For most of his life, lawyer turned Conscious Living Coach Jonathan Ward felt that he drifted day by day, landing in situations, jobs and places without making conscious choices, and without being awake.
After a radical diagnosis, he pressed paused and began to re-evaluate his life. It was as he stopped to pay more attention to himself, that he was able to rediscover his own potential.
Sharing his experience, Jonathan shows us how to create our own set of personal and powerful values, so we can emerge from lockdown with a new perspective and lease of life.
Over time and depending on life experiences, our values can change. As a result of some seismic experiences, several bouts of depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, my own values changed and I began to look at life differently.
Rather than being locked-down or locked-in to one career choice, I became unlocked to possibility. The constraints of my past, of my thinking started to lose their (in)visible hold on me.
Our lives can be the same. We can become stuck into ways of being that are familiar and yet uncomfortable: our work, business, relationships, friendships, exercise, socialising - the list goes on.
What has this got to do with inner strength, resilience and stillness?
“Where you choose to place your attention determines your experience of life”
Sit with that for a moment.
If you are trying to fit your life into values that are not your own, you create internal and then external disharmony.
When you look back at this period of lockdown, you might re-name it “un-lockdown”: where you have been given the opportunity to unlock your locked up ways of thinking and being; become un-tunnel visioned, to re-evaluate what is important to you and to wonder how you can go about honouring that in your life.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself:
What have you discovered about yourself during lockdown?
Has it revealed some internal lockdowns?
Areas where you are stuck on the inside that mean you are stuck on the outside?
Ways of thinking or being that no longer serve you, or a set of outdated values that you have inherited?
Is it a remembering of who you are or a sense of who you are becoming?
What you have perhaps always known about yourself but not being allowed to or given yourself permission for?
How will you know and what can you do when you do know? How can you maintain flexibility with direction?
The answer can begin to come in a clear set of personal and powerful values.
A value is something that is important to you.
Identifying What is Important to Us
Understanding what your core values are is like giving yourself a backbone and a roadmap: it supports and maintains you in your direction and allows you to find your way back to yourself when you get lost or when you mess up in the name of courage.
This is a simple and powerful exercise which needs a little bit of time.
Set yourself up where you will not be disturbed for at least 30 minutes. Make it as comfortable as possible. Make yourself as comfortable as possible.
Imagine that you are in your older years, sitting in a beautiful garden, looking back at your life and you feel a deep sense of joy and contentment. You have managed to stay true to yourself to the best of your ability even though life hasn't always been easy.
What values are represented in this life and what are the activities that move you towards them and make you feel like you have lived in alignment with them?
Are there ways that you have not lived in alignment with your values? What has moved you away from them?
Are there any external obstacles?
Are there internal lockdowns, narratives or beliefs that are in the way of you living in alignment with what is important to you?
Working with 10 values is a good number to aim for. Ask yourself for each one:
Is this a value that will help me to live the most fulfilling life possible?
What does this mean to me?
Then create two sentences that truly represent this and how to stay in touch with it.
If you find that you are out of alignment with any of your values, can you give yourself permission to accept where you are and then commit to making whatever first step you need to?
Get Clear About What You Want, and Then Cultivate the Courage to Take Steps Towards It
It is in the clarity of understanding what we want that we give ourselves the freedom of calm and stillness and the permission to stop waging a war for something we don’t believe in.
How to do this:
Once you have your values clear, come back to them every day. The people who live wholehearted lives all have a form of daily practice to stay close to their intention to live a fulfilling and meaningful life - visualise, draw, write, creativity is the key.
“We move from our head to our heart through our hands”
Stillness comes when we begin to live what is important to us and as we choose to commit to a new way of being, life begins to flow and there is a sense of ease in the body.
Freedom in life comes from knowing, really knowing, deep in our bones that we have a choice.
It is said that there are two types of pain: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.
Which will you choose ?