Stop! And Name Your Intention
By Martha Ruske
I usually write two newsletters a month for my website, but recently I missed an issue. I had gone away on a "rustic retreat weekend, and although I had intended to write it before I left, it just didn't happen.
When I got back I felt pressured to get down to work, but felt unfocused and distracted. When I was younger I would simply force myself to do things I really didn't feel like doing. My method for writing term papers in college was to keep a bottle of wine next to the typewriter. The wine kept the anxiety at bay so that the words could come out on paper. Well, that's just not an option anymore!
It's not even a question of not wanting to do the work. I CHOOSE to write my newsletter. No one says I have to, or sets a due date, but me. Some people mistakenly conclude, by the way, that because they are anxious about something, or put something off, that they aren't good at it or aren't meant to do it. That's not necessarily true.
How often are you confronted with something you want to do, or need to accomplish, but find it hard to stop, focus, and sit down to actually do it? If you work for yourself, and set your own schedule, this may come up quite often. Maybe you make these excuses to yourself:
We may keep ourselves in mental and physical motion because we don't want to stop and be present with ourselves. (Those of us in recovery know how familiar it can be to "not be present.") In my case, I could also have thoughts generated from the "inner critic like: probably nobody wants to read my newsletter anyway. Who am I to think I have anything to say?
I'm not going to buy into that. And you don't have to, either, for whatever you're working on. Here's a method, borrowed from creativity coach Eric Maisel, which will center you, clear your mind, and focus your intention, if you let it. It is a six-breath, six-thought, one-minute technique. Read these guidelines before starting:
READY? HERE"S THE CENTERING SEQUENCE:
Practice the sequence several times right now. (If you feel like putting it off, even though it will only take one minute, ask yourself why you've read this far but are unwilling to do the exercise.) Take your time, paying attention to the quality and length of your breaths. Notice how you feel when you're done.
Whether you employ the Centering Sequence above, or use some other technique like mindfulness meditation or the Remembrance, the task of bringing yourself into the moment still remains.
In his book Coaching the Artist Within, Maisel reminds us that the process of creating requires a centered presence. If we are scattered, anxious, rushed, or uncentered, we squander our chance to create.
I think this applies as much to creating our full lives in recovery as it does to creating a book or a work of art, or a newsletter. Intention and being present, showing up for our lives, counts for a lot.
About The Author
Martha Ruske is a marriage and family therapist in California. She currently works with people in long-term recovery from alcoholism, helping them step out into the fuller life they deserve. Find out about the benefits of recovery life coaching and get a free workbook at www.intentionalpath.com.