On Easter Sunday this year I decided to do something completely different. Having taught Sunday School for many years, I was pretty familiar with the biblical story both of Jesus' resurrection and Passover.
However, this year I decided to grab my Native American flute, my journal and a blanket and head to a quiet spot in the woods for a few hours to celebrate the new day, the rising sun and take some very needed reflection time. I spent hours deeply listening to the spring sounds - birds finding their mates, squirrels scurrying from branch to branch and water lapping along the shoreline of the lake. As I became aware of each new sound, I tried to emulate either the actual sound or the emotion I felt on my flute. When moved to do so, I scribbled down my rambling thoughts in my journal. After several hours I felt my time was complete and I walked home.
Later that week, I considered how this experience impacted my work developing leaders and resolving conflicts. The peace I felt and the groundedness I experienced lasted for many days - it was spiritually nourishing and replenishing. While I've known for most of my life how important self care is, this experience reminded me just how vital a well-defined and earnestly followed "mindfulness practice" is for those growing their capacity for leadership.
I'll call it "reflection time" for simplicity's sake - time to pause the relentless inner dialogue, notice every detail of what's around you without analysis and whatever else comes up in the moment to peruse thoughtfully. With precious little free time in a packed world of email requests, kids weekend sports schedules and necessary business reading, it's refreshing not to have an agenda and not need a relevant outcome.
Give it a try this week - go someplace where there are few man-made distractions and simply listen to the world happen, both inwardly and outwardly. Then take stock in the coming days of how you feel physically and emotionally. Where stress once took hold, perhaps ease can appear. Where anxiety once ruled, perhaps calm can emerge. Making the reflection time a regular practice has amazing side-effects... what is your experience?