If you feel like you have tried everything to make your life better, and are ready to just surrender one week to turn it around, then read on. I am reminded of how skeptical I was about living a whole month of my life in the way I am about to share. I honestly thought nothing would get done and I would just be further behind and have to start over again. Much to my surprise, my life got better. I was more disciplined, productive and my overall attitude and perspective on life was much improved. I don’t want to paint the picture that my life is perfect, or that this is your magic bullet, but I can honestly say my life is exponentially better than it has been for as long as I can remember. Consider this an investment in yourself. This one week surrender is focused on the foundation on which any success you have is going to be built. You! In order to have significant success you will need discipline, self-awareness and to be completely present in your environment. This one week may become a new and better lifestyle for you as it has for me, but at a minimum a week of these practices should bring you better insight on focusing your attention where you want it, and acting in a more disciplined way.
You aren’t your thoughts, your past, or how you feel
Many of the things that keep you from achieving your goals are the thoughts you have each day. When you set out to achieve something worthwhile your brain knows it might be uncomfortable. It will try to start pushing up all the reasons you should just stay comfortable. If you are not a natural morning person you will notice when your alarm goes off in the morning, your mind always starts feeding you all the reasons it’s ok to hit the snooze button and stay in bed five more minutes. You don’t willingly think these thoughts into existence, they naturally come up. These thoughts are just your natural biological reaction to discomfort and such thoughts are often the reason people stay stuck. This week’s practices will help you to realize that although you can’t keep these thoughts from coming up, you can choose to act differently. You can acknowledge the thought, and move in a completely different direction of your choosing. Most of us identify ourselves with these thoughts, but those thoughts are not us. They are completely biological processes based on evolution and our past life experiences and reactions. That last statement was difficult for me to believe until I was finally able to achieve things in spite of my mind’s protests. Keep the idea that you are not your thoughts, your past, or how you feel in mind as you go through the below practices this week.
Commit to the Present Moment
This week, commit to surrender your past and future thoughts for seven days. The focus for this one week is to keep your attention in the present moment. If you have a busy schedule you can plan your days just like normal, just try not to add any thoughts, good or bad about what needs to be done. When you notice yourself having thoughts about the past or future, just acknowledge them and go back to paying attention to the present moment. The following daily mindfulness practices will help you to notice when you get caught up in the past or future. They will also help you to focus back into the moment.
Practice 1 – Sitting Mindfulness
Take five or ten minutes early in your day and find a quiet comfortable place to sit. It is great if you can do this outside in nature, but if not any area will do. The first couple mornings at least turn off all your tech that might scream for your attention during this time. In the coming days you can try to leave it on, but if you do practice ignoring it until the end of the five or ten minutes. Once you are seated take a couple of deep slow breaths and relax your body. You can have your eyes opened, closed, or try it both ways. After those first two breaths, just focus your attention on your natural breath in and out. When you notice your mind thinking about something, just acknowledge it without adding any thoughts to it, and go back to focusing on your breath. If you notice yourself getting caught up in thought, just acknowledge you were caught up in thought and go back to focus on the breath. You shouldn’t feel like you are failing the exercise if you keep catching yourself getting caught up in thought. That is the purpose of the “practice”, to learn to catch yourself thinking and return to the present. This gives you practice at putting your attention where you want it. You will discover that most of your thoughts aren’t acts of free will, they just come up. You will also notice that the majority of them are about the past or future. As the week goes on if you feel like you want to extend this time you spend sitting to twenty minutes that is even better. You can also do this twice per day as well for ten minutes each. At the end of the time take a moment to notice how you feel, and what your mind is thinking. Don’t react to your thoughts just notice and acknowledge them. Starting your day this way will likely have positive results the first day you are able to comfortably get through five minutes. The purpose of the next exercises is to bring more mindfulness naturally into your day.
Practice 2 – Daily Mindful Tasks
Pick one or two mundane tasks each day. A couple of examples I use are, making the bed, and sending a routine message. Whatever your task, you are going to focus on the task and do it slowly and notice each step. Do the task as if it has something to tell you, and you are listening for it. If you find yourself thinking about how you feel about the task or anything else, just go back to focusing on each step as you are doing it. This practice was meant to begin to bring awareness into your day. The longer and more you practice doing tasks this way, the more aware you will be throughout your day. It will also serve to keep your attention on the present moment.
Practice 3 – 1 Minute Self Check
Plan a couple times per day, or set an alarm if you need to. When the alarm goes off, just take a couple of deep breaths, and take 1 minute to notice any thoughts that pop up. Acknowledge the thoughts that come up, without adding anything to them. Just pay attention to your breath for the rest of the moment, acknowledging any thoughts that come up. Near the end of the minute, notice how you feel.
A New State of Mindfulness
After a few days of the above Mindfulness practices, you will begin to notice some of your thoughts come and go without the kind of reactions you used to have to them. The same thing happens, you just no longer react negatively to it. Once this happens you become anchored in the present moment, you will begin to fret less over the past and worry less about the future. You will still have negative and doubting thoughts come up, but instead of identifying yourself as those thoughts you will realize you can choose to act apart from your thoughts.
Past, Present, and Future
Of the past, present, and future there is only one of them in which you can do anything, and that is the present moment. You can’t act in the past, and you can act in the future until it becomes the present moment. We miss so much of our lives because we are busy contemplating the future or past. Does it make sense that if you are going to do something well, then your mind needs to be aware, present, and focused on the task at hand in the present? As you go through this week of Mindfulness practices, keep this in mind.
Please feel free to reach out and let me know how this goes for you. firstname.lastname@example.org or just leave me a message here.
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