Garden Spices is a part of a movement that encourages the universe to shift towards acceptance of all viewpoints through awareness, education, and communication tools – Say Something. This article speaks to the importance of self-awareness, and we thank RJ Starr for allowing us to share it. – Garden Spices
There are two definitions for the word “poise.” There is the verb poise, which is defined as “to be or caused to be balanced or suspended,” and, of a person or organization, “ready to do something.” And then there is the noun “poise”, the definition of which is even more compelling: a “graceful and elegant bearing in a person;” and also “composure and dignity of manner.” For the purposes of our discussion, I would like to look at the latter, or the noun, “poise;” the quality of composure – a graceful and elegant bearing in a person.
Last week I saw a video recording of a government meeting where a board member was behaving in a very disruptive manner – raised voice, speaking over the chairperson, and even at one point, grabbing the ceremonial gavel from the chairperson, and repeatedly banging in upon the table. Now, again, this is a government meeting, open to the public, the media is present, and it is being recorded. What, might you imagine, is taking place in this person’s head? What do you think the inner environment of that mind is like for this person?
What might influence poise
Let me step away from this for just a moment, and say that, about a year ago, I completely stopped watching television. I much prefer watching educational or inspirational programming online, than listening to the barrage of advertising and the irrational depictions of what many people have come to unquestioningly believe is unscripted “reality.” That being said, I am still active online, so, yes, I am aware of the behavior of individuals in the national spotlight, such as celebrities that really don’t do anything, and political aspirants that really don’t anything either; nonetheless, it still confounds me that human beings – especially those in positions of leadership – would choose to behave with such a lack of, well… poise.
To consider self-poise – again that is a graceful and elegant composure and bearing – would mean to not only consider the external implications; that is to say, how we show up and what behaviors we display when others are around, etc. – but to also consider the internal implications, or the inner climate – how we interact with ourselves, in the absence of another observer. These would include the thoughts we think, the types of internal conversations we are having – are they affirming or argumentative in nature; they would include the way we dress, eat and drink in the absence of an external observer; and also the quality of our global citizenry – by this I am referring to the attitudes, habits and behaviors of self aware people, such as water conservation, recycling, picking-up garbage off the ground, thoughts of equality and equanimity, anonymous giving, and so on – actions that make a positive impact, typically exemplified by higher-functioning individuals. Actions which are not offered exclusively for the benefit of an external observer. In other words, you’re not doing something because someone’s watching, but because that’s who you are.
In a piece I wrote called “The Antithetical Atheist,” I write that “Our lives are expressions of action between ourselves and the universe. Respecting our environment and the plants, animals and human beings with whom we share existence, is a furthering of respect to ourselves. This is a logical and necessary conclusion, and one that is offered regardless of any preferred religious beliefs. If the answer to the question of whether or not God exists would change the way you live your life, I might suggest that you consider that there may be greater issues within yourself that require deep inquiry and exploration.” That is from my piece, “The Antithetical Atheist,” and it is a concept of which higher-functioning people are not only aware, but consciously interact with on a consistent basis.
Poise as a gauge of human development
In contrast, there is a level of human development where one’s quality of behavior is not only dictated by the presence of an observer, but also by the level of importance that has been placed upon that observer by the individual. In other words, “if you’re important enough to me, in my mind, I will behave in a certain way, according to what I perceive to be your expectations, or, according to the way I perceive that I need to behave in order to get what I want from you.” In this example, the individual has the presence of mind to at least be aware that their regular behavior (or the way they would behave when no one else is in the room) is not acceptable behavior in certain company, and they change their behavior to meet the needs of their environment, as they perceive those needs to be.
Now, going back to the story I began with about the government official banging the ceremonial gavel repeatedly upon the dais, while yelling at other members of the chamber – this type of behavior reveals a stage of human development that lacks the capacity to consider the lines of propriety and how this lack of consideration will ultimately reflect upon them. It reveals a lack of awareness – of poise.
Our inner-poise, or the way we comport ourselves at home, when no one is watching – when no one is present to bear witness – will always inform our outer-poise. As my beloved teacher, the late Dr. Wayne Dyer used to ask, “when you squeeze an orange, what is going to come out?” Because the only thing that can come out of an orange when it’s squeezed is orange juice. So it seems beneficial to inquire, “what comes out of you when you’re squeezed?” and, depending upon your satisfaction with that answer, to use that inquiry to define a new exploration of your own personal development and growth.
What I am offering with this essay is an opportunity to consider the cultivation of poise. Consider asking yourself, “Is ‘who I am’ when no one else is around, when no one’s there to see, or when unexpected events do not go my way – is that person someone I would like? Is that person someone with whom I would choose to spend time?”
I’d like to invite you to cultivate poise. It is a process, not a destination, so give permission to learn from yourself. Observe your reactions to external events – things outside your control, review your past behaviors, and take into consideration what no longer serves who you are becoming, and how you’d like to show up in your life, and in the world today.
Parrot-loving student of existential phenomenology and its psychological implications upon the human experience.