Your Power of Choice

I’m a bit in awe of this phase of my life.  Over the past few months, I’ve spent a great deal of time actively recording and embracing the patterns of my life that are working and simultaneously quieting those that are not working.   In short, the things that aren’t working usually relate to me getting pulled out of my body and into my spinning, churning, analyzing head.  A head, by the way, that serves me well a great deal also.  Yet, I can catch it on overdrive and that’s when I find that I am not effective any longer in whatever I was hoping to do… teach a class, make dinner, talk with my husband, and a plethora of other things.

When I catch the churning coming on, I recognize that I have choice.  I have the actual choice to continue down a path of grittiness and frustration or I have the choice to embrace a shift toward ease.  To move.  To breathe.  To be still.  These are my choices in a given moment – these are my tools on this journey and they serve me well.  If you want to explore more, try out the following.

1) For one week, commit to a “daily recap” at the end of your day.  Use one notebook or notepad for the week so you have all daily recaps in the same place.  As part of your evening routine (think brushing teeth, washing face, etc.), add in less than 5 minutes to jot down:

A)  3 things that went well during your day.
For me, a very possible list might say, 1) Ate all 3 meals sitting at the table, 2) Walk with family, 3) Meditated.

B)  3 things that could have gone better during your day.

And for me, this is a realistic list that might show up, 1) Exhausted this morning because went to bed at midnight, 2) Got visibly frustrated with my 3 year old and felt badly afterward, 3) Didn’t have a dinner plan and flustered when kids got wound up at 5:30.

A tip – don’t dwell on this list.  Write what comes to mind quickly and set it aside until the next night.

2)  At the end of the week, look back at your daily list and see what patterns you catch… what are you doing well and what is consistently not going so well?

For example, if the first list included “walking outside” as a 5 out of 7 day hit for me (or 4 out of 7 day or whatever I deem successful), that would be a good pattern for me to recognize and celebrate.  On the second list, if “went to bed at midnight” or around that time was jotted down each day, I’d know factually and in writing, that I have a pattern that I’d like to quiet down.

3)  Then add a layer and notice how movement, stillness or breath both applies to what is going well and what could be going better.

Ah, movement is feeding my soul.  See how it is on the “What went well” list in my walk with my family? In terms of layering on going to bed too late, if it is something I want to quiet then I know I need to embrace “stillness” to stop the flow of doing things in the evening.  Perhaps I also know that it is generally the same thing that keeps me up late every night – whether that be work or just watching t.v. or whatever.  Regardless of what I am choosing to stay up for right now, I recognize that stillness is more important than that action.  Stillness is my new choice instead of staying up late and churning.

4)  What small shifts can you make so that if you choose to do this exercise again the following week, “things that could  have gone better” will look a little different and not like the exact same tire tracks?  Think small – like how I have you move in class.

So, if I don’t want to see “Exhausted this morning because went to bed late” on my list next week, I decide that my priority for the next week is to go to bed, lights off at 10pm. That’s it.  Just one shift for one item.  Not 10 changes to address all 10 items.  Where will you get the biggest bang for your buck in areas that could quiet patterns of disservice?  

5)  Of equal importance, celebrate what is going well and nurture it.  Keep it going!  You’re doing great and getting more aware that every moment of every day involves choice of movement, stillness, and breath.

We’ll continue to play with the power of choice in my upcoming classes.  Feel free to email me or talk to me after class with any specific questions.  I hope we have a chance to chat soon.

Be well and breathe easy,

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