SENECA KNOWS

October 16, 2018

                                         Painter: Kilgour, 1974

 

 

Seneca knows. 

 

Every town I stay in I frequent the bookshops, sometimes three a day. Melbourne has many, and during the day I like to walk in preparation for our evening performance. We are on tour performing in the Melbourne International Arts Festival, in Future Fidel's brilliant play,"Prize Fighter" (produced/directed by La Boite Theatre, Queensland) at Northcote Town Hall, a beautiful building about 20 minutes from Melbourne CBD. The play is exploding in the best way, and we have very fine conversations with our audience after the show. Its been a terrific week. One more to go before we move on. 

 

Yesterday was our day off so I decided to walk from South Bank to Carlton. On the way I had the opportunity to pop into three bookshops: Hill of Contentment, The Paperback, and Readings. One of the books I purchased was called Leading Mindfully, How to focus on what matters, influence for good and enjoy leadership more, by Amanda Sinclair (2016). What caught my eye, and convinced me to buy the book was the very first line:

 

'Seneca once said, "Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life." Leaders interested in "being" rather than merely "doing" would do well to pay attention to this book..."

(Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries)

 

This appealed to me...beginning each day as if it were a separate life...it motivated me, moved me, assaulted me, woke me up.

 

We hear this every day: how to stay mindful, but do I really listen? What do I need to do to stay mindful each day?

 

Sinclair quotes the greats, and one of these is Jon Kabat-Zinn, someone I have followed for decades.

Here he writes:

 

Learning how to suspend all your doing and shift over to a being mode, how to make time for yourself, how to slow down and nurture calmness and self-acceptance in yourself, learning to observe what your mind is up to from moment to moment, how to watch your thoughts and let go of them without getting caught up by

them and driven by them, how to make room for new ways of seeing old problems and for perceiving the interconnectedness of things..."

(Kabat-Zinn in Sinclair, 2016, p. 5)

 

I have heard many times the instructions to make time for oneself. To slow down. To nurture calmness. But we don't always hear "make room for new ways of seeing old problems and for perceiving the interconnectedness of things". And the magic, I think is in these words: new ways of perceiving and seeing ourselves as part of a community, rather than as individual players trying to "make it", whatever "it" is.

 

 I'll finish with another quote. Sinclair (2016, p 119) quotes Thich Nhat Hanh:

 

"When we speak with our lives and our bodies we can be very effective at changing the world, whatever form this action takes"

 

We are embodied beings, and when we integrate our mind, our body and our spirit, we have a chance to embrace the interconnectivity of all things. This world is a wondrous place, despite its pain and challenges...we are judged by our actions, and these actions are sometimes just the little things...make each day happen as if it is a separate life...  

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