The 4 Pillars of Alignment:
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
A Psychoactive Framework for Personal Growth
Picture yourself at the center of an unfolding mandala. The geometric configuration is bound around you. Leafing out into more sacred space that intertwines through the nuances of who you are. A beautiful and complex diagram that showcases the many layers of your cosmic spirit.
This Mandala is your universe and you at the center are aligned with the cosmic energy that surrounds it.
When you are balanced in your alignment the infinite energy flows gracefully around you. When you're not in alignment life can feel like a struggle.
You will hear me talk about alignment in almost everything I do. That’s because I believe that alignment is the key to being, doing and having success, meaning and fulfillment in life. It’s woven through all things and all aspects of who you are.
When you are in alignment you feel as if life is unfolding at exactly the right pace, in exactly the right time, in exactly the right way. Tasks are easy (maybe even effortless) and people and resources seem to line up to support you.
When you are out of alignment it’s like driving with the parking brake on or wearing heavy ankle weights and climbing a steep hill. Life feels hard. This is not to say that when you are in alignment there won’t be challenges, rather when you are in alignment you will be more resourced and supported to meet them.
Today I’m going to break down Alignment into what I call The 4 Pillars. When I share these 4 Pillars in my corporate workshops or with private clients, there's often a moment where they realize that alignment is their main issue. I see their shoulders drop, I hear them sigh and often see a look of recognition in their eyes that what they thought was the problem was not the problem at all. I also experience their excitement that a whole new set of solutions has been laid before them simply through becoming aware of the 4 Pillars.
Before we’re able to dive into the mind-body, and all other binding elements, let's clarify some basics. This will lead help you see where you are out of alignment and access alignment more easily. It may lead you to ask more thought-provoking questions to yourself about your life as a whole. The more fully and deeply aligned you are with your aspirations, dreams and desires, the more easily you will attain them.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and distracted when we look at the big picture. These four pillars of alignment: Body, Mind, Spirit, Environment are designed to help you focus on one area at a time and provide a useful construct for contemplation, empowerment and transformation.
As you begin to look deeper into each you will feel more aligned with your higher nature. This will start a ripple effect into all aspects of your life. Know, too, that this framework is psychoactive. Simply becoming aware of it affects how your brain works and will support you in aligning with the aspirations of your choosing.
The 4 Pillars of Alignment: Body, Mind, Spirit, Environment
Body Alignment is the most straight forward. It’s your physical body, how you fuel it and care for it. This includes:
How your head, shoulders, spine, hips, knees, and ankles and other body parts inner and outer relate and line up with each other
What you eat and drink
How often you move your body and what movement practices you have in place
All the other care-taking practices from brushing your teeth, to health check ups, getting adequate sleep and self care practices
Sometimes it’s easy to know if your body is out of alignment. It identifies itself through pain, illness, and deep fatigue in your body.
Other times, it’s more subtle. That vague sense of being tired that you push yourself through instead of honoring it. The slight pain you ignore when you do that one yoga pose because you think “no pain no gain.” The headaches that you accept as “part of life.” Left unchecked we grow numb to them and more develop.
At some point, we may wake up with aches, pains or disease we attribute to aging or genetics. The root cause has been developing in our bodies for a long time, but has been ignored.
When we talk about body alignment I’m also referring to how you fuel your body. This is often overlooked, but let's face it, you can tell yourself all day long that you plan on eating healthier but if you grab a donut and Red Bull for lunch at 2 pm, you’re not in alignment with that.
Finally, how you care for yourself is part of alignment. Do you get adequate sleep? Do you have movement practices you love that make your body feel good? Do you actually do the care-taking behaviors that help your body stay healthy? ...or not?
Alignment of the mind begins when you start to hear what you are thinking to yourself, about other people and situations, and start to become aware and question your reactions. (I share my story of hearing myself think “I hate you,” about my spouse after a fight here.)
For instance, why does it bother you so much that your partner forgets to take out the trash or leaves the dishes by the sink when the dishwasher is right there? What’s up with the team member that’s always annoyingly five minutes late to every meeting? Or maybe, you’ve set an intention to be more kind, but hear yourself being annoyed for no reason at the sales associate who’s just trying to help.
