Over the years, I’ve learned that making time to both set intentions and to self-reflect always pays-off. Self-inquiry, as much as self-regulation, is an essential tool for personal growth, empowerment, and fulfillment. Everything works out better when I’m clear on the inside first, and when I take responsibility for what actually happened, after.
At the beginning of 2014, when I set the intention to embody ease, it launched me into a life changing self-inquiry process. I didn’t know how to function with ease – and get everything done?! It seemed impossible. Stressed and pushing myself defined my way of being much of the time. I tried to off-set it with yoga and meditation but that was just a band-aid. I needed to look deeper and address how my nervous system was constantly in a rev and re-calibrate.
I didn’t know how to do ease but I was committed to being it. Notice that I was not intending what but how. I was not looking to accomplish more, but to feel ease inside of all my actions. The good news is that inside of every heartfelt intention are the resources to manifest it. I just had to use ease as my new compass and figure out how to stay on course as I went along. It’s like balancing. I had to stay present and responsive to the dynamic feedback loop with my whole body-mind-heart. In the process, I learned how. Living from a place of receiving rather than forcing is well worth it. And it’s an on-going practice. Being mindful, authentic, self-realizing requires continual self-inquiry and reflection.
For most of us, we wake up and think about what we have to do today. My recommendation is to, instead, before getting out of bed, spend time attuning to how and who you want to be today. The ability to attune and embody an intention takes scheduling time to regularly look inward and process thoughts, feelings, judgments, desires, mistakes, inner conflicts, behaviors in a productive way. That’s how I define self-inquiry – as a meditative form of mental-emotional hygiene that enables you to align thought-word-deed more fully and more specifically.
Before embarking on anything – a new day, a new year, a transition, a project, or a stage of life, it’s important to explore what’s really true for you so that the intentions you set feel visceral and can powerfully inform and organize your choices and responses.
- What do I want to create? How do I want to contribute?
- Where am I really coming from? How do I want to feel?
- What qualities do I want to embody? What qualities do I embody by default?
- What am I responsible for? What am I not responsible for? What’s my role?
- What part of myself am I identified with? What other parts could I identify with?
- Are parts of myself in conflict? What am I not looking at?
- What can I let go of? What do I choose to nurture?
- What lights me up? What am I putting up with?
At the end of the day, the week, the experience and throughout, checking in supports your awareness, reaffirms your intentions, clears mental-emotional debris and stress, and enhances your ability to be more mindful and intentional.
- Was I attuned to my intention? Was I whom I intended to be?
- What showed up as a result of my intention that surprised me? scared me? thrilled me?
- What feedback did I get? What did I notice in others?
- What went well? Why? What didn’t go well? Why?
- What can I acknowledge myself for? What/Who am I grateful for?
- What was different? What was the same? What would I change?
Dr. Christine Carter, in her talk, Wisdom 2.0, points out that being over-busy and multi-tasking, do not make us more important or more productive. They actually cause cognitive overload, which causes mistakes, stress, and poor health. The truth is, in so many instances, less is more. Her advice is to focus on one thing at a time, to let yourself have “do nothing” time to daydream, and to pay attention to your feelings. I couldn’t agree more. There are three transformational intentions that would totally increase your mindfulness and your health should you take them on.
Make time for a quiet intention-setting in the morning. Set yourself up to attune to a quality or way of being that supports your highest self in everything you do.
Pause to attune to that quality throughout the day. Every time you do this, notice and release any tension or negative inner dialogue. Keep seeing and experiencing through the lens of your intention.
Be compassionate with yourself and everyone else. Do your best AND don’t take it too seriously. If your intention is to embody kindness, goodness, or clarity, you are not going to be perfect, so it’s important to be those qualities with yourself first and foremost!