She makes time to rest, reflect, and act. The desires to simply push through and get more done is replaced by an increased awareness of what is needed (and what is not)…Stress is replaced by motivation. (From the marvelous blog of Leslie Bosserman at Lead With Intention. You should really check out the whole post here.)
Would you like to have such a thing said about you?
If you read my last blog post then you will be longing to implement mindfulness into your life. We left off last week right before I gave you my top 5 best ways to beautifully cultivate mindfulness in order to powerfully enhance your creativity. Well, your wait is over now!
1). Pare Down to Essentials
This might sound easy. But, depending on how task oriented you are and how much of an overachiever you are (hand-guiltily-raised), this is a huge challenge. However, you can’t be mindful if your schedule is overstuffed! If you have tons of extra little things on your to-do list that are preventing you from being able to take a moment to breath. If you are always behind the 8-ball, always scrambling and feeling like you can never catch up or get everything done.
Which is why you must pare down to the essentials. Ask yourself, “do I really need to check FB five times a day (or twitter, or Instagram)? Do I really need to spend so long reading the news? Or cooking dinner?” Now, these things are all well and good if they serve your ultimate purpose (for living, in businesses, etc), and if they fuel your creativity. For example, I adore cooking. It fuels me, and it is an excellent creative outlet for me. However, when I am super busy and am trying to get to other creative goals (aka, my writing work), then I have to pair down on some of the things that I love. Such as cooking. So that I can complete each task mindfully. Without multitasking.
Paring down to the essentials gives you the time you desire to create. And the time to be mindful.
2). Set Priorities
Of course, before you can pare down your life and your schedule (and if the two seem to be the same, then it is definitely time to pare down!) you have to set priorities. And then, when you are especially busy and you need to rearrange your schedule so that you do actually have a life and can be mindful, you can pair down your day starting with your lowest priorities. At least for a time.
This process of setting priorities not only helps you discover what you can eliminate but also what is most important to you. While we all at some level know what is most important to us, actually defining those things through a list will help you see just what you cannot ever ignore in your life. Like your family. And spiritual life. And your own wellbeing. Once you have your top three (or five, or six) things that you can never ignore, you can have greater resolve to say “no” to anything that will get in the way of your family dinner, morning workout, goodnight’s sleep, meditation, or whatever it is that is at the top of your list.
Once you have set your priorities, learn to say no.
3). Train Yourself to Be in the Moment
That’s right. You have to train yourself to be in the moment. At least if you are like me, a type A personality and incorrigible multitasker. I have found the best way to learn how to just be present in the moment is with yoga. (Hot yoga classes, to be exact – the more challenging the less I can think about any of the million worries running through my head.) For me, learning new poses or taking old ones to the next level while in a hot room takes up most all my attention. Add in an encouraging instructor inviting you to focus, regulate your breath, and eliminate distractions, and for an hour I am able to actually clear my mind of worries, tasks, and thoughts of all I want to achieve.
Now that I have been doing yoga for a while, I have been able to take up meditation. Before starting yoga I could never have just sat and thought about one thing – even my creativity was constantly being interrupted by thoughts of other scenes or to-dos. But now I find I quite enjoy just reflecting. It rejuvenates me and helps keep me from running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off.
Of course, yoga or meditation might not be your thing. But, find something that is. Maybe jogging helps you to shed the cares of your day and clear your mind. Or biking. Or even mowing the lawn. Just find a physical activity that helps you shed the distractions, even the good distractions, that come with your creative life. This will set you on the path to being able to be mindfully still.
4). Immerse Yourself in All-Absorbing Creativity
The next step is immersing yourself in an all-absorbing creative act.
Once I was able to clear my head while being physically active, I found it much easier to think, and only think, about my novels, or even about playing with my daughter. Before starting yoga, no matter how hard I tried I would inevitably get distracted while playing with my daughter, thinking about something else that needed to get done (yes, I’m very goal oriented – both a blessing and a curse). Now, though, especially since I love playing with her, I find that I can completely immerse myself in play. Or another creative act. Without getting distracted. Usually.
5). Set Aside Time To Rest and Reflect
Being mindfully creative is much easier than being mindfully still. Resting and reflecting. Yet, if you don’t allow yourself a rest from the cares of the day, a time just to think, imagine, or work out a problem without any distractions, then you will no longer be able to mindfully act. It is an eternally linked cycle, like a circadian rhythm.
Of course, it is still going to be quite a challenge to be mindful while reflecting or resting if you don’t make time for it. For if you don’t set aside the time, you will find yourself falling back into old routines. You will try to multitask. So, if it helps you, make an appointment with yourself or create a space on your to-do list to take a walk, soak in your tub like you have been longing to do for the past year, or even just to take an extra long shower. If you are mother of small children like me, then trust me, I know how hard it is to carve out enough time for even a quick shower. With a little creativity (I have come to find VeggieTales Silly Songs quite relaxing) it is possible to make moments to mindfully rest and reflect.
Now, it is time to stop reading my blog (only for today, I hope!) and go out and be more mindful. Try implementing these steps one at a time over the rest of this week and see what happens. I would love to hear your results!
(Keep an eye out for the next part in this mindfully creative series coming later this week.)
P. S. If you liked this post and want to help me make the world a more creative and beautiful place, share it with your friends via the links below. I would really appreciate it!
P. P. S. I would love to know how you cultivate mindfulness, any tips and tricks that you have, or just generally love to know if you like what you read. Please, please, please comment below! I would love to start a conversation with you.