As someone who has been an integrative physician for the last 20 + years, I have obviously been exposed to this concept of mindfulness, the ability to be present and “in the moment”. When you think of it, mindfulness is just the ability to be present, to be here now, not in your mind wandering to the past or future.
I absolutely agree, to be present and in the moment is important to helping us connect with people and to live our best lives. However, at least for me, often, just being present alone isn’t enough to get me the outcomes I desire. So, along with some colleagues, I began to develop this concept called “informed mindfulness“.
You need to be present and in the moment but you also need the knowledge, so that while you are present, you can make choices that facilitate different kinds of outcomes for you.
I began to think more about this and I began to talk to friends and colleagues and morphed the thinking to this idea of intentionality. Asking myself questions like “What am I really trying to do right now?” “What do I really want out of this situation?” “What is my why?”
There must be something pretty special about waking up in the morning and having a clear sense of why the day matters.
True health and wellness transformation starts with a deep and honest exploration of our “why?”.
Do What Feels Purposeful
Other questions that have helped me grow – “What am I motivated by today?” What is meaningful for me now? How does what I am doing relate to living my best life? You could break it down into this concept of being intentional with at least these three main areas of your daily life.
We create needless suffering for ourselves when we don’t take the time to think with intention. We allow our minds to wander and tell ourselves lies about ourselves, about others and about a potential future that we are envisioning and all the disasters and terrible things that could happen to us.
Sometimes we let our minds wander to things that have happened in the past while reinterpreting and adding a new meaning to them. So, I believe, one of the keys to living a life that feels fulfilling while lessening that suffering, is to be present and to actually ask yourself, am I thinking with intention?
Is my thinking consistent with what I know to be the facts? Is my thinking consistent with my values and my beliefs on a deeper level? Is my thinking in line with the vision I have for myself? Does it align with how I want to show up in this world?
Of course, all of this thinking then needs to translate into how you act. Is your behavior consistent with your thinking?
Is your behavior in alignment with how you want to show up in this world? For example, are you speaking to others with intention? Do you sometimes lash out at others when you don’t mean to? If you do, is that really intentional? This is not about judgment. I am not passing judgment about what your actions should or shouldn’t be, but the question is, Are your actions intentional?
Then the third thing that came up is this idea of connection. We need to be able to connect to ourselves to understand what is truly important for us. We also need a connection to others and connection to nature and our environment as a way to round off an approach to living our best lives. When we are not connecting in an intentional way, a piece of the puzzle is missing from living our best lives and living a life that is consistent with our values.
A value is really just a direction we want to take in our lives. It comes from what we believe is important and purposeful to us.
So we need to be able to act, think and connect with intention and that stems from an ability to be present in the moment. To be awake and to be aware, right here and now.