Blog Post: Yoda and me – mindfulness and valuing others from a Star Wars perspective
By Paul Lawrence, Practice Educator Consultant for Developing Together Social Work Teaching Partnership
Life is sometimes predictable, and sometimes not. Are we in control of, and steering, our own personal and professional lives or does life and its happening manoeuvre and steer us?
It’s useful, on regular occasions, to take stock of, and reflect on who we are as a person and a professional and to think of those around us – our family, friends and those we work with. As I move towards the twilight of my career as a social worker and social work manager, I am becoming even more reflective and mindful about what I have professionally achieved over the last two plus decades since I qualified. At the same time I am also thinking about what I would like to contribute to the profession before I finally say, “Goodbye it is, and may the force be with you!”. Lastly, but not least, I am thinking of all the wonderful colleagues I have had the honour to know and work with in the past and present and what new colleagues I might meet, and what new professional networks I might make, in the next few years.
I was recently given a very appropriate and personally poignant book by my Practice Education Team (PET) colleagues in the Teaching Partnership – ‘Be More Yoda – Mindful Thinking from a Galaxy Far Far Away’ (ref: 2018, London, Dorling Kindersley). I would like to share some of Yoda’s (Jedi Master, Star Wars) wisdom with you, adding my reflections along the way. Additionally, I would like to stress the importance of our own emotional intelligence and ask the question ‘How well do I know myself and how well do I know, and work with, others?’.
Thinking of, and slightly modifying another sci-fi quote (Star Trek – had to mention it somewhere in this blog!), how do we actually put the past into perspective, reconciling this with the present and “boldly go where no-one has gone before”. In my case, I want to leave some kind of a professional legacy which people/professionals can remember me by and which is linked to bringing out the best in us and in our organisations. Yoda advises us to “Pass on what you have learnt”, whether that be our light sabre skills or our social work knowledge and skills – which is particularly important when it relates to ‘best practice’, in our role as mentor/coach/practice educator or in our day-to-day supportive relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
Anyway, enough of my own philosophy and mindful meanderings. What can Yoda suggest for us which helps us to be more mindful about our present and future? What does Yoda suggest to help us become more self-aware and how can we give more time to our own personal and professional self-care? #mindfulness #wellbeing #selfcare
Yoda poses an initial question: “Do you ever, living in the moment, feel you are not?”. He goes on to advise that “You are not alone. We all feel like this from time to time. Stress about your job, your family, your relationships, perhaps an uncertain future, are some of the factors which can make you feel disconnected from the universe”. Yoda simply reminds us to “mindful be – in the here and now, focus”.
We might be a ‘Jedi Master’ at mindfulness or we might be a Padawan (learner/beginner) in the art. Yoda believes that mindfulness is simply “the pursuit of awareness – of feeling fully connected to the people and places that surround us and bind us. It’s about being plugged in to the present while taking control of your future” – which is the question I posed at the beginning of this blog.
Yoda encourages us to focus on our thoughts and be less anxious about life in general. Anxiety can be overwhelming and even professionally and personally debilitating. It can affect our thoughts, our actions and even our health. Maybe it’s a general feeling of unease that your life – or ‘the Force’ itself – is out of balance. I add my voice to Yoda’s when he says that before you get as stressed as a Gugan being pursued by sea monsters (remember, or actually forget, Jar Jar Binks), give yourself time to be ‘still’, as a moment of calm reflection can be helpful to put your thoughts, feelings and actions into perspective and to constructively move forward with the right decisions and actions.
Having started this blog I realise that I can’t do mindfulness and Yoda justice in a single writing so I will write a follow up, and connected, blog to this early in the new year (when we all generally reflect about the year gone by and what the year ahead will bring!). However, with Yoda’s mindfulness wisdom, I would ask you to think about who and what really matters to you (personally and professionally), how your thoughts and actions influence your ‘here and now’ and how you handle the twists and turns that the universe throws at you?
Ps: the new Star Wars film ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ opens on 20 December!