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You made it! Just this one little (half, at this point) day left until the glorious weekend ahead. Hoping you have some downtime factored into your plans, but maaaaybe also a little space for a “no-fail” mindfulness challenge. They can be one in the same, you know. Plus, I really think you’re gonna like where this one’s coming from.
Earlier this week, we tackled an old friend we all carry around with us, often in the back of our minds but sometimes right front and center: the inner monologue. It’s the voice that tells us what we’re “good” at and what we have no business even trying, as well as how what we’re doing – or even contemplating doing – fits into some larger narrative that either bodes well or leads to catastrophe. It’s the voice that pretends to be your best friend, your strategic advisor, and your coach all in one. It’s usually about one mission, though, and that is keeping you safe.
Of course, safe is nice and actually quite important in certain contexts, but in others, it’s a bit of a false promise. You may actually be “safe,” but you’re also stuck, rooted either in self-doubt or the state I affectionately refer to as “analysis paralysis,” so entranced by the back and forth of your internal narrative that you’re listening closely without doing much else.
This weekend, you’re going to ask that voice to drop the mic – and not in a badass kinda way. Maybe it’s more that you’re going to gently remove the mic from the grip it’s become used to having on your attention.
Your “no-fail” mindfulness challenge is about those pep talks you’re so good at offering to others, but that tend to take on a harsher tone when directed to yourself. Time for a script revision. Time to take back the mic.
When thoughts pop up in a mindfulness practice, our goal is usually to let them pass by without engaging with them. In fact, the ability to train yourself to do that is a core skill of a mindful lifestyle. This weekend, however, we’re going to offer a gentle, thoughtful but effective counter to the storyline our brains have become so comfortable offering up.
Start by finding a few minutes to catch your breath. Work with a guided or recorded meditation, or simply use the pace of your breath as a focal point. Maybe inhale to a steady count of 1…2…3….4, and exhale to the same. Find your breath, find your groove, and settle in.
Then, regardless of what thoughts may or may not be vying for a slice of your attention, begin to work with the following gatha (sort of like a mantra you think internally to yourself):
Inhale: I have access to everything I need…
Exhale: …to do everything I decide to do.
Repeat, for at least 5 rounds, preferably more. In fact, a great way to layer into this challenge would be to go one more round than you actually want to. You always have one more in you, and it will probably be less uncomfortable than that voice in your head is telling you it will be.
Life is full of scary moments, and challenges we don’t think we’re up to. My personal belief, however, is that you wouldn’t be staring right at them if that were true. So this weekend, find your breath and then, find your voice. While it does sometimes seem to have a mind of its own, it’s yours, and it can’t tell you anything that you don’t want to hear.
Photo credit: William Stitt