Ever catch yourself frustrated stuck behind a slow vehicle for no reason at all? It’s not like you’re running late for anything, but yet you can feel your heart rate rise because of it.
So much of our life is a series of programs. Programs come from early childhood. Some are stories we told ourselves from our limited perspective. Sometimes even the most well-meaning parents, caregivers and other authority figures modeled or told us stories that we took on and kept as truth. Society also imbues us with some of the most potent programs and living in the world exposes you to a host of limiting beliefs.
When you decide it’s time to align your mind to deeper meaning, you will need to take a hard look at some of these programs and ask yourself if they are serving you and the higher good.
Mind alignment also includes your thoughts and how clear, focused, or scattered those thoughts are.
The best thing you can do is get curious. Instead of jumping to conclusions or becoming defensive, real growth comes from wondering why.
Your life will improve all-around when you take time to ask why from a place of curiosity and no judgment. Have those uncomfortable conversations with yourself and those you love. By doing this you will align your mind to your true spirit and it will become a way of life.
Talking about aligning your spirit is where the lines really get blurred. Spirit is in essence part of all we do and all we are. This is not religious in any sense and you don’t have to believe in anything to understand it. It’s what makes you uniquely you.
Spirit is not necessarily spiritual. I think of it more as your vibe. Your spirit is the energy you bring into your life. It’s the part of you that hopes and dreams. It’s the part of you that connects. It’s why your best friend or partner is in your life and why others never made it past acquaintanceship.
Spirit is the part of you that senses when you are in or out of alignment.
Your spirit aligns the energy inside you and outside you. For one client, her spirit knew there was a better job for her but she, herself, didn't believe she was qualified for something more. Once she learned the 4 Pillars, she realized she was not in alignment. She addressed the issue and soon found much more fulfilling work.
When you are aligned with your spirit you are in the flow of life. Opportunities open up for you and things just feel right.
The rub here is that when your spirit is out of alignment it’s easy to fall into the blame game instead of questioning how you’re playing a role in it. No one wants to take credit for all the sticky uncomfortable spots in their life. I certainly don't! Working through that uncomfortable mess will align your spirit in new ways. Ways that unclutter your environment for more growth.
Environment is within us and around us. It all wraps back into body, mind, and spirit.
What is going on in your physical environment? Is it pleasing?
What about your internal environment? Are you properly fueling it?
What’s the energy and look of your home? Your work? Your appearance?
Is your environment in alignment with the other pillars?
As I write this, Marie Kondo is probably the most recognized name in the art of tidying up your life. She promotes a method of decluttering your environment that encourages you to only keep things that spark joy in your heart. If you watch her Netflix show you can see when people tidy up their homes, they change how they interact with each other. (The reverse is also true, when you shift your inner environment, you can often shift your relationships and your physical environment, too!)
It’s the same in business. Studies show time and again that a large portion of the population goes to a job they hate every single day. So many people are stuck in environments that don’t spark joy. My experience running my own business and working with corporate teams has taught me that these employees rarely deliver quality.
As a leader in the business world, it is your responsibility to align your team. You are responsible for hiring the right people and building a team that is inspired and empowered. We all know this promotes a healthier and more productive workplace, yet many of us remain in an unaligned setting because we are comfortable with the agony of it all.
A big sign your environment is out of alignment.
Don't let this be you.
Alignment for Expedient, Expansive, Exponential Growth
As we move through this journey called life you will continue to grow and expand. Your mandala will grow, and more connections will be made and discovered speeding your way along the most efficient, effective path. The more nuanced you become at fine tuning your alignment, the more powerfully you can create with effortless ease. The more you become aligned, the more likely you are to find unexpected and emergent solutions to your most challenging issues. Ultimately, you will realize that alignment is the most important (if not only) task on your to-do list.
I’m committed to developing a framework that is practical, easy to understand and use. I invite you to try out this framework, take what works for you and leave the rest. Because, after all, it’s about your alignment.