A short self-awareness exercise to help you pause, reflect, and recenter as the season changes.
It’s September. The summer has been a whirlwind of challenging news. Sure, there may have been some bright spots too, but it’s easy for those moments to get lost amidst fear, anger, loss, and uncertainty.
So let’s pause.
What does it look like for you to let yourself pause? To check in with how you’re doing throughout one of the most upside-down years in history.
At Ei, when we design educational programs for students or teams, reflection is part of every experience. During those pauses, we examine how the experience is landing. What thoughts are coming to mind? What feelings are surfacing? What is sticking?
The pause offers time to recalibrate and recenter, both individually and as a group. The destination may stay the same, but the way we get there is fuller, richer, and sweeter.
A 5-minute starting point.
Try using this change of seasons to pause. Here is a simple process I learned from my friend Jim.
Take 30 seconds to breathe.
Nothing more than deep, slow breaths.
Take 1 minute to check in with how you’re feeling.
Scan your body and pay attention to what physical feelings you’re experiencing. Write down the sensation (buzzing, tingling, flowing, calming, pulsating, etc) and the part of the body where you feel it (head, neck, back, chest, legs, etc).
Note: We usually ignore these physical sensations and chock them up to outside forces. It’s much easier to pay greater attention to our inner thoughts and emotions until there is a specific problem with our body. But there are millions of clues in your physical body that can shed light on how you’re doing. Pay attention to them.
After scanning your body, take a moment to notice what you’re feeling. Try using one of these five emotions: Happy, Sad, Angry, Scared, Creative/Excited.
No need to explain, just notice the feeling.
Take 3 minutes to get out of your head (write, talk to a friend, record yourself talking, etc).
All you need to do here is to finish the sentence, “If you really knew me, you’d know that…”
Here, you can write or talk about anything that happened throughout your summer. The ups and downs. The meaningful memories. The fears. The successes. Let yourself free-write.
Take 30 seconds for gratitude.
What’s something you are appreciating about yourself or your life as you head into the next season?
Give it a go.
I’ve done a version of this once a week for the past year with one of my best friends and it’s been a consistent bright spot. You can try this solo, with your students before you start class, with your employees before a meeting, or at the dinner table.
I hope it offers you the same sense of learning and calm that it has offered me.
Illustration: On Rothko by Merve Koçak