Often in my work I encourage people to create a target of all the things they want in their lives and we post them on one side of the room. These usually include words like: love, happiness, peace, health, adventure, abundance, spirituality, joy, family, travel, etc. I then invite them to create an equal target of all the things they don’t want and post those far less desirable experiences on the other side of the room. This list generally includes hatred, prejudice, jail, divorce, anger, fighting, disease, unprepared-for-pregnancy, and addiction, to name a few.
I then ask my participants to self-observe and notice which way they spend most of their time “walking” with their words, thoughts and actions.
Funny as it may sound, it is shocking to discover that most of us unconsciously do things, say things, and think things that lead us the opposite way from where we want to go. We tend to create drama in our relationships when what we really want is peace, love and harmony.
Why do we do this? Because we do not take the time to be mindful and “get centered” before we act.
Swami Prabhavananda said it beautifully in his book How to Know God, “If the body is thought of as a busy and noisy city, then we can imagine that, in the middle of this city, there is a little shrine, and that, within this shrine, the Atman, our real nature, is present. No matter what is going on in the streets outside, we can always enter that shrine and worship. It is always open.”
If we make our decisions from the chaotic mind, we create chaos. If we take that moment to get centered, to enter that ‘little shrine” if you will, and access inherent resources available to us—creativity, intuition, wisdom, peace, strength—we are far more likely to make wise decisions that lead where we want to go. We simply need to remember there is another way and another part of ourselves that can assist us.
In my experience, when we are “in our heads” we get cut off from our hearts, but when we take a moment to access our hearts, we can use our heads. It is then that we have access to intelligence and wisdom, compassion and discernment, thinking and feeling, and are better able to make choices that lead where we want to go.
Here are some simple steps to practice:
Create your “targets.” What do you want and what do you not want?
Notice your “Bull’s Eye.” Be mindful that there may be many things on your target but it is important to know what is the most important to you. If getting the house clean is on your target, but having a loving, harmonious relationship is your bull’s eye, you don’t want to approach getting the dishes done in a manner that destroys your relationships. Be sure you aren’t accomplishing one thing at the sacrifice of something far more important to you.
Practice constant mindfulness of which direction you are heading.
Take a deep breath or two and a moment to remember what you actually want. Often a breath and an intention are all that are needed to change your course.
Simple as it sounds, if we want to get where we want to go we need to align our words, thoughts and actions with that target. If we want to be in alignment, we need to take a few seconds to get centered and mindfully choose our words, thoughts and actions before we speak, or act.
Finding your center alone in a meditation is one level of self-mastery, but being able to access it in any given moment in the midst of relationship is an entirely different level of mastery. I invite you to bring your centering practice to your relationships and enjoy reaching the target.