Episode #7 of the course Embodied mindfulness: Tools for tuning in to your health, creativity, and purpose by Mina Samuels
Glad you’re back!
We’re in this process together. We’re letting go of our fixation on goals. We are checking in on our progress with embodied mindfulness.
Progress sounds like a word that means outcome. It doesn’t. Progress is about how we are flowing. When I say that we should let go of our goals, I don’t mean that we should not have them at all—quite the opposite. We need goals to stay engaged. Goals are fuel for our internal fire. Even as we focus on process, it is our goals that create direction. We may be thrown off course, off balance, over and over again. We may change our desired destination. Still, we use our goals as a reason to start. Some days (weeks, months), we have trouble just getting started.
Here’s a productivity hack: Set micro-goals. These are dopamine-friendly-sized boosts that will keep you going. What can you do in the next hour? Today? This week? Is there one quick email you can answer and get off your plate, without getting sucked into the mire of your inbox?
Don’t think to yourself: “I need to reach a place of perfect balance, of total contentment, of complete financial security and 100% good health.” Think to yourself, “I need to take out the garbage. I need to go for this run. I need to practice a moment of embodied mindfulness. And then I’ll see what might be next on my list.”
Everything is not going to change at once. Do things one day at a time, little by little. Take baby steps toward the big goals. Find the balance between effort and ease. There are rarely lightning bolts sizzling with insight or an instant hook-up to the great source of all wisdom. More likely, you will glean little bits of insight that you only notice because you are being mindful. Noticing feeds itself. We are in a constant state of re-learning what we already knew but somehow forgot or thought had changed.
When we live in the process instead of for an outcome, we wake up to the habits that we’ve leaned on to guide us while we aren’t looking; in other words, while we aren’t being mindful. Ironically, when we are too goal oriented, we may sign over large swathes of our life to habitual action-strategies, which in turn, may cause us to lose our goal orientation. Addictions, for example, are an extreme manifestation of relying too much on a habit.
Habits and goals are two separate psychological motivators. Scientific studies are locating the different synaptic transactions in our brain, which govern the balance between goal-directed and habitual action. Part of the aim of the research is to find the chemical stimulants or repressors that might be used to cause us to either build a habit or break one.
It is on us to assess where a habit helps us and where a goal serves us better. As with everything, the key is balance.
The current energy that animates all that we are and aspire to be is the constant dynamic tension of finding, maintaining, losing, and finding balance.
This brings us to flow. Flow in the process is a third psychological motivator, more powerful than habits or goals. When we are mindful, when we focus on our accomplishment of micro-goals as they arise, we are focused on the process, the flow, the fluidity of balance.
Feast on every little joy and pleasure, the smallest bits of progress, and the fleeting moments of process-flow as they come. Even when life feels parsimonious and insufficient, we will be surprised by how nourishing the mindset of abundance is. Because, that’s what focusing on micro-goals creates: abundance.
Instead of being disappointed by how long it is taking to reach a distant and difficult goal, we notice (and celebrate) the micro-goals along the way.
Make One Small Positive Change Today
Set a micro-goal for today. Practice mindful movement. Extend your exercise session by five minutes. Notice every time something positive happens in your day, no matter how insignificant it seems. Do one small thing for yourself that you’ve been putting off because it never quite rises to the top of the priority list. Celebrate your micro-accomplishment.
As we expand into our embodied mindfulness, we begin to find the pause, which will be tomorrow’s topic.
Notice the day!
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