From experts to friends, meditation is a hot topic, but what is it exactly? I used to think it was a yoga or meditation thing that took years to perfect.
Nope – It’s simply a way of paying attention to our thoughts in the moment when we find that we’re distracted.
Here’s an example – I was driving to the gym this morning and listening to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast. (I’m a Happier super fan.) Pretty quickly, I noticed that I wasn’t even listening to Gretchen but rather ruminating about all the things I need to do today. My stress level was spiraling.
So, I took a few deep breaths and honed back in on the podcast.
And, that is mindfulness! Nothing fancy, but effective since I can’t stress if I’m focused on Gretchen.
Research shows that people who practice mindfulness experience greater productivity, deeper focus, reduced stress, better sleep, and better cognitive functioning.
A simple way to bring mindfulness into your life is to set intentions. Intentions bring us back to our purpose if we get off track or find ourselves procrastinating.
Think about how you usually start a morning: Do you stretch? Lay in bed and fret? Say a prayer? Reach for your phone? Turn on the TV? Whatever you do sets the tone for your day.
Try this instead…
- First thing in the morning write down your three major priorities for the day. Next, think about how you want to show up to each priority – not what you want to DO but how do you want to BE – and write it next to the priority. This is your intention. Here are some ideas for intentions —- Love, confidence, compassion, power, joy, fun, connection, calm, action, authenticity, courage, creative, possibility, balance, peace, commitment, curiosity.
Here’s how mine look for today:
- Meeting with a new client– Curiosity. If I come from a place of curiosity I do my best listening and I really want to learn who this new person is.
Prepping for an upcoming presentation – Focus. I know the material and I’m excited to share it so I need to get it done.
Family dinner to talk about curfews, allowance and chores – Connection. If I focus on connection I am more likely to create a dialogue
so we can come up with mutually respectful agreements.
- Before starting each priority, I’ll do exactly what I did in the car this morning. I’ll take a few minutes and close my eyes, breath, think about my intention and how I want to show up. I’ll let the distractions of the day go and get very present so that I can be effective and productive. Sometimes I write my intention on a post-it note and stick it on my computer or my phone as a quick reminder. This is a simple visual aid if I feel myself getting distracted or anxious. Give mindfulness and intention setting a try and see how it goes. You may be surprised.
Member, Sheila Storrer, LICSW, ACC, is a professional coach who helps women bust out of their comfort zones and create the life of their dreams. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two teenagers and when she isn’t coaching, she’s outside enjoying the Pacific Northwest.