In my coaching and retreat work, I often have the honor of working with people as they gain transformational insight into their own lives. Working with someone who finds their true purpose, their authentic self, or discovers a new and exciting path in their life is one of the greatest gifts I get from doing this work. And I know that that moment of insight can be just the beginning.
I’ve seen too many transformational experiences fade away as distant memories to believe that insight alone is enough. Real change is often hard. And can take time. And is worth it.
Here’s what I believe: Transformational insight has a half-life. The insight, as amazing as it may be, will in many cases just fade away unless it is kept alive and developed into lasting change. It is like a glowing ember in a fire. Bright red at first, but slowly fading. Unless you blow on it, again and again. If you do this, it burns brighter each time, until one day it catches fire and ignites and burns with energy that sustains itself. Until new embers form. And so on.
Over many years, I’ve developed a tool for blowing on the embers of your life. I call it the Daily Practice, or DP. It takes five to ten minutes per day. Every day. And it is the single most impactful thing you can do to live the life you want to live.
The DP can have a variety of elements to it and it often develops over time, but there are five core steps, each of which should only take a minute or two:
Step 1: Find a quiet place where you can be comfortable and distraction free. I recommend sitting in a comfortable chair with your eyes open or closed, whichever you prefer. Breathe slowly and deeply, relaxing your body and allowing your mind to let go and just focus its attention on your breath.
Step 2: Identify what emotion or emotions you are feeling right now. Are you feeling joy? Anger? Sadness? Fear? Or something else? Just notice and feel the emotion without judging it or yourself. If you are aware of the source of the feeling, just notice that as well.
Step 3: Review/Preview. Review the last 24 hours and preview the next 24 hours. This is like the Monday morning football team meeting that starts by watching the tape from Sunday’s game, then starts preparing for the next game. Imagine you have your calendar in front of you (or actually have it) and look at yesterday, simply noticing what happened and asking yourself if there is anything you need to be aware of. Do this without judging anything as right or wrong, good or bad. Then look at your calendar for the upcoming day and ask yourself what you need to be aware of or what intentions you want to have for the day.
Step 4: Your container. This is a placeholder for specific things that you are working on or want to remind yourself of in your life. Examples might include your life mission, expressing gratitude, or asking curious questions. Often it is helpful to phrase these as positive present tense statements as if they were true.
Step 5: Return again to slow, deep, mindful breathing. Get in touch with the feeling of calm, peace, presence, and centeredness that can accompany this and hold as much of that as you can as you return to whatever is next in your day.
I strongly suggest keeping the overall DP to five to ten minutes so that it can be incorporated into your daily routine without significant disruption. Five minutes a day is worth far more than 35 minutes once a week. If you miss a day, don’t despair, just return to it again the next day.
Over time, you should start to notice changes. They may be small at first, but the DP gathers momentum over time and can create profound shifts. Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.