This week, our topic was decisions…or more specifically, the age-old battle between head and heart that often occurs when we are faced with tough ones. The question on the table was to what extent you allow each to be the boss when it comes to your deliberation process. Do you heed your intuition, or are you all about the analysis and conclusions that make the most sense “on paper”? There’s no right answer; it’s just a question. We all have different preferences and inclinations. You may not even really know, and that’s ok, too. This weekend’s mindfulness challenge will give you a chance to sort through it. Don’t even think about it; just say yes…
You don’t have to be a guru or psychic or even spiritual in the least little bit to have intuition. We all come hard-wired with it fully installed. It’s the extent to which we listen and heed it that makes us each a little different. Intuition – or your “gut” – has some interesting info to share with you, though. It’s got some wisdom, and it knows you well. After all, it is you. But often, the messages it sends are subtle, and either hard to hear or easy to ignore. Sometimes, even when it’s more emphatic, its ideas clash with what “makes sense,” so we actually feel responsible and “wise” in our own right for dismissing it.
If you’re living the life you’ve always dreamed of and are fulfilled in every way, and you’ve never for one second given your intuition the time of day, then I guess you’re all set. I am deeply happy for you, and I sincerely mean that. For the rest of us who are still building those lives of deep fulfillment, let’s try a little mindfulness, shall we?
This weekend’s “no-fail” mindfulness challenge starts with a dilemma. If you’ve got something major marinating in that huge brain and heart of yours, you may want to put on your big-kid pants and take it on. But for the purposes of this work, any decision will do. Honestly, even what to have for lunch will work, because sidebar: in addition to helping us chart the course of our lives and whatnot, intuition also tends to know what nutrients your body needs, FWIW. So anyway, choose your choice, and let’s get started.
- Find a quiet place to hang out for a few minutes, and if it works for you, take a seat.
- Close your eyes and notice your breath. Inhale, exhale, repeat. Take your time. It’s not a race. For just a moment or two, let your breath be your focal point. Clear your mind of other thoughts, gently, slowly, and replace them with the attention on your breath. Where do you notice it in your body? How does it feel? If you start to deepen your breath a little with more expanded inhales and exhales, your body will get the signal even more clearly that it’s time to relaaaaax for a few minutes. Be still. Be here, right now.
- Bring your dilemma to mind. Once you feel you have centered a bit and connected to your body in the moment at hand, just state your question internally to yourself. Try to avoid getting into the pros/cons deliberation aspect of it. In the language of meditation, “sit with” the question, don’t try to work to resolve it. Your intention is clarity, but there is no effort to achieve a particular goal, or judgment about whether you’re doing a “good job” at it or whether what comes up will be “right.” Just be there with it, and pay attention. (NOTE: sometimes I like to actually picture the words of my question, for a mental image to anchor me.)
- Notice how your body responds to the question. As you mentally shift from one option to the other, does your body’s response change? Do any particular words or images come to mind? Let go of attachment to a certain outcome – this is just an exercise – and see what comes up. Maybe nothing, or not right away. Give it a few minutes if you can, and give yourself permission to be open to whatever comes up. You’re just gathering info here; you’re not deciding just yet. All guests are welcome at this party.
- Hang on a sec. When you’re starting to feel antsy, bring your focus back one more time to your question. Take one more note on how your body feels in response to picturing Option 1, and then Option 2 (and beyond, if appropriate).
- Take 3 deep breaths. Inhale fully, exhale completely. You can even let that exhale really forcefully go out of your mouth, to symbolize letting the question go, for now.
- Open your eyes, and maybe take some actual notes. Often, even the deepest insight we gain during meditation can be fleeting. So, if you found some interesting info, write it down. It will be there for you later, when and if you come back to the question.
So now…how’re ya feeling? A little more relaxed, I hope, if not a little clearer on your next step. If you’re still confused, then let the effects of the exercise settle in a little for you. Meditation isn’t designed to always deliver total clarity on-demand, but a regular practice will open the door to your intuition more easily, and better equip you to access and recognize it when it’s opinion would be appreciated.
My sense is, you have a great weekend ahead. Hoping it includes a little extra clarity for whatever’s on your mind, and in your heart.
Photo credit: Mohàmed Nahassi