8 months ago I went to my first 10-day silent meditation retreat. When I finished, I vowed I'd never do it again.
I expected the retreat to test me mentally and emotionally, but I never imagined I’d be pushed to my physical limits.
Within the first 20 minutes of sitting down on Day 1, my legs and back ached. I was totally unprepared to sit on the floor. By day 3, my legs seared from the inside out and my back muscles were twisted like mangled tree roots.
It took me months to fully recover. From sitting.
But then, to my surprise, I kept on meditating everyday, often twice a day. I'm still not really sure why I persisted, but somewhere inside, I must have sensed I was getting value out of it.
Shortly after the meditation retreat, I started to notice something odd: every week or so I'd have an incredible conversation.
I’d leave random conversations feeling energetic and joyous. Ordinary phone calls and coffee chats were transformed into opportunities with unreasonable potential.
I’ve told the story of an October coffee chat so many times that I’m starting to consider it a life changing moment.
As all of this was unfolding, I suspected the meditation was influencing these interactions, but I was clueless to the mechanics of it.
I simply couldn’t explain it.
More generally, I couldn’t reliably say how meditation was proving useful to me in any way. I only had some vague sense that it was.
I’m the type of person that finds comfort in evidence – of cause and effect – and I had none for this new meditation habit. Faith is not high on my list of values, so I was surprised that I kept meditating.
Then this week I learned a new tool and it’s been a Rosetta Stone of sorts for my experience the last 8 months – giving me language and insight into those incredible conversations, and perhaps, why I doggedly kept meditating.
An intro to VIEW
VIEW is an acronym for Vulnerability, Impartiality, Empathy, and Wonder. It is described as a way of being that unlocks connection, energy, and joy.
As we grow up, we strive to fit in and be seen. There is nothing quite as terrifying as being shunned from the tribe. Predictably, we strive for perfection as a way to prove our worth to the tribe; we learn to prioritize perfection over connection.
Sadly, it doesn’t work. Humans have a keen sense of smell when it comes to bullshit. We can spot a faker a mile away.
A better path to being seen and included is to pursue connection over perfection. VIEW is a way of being that leads you back to connection.
Vulnerability - do you authentically show up and share your own experience even when it is a little scary?
Impartiality - are you free from an agenda?
Empathy - are you able to be with someone in their emotion without trying to fix it?
Wonder - can you live in the question? We all believe living in the answer is better, but living in the question is more important for connection. Wonder is curiosity without the aim.
What I learned this week was what it feels like to be in VIEW. It feels very different than trying to manage everything, which is a sign of pursuing perfection. (And let me tell you, I’m a manager.)
Which is why those conversations after the meditation retreat were so exceptional. I realize now, I wasn’t trying to manage anything. That’s why the conversations felt so different. What I initially described as incredible conversations was really a sense of connection, energy, and joy.
This is VIEW. It feels a certain way in your body.
I was also experiencing the lack of managing. I wasn’t trying to manage myself nor the friend I was talking to.
When I’m managing conversations, there is a subtle sense of tension. It comes from always angling towards an outcome. It’s burdensome and tiring and heavy. It’s why as a sales rep, I’d end a day of phone calls exhausted instead of exhilarated.
Until this week, I hadn’t had many conversations in VIEW since the weeks after the first meditation retreat. Somewhere in there, management creeped back in. But now that I’m aware of what management and connection feel like in my body, I have VIEW as a mechanism to help me find my way back to connection.
If you want to learn more about VIEW, try out the Art of Accomplishment podcast.