Hello Sweet Community.
The cold weather is finally here. The dark comes early every day. The rain and drizzle have been near constant. It’s a little harder to get out of bed in the morning. It takes a few extra layers and some waterproof boots to go outside and enjoy the hours of sunlight we do have available. It is nice to be inside our homes for warmth and for light and for nourishing food. It is a time of dormancy and going inward. We are not called on to grow and bloom so much as to hibernate, to rest, to conserve our energy. To focus on family and home. Ahh, winter. It feels kind of good doesn’t it?
And then there was the election. However you feel about the results, this is a very potent period of change, of re-balancing, getting our bearings in a new landscape. People have seemed a bit disoriented. People have experienced a wide range of feelings. At this time, we all need to be gentle with ourselves and each other. We need to take extra good care of ourselves, so we can extend that well-being out to all others.
As is fitting for the season, I have felt the urge to look inward and watch my mind, my heart and my reactions and see what I can learn from them about myself and how I can grow as a person and a member of society. It hasn’t felt right for me to be especially active or verbal in interacting with politics or the world. Instead, I have been very introspective. Every time I sit down to write the next blog post, I feel somewhat reserved, letting thoughts swirl and simmer until they are ready, whenever that is.
For me, introspection often has a painful side to it, but I always feel the results are worth it. Lately, I have been fairly successful at observing some of the less generous or kind parts of myself, which would lead me into feeling despair about myself or the world, without really believing what they have to say. That has been very worthwhile. Being there and listening, but not buying in completely. I have learned to be skeptical about almost everything I think or believe. I’ve found that to be quite helpful.
There is one small practice which I would like to go ahead and share with you. This is something you have no doubt heard of and practiced before many times, but it has been working for me in the past few weeks, so I will offer this little reminder to myself and to all of us about the practice of setting our intention throughout the day.
Intention setting is such a simple thing. The way I have been practicing it lately is by breaking my day into chunks and setting an intention for the next chunk. It might look like this:
OK, I’m going to write a blog post for WorkWell right now. Before I get started on that, what is my intention? Then, I sort of feel into my heart to see what I really need, what will feel right. An answer will come to me, such as “I want to get out of my own consciousness and connect with the group consciousness. I also want to be helpful.” Then I keep that as my primary focus during the activity. I know why I am there, what my purpose and direction are.
Later, as I prepare to leave work, it’s time to set another intention. OK, I’m going to pick up Gus from school and go home to make dinner and do our evening chores and routine. What is my intention? Again, I take a few moments to feel into what is needed. I don’t get stuck in my to-do list. That is there, and it will happen. But what I’m looking for now is not the what but the how. The answer will usually be simple, like I want to relax and have fun with my family. Once again, I now know purpose and can let it guide my decisions and actions for the rest of the night.
It’s amazing how differently the day will unfold if I just take the time to set an intention. Sometimes my intention is to learn something, to listen, to rest, to heal, to connect. When I take just a few minutes to tune into what I really need, my actions become so much more meaningful, focused and productive. It saves a lot of headaches.
Last thing I will say about this is that it is particularly helpful to use this practice for getting through parts of the day that are predictably difficult. Sometimes for me, checking emails is stressful. Lately, evenings and bedtime seem to be sad times for me. Noticing these in advance and taking a few minutes beforehand to check in and ask our body/minds what we need can make a world of difference. When we know our goal, we can let go of everything else. If all I desire is to be mindful when checking e-mail, then I will have succeeded, regardless of everything else. If all I need is to give myself a big break from being perfect at bed time, then I will have succeeded as long as I can accomplish that one thing.
So, this is what I am going to keep practicing this month, and I invite you to try it as well or to share in the comments or on our Facebook Page what practices are currently helpful in your life.
We are so fortunate to share this life with such wonderful companions who are also looking and feeling deeply and who support and inspire us. Thank you for being on this planet and in this life.