There’s nothing quite like the feeling of waking up Monday morning, having a leisurely sip of coffee and then suddenly realizing my ezine is due and I have no idea what I’d like to write about.
Today was one of those days.
To top it off, I was feeling a bit frazzled mentally.
I spent the entire weekend exploring the upgraded WordPress platform, which is what I use for my websites. It was fun, but also challenging, and as a result I hardly felt rested and ready for the week.
But my ezine needed to be written, so I had a challenge: find a way to calm my mind so I could write or struggle all day to get something done.
I chose to find a way to focus. Here’s what I did:
I started by choosing some soothing music. Sometimes I need quiet to focus, but other times my mind is too chaotic for silence and music helps me calm down. I chose Ali Farka Toure today. I just love that steel guitar.
Then I brewed some “Green Tea Tropical” which is my favorite green tea. It is aromatic with the slightest hint of sweetness and flavor.
my desk with flowers from my garden
After I got that started, I went out to the garden to pick some flowers for my desk. In the process I ended up deadheading old, withered petals before I cut some fresh stems for my bud vase. Then I wandered over to my “Buddha” garden and noted it had doubled in size since I wrote my last post.
a few weeks ago
today. some of the plants have doubled in size!
By the time I was done watering, pinching and pruning, I felt completely calm. I walked inside, started sipping my tea and began to write.
And it occurred to me, as it often does, how easy it is to stay stuck in frustration, but also how easy it is to get unstuck, at least sometimes.
One of the reasons we stay stuck, of course, is because we try to approach a problem from the same mindset, over and over again.
For example, I sat for an hour at my computer this morning trying to write an article that was going nowhere. I could have stayed in the same place, or even walked around trying to will the words to come together, but I didn’t.
Instead, I got up and left it all behind, did a garden meditation and then returned to my desk a renewed person.
I felt like I’d returned from a 20-minute vacation.
Renewal breaks are a great practice to cultivate.
Unfortunately, when we’re busy it’s so easy to feel like taking a break is the worst thing to do. It can feel like a luxury, or a waste of time.
But when the mind is frazzled, taking a renewal break can help you focus yourself for the rest of the day. It can clear the mind of chaos and let you return to your work in the right frame of mind.
If you’re anything like me, though, there are certain things that help you feel renewed and certain activities that actually do nothing in terms of helping you find focus.
For instance, I’ve discovered that reading a good book makes it much harder for me to focus on my work. All I want to do is read and find out what’s about to happen to the protagonist.
Gardening, however, is mostly mindless and engages a different part of the brain than reading. Afterward, I feel ready to work and can easily leave the gardening behind.
So, when you feel frazzled what can you do to find focus?
Here are some ideas:
Have a mini-tea ceremony
Put intention into the entire tea drinking process.
As you pour water into your cup or teapot say a prayer of gratitude or blessing.
As the tea steeps hold your hands on the warm cup and breathe in the aromatic scent. As you breathe in feel the present moment. As you exhale let go of your worries. Repeat this process a few times until you feel more relaxed. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply.
As you drink the tea simply enjoy.
Take pleasure in a bouquet of cut flowers
Purchasing a small bud vase for my office was an invaluable investment (of course, it only cost $3.50 at Ikea!). Since I have a variety of flowers growing in my garden I can have fresh flowers on my desk much of the year. It adds a bit of life to my work space and reminds me to be more in the present moment. A flowering plant can have the same effect.
Listen to music that helps you focus
Choose music according to your mood and situation. Some music genres may help you feel motivated, while others may help you feel centered. Be conscious of your choices and your music (or silence) will help you achieve your goals.
Let go of the things that make you feel frazzled
The food you eat and drink can also help you feel focus or frazzled. When I drink too much coffee I feel like there are fireworks going off inside my head. When I don’t drink enough water I feel sluggish. Pay attention to the foods you consume and adjust your diet accordingly.
Remember to renew
I’ve mentioned a few ways to create a renewal practice, but knowing how to renew isn’t usually the greatest challenge. It’s remembering to do it that’s the hardest part. So, here are some ways to remember:
1) Put it in your calendar. If you use an electronic calendar, like Gmail, set up your system so it emails you a message reminding you to engage in your renewal practice.
2) Make a creative, colorful note that says “renew” and put it by your computer or workspace. Create a new note every week so you don’t get used to seeing it and therefore stop seeing it.
3) Do your practice daily and at the same time.
Just because you’re stuck doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck. The next time you want to focus your mind, try some of these techniques and see what happens.
Do you have a renewal practice of your own? Leave a comment below and share with us how you renew yourself so you can focus.