This quarantine has presented me with more time than I normally have. And of course I want to make the best of it. Instead of obsessively watching the news and growing anxiety, I am using my time to start some much needed daily habits!
Wise Mind vs Monkey Mind
What is a daily habit that echoes in your head, that when you sit with it you know it comes from your wise mind? Not your emotional mind, but the wisdom within you that knows what is right for you.
Our “monkey mind,” or emotional mind, can come up with tons of things…. I need to exercise daily , I need to start a yoga routine, I need to do cleaning projects, I need to do yard projects. All these thoughts could be wise mind or could be monkey mind / emotional mind.
The trick with this goal is to find a wise-minded goal, not an emotionally-based monkey minded goal. Many perfectionist individuals, (like me), can come up with an extensive list of habits that we will never begin and then feel bad for not completing. Welcome to my world, SMH. This blog will teach you how to identify reasonable goals that you are capable of achieving.
How to Identify Wise Minded Goals
1. Step One: Centering Yourself (Relaxing)
Sit in a quiet place and notice your breathing. Focus on your in-breathing: breathe in and then when you feel yourself breathing out, focus on your breath as it exits your nose… then repeat until you feel centered/relaxed. When your mind becomes distracted just bring your focus back to noticing your breathing. Some have their own centering techniques like prayer, movement, yoga, or staring at the clouds; whatever your method, I want you to center/relax first.
2. Step Two: Seek Guidance from Your Wise Mind
Ask your wise mind what a goal you would like to focus on is. The trick here is not to give Yourself the answer. Because if your mind is like mine you will come up with fantastic goals like I will paint my whole house. I will never eat sugar. I will exercise every day. Thank you Monkey Mind. I like to name it and thank it and laugh at myself. After you are centered, ask the question and when you breathe in and when you breathe out listen for the answer. If no answer comes try again later. This is a DBT technique.
3. Write Reminders Everywhere
Once you receive your answer, write it down on your mirror in your bathroom where you see it everyday. If doing this task seems impossible just start with today.
4. Just for Today
Remember these things do not have to be done perfectly or everyday. Starting something new can take time to do it regularly. The point is to do it more than you have been doing it. That is a success.
5. Self Compassion is Essential
Yes, I said it Be Nice to You. It is highly underrated and can take you a long way in terms of completing goals. Self compassion is essential.
I started my goal of stretching before bed last week and sitting outside to relax after work... I did stretching twice last week and sat outside once after work. My mind wants to judge myself, but I just redirect my attention. Honestly, change is hard and this is good start. Gradual change that is constantly building lasts longer. Don't aim to be a perfectionist completing the task because perfectionism takes a lot of energy and cannot be held. I see this process daily in my office, and small builds last longer.
Hearing Your Wise Mind Takes Time
If you have not received an answer from your wise mind, your task will be centering until your answer comes. For some people this task alone takes several days to several weeks.
We make lots of emotional choices and form goals that are based fully on emotions and are not always best for us, if we consider the facts. The wisdom within us will tell us what is best to focus on individually.
In my office I constantly discuss this point and teach people how to access their own inner wisdom. We can access it easily for others, because it seems so clear what they must do, but for ourselves emotions normally get in the way. Be Kind to Yourself!
I hope this helps to bring some focus and direction during COVID-19 quarantine.