Living COLA

I have said many times that I am committed to living fully. (I hope you share that commitment with me.) And if I hadn’t noticed, a recent read has made me more aware that living fully requires being fully conscious.

To be fully conscious, according to Dr. Daniel J Siegel, author of Mindsight, The New Science Of Personal Transformation, we must be present. He suggests in chapter 9 that there are four elements of being present. I made an acronym for those to help me remember these elements: COLA. Curiosity, Openness, Love and Acceptance.

When we are more present, we open our possibilities for understanding, gratitude and, of course, love, not only toward others, but also for ourselves.

As a way to begin being more COLA connected, I devised some questions that I can ask of myself while I am attempting to be fully conscious.

C: What is this I am seeing? Hearing? Feeling? Smelling? Touching? What are the colors, tones, and emphases? What does this arouse in me? In others? Where did it come from? Where is it going? What is its story? In which part of the world does it reside or dominate? What does it leave behind?

O: Am I open to its needs? Its connections? Its offerings? How is my openness to it felt or held back? What might make me more or less open to it? What is its meaning? Might it mean similar or opposite to someone else? How might a great leader be open to the meaning of this? How might an alien, a mathematician, a scientist, a naive child, or a foreigner be open to this?

L: Being that we are all on this planet together, how might I support the presence of this other? What has this other made that expresses its beauty? How am I like it? What do we share? How do we connect? How is it perfect for itself?

A: What references in my life can assist me to accept this other as it is? What meanings from my past and understandings of others help or hinder my acceptance? When have I been accepting of something like it? How did that feel?

COLA may mean many other things to you and I encourage you to enumerate those as clearly as you can. Once you have done that, take this awareness and turn it toward yourself. Be Curious, Open, Loving and Accepting of you, your life, your hopes, dreams, failures, connections, beliefs, misunderstandings and perfections. To do so is to live being present, and to do so as fully as possible.

And because it is so hard for most of us to really take notice of our lack of self-love, I’d like to offer a couple of contrasting, limiting behaviors that you may recognize as barriers to slaking your thirst for love and presence with COLA.  Instead of judging and thinking you know yourself, be Curious. Instead of protecting and keeping yourself in established routines, be Open, especially to change. Instead of limiting yourself and practicing false modesty, Love yourself without condition. Instead of doubting yourself or your abilities, fully accept yourself as you are.

This is living COLA. It’s free, it raises your power and intellect and there is no need for a diet version because this is truly healthy.

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