I am prone to procrastination and I have been particularly unfocused lately so it is very good timing that this weeks Take Action Challenge in Cheryl Richardson’s book Life Makeovers: 52 Practical and Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time is about focusing your energy.
She challenges us during this week to use the first fifteen minutes of each day to create our own ritual, find a comfortable place to write and identify our top three priorities for the week. Next list the actions we’ll take to honour these priorities during the day. And finally , challenge ourselves to identify at least three possible distractions and eliminate them before we start your day.
Personally I find the prospect of doing this every morning before I go to work a little daunting at the moment so I will need to adapt it a little to make it fit into what I’ve already got going on. Which is each Sunday having a meeting with myself and my planner (I use Lisa O’Neill’s Purpose Planner) and planning out my week. So now when I am doing that on a Sunday evening I will add in:
- What my top 3 priorities for the week are:
- What the 5 actions I need to take that week to honour these priorities are:
- What the 3 possible distractions are:
- What I will do to eliminate these distractions:
And most importantly, to remember to check in with this each morning before I start my day.
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy suggest that today you retreat to a quiet place where you can sit or even lie down in a comfortable position so that you can relax your body. Now close your eyes and let your breathing become slow and steady. Get in touch with the silence within.
Remember there are many different ways to meditate after all it is just intentional concentration on one thing, which can be either secular or spiritual. Perhaps you have become so absorbed in gardening, reading or even balancing your chequebook that your breathing has slowed and you become as single pointed as a panther stalking her dinner. She suggests the following different ways of meditating depending on your inner needs:
- The Golden Mirror Meditation
- Writing your Daily Dialogue Pages
- Gazing into the flame of a candle
- Concentrating on a sacred word in a centring prayer
- Focusing on a poetic phrase to find a deeper personal meaning
- Setting out on a Walking Mediation
- Baking Meditation
- Eating a small, moist piece of chocolate cake with exquisite attention & tremendous gratitude.
Trinny & Susannah in their book The Survival Guide: A Woman’s Secret Weapon For Getting Through The Year say that it is the time to think about the art of not looking your age by learning ways to meditate.
- Media: First they recommend you try going without newspapers and TV for a week. They say that they fill our brains with a relentless diet of drama and chaos. Don’t fret, if world war three breaks out you can be sure someone will tell you. Use the free time to listen to music and read books. Observe how calm and free thinking you become after just a few days.
- Rhythmic walking: Then instead of pounding away in front of a workout video try going for a long walk. Rhythmic walking is a great form of meditation.
- A long bath: A long bath with no radio or television allows the brain to unwind as well as the body. Giving freedom to the mind allows it to be creative. Often leading to one of those eureka moments.
- Light a candle: Focus on a candle flame & notice all the colours & the way it moves. This will help you empty your mind. Thoughts will intrude, just let them float away. Start with a few minutes & slowly build it up. You don’t have to do this every night but you will find the more you do it the easier it gets
- Prayer: They also recommend trying the following prayer;
Please help me to love and forgive myself.
Help me to forgive everyone who has hurt me and let them go in peace.
Ask for forgiveness from everyone that I have hurt consciously or unconsciously.
Help me to accept myself as I am.
I am part of your world.
I feel your light within me.
I am free.
Consider how you might be able to carve out twenty minutes a day to meditate.
Incorporating gratitude into your daily life is a game changer, so many people are singing its praises, talking about what a difference it has made to them. I have at many different times in my life tried to incorporate this habit into my everyday life. Each time I start out with great intentions and every time I last a little longer but I always end up letting it slide. I am hoping that a little guidance from some wise women will be all the inspiration I need to help keep me on track this time.
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy talks about a gratitude journal being an important tool in becoming a happier, more content person. She suggests you visit a good large stationary & book store to search for a beautiful blank book to use as your gratitude journal & a pen to write in it with. Start the book with an inventory of your life’s assets. Now every night before you go to bed write in it 5 things about the day you are grateful for.
That simple free restorative pastime that truly is beneficial to mind, body and soul. Walking as meditation, stress relief, social activity & exercise.
Sarah Ban Breathnach recommends in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy that you partake in twenty to thirty minutes of walking everyday, not as exercise but as a form of mediation. That you take long strides, focus on your breath and try to quiet the voices in your head. notice birds singing, dogs barking and pretty garden. Treat the raised heart beat, increased strength and other exercise benefits as just an added bonus. She reminds us that anytime is a good time for a walk, early morning after you wake, during your lunch break or in the evening, everyone can find some time during the day that works for them.
Kimberly Crossman in her book Love You: Be your Best And Live Your Dreams has a completely different take on walking, viewing it as a great social activity that helps her connect with her friends. She recommends that instead of catching up over coffee you arrange to meet for a walk at a park or beach. She believes that by hanging out with friends and chatting while you walk the time goes quickly, it becomes a pleasurable activity and you’re more like to want to do it more often.
Caroline Jones in her book The Desperate Housewife’s Guide to Life And Love: Essential Survival Strategies for Enjoying Your Family, Career, Friends and Sex Life talks about brisk walking being one of the best forms of exercise when you’re 50+. That it is very important to stay active at this age even though you may be slightly more susceptible to fractures, your body will thank you and stay in much better shape, especially if you remember to chuck in some steps on your regular walks as well.
I really struggle to make walking a regular part of my weekly routine, even though I completely agree with Sarah and Kimberly that it is both excellent stress relief and social connecting. I do really enjoy walking with friends and family and always feel much more connected afterwards I never seem to plan these walks into my weekly routine and it is only something that happens spontaneously. Also I do bust out of the office for a very brisk walk at lunchtime if I’m having a particularly stressful day and always return feeling much better with a clearer head for the afternoon, I still struggle to add this to my everyday routine at work even though I know I would hugely benefit from this, as I never seem to do it on a good day. I am going to have to look at why I don’t make something that is so clearly beneficial to me more of a priority.
Introduce a twenty minute solo walk into your daily routine and once a week schedule it to have as a catch up with a friend.