Synthia Andrews Talks "Path of Presence" & The Importance of Staying Aware
Synthia Andrews, renowned author of Path of Presence and strong believer of living a well-rounded life, talks to Golden Blog about the art of staying aware and embracing our emotions. Educating us in the power of the mind and the importance of staying grounded, Andrews gives us an inside look into her new book, as well as into the personal experiences that led her to write it.
1. How does embracing one's emotions help different aspects of one's life?
Emotions are the most influential tool we have for living an empowered life. Emotions form the matrix of life. They make our success worthwhile and use our failures for growth. They provide the energy and motivation needed to pursue our dreams. When we embrace our emotions, comfortable and uncomfortable, we are exposed to the information they contain that forms our intuition, gut feelings and inner truth. Now we can make the best possible choices for living an authentic life and direct the energy emotions contain into positive action.
2. Do you believe positivity and love for others is something everyone is born with?
I believe the substance of life is love. We are born loving and learn fear and hate through pain, disappointment and abandonment. When we embrace our emotions we return to our core, essential self that is made from Love and find the path to positive action.
3. How do you think the chaos of the world affects people differently?
Life experiences evoke strong emotion that must be processed and integrated in order to gain the information the emotion provides and release the energy it generates. Left unprocessed, emotions are stored in the body-mind and become trigger points for external events. Each of us has a different complex of such sensitive areas that are activated by chaos, and consequently, we each have a different response. One person might find the best of who they are becomes activated to meet the challenge; another might find their greatest insecurities are triggered, causing them to act out their suppressed fear and anger in mob rage, for example.
4. Do you believe that in order to be successful one must be emotionally fulfilled?
How success and emotional fulfillment are defined determines whether we must be emotionally fulfilled in order to achieve success. Financial success can be achieved without a fulfilling romantic relationship, for example, as other emotions such as satisfaction in winning replace the enjoyment of companionship. A key moment in everyone’s life must surely revolve around defining these two terms for themselves.
5. How does one learn to turn pain into hope and struggle into action?
From the perspective of my book in developing Presence through the practices of Eight Pillars of awareness, the process begins with being willing to feel the pain while engaging the practices of the Eight Pillars. These practices help you bring your mind into the present moment, ground, center and connect with the world around you. In the space created, you then engage additional practices such as the Pillar of Balancing to balance your needs with external demands or the Pillar of Aligning to align your internal force with your highest good. As you employ the Eight Pillars, the path to action is created. Hope comes through taking action. Hoping for something to change while doing the same thing you have always done, is false hope. Feel your feelings, then use the tools of the Eight Pillars to create meaningful, life-affirming action.
6. In your opinion, how should people with anxiety deal with stress and feelings of loneliness?
This is a big question with many individual answers. In general, the way through anxiety, stress and loneliness comes with mastering attention. Where you put your attention is where you energy flows. If you are feeling anxious, here is a simple process that requires placing your attention on two things simultaneously:
- Identify where anxiety is impacting your body. For many people, this will be in the chest or heart area, or the solar plexus.
- Hold you attention on the feelings in the area and let the feelings get as large as they want to.
- At the same time, hold your attention on your feet.
- Maintain a dual awareness of your chest and feet while taking several deep breaths.
- Very soon, the energy of anxiety in your chest will dissipate.
Learning how to use the breath for grounding, centering and living in the present moment are all aspects of how to deal with difficult emotions without suppressing feelings or repressing responses.
7. How do you feel about the saying that "we are all unique"?
We are all unique points of perception, connected with each other within the oneness of the larger whole. Our impressions and experiences are fed into the collective consciousness. Each of us is necessarily unique in order for collective consciousness to have the greatest growth experience and expression. I know it sounds impersonal, as if the pain and success of each person is individually unimportant, but this is not true: the health and happiness of the whole is intertwined with the learning and growth of each individual.
8. Do you believe that following your heart & body rather than you mind & ego (example: putting family and health over success and money) is how people should live their lives? Do you think that people can do both?
I think that people must do both. The mind and heart are meant to work together. The mind offers ideas to the heart; the heart examines them in relation to inner truth and wisdom. Feelings let us know whether or not the ideas of the mind have value. Equally, the heart cradles our spirit and the mind finds a way to manifest spirit in our life. We have made a false division between the mind and heart in which the mind questions the validity of the heart and the heart rails against the restrictions of the mind. In design, the mind and heart serve each other. Maintaining the illusion of division isolates one from each other and vitality is lost, Presence is diminished and we are disempowered.
9. How do you personally stay "aware"?
Personally, I use meditation and mindfulness to stay connected to the present moment even as I make plans for the future or process the past. The gateway into awareness is through the body. When emotions rise or my muscles becomes tense, I tune in and pay attention. I try not to dismiss what I feel or talk myself out of my perceptions. Paying attention to the breath is the way to keep the mind aware of the body. When I first began the practice of mindfulness, I had little notes tacked to the mirror in the bathroom, in my office, and so forth, that said things like: Breath, How much muscle tension are you using right now? What do you see/feel/sense in this moment? Such reminders help train our attention.
10. In writing your book, is there anything that you learned about yourself and the way you deal with emotions/life?
Writing this book was life changing for me. The Eight Pillars are practices I employ in my life, yet in trying to describe and explain them, I experienced each in new and deeper ways. I have an innate dislike of being the center of attention and found in writing this book a new approach to public speaking, for example. Most importantly however, in the book I use the experience of my daughter’s near-fatal car accident to illustrate the Pillars, and as I wrote, the unhealed parts of our relationship were brought to light. As my daughter healed from her accident, I healed from the insufficiencies of being a working mom. Of course I knew that the hidden guilt I harbored at not being perfect, at not being enough, impeded a loving relationship. Writing the book however, gave me a new approach to deal with these feelings. As a result, I processed old issues and am now more present and peaceful with both of my daughters, which frees all of our attention for communicating with greater truth and meaning.