Have you ever completed a 30-day challenge where you set the same intention for 30 consecutive days, and then magic happened? I have and I am here to share my special secret with you. It’s called the 13-minute Progressive Pause meditation.
Progressive Pause is a specific approach to meditation where I say the same thing twelve times with a longer and longer pause in-between. So the first time I say it, I wait ten seconds. The second time I say it, I wait twenty seconds, and then thirty, and then forty, and so on. By the time I say it twelve times, the final pause is a full two minutes long, or 120 seconds. This approach allows gentle redirection and reminders to focus on what you want to focus on – the feeling you want – while providing ample time for the mind to masterly create the movie that can match that feeling.
I loved listening to this with my partner (we haven’t done this in a while come to think of it – I think I’ll invite him to do this with me tomorrow). I enjoyed it so much and found the outcome fascinating. I started encouraging the couples I work with to do the same, especially when they were in the midst of co-creating a shared vision and weren’t sure how to compromise. Even if it’s something as simple as imagining a dream vacation. You know you both want to feel a certain way on vacation, but not sure where to go or what to do. Spend 30 days listening to this meditation, and take 10 minutes afterwards to share what your mind came up with! Guaranteed you’ll not only discover an idea that feels good for both of you, but also you may actually start to imagine the same details at the same time! (It’s called coherence – check out the research on HeartMath.com and in the book “Power and Care”.) That’s what’s great about not only the concept of this process, but also the reminder that it’s not always about the how, it’s about the what. More importantly, it’s about accessing the feeling of what we want and allowing enough space and patience for inspired action, rather than forced, fear-based action.
We all get stuck in the weeds of the details. Some of us (myself included) can even take pride in being detail-oriented. Of course, when you work a full-time job, plus two additional night and weekend jobs to pay for graduate school while attending a full-time doctoral program, one certainly needs to be detail oriented when it comes to scheduling the timing of everything to get it done. (In fact, my timing was so spot-on, I was five-months pregnant when I was defending my dissertation.) After a child, a farm, and a few brain surgeries, I’ve learned to be more flexible, more relaxed, and more patient with myself. This 13-minute meditation has saved me many-a-times when I’ve gotten stuck in the details of how everything was going to happen. My slightly-neurotic left-brain doesn’t like not knowing what to expect and it definitely doesn’t like not having a detailed plan to calm the habitual fear-related thoughts. Nevertheless, I practice what I preach, and it works like a charm – like, literally every time.
SO – what does all of this have to do with intention? Well, you see, there’s more power in setting an intention than you may believe. I see setting an intention as slightly different from setting a goal. Goals are very specific, such as having a time-stamp, or amount of money associated with it. Goals focus on the concretized end result. Intentions on the other hand, focus more on the process, the abstract feeling, and can often invite in more patience, compassion, and gratitude for every step along the way. For example, today I set a goal to complete past-due meditation and presentation recordings, answer emails, go to the grocery store and post office, exercise, tidy the house, and make chicken noodle soup. I set an intention to be present throughout my day, to take my time, to have a mindful moment every hour, and to make more eye contact with the people I was going to meet along the way. At the end of the day, I wanted to feel like I lived and enjoyed the process of living and connecting with people, even if I didn’t know them. How did my day end up? Well, I did tidy (the first floor) and I did make chicken noodle soup (that boiled over and made a hot mess) and I did go to the grocery store (whose self-check-out computer kept malfunctioning and made me late picking up my son at the bus stop) and I did exercise (by doing 10 push-ups).
So, my left brain would say that I “failed” because I didn’t complete all of my goals. However, I had fun. I enjoyed picking out the food for my family’s upcoming meals. I enjoyed connecting with the post office workers and telling them about my new book (the title is good at catching folks’ attention). I felt deep love and joy looking into my loved ones’ eyes at the end of the day. I noticed a magnificent sunset and heard the remaining crickets before the winter chill sets in. I felt strong doing my push-ups because I remember the days when I couldn’t move for months. I lived and loved my day. So even though there are emails to answer, clients still waiting on my recordings, conference-goers still waiting on my presentation, and soup molding under my stove, I feel gratitude and a heart full of love.
I know, get to the point already!
Ok, setting intentions is about giving yourself permission to feel the feeling you want regardless of the current conditions. Think about it. We teach ourselves to feel smart before the test, to feel strong before we lift something, to feel confident before the game, to feel successful before we open our own business. Yet, we also simultaneously are taught – and often continue to teach children – that they aren’t allowed to feel smart unless they get an A, or they aren’t allowed to feel like a success until they have $x in the bank, or they aren’t allowed to feel confident until after they scored a point in the game.
We need to unlearn conditional feeling and practice feeling unconditionally. As metaphysics and quantum physics and sports psychology all demonstrate – we can be a magnet for what we want. In fact, we only need to be 51% of what we want because that’s the “Tipping Point” as Malcolm Gladwell discusses in his amazing book called just that. We don’t need to think or feel what we want 100% of the time. That’s unrealistic for any brain (unless you’re my dog who becomes 100% fixated on finding that ball you just threw – no matter how many hours it takes – he is determined). When we focus on the things that help get us into the feeling state of what we want, we can experience amazing things. (For a fun movie, watch or listen to “What the bleep do we know?!”)
