Happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a great week full of moments to challenge yourself to think differently about some of the opportunities you have ahead of you, as we discussed earlier this week. Sometimes we think we know exactly what we want, and will even work tirelessly towards it, until we get it…and the fear, nervousness, and self-doubt kicks in. Then, we are full of creative reasons why the opportunity either isn’t “real” or isn’t a good idea anymore. Sound familiar? If not – or if so – then maybe it’s time for a little introspection with this weekend’s “no-fail” mindfulness challenge.
When we practice mindfulness – whether it’s meditation, walking, yoga, or something else – we don’t usually work with a goal in mind. If we’re trying to figure something out, then we’re thinking, which is fine but also kind of the opposite of quieting the mind. A mindfulness practice offers time set aside to connect with the breath, the body, or another object of focus, rather than actively or deliberately problem-solving. When our mind wanders to other things, we gently bring it back to our focal point. That act of coming back is the meditation. What we can do, though, is sit with an intention.
An intention can be a question, a topic, a feeling…something that sits quietly in the back of your heart during your mindfulness practice. You might sit with an intention of compassion if you’re having trouble dealing with a difficult person, or simply an intention of calm if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed. The trick is to know that it’s there (because you put it there) without letting your thoughts take you down a path of storytelling, or “working on it.” You may find that during your mindfulness practice, or perhaps well afterwards, you begin to gain some clarity or insight into tough situations or difficult decisions, or into your own internal reactive responses to them. You also may not, which offers the opportunity to sit with that intention again next time, if you choose. Mindfulness isn’t room service or Amazon Prime, unfortunately; you can’t just place an order and have something show up on demand. In fact, the gentler you are with yourself, the more you let go of striving for it and just let it be and observe, the more likely you are to find clarity. Weird, isn’t it? I never said it made sense, but lots of interesting things don’t. :)
So this weekend, I invite you to try a little mindfulness of some kind with an intention that is connected to something you feel you are pulling yourself away from, or a decision you need to make. Observe your response to the situation, including the different emotions that arise along with it. Maybe it is in fact something you need to walk away from. Or, maybe you’re just telling yourself you do because it makes you uncomfortable, which is often a side effect of growth. Your intuition will guide you to recognize the difference, if you can cut through the inner critic, and the ego, to let it be heard. To get to that point, you first need to find stillness, and your breath. Make space for the intention, and you may find you get a side order of clarity for free.
Photo credit: Anton Sulsky