A business coach once shared with me that his #1 secret to success was to be more interested than interesting. I agree. Ironically, some of the most successful interesting people I know are also the most interested people I know. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart stores, supposedly rarely if ever forgot a name. Sam Walton also made many trusting business relationships to build a worldwide store chain. He was interested, which transcended him to become extremely interesting.

I'm not sure I'm the expert in being interested, though it's on the forefront of my mind. So here are a few strategies I'm using to manifest interest:

 

1. Listen--The old saying God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason has so much truth. The more I practice yoga and meditation, the more keen my ability to pick up on the subtleties of what people are saying. For example, when you boss is asking about your work, he really may be scoping you out for a different more exciting opportunity or responsibility. I believe we pass up life changing opportunities everyday because we don't have the acuity to hear the call. Often the call is through people so listen!

 

2. Ask--We are all evolving people. Though we may know where one has been, and where they are now, you may find yourself full of assumptions about where they are going. The moment you feel you know someone, you are putting them on a shelf and limiting their ability to move and help you. Today is a new day, and if you ask you may find you really didn't know the person you "know" so well.

 

3. Real Face Time--In a world of virtual relationships, we are loosing the ability to be competent with basic social graces. I know the college freshman in my class prefer to communicate with me via email and other web based communication systems. If possible, I often wait to answer their question personally in class to have some "face time" communication. This gives me the opportunity to ask more questions and be more interested in them. Giving people our face as we speak and facing our bodies towards them are great communication strategies. I'm always amazed how many adjacent- shoulder-looking-into-the-horizon conversations I see at the gym and church and work and well everywhere. Give people real face time instead of the virtual kind.

It's intriguing to be thought of as an interesting person and being interested can certain help achieve that; though, it seems to me that if being interesting was the goal, the efforts to be interested would flop. My main motivation for becoming more interested is to develop more interesting relationships and I believe these strategies will do just that!

Nobody likes a gossip, plain and simple.  Last weeks Maranatha Mat Chat discussed the 5 Situations You're BEST to Be Silent and described situation number 4 as "When It's Not Your Business--enough said."  When it's not your business, it's not your business. Enough said. Unfortunately, it can be challenging for people in a regular social group to refrain from commenting on other people within that group.  While I think this is true of almost every social organization, one in particular ought to be the exception -- Church.

Church gossip can be very obvious, like fitness class gossip, however, I've found these 3 subtle games of church gossip to be accepted and even worse encouraged.

 

1. Prayer Request

Often we confide in our friends at church for various reasons. Having a strong sense of community the "friend" feels free to share this personal information with other sisters in the spirit of praying for the "problem". This is perfectly fine if the "friend" has asked permission or the sister-in-need has asked to share this information with others in order to pray. Without this permission, any Facebook, text or over coffee prayer requests is gossip. 

How to sit out:  If you receive a prayer request like this, ask your "friend" if they have received permission to share this request. This "friend" may or may not be open to the fact they are a gossip, however, you can stop the cycle and change the subject.

2.  Consulting Leadership

In this gossip game, a sister has become privy to information that they are uncertain about.  In the spirit of "getting advice" as the Bible encourages us to do, the sister feels free to share another's personal information with the church leader.  

How to sit out:  Mathew 18:15-16 clear establishes a protocol for this situation, at least when sin is involved.  Notice each time you are involving the person who is potentially in sin--not talking about them to someone else!

 

3.  Blind Speculation

My mother-in-law likes to say, "you don't know what it's like to walk in their shoes."  People have funky moods, miss church, don't say hi, are busy and give looks (this is only a very small sample of what people do).  Making a judgement or speculating on this with another is gossip.

 

How to sit out:

Make sure that any conversations you have on behavior are focused on how to be helpful, not speculating motives or infractions.

Sitting out of the gossip games in church may mean sitting out of specific discussions or groups, even the leadership group. You may find yourself needing to establish boundaries with a church gossip. Obviously churches need to discuss issues of people's behavior, but keep in mind that any discussion of another person in a negative way, without their express permission or participation is gossip. One key in avoiding gossip then is to always involve the person under discussion.  Although this does avoid gossip, it could lead to being a busy body if taken to the extreme, but that is another blog...

As a person who not only enjoys exercising my mind and body but my mouth as well, I have learned, mostly the hard way, a few times it's best to be silent.

If in doubt, my experience is that it's best to keep my mouth shut, however, here are 5 situations you're BEST to be silent:

 

1.  When Listening 

As a discussion becomes interesting, it can be terribly difficult to refrain from interjecting your ingenuous sparked idea.  You have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason, be silent and allow the other person to complete what they have to say.

  

2.  When Someone Else Deserves the Credit

We've all been there, either someone received credit for our work or we are recognized for the work of another.  In either case, speaking up will inevitably make you seem overly entitled so it's best to be silent.

 

3.  The First Date

Whether a business meeting or Friday night dinner, you just met the person.  Listen and let your less be more so that you have a chance for the second date..

 

4.  When It's Not Your Business

Enough said.

5.  After an Apology

We all screw up so when you find yourself needing to apologize, be humble and apologize sincerely. Once you have apologized, listen. The information the offended shares as this point is likely difficult for you to hear but incredibly valuable for your maturity so zip it!

