Prefer to listen to this weekend’s “No-Fail” mindfulness challenge? No problem! We’ve got you, right here:
You made it! Friday is here, and right along with it, your trusty “no-fail” mindfulness challenge for the weekend. This week was a little more about the “why” than the “how,” as we discussed the reasons it’s worth trying to fit mindfulness into an already jam-packed lifestyle. As it turns out, there’s plenty of evidence that practicing mindfulness helps with everything from creativity to decision-making to relationships. What’s not to love, right?
As with any effort, however, knowing why you’re doing it can be super helpful for keeping you at it when doing so seems especially tough. So, for this week’s mindfulness challenge, I’m going to give you the “how” to find your very own mindfulness “why.”
Since this particular exercise is less about actually practicing mindfulness…
- Start by taking 3 deep breaths. Inhale fully, inflating your chest and belly, and then exhale completely out of your nose and your mouth. Repeat at least 3 times, or more if it helps you connect with where you are right now, and back away from the internal chatter the day so far has created in your mind.
- Once you feel centered, bring to mind an image of you as the best version of yourself. This may be an image you recognize, from a time when you rocked it doing something important to you, or maybe it’s just you in a space where you know your strengths shine. It may also be an aspirational version of you – one that you know you can be, but you just haven’t seen him or her in action quite yet. That’s ok, too. Go ahead and picture exactly what this version if you looks like, sounds like, and what it feels like for you to embody all the qualities that person does.
- As you imagine this version of yourself, name some of the qualities this image represents. Are they especially focused, clear-minded, patient or fully engaged in interactions with others? Are they decisive, compassionate, or non-judgmental? Try to identify these qualities without judging yourself for whether you currently embody them. You’re noting what this version of you has, not what you are currently missing.
- For just a moment, hold in your mind the quality or qualities you have identified. Then, picture them moving from your mind, to your heart. These qualities are your intentions for your mindfulness practice, in general. There may be days when a specific or different intention is more appropriate, based on circumstances in your life. But overall, the qualities you have identified here are – for now – the steady center of your mindfulness practice.
We practice mindfulness not to turn us into something we aren’t, but to help us actually live as the best versions of the selves we actually are. Everything you need to practice mindfulness – attention, intention, and breath – is already within you. So are all the qualities that you hope to embody as a colleague, leader, friend, and loved one. The key is to find even just a little bit of time, as often as you can, to temporarily slow down and connect with the place within you where each of those incredible qualities is hanging out, awaiting an invitation to bloom, and show the world everything you have to offer.
Photo credit: Simon Launay