So, this picture doesn’t totally go with this post, but I couldn’t resist. If that’s not how it feels to greet Friday, then I don’t know what is. Am I right?
Hey there, weekend! Great to see you. Now, to get us back on track…
We’ve been talking a bit lately about different topics related to boundaries. A few weeks ago, it was the limits of our energy during new beginnings, and then the limits we place on ourselves in the form of “self-knowledge.” This week, we touched on the edges of our own ambition, and what to do when you start to realize your goals might be changing. In those scary moments, course correction takes a lot of courage, but it is possible. All of these experiences can present external obstacles, however, in the form of risks and revised plans, not to mention opinionated friends and family questioning all of it. Sounds like a mindfulness challenge if I ever heard one. But don’t forget, it’s “no-fail,” so you’ve got nothing to lose by diving right in.
It’s not easy to push against the grain. Change is easier when the forces around us are supportive – when it all makes sense not just to us, but to mostly everyone else, too. Sometimes we need to create our own momentum, though, and be the spark that starts our own chain reaction. Eventually, others may get on board – or not. But when your intuition starts to tell you that there is something else for you – even if it seems like the logistics won’t work, or your talents aren’t “wired” for it, or you’re already too far down the path towards something else to turn back – the only person whose permission you need to try it anyway is yourself. The single greatest source of power you have to initiate change is sitting right inside you.
With this in mind, your challenge this weekend starts by turning inward. You’re going to need a few minutes, and some quiet stillness, but it’s the weekend, so I know you can manage that (for real, though). Find your breath, and spend at least a minute just letting yourself be. When random thoughts and distractions come to mind, that’s ok, just gently place them off the to side, and come back to your breath. Breathing in, breathing out, repeat. Give yourself a chance to check in with your current state. How are you doing? Mostly good? Anything on your mind? Enjoy this, by the way, because you know I rarely give you an excuse to think during a meditation exercise, but this one’s a little different.
Bring to mind a goal you’ve been pursuing, whether for a day or a year, or more. When you think about this goal, how does your body respond? Do you tense up? Do you smile? Do you want to exhale and relax? Just observe the effect even considering this goal has on your state of being. Keep breathing, but notice if your breath changed at all when you brought the goal to mind.
So even though you’re thinking here, you’re not assessing the situation yet. It’s not so much about drawing conclusions as it is about observing. Your body can tell you a lot about what’s going on in your mind, even when you “think” you know what’s up.
Then, gently, begin to let the image of the goal fade from your mind. Bring your attention completely back to your inhales and exhales, and if your body had shifted at all, allow your exhales to help you let that go. Bring yourself back to your version of here and now.
Later, when you want to, go back to those mental notes you made during your meditation. Recall the responses you observed as you sat with the image of your goal. Maybe everything was as-expected, and there’s basically nothing to see here except full steam ahead. Or, perhaps you made some interesting notes that give you some insight into how you really feel about it. Are you headed where you really want to go? If so, are you sending yourself subtle messages about whether you’re truly worthy of getting there? Are there shifts you might be able to make within yourself that might help you either right your course or soften some of the bumps in the road to getting there?
No one said this was going to be an easy one, but no worries, it’s a “no-fail” challenge so you can’t mess up. Just try. We tend to become accustomed to our inner voice being more of a “critic” than an advocate, but there is more than one side to everything.
Developing the ability to tune in to the messages that not just our intuition, but also our body, are sending us is valuable for our own sake, but also for our ability to influence others. If you’re tuning out yourself, what else are you missing in the people you want to inspire? Great leaders look inward first, and establish goals that push past fears while also aligning with their passions. That super smart fella, Socrates, said that “To know thyself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Perhaps the end is recognizing that “self” can change, and that you have the ability to guide yourself along that ride, wherever it takes you.
Mmm, sounds challenging. And fun. ;-)
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist
Photo credit: Ben White