Hi Folks, one of our smart, savvy friends is Brandi Lust. Brandi is a mindfulness consultant. Cool job title, right? She works with companies to help them bring mindfulness to their organizations. She speaks and teaches and facilitates with groups.
She attended a workshop that The Wonder Jam hosted with Chris McAlister. The workshop with about calendaring and meeting mastery. Brandi has a unique perspective and I wanted her to write up a reflection on the event and the content, so that is why you find below. Take it away, Brandi!
As a mindfulness consultant, I feel compelled to walk my talk. It is part of my job to model self-care and to be aware of how much can be taken on in a day while still being fully present. With this in mind, it was a little unsettling to be at The Wonder Jam on a Sunday morning taking Chris Mcalister’s workshop “Crush Your Calendar and Master your Meetings.”
Why had I agreed to do this? In the preceding seven days, I hosted four events, attended an invocation, attended a reception, wrote two papers and attended four classes in my master’s program.
Don’t let me forget, I was attempting to be a present, engaged wife and mother as well.
When I told my spouse – Jamey – the plan to attend a workshop about calendaring and meetings, his response was, “Why, Brandi? Why would you do that?”
A reasonable question.
As a (mostly) reformed workaholic and overachiever, my brain is prone to sign up for more challenges. Saying no to a new adventure isn’t easy. All of this is great, but not if I get in over my head and lose focus on what is really important: for example, family. Jamey knows all of this.
So why was I sitting in this workshop? To be honest, it wasn’t interested in the content. I felt I had total control over my calendar (obviously). More than anything, I just trusted Adam. Adam had been telling me how helpful McAlister’s content had been so I just said yes, believing it would be helpful.
Now here I was sitting in this workshop on a Sunday morning, trying to write down priorities as the first step to creating a weekly calendar and staring at the page blankly as a slow-moving awareness and a mild panic began welling up. The guy next to me seemed nice, and we had said hi. Turing to him I commented. “Ummm. I don’t even know what my priorities are to put in this calendar. I own my own business. That seems really wrong, right?”
“I don’t think this is supposed to stress you out more,” he said, obviously taking a cue from the look on my face.
True story. This should definitely not be creating more stress. We started up a conversation, and it turned out he owned his own business in law. We chatted about how I was spending the days, and I mentioned what needed to be done to reconfigure Learning Lab Consulting. “You have to build in growth time and work on those things,” he said.
This was a fine point. Thinking about balancing the needs of now with desires for the future was really helpful.
Being at a point of serious growth for the business, it is really easy to get caught up in the daily tasks. However, defining a vision for the future and taking action toward it are keys to not letting work take over.
Looking at how to build a calendar and the ways time is spent was helpful. It was a reconnection with purpose and vision, linked to the day-to-day reality.
In addition to this insight, Chris’s workshop also connected back to some of the work I do as a mindfulness consultant. He articulated the need for rejuvenation experiences and talked a little about what those look like, describing the difference between experiences that refresh, reconnect and rejuvenate versus experiences of “vegging out.”
The former sounded a lot like the things I teach people about rejuvenation; specifically, that there are experiences that all of us have that make us feel alive and more connected to others and the present moment (more on that later).
The latter, “vegging out” experiences, are what people might do to escape the moment. These are “opting out” moments.
“This was a crappy day. Guess it’s time to binge watch four episodes of Orange is the New Black.”
“I need a glass (or five) of wine; that meeting was horrible.”
“Ugh. The conversation went down like that? Maybe pounding this pint of Graeter’s isn’t the answer, but it sounds pretty good right now.”
All of these things are a way to escape the present moment and the discomfort that it presents. There is nothing wrong with a glass of wine or eating ice cream, but if they become a way to get out of unpleasant experiences, then they are really doing more harm than good.
This being said, we have to have times to recuperate and recharge or we are no good for anyone. Speaking from experience, this is so relevant for business owners who might be tempted to work crazy hours to fulfill their passion and can easily get caught up in the many, daily tasks that need attention.
So for people who struggle with balance, business owner or not, “rejuvenation” maps are one tool I use while working with people to build a healthier and more fulfilling existence. These maps are intended to mine one’s own life for the meaningful experiences already present and capitalize on what individuals love and definitely need more of.
Here are the instructions to create your own rejuvenation map.
FIRST, GRAB PAPER AND PEN
Fold paper in half so that there are two sides.
- On one side write “Outer silence.” These are experiences where you are in a silent, or at least quiet, setting. Make a list of these moments. Here are some of mine:
- Working from home (without music)
- Walking to pick up Sawyer from kindergarten
- During meditative practice
- When hiking or walking in the neighborhood
- At an art museum
- In the library
Now fold the paper out. On the blank half of the paper, write “inner silence.” Inner silence is when you are absorbed in the activity, your mind slows, and you are fully engaged in the sensations of the experience. Look back at the first side of the paper and draw arrows that indicate if you are also experiencing inner silence when you are experiencing outer silence with an arrow and a phrase: always, frequently, sometimes, rarely, or never. Here is how mine turned out.
- Working from home (without music) —— > rarely
- Walking to pick up Sawyer from kindergarten —— > sometimes
- During meditative practice —— > sometimes
- When hiking or walking in the neighborhood —— > frequently
- At an art museum —— > frequently
- In the library —— > frequently
NEXT, CIRCLE THINGS!
Circle the “outer silence” items on the list where you frequently experience inner silence as well. These circled phrases are the beginnings of a personal rejuvenation map. These are healthy ways and places to recharge. Inner silence and outer silence both have distinct benefits, so together they carry an even deeper benefit than individually.
AND THEN… REFLECT
So reflecting even further, are there other times when you experience inner silence and it’s not silent in the environment? For example, during yoga, there are often instructions and sometimes gentle music, but often inwardly, there is a focus on sensations and fewer thoughts. Add these additional items to the inner silence side of the paper. Here is what I added:
- During yoga
- During dancing
- When really listening to another person
- When doing art or sometimes when writing
This third list provides even more options for rejuvenation and more variety. Maybe you need to recharge but don’t feel like being alone. A good option might be to engage in a good conversation or go dancing with friends, for example.
Once completed with this activity, spend some time reflecting on times of stress. What do you do to cope? Are there things from this list that could be done more frequently? Are there things on this list that could be done daily?
As you begin to practice rejuvenation, keeping a reflection log to see what and when works best for you could be helpful.