When we are engaged in the day-to-day living of our lives, it is so easy to lose track of our own thoughts, desires and inner voice. I have a six-year-old son whom I adore, yet there are times when he talks so much that I cannot even finish a thought of my own! Whether it is our kids, our jobs or the demands of our fast-paced society, life seems to always be coming at us. So how do we regain a sense of control and intentional direction rather than continue to be pushed down the fast-moving river of life?
Here are some suggestions to help you slow down and tune into a deeper rhythm:
1. Develop a “savoring pace.” Kirk Byron Jones is a minister and author of several books on the topic of our relationship to time. He uses the phrase “savoring pace” to address moving through life with a sense of purpose, ease and gratitude. In order to develop a savoring pace, we have to slow down enough to notice what is happening. By slowing down, I do not even necessarily mean doing less (although for many of us, this will likely be essential). It is more a matter of slowing down our inner world. Turning off our incoming emails and text messages long enough to think more deeply about what we are doing, taking 20 minutes in the mornings to set our intention for the day, look at how we want to experience the coming activities and what we want to accomplish. Living in a savoring pace means that you sometimes pick up the phone and call someone rather than shooting off a quick text message. Take the time to intentionally connect with others rather than operate in a transactional mode of quickly getting things done so you can move on to the next thing. Allow yourself to savor the connection, appreciating the person on the other end of the line, celebrating your relatedness with those around you.
2. Develop practices that bring order to your life. An ordered mind gives rise to an ordered life. Take stock of the way you are living your life, and begin to develop practices that enhance order. I teach a course called “Energy Management” in which people look closely at how they are managing all of the energy in their lives: the energy of time, money, possessions, their body and relationships. One of the challenges that nearly every person deals with is clutter and disorganization in their physical environment. By beginning to bring order to your physical environment, you begin bringing order to your mind, your energy and your direction in life. Begin with simple things like dealing with your mail when it comes in the door rather than letting it pile up. Choose one closet to declutter and organize. Just spend an hour or two and see how it energizes you once you get started. Do not let the energy of overwhelm stop you! That feeling really does disappear once you get moving. Inertia is a powerful force and what overcomes inertia is action!
3. Create a vision for what is possible for a life of balance and ease. Everything that is intentionally created in our lives first begins with a vision. In fact, if you do not have a vision for how you want your life to look and feel, it is almost guaranteed that you will get caught up in the rat race of other people’s demands or desires for you. Stop right now and ask yourself this question: Is the way I live my life aligned with how I want it to be? If the answer to this question is no, what one small thing can you do to bring greater alignment? I have a friend who does “tech-free” days in which she does not interface with technology at all – no cell phone, no email, no Facebook. She liked it so much that she expanded it to “tech-free weekends.” Living for even brief periods of time without the constant interruption of texts, calls and emails slows down your mind and gives rise to increased clarity and calm.
Pace, practices and possibility – these are ways you can begin to manage your energy rather than manage your time. By managing your energy, you create a sense of clarity and peacefulness that is uncommon in our days. Notice your pace and your practices and ask yourself if this is what you want for your life. If the answer is “no,” create a new possibility and begin moving toward it – for yourself and for the benefit of all those you love!