In my explorations of personal development for leadership I often ask myself, “where am I headed?” and “where am I trying to get to?” These questions help me clarify what I’m looking for when I’m entering another stage in my personal development for leadership journey.
While the questions are simple, the answers often aren’t. The “what” I am looking for can be mired in stories and subconscious patterns that hide my true intentions.
I found that I have often looked outside of myself to find something that could legitimately only be found on the inside. That might have looked like a new house or car or approval from a role model.
All “things” designed to give me the experience of a positive emotion. However, in seeking these “things” I always found that the emotion was fleeting and it would lead to a perpetual mission of filling a void that I, myself, had created.
I eventually realized that all of the “things” I wanted were simply designed to create something inside of me, but I wasn’t sure exactly what. To figure it out I started to look at what felt good about the “things” I wanted.
Sure, there was the receiving of the thing and that felt good, but that was the fleeting part. After that there was something else entirely; there was a sense of peace.
A sense of fulfillment. A sense of achievement. A sense that I was done and I could take some time to rest. I realized what I was looking for in all of these “things” was a way to my peaceful center. The place where I feel complete and whole.
The place where there’s nothing left to do. I’m not sure why I was looking for this feeling outside of myself as it didn’t take long to learn that it was a fruitless exercise.
Instead, I focused on the inner work of identifying why I’m not already in my peaceful center. That was truly what was standing between me and my most evolved self.
Peaceful center using personal development for leadership tips:
Why are you not already in your peaceful center?
When I started to explore why I wasn’t already in my peaceful center I felt like I had just unveiled yet another onion to peel back layer by layer. This wasn’t a simple answer.
Sure, there were the day-to-day frustrations that would take my focus away from my peace, but those triggers were pointing to something far deeper. I learned that each of these triggers was a signal and if I understood what they were there to tell me I could release the trigger and return myself back to my peaceful center.
So, I started there. I spent over two years clearing my triggers every single day. I eventually gave up on understanding why the trigger was there as I learned that releasing it didn’t require the knowledge of why.
The exploration of why simply delayed releasing it. I learned a visualization technique that really brought an entirely new level of peace into my life.
How to tell when you’re not in your peaceful center
When I got triggered, I noticed that I would stop breathing as a natural response. Then I would hold my breath for extended periods of time almost waiting for the situation to resolve before I would breathe again.
Because triggers are so subtle, I started to look for the pattern of holding my breath. When I found myself doing it I would stop and immediately scan my body for a pattern of tension.
I always found one! There would be a pain in my shoulder or my stomach or some other location in my body. I learned this is where the trigger lives and it operates much like a thorn. It creates a stabbing sensation in my body.
How to resolve your triggers
Once I isolated the location of the thorn, I used a visualization of a hurricane over the spot where I felt pain. Then, I’d look for the eye of the storm. Every hurricane has a center and what most people don’t know is that the eye of the storm is completely calm. When I found the eye, I would zoom into the storm like a camera.
I would repeat this process of zooming into the pain or discomfort until I found its central spot of origin. I’d know I had found it when the pain would start to resolve.
Then I visualized destroying it or naturally releasing it. For some of my larger triggers imagining the spot getting blown up by lasers was especially effective. And for others a subtler approach of imagining the spot getting larger and then smaller until it eventually dissipated worked.
This visualization exercise took a while in the beginning, but I got really good at it through practice. Now I’m at the point where someone can say something that triggers me and I can clear the trigger in my body without even skipping a beat in the conversation most of the time.
When I started, I would verbalize what I was doing and not short change myself by missing the opportunity to clear the trigger immediately. I’d simply say, “I’m practicing a new technique to relieve chronic tension, can you please give me a moment?” Then I’d close my eyes and do my visualization.
This took a lot of courage, but it was worth it. It is often difficult to retrigger something after the fact, so if I didn’t work it in the moment, it could be weeks or months before I got the opportunity to work that trigger again.
I never let an opportunity to clear a trigger pass by because I know that what’s on the other side of that trigger is my peaceful center. And my peaceful center was worth it.
How to rest into your peaceful center and stay there
I found that all good personal development for leadership tools eventually lose their effectiveness once I have used them over and over. This tool was no exception. I found that eventually I ran out of visualizations and/or they stopped working. That doesn’t mean the tool wasn’t worthwhile, it simply meant I had reached the end of its use for me.
Through this process I had learned how to find my peaceful center. But I still had to discover how to stay there. This would require another level of practice that wasn’t about removing the blocks to my peaceful center, instead it was about learning how to rest into that center and stay there. I’ll be honest.
That was harder than it sounds. My life had become a constant barrage of stress from everyday living. As a driven corporate executive and single Mom there was certainly no shortage of stressors.
I learned that “stress” had become my place of comfort. There was a piece of me that didn’t feel safe if I didn’t have some level of stress in my life. That was what was keeping me from being able to stay in my peaceful center.
I knew if I wanted my peaceful center to be my daily resting place then I was going to have to go another layer deeper. I’d have to deal with the level of anxiety that had become my status quo and learn how to feel safe without its presence.
This is when I discovered meditation. Meditation brought a tremendous gift into my life. It allowed me the space to process my triggers, my thoughts and to just sit in the comfort of peace. I started with simple guided meditations I found on YouTube and simply followed the instructions.
Then I got more specific about my goals for meditation and downloaded Insight Timer and Soulvana. I started to schedule my meditations with the goal of doing 20 minutes per day. Once or twice a week I’d do a 45 minute to hour session.
Eventually my meditation space became my happy place. It is the place where I can go and release everything that isn’t me and sit in peace. Meditation is the home of my peaceful center.
I didn’t focus my meditations on removing thoughts or even on finding my peaceful center. Instead, I focused on exploring my imagination and dreaming about what I wanted to experience in my life. I learned that focusing my energy on what I wanted to create allowed my peaceful center to come to me instead of me trying to find it.
I also would focus my energy on things that filled my heart with love and joy like memories with my children and the futures they are creating for themselves.
Finally, I focused on areas of strife in my life and people I needed to forgive to fully allow myself to be free. Meditation quickly became a creation space for me as much as it is a relaxation and healing space.
There are a lot of preconceived notions about meditation that I’d like to clear up. First, you can’t mess up meditation. Simply sitting still, even if you fidget the whole time, is a win.
Second, there’s no goal of meditation. As I said, sitting in your own presence is the win. Third, everyone knows how to meditate. Meditation is the thing we do before we drift off to sleep every night, we simply don’t recognize it as such. It’s the space in between awake and asleep.
I’ve heard some people say they can’t sit still long enough to meditate or that they get bored. If you can’t sit still long enough to meditate, that’s something to look at. It’s a sign that you have an inability to relax and that stress may be your comfort zone too.
Finally, getting bored in meditation is kind of what it’s there to do. The opportunity is to get to a place of stillness so you can create something new.
These two tools are simple, yet require consistent practice to be effective. While it’s true that every trigger cleared is a win. It’s equally true that surface level clearing won’t have much impact.
You must be willing to go where it hurts for this to truly work and you have to be willing to do it often. This will require some diligence on your part. Just know that eventually it will become second nature and it won’t hurt anymore.
The road to our peaceful center is to go through the pain, through the discomfort and through the triggers. This process requires self-reflection and daily practice, but it’s well worth the effort.
There’s no place better to call home than our peaceful center. Getting there is actually fairly simple. It just requires clearing all your triggers every day and learning how to be still.
Simply, learning how to be at peace. The results are found by adding a personal development for leadership practice of finding your peaceful center, at least once a day. And then building on that one second at a time to make your peaceful center, home.