In this series, I’m going to share some thoughts about the 8 patterns that comprise the program that is Integre8t Wellness. With these fundamentals in place, you can expect to see enhanced results from your fitness plan.
The seventh pattern is focus. In many wellness programs there’s a strong spiritual component included at some point. I know that’s very important to some people, and I myself believe that there’s more than what we can perceive, measure, quantify or understand. However, I personally do not want to be a guru. I don’t have “the answers” (unless your question is “Do I really have to stop using margarine?”), and I certainly don’t want to position myself as a religious advisor or mystic.
With that being said, I know that we’re whole beings comprised of many modalities of health. I’m not a psychiatrist or a therapist, but I know firsthand how crucial it is to treat these parts of our wellbeing with care. This portion of Integre8t Wellness acknowledges the importance of our intangibilities, and the inexorable way our Selves affect ourselves.
Our thoughts affect our perspectives, assumptions, attitudes, perceptions and actions. Those in turn influence our emotions, and, through them, our environments and situations. It is for this reason that the ability to focus intentionally is so important. This is the reason making optimism a priority can change the entire course of your day. I’m not implying you can or should be happy all the time. I’m saying that understanding what you want to accomplish and remaining open to the various ways in which that might be accomplished are strong indicators of how successful you’re likely to be.
Many times the “who,” “when,” “where” and “how” are completely out of our control, but we can define the “what” and the “why.” For some people a general sense of purpose or direction is enough, while others (like myself) prefer specifically-defined goals. Whatever combination of those you prefer, it’s important that you identify what you want and why you want it. That’s the motivation that keeps you balanced when preconceived notions go awry. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Thank you, John Lennon.
Stressors abound, and other people’s emotions and problems are contagious. All these distractions pull your attention away from your intention. Hello, Stress! What’s up, Fear? How you been, Doubt?
Meditation is an option; however, reconnecting with your intent doesn’t have to be so formal or esoteric. It doesn’t have to be a ritual, but merely a practice. Set aside a few minutes each day to experience something sensuous, or to allow your mind to wander. It isn’t good for your focus to always be so focused. You really do need to take your lunch break.
Look at the sky. Smell coffee brewing at any of the 13 Starbucks on every block. Listen to a water fountain. Savor the $10 chocolate truffle (but only one). Feel the breeze on your skin.
These are opportunities to remember yourself. These simple pleasures are the moments our bodies gift to our minds, hearts and spirits. Reflect on them, if only briefly. What lessons or ideas do they inspire? You can find connections between anything in the universe. The connections may not always be obvious, but they are there. Not every solution is born out of office meetings with everyone frantically throwing their version of spaghetti at every wall in the room (though that has its place, too).
In terms of meditation, I’m not asking you to go find Buddha (though if you do, tell him I said it’s his turn to buy the $10 truffle). I want you to simply take five minutes to let your mind wander away from your responsibilities. Ignore them for a moment. Don’t worry. They’ll still be there when you come back. When the volume on your problems gets muted, you’ll finally hear yourself, instead of the noise from all the “important stuff” you have to do.
Focus doesn’t have to be an action. It doesn’t have to be a laser cauterizing an item on your to-do list for taking over the world. It can be a result or a realization, or even a reminder. Allowing the outside world to dim for a moment often illuminates the answers, ideas, or solutions you already had. For the purposes of this program, focus isn’t so much the sun at noon as it is the sun at dawn.
info: Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com.