Your Daily Flow

I’ve been going deeper into this whole EAT SLEEP MOVE theory of mine. The theory is simple: make sure you do these three things pretty well and you’ll be able to really rock it out in all other areas of your life. So what does this mean in practice? And what do I do when I walk someone through an EAT SLEEP MOVE session?

STEP ONE >>> lay it all out. What do you all got going on? Chances are, you’ve got too much.

Depending on your situation (usually related to your money situation), you may or may not have a lot of what I call “wiggle room” to play with in your schedule. I also don’t really like the term schedule. I prefer to call it your “daily flow” – doesn’t that just sound better? Your daily flow can be nice and easy. It might spike up with intensity from time to time, but in general, the goal is to keep your flow flowing – smooth and effortlessly.

With “wiggle room” comes the ability to choose to either add things to your plate or take them away. Sometimes both needs to happen and this is something that tends to surface once we start prioritizing our items.

STEP TWO >>> pick out your BIG ROCKS. We start prioritizing what’s most important. Note: this may not (and should not) include everything that you do (or want to do or need to do for that matter). This is where the going sometimes gets tough. Some items just won’t make the cut. They all can’t and that’s the point. Our goal, however, is to make sure that the EAT SLEEP MOVE categories remain among your top priorities. Getting good sleep, eating well and exercising regularly become your non-negotiables. These things happen no matter what.

When I sit down with someone and start examining their “flow” for the week, what I’m typically looking for is open space. I like to draw “bubbles” around any open space I can find. The more bubbles (or blocks of time) you have the better. Again, the challenge is usually not having enough bubbles.

The goal becomes to create more bubbles.

And this leads to the hard choices. For the students I work with, they generally can’t ixnay their classes or part-time jobs (sometimes bordering full-time even) for that matter. For people with kids, they can’t ixnay their kids. This question does comes up though (kidding)!

Then there’s the big picture question of your work and what you are trying to achieve in your career. It often happens that you don’t have enough bubbles to support forward movement with those “big picture” type goals you have. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily minutiae and just trying to keep yourself afloat.

The real goal is to start leading with intention. No you can’t control every little thing in your daily flow (and shit comes up, that’s for sure), but you can choose how you respond and you can choose how you intend to move through your day, every day.

STEP THREE >>> examine how you operate. What this means is thinking about when you tend to be “most productive.” Are you a “night owl” or a morning person? Do you like to workout and then bust out your homework or manuscript? We are thinking about our energy and how best to put it to use. Ideally, we want to match up those “productive zones” with as many of our “bubbles” as possible. What can you fit in where in your day that makes the most sense, that is time efficient and that leads to you feeling your best – and basically rocking it out?

STEP FOUR >>> create a “flow” that feels good. Once we have our “big picture” in mind that includes our non-negotiables, our bubbles, our ideal time frame for making things happen, like exercise, then we start to put it all together. The most important thing to realize at this point in the process is the reason behind being mindful in creating our daily flow. Yes, we are putting together an “idealized” version of a weekly schedule according to what’s most important and how we can best operate and maneuver. But, what we are not doing is creating any sense of rigidity in our mindset or our daily flow.

We want to keep the flow exactly what it is – a flow. Of course we can’t know what might come up from day-to-day, what projects, kids’ needs and activities, what emergencies might need tending to etcetera. What we can do is respond to such things with the greatest of ease because we are prepared to do so.

That’s the beauty. By establishing – at least in our mind’s eye – an “ideal” way of moving through our days – we can actually start to feel more in line with our intentions, our goals, our best work. We can actually start to progress in those areas that are usually left by the wayside albeit of huge importance to us in the long run.

So we build our flow knowing that stuff comes up. Our baseline self-care (EAT SLEEP MOVE) comes in by helping us to become more adept at meeting daily challenges while still keeping with our flow. When the small stuff starts to fall away (and you’ll be amazed that once upon a time you even gave this kind of stuff a second glance), there becomes all kinds of room – in our days, our heads, in our lives.

And the best way to feel is to feel spacious all around.

STEP FIVE >>> be fluid and flexible. Make it a practice to explore and situate your weekly flow on Sunday’s (this way you won’t feel anxious come Monday AM). You’ll have a list of your big-ticket items (maybe a big paper that’s due, a test, or work project to be presented), you’ll have your EAT SLEEP MOVE categories designated and you’ll have your bubbles distributed throughout as much as possible.

