Sitting in yet another noisy café today (what is it with the acoustics in cafes?!!), I found myself feeling aurally bombarded, brain-fizzed and about to burst as I sat tapping on my laptop, trying to have a productive hour before a meeting.
I managed to have the presence of mind in that moment to take what I often describe in my seminars and retreats as an ‘Intelligent Pause’: Stop, Breathe, Go again. As I breathed in, I decided to just let myself settle in my body and aim for calm inside, despite the din around. I sank into my breath and felt my body centring and settling. I felt my head clear. My body relaxed. Soon after, I found a fresh flow of thoughts around the writing I was doing, and gently settled back into my keyboard tapping.
BUT. Isn’t it so easy to keep tapping, feeling overwhelmed or head-fuzzy and just ploughing through – often churning out average work or perhaps doing it in a slow, sludge-like way … all in the name of soldiering on, getting it done, being busy.
That wise observer self that notices the fuzz, the sludge, the headache. That’s the bit to pay attention to. That’s the bit that will get you out of the grind and into wise effort.
Wise effort requires your awareness. You can’t change what you can’t see.
Wise effort is about doing what needs to be done, with the wisest use of energy and resources, to the best effect. It’s not being on the hamster wheel. It’s not being stress and rushed. It’s not about over-egging the pudding and doing too much.
Slow down to go faster
The thing about your wise observer (yes, you really do have one) is that it often can’t get a word in edge-wise because of all the other stuff rumbling through your mind – your to-do lists, that deadline, that text you’ve not had a reply to, the unfinished conversation with your other half this morning, and, and and …
So, what helps here??
> Make time for those Intelligent Pauses. I often say that taking a 2 min pause at 11am when you notice your stress levels rising, can make the difference between a frenzied day of rushing from one thing to another, and a day that has a steady pleasant rhythm, moving from one task to another and feeling satisfied with the completion of each one. Contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t take more time, and it takes less energy.
Just coming back to your breath can bring some quiet, a pause, a space to let that wiser part of you sneak in.
So, when you catch yourself somewhat frenzied: Stop. Breathe. Tweak. Go again.
> Use a quality question to guide your thinking when the pressure is on. Here are two of my favourite questions:
1 > What do I need right now?
2 > What is the smallest (or most logical) next step here?
> Pay attention to your Observer, it will help you be more intelligent. At the heart of the renewed phenomenon of mindfulness is the ability to be aware of the present moment, and of your self. Moshe Feldenkrais said ‘When you know how you do what you do, you can do what you want.’ While ignorance might be bliss, it’s not the road to brilliance. Becoming more aware of your reactions, thinking and emotions is the first step in taking charge of them. Only you can truly take charge of your stress, confidence or excellence. It’s an inside job, and you have the insider knowledge because you’re privy to everything going on in any moment. That is if you’re paying attention.
Try one of these tips for a week and see what difference it makes to you. No matter which you do, you will notice something new, that’s a guarantee. And let me know what works! I’d love to hear from you, so post a comment below and let me know.
My intelligent pause certainly helped me. Article completed :->
[If you’d like to be achieving and enjoying the ride, you might like to come join me for me new 6-month programme – Life the Right Way Up.]