Take a moment to think about a goal that you’ve achieved. Maybe it’s making the team, or getting a promotion – or even getting the job you currently have, or meeting the person you love, or getting your degree. Now, think about all of the things that happened in order for that goal to be achieved. Did you know all of those details were going to happen the way they did? How much did you plan and execute yourself? How many of those events happened out of “happenstance”? How many of those details were “right time, right place, right people”? How often were you practicing the feeling of what you wanted and feeling joyfully EAGER about what was coming?
Sometimes, life can be easier when we allow ourselves to realize that we don’t have to have every detail figured out. In fact, the universe/God/collective-consciousness can figure out the details better than you can sometimes – so leave some space for whatever the loving energy is out there to help paint your canvas. But you have to do your part. Your job is to set the intention and be clear about the feeling that you want. We see this practice play out physically whether you’re needing to feel strong in order to do that final push-up, or imagining how relieving it’s going to feel when your pelvic floor finally relaxes and releases on the toilet. The emotional feeling will help you experience the physical result.
When practicing this exercise, just like the new telescope out there in space, we want to find that perfect zoom. If we zoom out too far, we can’t see enough details to access the feeling. If we zoom in too closely, then too many details bring up our fear and resistance and doubt of “how could that ever be possible”. So when you’re listening to the 13-minute meditation and thinking about the life you want, practice zooming in and out to find that perfect zoom for you so you can get into the feeling of what you want, and allow physics, spirit, and serendipity to do the rest.
What’s inspired action? Inspired action is when you meet someone, see something, or are offered an opportunity that matches the feeling that you’ve practiced, which is what gives you the inspiration and motivation and energy to take action. Forced, fear-based action is when you fear that if you don’t do something, then you’ll lose your opportunity – even if there are negative consequences that you don’t want to experience. For example, sometimes you may go on a date with someone, even though you have a weird feeling about it or if you don’t really enjoy being with them, but you do it anyway because you’re afraid of making them feel badly, or you’re afraid of being alone. Sometimes you may ignore the intuitive feeling to take the back roads because you’re afraid of being late, so you choose to take the highway instead, which you discover is at a stand-still because of an accident. Hopefully, you also have experienced times when you’ve said yes to something not because it made sense, but because it felt right – and it turned out to be a great success. I want more of that success for you.
So, return to my past post on the 4-D Wheel and use that as your guide to write down a few of your ideals on the “life you want”. Be sure to identify some of the following details – but not too much detail:
- What do you feel emotionally?
- What do you see?
- What do you hear?
- What do you taste?
- What do you smell?
- Who are you with, or are you alone?
- What’s the weather like?
- Where are you?
- What are you thinking/believing/saying to yourself?
- If someone/people are with you, what are they saying to you?
I believe strongly in this meditation process because it’s worked for me and it’s worked for all of my friends, loved ones, and clients that have used it. They’ve used it for all sorts of things, from a double, arrow-splitting bullseye in archery, to getting that promotion and bonus after taking short-term disability, to finding true love, and to healing from chronic overlapping pain conditions that doctors told them they would have for life. I believe in setting intentions and practicing the feeling of those intentions. I believe it can work on a small scale (like my day’s events) and on a large scale (my husband, career, home, brain healing).
Start where it’s comfortable for you. . . and then go big. Start with setting an intention to feel something in your day, and notice the events that happen to play out and how they create that feeling. Then set an intention for something big, and give yourself 30 days to practice feeling it as you listen to the 13-minute guiding meditation. I encourage you to keep track of your intentions in a journal, so you can remember what intentions you’ve set and you can look back at your success at becoming the magnet for what you want. Don’t set a time limit on it – because that’s fear giving you pass-fail ultimatums. F&*! that sh*%. “Good things come to those who wait,” say the hunters who are enjoying their woodland meditations this season. (I admit, I’m the one scaring away the deer in the fields by my house saying, “run Bambi!” I think that movie scarred me for life…or I’m just a huge empath that couldn’t even dissect a worm in the 6th grade. That’s why I stick with the mind. ? )
Set one intention right now! “I give myself permission to feel ____ today.”
Feeling bold?! “I give myself permission to feel ____ right now!”
Now – listen to the 13-minute meditation. Comment below and tell me what the experience was like for you! Even better, email me in 30 days and tell me the magic that you experienced. I can’t wait to hear from you!
13 Minute Meditation
For those of you who have a very active amygdala (and you want to calm that fear and doubt), listen to this meditation first. It provides a tapping sequence to shift the fear of feeling unconditionally and offers a short meditation to inviting in the feeling of what you want.
I will say, an interesting irony to writing this blogpost is that at the end of it, the song “When You Wish Upon a Star” started playing on my Apple Music. Happenstance? I’ll let you decide.