Last week provided many opportunities for practicing mindfulness in a specific way. Mindfulness practice strengthens my mind’s ability to focus attention on something I choose. It is like working out in that I consistently show up to my gym classes but do not notice an immediate increase in strength. In recent years I can tell a big difference in the way I handle stress. This a benefit of consistent, intentional practice over months and years to redirect my thoughts.
Last week I put in effort by publishing my first Reflective Coaching newsletter and recording my first training video along with other work tasks. When doing something new, my thoughts tend to spring forward to the future asking questions like: Will other people like it? How will I handle criticism? What will the response of others require of me? This is my mind spinning in the future with imaginative guessing. Yes, there is a place for looking forward to plan but it works best in short visits versus camping out there. When my thoughts get stuck in the future and what I imagine may happen, my anxiety goes up. That is where mindfulness practice comes into play. In my practice I incorporate many skills at once (stillness, breathwork, mindfulness, meditation, prayer, contemplation) combining them under the simply label of mindfulness. The part that feels most important for me is bringing my mind into present awareness.
Recalibrate your thoughts and focus on the present
My mind ran out into the future to try to figure out the potential reactions of others and responses. I noticed a feeling of tightness in my body and racing thoughts. When I become aware of those signals, I know that I am no longer feeling inner ease. There are many ways to recalibrate. While the feelings were still swirling, I chose to: 1) walk in the cool weather combining nature, fresh air and movement, 2) vacuum my floors to prepare for guests, and 3) ask myself a Go-To question. Carefully chosen Go-To questions have the ability to push the reset button on thinking. My effective Go-To question last week was: How am I attached to the outcome?
I was putting my focus on potential outcomes of my newsletter and training video. Since I’m unable to predict the future, this isn’t a supportive use of time. In addition, my guessing tends to be more fear-based rather than optimistic. Asking my Go-To question allowed me to stop those thoughts and return to the present. I shifted to focusing on what I am currently accomplishing (the effort) toward my big vision. I can control my mindset and effort today. I cannot control people’s responses. It also helps to remember that what I am putting out into the world is not going to please everyone anyway.
Remain unattached to the outcome
When I am unattached to outcome, I am more free to handle the negative responses of some and keep moving forward to support others in reaching for more in their lives. Mindfulness, intentionally bringing my thoughts into the present on that which I can control, supports the ability to focus on effort and not worrying about potential outcome.
Mindfulness is an important skill when we are working with our teams as well. When our inner sense of ease is lost, we are operating in a contracted state giving off a negative, stressful energy toward others. If you are a leader, you are setting the tone for those working for and with you. What can you do? Noticing your signals of unease, taking a few moments to reset with movement (a few deep breaths, or perhaps a brief walk) and asking yourself a Go-To question can be enough to shift into openness, flexibility and curiosity.
Thoughts return to supportive effort and remaining connected with those around you. You can control your effort and mindset, not the ultimate outcomes. The burden is lifted, and life becomes easier!
For additional questions, or to schedule a complimentary coaching session on leveraging Mindfullness to maximize potential and transform for a balanced, happier and impactful life, please email email@example.com