Mindfulness Activity #113

Mindfulness Activity #113

Increasing Courage

Good Morning. Yesterday, we focused on the topic of vulnerability. We practiced exposing ourselves to a space where we are accepting of our imperfection, open to feedback, and non-defensive. To sit in this space has been found to increase creativity and to help people to reach personal goals. The more we practice authenticity without defensiveness, the more deeply we can be connected to others without conflict. But it does take practice. Being vulnerable can be likened to writing with your non-dominant hand. It takes persistence. It is not comfortable for us taking feedback. It is not comfortable for us facing the unknown. Why would we do this to ourselves? One study found that courage like this increased when it was connected to one’s value system. For instance, if I want to be a good therapist or a good parent or a good citizen and I believe vulnerability and authenticity and courage are necessary, I will put in practice to grow in these areas. What’s surprising is that very little time is needed to actually change our behavior in this regard.

A recent study found that focusing on primary values in a 15-minute mindfulness practice increased willingness to listen to information about medical risks and decreased avoidance of such information. It increased courage. For anyone in therapy, being able to be truly honest with your therapist requires courage. For students to take feedback from teachers, for athletes to trust coaches-for anyone to have a conversation about racial bias-all these things require courage. The study found if we focus on an important personal value we hold, it will increase our courage because living values necessitates courage.

So for today’s practice, you need to begin by thinking for a few moments about your most important personal values. Values are principles, strengths, personal qualities, roles, or experiences that are most meaningful and important to you. Examples include virtues (like honesty, patience, courage, or compassion), finding the beauty or humor in life, faith, connection to nature, service to others, being a good parent, child, or sibling, Having a commitment to lifelong learning, thriving on adventure, honoring tradition, embracing creativity or engaging in best practices in your profession.

What is one value that is very important to you? Click the following 5 minute timer…

Sit tall, breathe in and out deeply and read or listen to the following prompts to identify one of your most meaningful personal values:

Think about principles you hold…
Think about strengths you value…
Think about personal qualities you value…
Think about ways to engage with the world like seeing beauty, seeing humor or irony, being connected to nature…
Consider roles or relationships in your life you hold to be important…
Choose just one value that you hold or that you aspire to…

Now reflect on a time when you embodied that value. See yourself as you lived that particular value or exhibited that strength or quality. Or, you may use your imagination to see yourself in a future scenario living your value. Imagine yourself being honest or compassionate or caring for someone. Reflect on your value and why it is important to you. Identify yourself with this value. Continue to breathe until your timer signals the end of the practice.

Today, try to have awareness of the value or quality you want to embody floating in your mind all day as you proceed with your activities. Living your values requires that you gently self-evaluate with the awareness that living values is something you need to strive for over and over. It is not a destination that is reached. Rather it is a course that is set. Focusing on your most important values will increase courage and compassion so you may live wholeheartedly.

Be brave!
Michele

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