Center of Self: Steps Toward an Intentional Life
When a person travels a certain path regularly, they become so familiar with the path that they no longer have to pay attention to their steps. When this happens, they go on what is commonly known as "autopilot", where they are not consciously aware of their actions and, sometimes, thoughts. This leads to a lack of awareness of their experiences and a lack of presence in their every day life. Intentional living is a growing movement in the world because it leads to reduced stress and increased life satisfaction, as well as increasing plasticity in the brain. This can help with cognitive function as well!
How does Center of Self help with an Intentional Life?
When going about creating an intentional life, a common hiccup would be the ingrained habitual behaviors a person may have. When that same person familiarizes themselves with their Center of Self and applies its principles to their mindset and decision making, they create hand rails on the new path that they want to take. By using Center of Self as a guide for your new path, you can avoid some of the difficulties that come with new terrain, such as stumbling blocks or unforeseen obstacles.
Going Deeper with Center of Self
If you haven't familiarized yourself with what the Center of Self is, we would suggest clicking here to go and read What is Center of Self? If you have read that and found yourself here to learn more, then you should take steps to make your decisions based around your Center of Self. The purpose of this is to allow you to take a more active role in your life through conscious awareness of your thoughts and your resulting actions.
Step One in applying your Center of Self: Determine your Center of Self
In order to create an intentional life, we must have an idea of what that intentional life looks like. Think of what you want in every aspect of your life, from your ideal environment to your ideal career. Fleshing out what your ideal life would be is essential for creating an intentional life because the fulfillment of intention requires desire. When you are able to fully picture what your ideal life would look like in your mind's eye, you will be able to fully focus your energy on the fulfillment of that intention. And when you are able to fully focus on a single thought, you can shape your world around that thought. This is when you have found your Center of Self.
Step Two in applying your Center of Self: Create an Intentional Environment
When we looked at the Center of Self in the first in this series, we took stock of our environment before moving inward to look at the way we are responding to the environment and then still further to see our thought at the center of it all. The reason for this is to truly examine how our environment affects the way we respond to the world in behavior and thought. When we see how we are affected by even the smallest change in our environment, we can choose to arrange our environment in such a way that best serves our ideal life. So, this step is all about choosing your environment by focusing on a single thought--what we envision our ideal environment to be. In this way, our Center of Self is the single thought we are focusing on to create an intentional environment.
Step Three in applying your Center of Self: Cultivate your Response Systems
Once our environment starts to represent our intentions, we will note changes in how we respond to the world around us. In anyone's experience, there will be times when we are stressed because of a chaotic environment, such as a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Everyone will express that stress differently. Some will feel a twinge of exasperation before they start to clean the dishes, because they had plenty of other things to take care of. Others will remark their frustration to a roommate or family member in an effort to prevent the dishes from piling up in the future. However you respond to your environment, ensuring that it aligns with your single thought--your Center of Self-- from Step One will take you that much closer to your intentional life. Because, as was covered in the first post in this series, your thoughts, your responses, and your environment are interconnected and will affect each other.
Step Four in applying your Center of Self: Start Within
Starting from the outside in is the simplest way to see the effects of applying the Center of Self. However, the most long lasting method of applying the Center of Self starts from the inside. When you go to therapy, one of the things that you will work on is your self-talk because when you change how you are thinking to yourself, you change how you perceive the world around you. With this step, instead of intentionally setting a thought to focus on first, you practice listening to the thought that is already there. People can do this a few ways, but the most common is finding stillness through any form of meditation. Our Ebb & Flow Breathing Technique is excellent for finding stillness. Once you are able to find that stillness and listen to your inner talk, you can discover what thoughts are rooting your actions. Once you are able to center in on the main thought, you can move to the next step.
Step Five in applying your Center of Self: Connect your Inner and Outer Worlds
Whatever the thought you centered in on in the previous step, you can start to observe how it relates to your responses to, your perceptions of, and your actions toward the world around you. You'll find that your unintentional thoughts actually color your life, and when you aren't choosing those colors, you might not enjoy the final product. So take the time to really examine how your world looks and feels to you, and how that picture relates to your inner thoughts. Once you have fully examined this relationship, you are primed to make a decision about where you would like to make changes and how. Further, you will fully understand that every change starts with a decision about a single intentional thought to focus on while you make those changes.
Step Six in applying your Center of Self: Make the Decision
Now that you have made the connection between how your inner and outer worlds are intimately connected, you are ready to make a decision about what thought you would prefer to have at your Center of Self. To create an Intentional Life, you should be intentional about how you will shape that life. Really break down what kind of theme or belief would be at the center of the kind of life you would like to have. Then take that belief and make it your central thought, and go back to that thought every time you respond to the world around you. Go back to that thought every time you find yourself slipping into old habits, or feeling old feelings about your world. This is the application of your Center of Self.
Tips for Success with Center of Self:
Practice the application every day, because every time you go down the new path you've chosen, you make the grooves deeper, the hand rails sturdier, and the path clearer. Every time you choose an Intentional Life, you make it easier to choose it again.
There is a reason that humans are social creatures. We rely on each other to survive--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When we are struggling to make a change, having support is essential to keep you on the path toward your goal. This support can come in the form of an accountability partner, a therapist, and weekly or daily check in. However you choose to find support, allow this person or group to keep you focused on making your decision an every day decision, rather than a one-time decision.
What Next on the Path to applying your Center of Self?
Once you are on the path toward creating your Intentional Life, staying on the path is imperative. Incorporating daily supportive exercises will help you refocus on your Center of Self. Clyfit offers classes where you can practice Active Mindfulness, which is a great way to refocus on your Center of Self. We also put on weekly Mindfulness Footprint hikes, which bring together a community of like-minded people to practice mindfulness together. You can also use the Ebb & Flow Breathing Technique daily to refocus using your breath.
You should also be taking action to stay aware of the connections between your inner and outer worlds. Keeping this balance is essential to the forward momentum of creating an intentional life, and it is an important key to seeing tangible results in your external world.
If you'd like to know more about how Center of Self can help you Balance your Inner and Outer Worlds, check out the next post in this series!
If you'd like to know more about creating an intentional life through mindfulness, and would like a simple infographic summarizing the above post to remind you when you need it most, click the link below to download our Guide to an Intentional Life.