Do you feel stuck? Trying to change things and get out from your stuckness? And it doesn’t work? Do you also get stuck in repeatedly using the same strategies, even if they do not work? Albert Einstein said:
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
We may need to STOP and re-think….
Our thinking and our behaviors became habits, and they are difficult to break because they can become a “second nature”. This is good in many senses, we do not need to think about each movement when we drive, it becomes programmed. So much that sometimes we are not even present and all of a sudden we ask ourselves: how did I arrive here? We run auto-pilot and drive mindlessly. But some situations will require much more attention: is there a storm, is it snowing or heavy raining? Then we need to adapt our driving style in order to be safe.
The same happens for the skilled sailor. Navigating can be quite relaxing if the conditions are calm and the boat is taken care of. However, in times of storm or unsettled sea, the sailor needs to change sails, direction and be very present and awake. Probably there will not be time to eat and rest. If that happens every now and then, and then we have time to restore whatever has got broken, damaged or injured, and rest, eat and recharge our batteries, then we may find the next challenge even a bit exciting.
But what if after the storm there is no time to fix the damage of the boat or the sails? What if we do not give us time to recharge our batteries and rest? What if we keep desperately sailing towards that lighthouse that over and over again puts us in violent storms? Eventually, we will lose interest in sailing, or in arriving at that harbor. We will become burned out or too stressed to enjoy the trip.
There are some spots in life where we need to stop and re-think, to sense and re-evaluate: is there something I need to change in order to navigate in a more meaningful way? In a way that is giving me more vitality and not just struggles? Is there the lighthouse and the harbor I need to reconsider? Or my way to navigate? Or do I have wrong sails? Is the boat taken care of properly and is healthy enough for this trip?
Mindfulness is a method that can help us to stop and see, observe and notice who we are and where is it meaningful to navigate towards. It is a tool to get more insight into the changes that might be needed and to realize that it is me who needs to change something: What is my direction? How can I handle the sails? How do I care for the boat?
Mindfulness is a soft and compassionate way to look at myself and explore how I want to navigate this life.
We need to STOP every now and then. When we face difficulties or when we are no longer at ease with our life and navigation style, we can try the STOP exercise:
- Slow your breathing
- Take note
- Open up and
- Pursue your values
Come to your own STOP-beach and
S: Begin by taking a few deep breaths and mindfully observe the breath flowing in and out of your body. This will help to keep you anchored in the present moment.
T: Now take note of your experience right now. Notice what you are thinking. Notice what you are feeling. Notice what you are doing. Notice how your thoughts and feelings are constantly swirling around and you can easily get caught up in them if you are not careful.
O: Open up to the feelings you are having. Breathe into them and make room for them. Make room for your thoughts as well: don’t try to push them away or don’t try to cling on to them. See them for what they are – just thoughts – and give them space rather than getting caught up in them.
P: The final step is to pursue a valued course of action. Connect with your values. Ask yourself “What do I want to be about in the face of this?” “How would I like to act, so that I can look back years from now and feel proud of my response?”