I wanted to share the power of this type of approach to leadership with others. This type of investment in yourself to show up each day, your best self. To meet obstacles or challenges ( on and off the mat) with a greater sense of ease and perhaps a renewed focus as you commit to daily practices that support your personal and professional growth.
This idea of mindfulness based leadership began to unfold. What power exists for a leader that can explore scenarios with curiosity, experience challenges with non-judgement, all while leaning into and embracing their role, truly connecting with others and their passion for their work. I had coached many individuals in my career over the past 15 years however, the thought of being able to truly support them on an individual level through Professional Coaching seemed like a gift. A gift to me, hopefully also to them. There is such courage and strength in setting intentions and learning to take time to listen, to reflect, to remember, and to process. Overtime, the effects of mindfulness through a regular practice of yoga ( in my case), meditation, prayer, gratitude, or what best suits YOU, has long lasting results in all aspects of your life...overall well being improves, which in turn lends itself to success in all your endeavors. I can surely attest to this being true. As researcher and best selling author Brene Brown has said “ the willingness to to show up changes us, it makes us a little braver each time”. True leaders exemplify bravery...so, if you are in a leadership position...lean in and consider what you can do TODAY to create your own practice and make that daily commitment to yourself...and your work!
A special thanks to my yoga teacher Rebekka who held space for me...so that I could learn to hold space for others so that they too could experience life in FLOW!