Practicing yoga and meditation has certainly helped me grow in the time to be silent, in AND out of social situations. If you find yourself dominating a conversation (uh-hem guilty), pipe down and remember Proverbs 17:28, "Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent."  So true!

When I was a freshman in college biology, I remember chronicling the Krebs Cycle as a soap opera for the final project:  "As Kreb Turns".  During the drama, glucose, fatty acids and oxygen had a variety of rendezvous relationships that ultimately turned into ATP (adenosine triphosphate aka energy) which then fueled the cycle for "Kreb to Turn" again.  The presentation was given with unlicensed background cassette music that looped the "As The World Turns" theme music.  Our creativity gained us the opportunity to present to other science faculty, evidently our insights into energy production was fresh to their scholarly ears  (emphasis on the pun "fresh" added!)

Finding fresh energy in life is a challenge, however there are a few, easy practicals that are guaranteed to produce a fresh energy in your life.  Any effort through these strategies always bring about a self-appreciation and well, I have yet to meet a person regretful of participating in any of these organic energy production activities.

1.  Exercise

Energy is produced during all types of exercise.  Kreb can turn a few different ways, depending on the type of exercise and energy production that is in order.  Whether aerobic, anaerobic exercise, a great workout will produce energy for you and a long term workout regimen will produce energy in every area of your life (trust me on this, it takes a lot of energy to be me!)  See you in yoga soon?

 

2.  Nutrition

You've heard it said we are what we eat.  Eating is to nourish our bodies for it's required activities, not to pacify anxiety.  A balanced diet rich in nutrients fuels us to create fresh energy in life.  Nutrient rich foods are able to be broken down to make Kreb turn.  Think about it, you wouldn't put kool-aid in your car because it wouldn't fuel it to drive.  If you're finding a deficit of energy in your life, try a higher quality fuel.

 

3.  Rest

Need I say more?  When was the last time you got up from a great night of sleep feeling terrible?  As I write this past my bedtime, I am feeling convicted.  Okay, I'm not a TOTAL health freak and despite requiring a lot of energy to be me, I still need fresh energy from proper rest.  Goodnight...almost, or good morning, it's your Wednesday Morning Mantra Manna!

 

4.  Find the Light of Life

Jesus says in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life."  Jesus is the light of the world and has a lot of energy which he displayed through the transfiguration, miracles and resurrection.  I personally like having the "light of life" within me and believe it energizes me.  Becoming aware or finding the "light of life" comes from aligning our own personal energies in meditation.  One is fresh with a quiet and stable energy after meditation and yes, Christians can evidently be fresh!

 

So go produce some fresh energy in your life.  It's okay for Christians to be fresh and you're future self will thank you for it!

This past weekend I journeyed to Zion, Illinois to "Experience the Outlook of Freedom" at my Christian Yoga and Meditation Retreat for women. 

Zion is a suitable city name because Illinois Beach State Park is absolutely gorgeous.

At the retreat I was able to catch up with some old friends and make new ones as well. 

Throughout the retreat we participated in various activities to find freedom. 

 

Friday was "Freedom in Mind" when we found new perspective to our problems to "be a blessing to each other," Romans 1:12.  Saturday was "Freedom in Body", when we focused on the yoga exercises, learning to release grievances from our body.  And Sunday was "Freedom in Spirit" with a focus on meditation.

Each woman, in a different place on her unique journey, was moved and I absolutely loved how God used us, broken as we are, to help each other.  We didn't necessarily have to do or say much, in fact we didn't say anything at all during the meditation walk and circles.   Just being there as women together to "Experience the Outlook of Freedom" was enough.

As we are back to our normal busy lives, I'm enjoying the free music our fabulous entertainer Catalina Bellizzi gave us.   Our weekend away won't change our entire lives, though I know when we change one perspective, we start a slightly different road on our journey which can bring us to an entirely different place in time.  Freedom always brings momentum which is much better than being "stuck".  I learned to be free in who I am more than what I am accomplishing.  I have been able to live the working life, but also the life of raising kids for 10 years and feeling that my skills are not being fully utilized.  But, now to be able to help guide retreats and teach Christian Yoga I see how God has prepared me to fulfill his plans for me!  Experience the Outlook of Freedom was a complete success and I'm so grateful for all the women who attended and helped contribute to its impact!

Women are busy, busy, busy.  Did I mention that women are busy?  I spent this past weekend teaching a Guided Meditation Workshop and a Christian Yoga Session at the Chicago Church of Christ’s Midwest Women’s Retreat, “Shine”, held at the beautiful Abbey Resort in Lake Geneva, WI.   The primary skill of being still, breathing and listening for God’s voice within seemed an incredible blessing to so many busy women.  Testimonies of, “I felt something I have never felt before,” tears, release, emotional chaos, and spiritual elation were all disclosed with me.  

Godisdifficulttohearifyoudon'tstopandlisten.

As a Christian, I’ve spent countless hours sipping coffee over discipling times, volleying chit-chat, hugs, and the sincere “you-poor-thing” sigh and face.  The invitation Jesus gives to his busy apostles after a business trip in Mark 6:31 is, “Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Two friends of mine, Misha and Suzanne, regularly meet for coffee before attending my Saturday morning YOGATHEA®Christian Yoga Class.  What a wonderful way to end time with a friend…in silence.  I hope the resources I provided at this Women’s Retreat will inspire the shared silence and rest Jesus offered in his discipling times.  Let’s stop talking and start listening together!