Reflective time or Time-In one of the seven vital wellness practices necessary to harness your brain to support you in designing and implementing an awesome life. Time-In is the practice of setting aside a period of each day, be it a minute, ten minutes, or throughout the day, for conscious and focused mindfulness. Mindfulness is the awareness of what is happening within you without attachment or judgement. There are sensations, thoughts, feelings, memories that arise, all of which you observe rather than actively engage with. Unlike other times where you follow thoughts, come to conclusions, choose an avenue of action, etc., during Time-In you observe what arises in your body and mind without following, fantasizing, or fixing. Out of the seven practices for creating a post-divorce life you'll love, Time-In is a cornerstone. Let's look at why Time-In is so critical for creating a rewarding next chapter of your life and a few ways of practicing it.
For the majority of us there are a rather small number of repetitive thoughts that circle round and round in our minds day in and day out. Without being aware of it, each of us weaves what we experience as "reality" through these few thoughts, the feelings that arise out of them, and the actions that we choose as a result of them. If we do not change how we think about the experiences we have we will feel the same way each time a similar situation comes up and take similar actions. The end effect of living this way is that we recreate the same or very similar scenarios over and over again without realizing our part in creating life showing up as it does. Without awareness it appears that the cause of our experience is "out there" rather than something we have a role in generating.
Time-In is the time you give yourself on a daily basis to intentionally focus your attention on the inner world of your mental, subjective experience.
Time-in is consistently providing yourself an opportunity every day to at first, simply observe the "inner dialogue" that goes on in your mind. This "inner dialogue" is the conversation you have with yourself about life in general, about who you are and what you are and aren't capable of, about the people you interact with, and the meaning and significance you give to your daily experiences. No one hears your inner dialogue but you. Once you become aware of this internal dialogue you begin to have the capacity to assess which parts of it are truly serving you as you create your world and which parts are constantly recreating a life with all too familiar pain and suffering. Practicing Time-In eventually gives you the opportunity to change your internal dialogue and in doing so, change your experience of life. How you respond to phenomena impacts what happens next and draws out different aspects of situations and the individuals with whom you are interacting.
I question if there has there been a time when our attention has been more drawn to the outer world. With smart phones we have a consistent barrage of notifications, communications, and information and with it all, infinite opportunities to externalize our attention. Without time dedicated to exercising our ability to gaze within the mindfulness circuits in our brains atrophy and we become progressively out of touch with who we are, what is deeply important to us, and how we impact our daily experiences. Keeping these inner focused circuits healthy is necessary for the development of wisdom, insight, and empathy. It is not enough to "know" information. Information is a random set of data bits which we can call upon for intelligent sounding conversation yet it is only with the ability to sort that information using logic, insight, and empathy that we are able to integrate it into how we live our lives in a way that improves our experience of being alive.
Without Time-In we sound "smart" and live "dumb".
One time tested way to practice Time-In is through a meditative practice of some sort. Meditation allows for the development of presence. Presence is the ability to be present with what is happening in the moment, let go of judgement, and focus instead on accepting life as it is rather than how we expect it to be. It is only when you know where you are that you can effectively navigate to where you want to go next. Presence allows you to discover where you are, what baggage you are carrying that is no longer serving you, and what you want to take with you as you create a new life.
Not only does a practice of mindfulness allow you to assess the efficacy of your reactions and responses to phenomena, it also "increases the level of telomerase, an enzyme in your body that maintains and repairs the life-preserving ends of your chromosomes. Building up your levels of telomerase supports you in being healthy and therefore living longer. When you focus your minds' attention inwardly you actually change the molecules in your body. You physiologically increase your well-being as well as develop the capacity to weave your life consciously and intentionally.
Time-In empowers you to approach rather than withdraw from challenging situations. Time-In allows you to feel greater meaning in and fulfillment from life. Meaning and fulfillment provides a sense of satisfaction with being alive. Think of a time in your life that was difficult. When you saw yourself as a victim of your circumstances how satisfied were you? Once you began to view the situation from the perspective of "What lessons are here for me to learn?" and "What opportunities are opening up in my life, whether I wanted them or not?" what happened to your suffering? While you may not have been happy about your situation it began to take on a new meaning, and through that new meaning opened up possibilities you continue to explore. Were you more satisfied with life as a victim or as an individual with an open albeit unknown and therefore insecure and understandably frightening road ahead?
For relationships Time-In and the mindful awareness it creates helps you to hear others from their perspectives with compassion and understanding. While their perspectives may not be yours you will be able to hear them, acknowledge them, and have empathy for them. When someone feels seen it smooths their edge, regardless if you "agree" with them or not. When you truly see someone from their perspective and are able to validate that they feel the way they do you open the possibility that that person may be able to "see" your perspective.
When you see each other's perspectives win-win outcomes become much more likely. No one needs to resist or argue in order to feel "heard" or be to "right".
The other today I came home to a sink and kitchen counter cluttered with dirty dishes. I was immediately aware and therefore mindful of anger and resentment arising within me. I asked myself where following anger and resentment would take me. The answer, to a reflection of anger and resentment from the individual who left the dirty dishes and to conflict. I reminded myself this this was not an everyday occurrence, that both of us had returned from a month away the day prior, and that the person in question had made me oatmeal that morning. I realized that I held some responsibility for those dishes as well as the pot of unfinished oatmeal. As I reached to turn on the radio to distract myself from the task ahead I became mindful of wanting my attention to remain focused rather than having my intellect stimulated by intelligent conversation or lovely music while my body was engaged with hot soapy water. I wanted to "be with the cleaning", not because it was right but because I wanted to be singularly focused and peaceful. The kitchen was clear and clean within 10 minutes max. I was peaceful.
Time-In can be a classic practice of sitting meditation using the breath or a mantra or an awareness of what you are thinking, feeling, and doing at any moment. Time-In is focused, conscious. and intentional. That's how you know if it is Time-In or not. Being aware of who you are being, what you are thinking, and creating that space between the thought and the thinker will allow you to create a wonderful life consciously and intentionally.
Post written by Lisa Brick
Founder at Power & Purpose Coaching
Partner: Journey Beyond Divorce Coaching
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