Try to keep some time blocks completely OPEN FOR NOTHING. Just open space. That could be for an hour in the morning before you really get going with your day. That could mean taking a half-hour after lunch just to read the paper and chill before you get back to work or go to class. That could also mean reserving that hour before bed for some light reading or basic downtime with no electronic devices in sight. Having time and space in your schedule or daily flow that is totally open and without any agenda = true magic. Magic for the mind, body and soul (however cheesy that might sound).

Move through your days and think about how you are feeling at different points throughout. Notice when you are feeling energetic, when you are feeling super productive and “in the zone,” notice when you are feeling relaxed and happy, notice when you might be feeling tense and anxious or irritable even. It’s all part of the mix. Through our intentions and using this kind of “mindful approach” to creating our days, however, we can begin to smooth out some of those more irritable and challenging times and replace them with times of greater ease, contentment and general “rocking it out of the park” kind of feelings.

Each week we come back and center again around what’s most important. We set our intentions and then we simply go with it.

Click HERE to explore the EAT SLEEP MOVE Challenge in the New Year.

The Gift of Yoga

This past Friday I got to do what I love to do the most – expose people to the wonderful gift of yoga. Had the studio at OmBodies filled with “old” and “new” CMU McNair Scholars. I feel blessed that I’m in a position to actually do this in my work, in addition to “planting seeds” with pretty much any person I meet or talk to. I took a risk and started incorporating yoga into our scholar programming almost five years ago now. You see, we strive to support our students in ways that go far beyond academics.

When I talk about McNair, I like to say that we’re in the business of developing confident individuals who have the wherewithal to achieve an advanced degree if they so choose. I also like to say that no matter what you have for a goal, you aren’t going to be busting out anything of any real magnitude if you don’t have yourself together with baseline self-care. I call it EAT SLEEP MOVE. If you aren’t taking care of how you are doing each, you’re not going to be in any shape to really flourish in your life.

The fact is, our scholars spend a lot of time working very hard in their classes, many have jobs in addition, and they just have really full schedules that sometimes don’t allow for things like downtime, exercise, healthy eating, etc.

So where does yoga fit into this picture? And what makes yoga special?

Most logically it fits into the MOVE category of self-care, but it’s so much more than just exercise. It’s a type of exercise that offers physical benefits like strength and flexibility, but it also incorporates things like breath work and present moment awareness that can really lead to significant shifts in the way we exist and move through our daily lives.

It’s really a “practice” that one develops over time that usually starts with the physical postures, but often ends up becoming a way to feel more connection among your mind, body and spirit. The physical practice becomes more like a “moving meditation” and allows you to become more in tune with yourself. Some people even say that yoga can help you discover your true self.

yoga

Yoga helps me get rid of things that don’t really matter.

When you practice yoga, you begin to develop an “inner stature” or state of being in which your mind is at ease (thus, yoga is great for stress management). By going inward and focusing on the breath while engaging in the physical postures, you can, in a sense, train your mind to be more aware – more aware of how you might be feeling, more aware of external circumstances, aware of the constant flow of thought. The thing is, at the same time yoga teaches us how to become more aware, the goal is to not attach to any sort of outcome or desire. The goal of the moving meditation is simply to acknowledge what comes up and let it go – let it just float on by.

In talking with one of our scholars about what makes yoga great – she said, “It’s like cardio for the mind.” Brilliant.

This is where the real beauty is – as you go deeper inside yourself, you become clear on your intentions in life and who you are as a person. You also start to de-clutter the mind, getting rid of “stuff” that doesn’t really matter. Things in the past, things that might stress you out (that you can’t control), things that might not really matter all that much in the long run. You simplify. You simplify on lots of levels.

After I do yoga, I always feel wrung out. Wrung out on a physical level, but on the level of my mind too. It’s as if I’m getting down to the very nitty gritty of life, stripping away all the layers of bullshit that accumulate and getting down to my very core. Somehow, as I develop a sense of mindfulness, I’m finding myself letting go of things that don’t really matter. That might mean, something that someone said offhandedly that might have rubbed me the wrong way, to festering about the quiz that I didn’t do as good as I could have on, to being okay with where I’m at in my life, today. I think sometimes we can become so swept up in our daily responsibilities, our problems, our goals, that we can lose sight of the sweetness of life, that is, what is right at this very moment, right now.

That, in my mind, is the true gift of yoga.

lmc