Beliefnet
Mindfulness Matters

13255700373_ba79650d8a_zThe other day I had an unusual Thursday. My typical Thursday involves an afternoon of clinical practice. This particular Thursday, in addition to my clinical hours I had a number of extra-curricular activities. It was a concatenation of extrovert-like activities intensified in a day.

First, I volunteered to man the booth for the Coaching Center of Vermont at the business expo. This was 2.5 hours of the kind of random, awkward, and draining encounters that I tend to aver as an introvert. I went to this event knowing that it would be a challenge because the “cause” is important to me. I am part of the Coaching Center’s new initiative: Vital Leadership Coaching (more on that in the future). I was happy when my time was done!

From the business expo, I headed to a business-related luncheon meeting, exploring an opportunity to teach mindfulness to an organization.

From the lunch meeting, I went to my office to do my psychotherapy practice. From there I went out to dinner with friends.

It was bad planning to schedule multiple social events on the same day I had a big introvert challenge. But I soldiered through the day, enjoying myself throughout.

How did I do that? First, I recognized that I was spending a lot of energy and running a deficit. This helped me to frame the day and help me to prepare the best that I could.

Second, I looked for opportunities for micro-solitude in the midst of this busy day. I found these while walking to and from each of my appointments for the morning. It was a lovely spring day, and I used the walking time to be quiet in my mind and recharge some of my energy so I had my best energy to be present at each of my commitments for the day. During lunch, I enjoyed sitting in the glorious sunshine.

Third, rather than resisting the schedule (or castigating myself for poor planning), I decided to ride the wave of extroverted energy. It was actually fun to do this, so long as it was just one day and not something I had to do everyday.

Fourth, I knew I’d need substantial recovery time. I had a window on Friday where I would have to take impeccable care of myself, especially because we had company arriving for the holiday weekend. That self-care needed to be restful.

I have recently been thinking about what it truly means to rest. Recall that “Get some rest” is the first step in your GPS for success.

Getting adequate sleep is, of course, a necessary but still elusive foundation for most people. As a nation, we are sleep deprived. Assuming you are one of the lucky few who gets a decent night of sleep (I shouldn’t say lucky, but rather skillful), there is more to rest than being rested.

To rest is to be in a place where few demands are being placed upon us. We are beholden to no one in the moment. We don’t have anything we “need” to do. To this end, I set aside social media for the day and imposed no particular agendas on myself. I had a productive day but I tried to view each activity as a want rather than a should. A should places demands upon us and squeezes out the restfulness of any moment.

Rest requires being unplugged for a period of time from our devices and media and also from the demands of our own storytelling minds. To this end, meditation helps and I certainly spent some time doing mindfulness practice. I also spent time doing nothing in particular. I gazed at the trees that are now in bloom, I watched the dogs play with each other and played with them too. I meandered from moment-to-moment with no particular agenda. This was rest and it helped to restore my energy.

Rest can be active or still. Sometimes trail running in the woods can feel like rest and at others times it is exhausting. Yesterday I decided to defer on the run. Being in a natural setting helps. By the end of the day, I had closed the extroverted energy deficit that I had accumulated the day before. Needless to say, I kept communications to a minimum whether by phone, text, or email.

In The Awakened Introvert, I created an exercise for monitoring our energy in terms of activities that build energy and those that drain. You can monitor them throughout the week and tally the balance. Knowing how much you’ve expended can guide you towards restoration.

Oprah.com published an excerpt of another energy monitoring exercise and if you haven’t seen that you, you can view it here.

Right now, I feel like I need some more rest and when I finish writing to you, Dear Readers, I will turn off my computer and get some!