When a problem stumps you, or you feel like you’re like stuck in a hopeless situation, your brain gets anxious and stressed and calls out:
“What do I do now?”
Mindful Pathfinding is what you do when you don’t know what to do.
As I wrote in my book STOP! research shows that your deeper, non-conscious mind (your Pathfinder) always has the answer to this question.
At that level you constantly monitor existing and developing internal and external conditions.
You have full access to every experience you have had, everything you have learnt.
You perceive what is going on with all your senses.
From this vast data bank you stream to your brain moment-by-moment guidance for the most fulfilling path forward no matter what situation, problem, or goal you have.
But when your brain judges that there is a threat to your “sense of self’ it disconnects from Pathfinder and defaults to its own ‘fight-flight-freeze mode.’
Your brain is at the controls. Its complex belief system largely determines your actions and reactions.
It is like the pilot who when something goes wrong, turns off the navigation GPS and does its own thing.
It's not your brain’s fault!
The way your brain happened to get wired (the worldview it developed) over your life leads it to misread situations and overreact to them.
Then you are the one suffering the collateral damage.
You can help your brain, your Pilot, learn to trust in, and reconnect with, the better-informed guidance from your Pathfinder.
It begins with ‘self-distancing’ from the fear-based thoughts and feelings coming from the brain.
Instead of saying to yourself,
“I feel hopeless!” (for example)
“Pilot feels hopeless.”
(You can use any name for your brain. The idea is to create some psychological distance. Research shows this helps you work with those self-defeating thoughts and feelings.)
Then you model a new behavior for your brain.
When Pilot doesn’t know what to do, you offer Mindful Pathfinding: pause, take a breath, and just look to see what answer Pathfinder comes up with.
You start by stopping.
S.T.O.P. gives Pilot a path to run on, a new response to anxiety, some thing to do when s/he doesn’t know what to do.
S tep back from all the noise going on
T ake a deeper breath and just let go
O bserve your jaw, shoulders, seat, and stomach
P roceed to notice what comes up when you ask: “Where is my most fulfilling path here?”
Guide yourself (and Pilot) through these steps:
S - Step back from all the noise going on.
Do this in anyway that makes sense to you. One way is to imagine stepping back behind a large window where you can see the World outside doing its thing, but you are not caught up in it. You can explore different images to see what works best for you and your Pilot.
T - Take a deeper breath...and then just let go.
This is simply a ‘deeper’ breath than normal. If you are doing this around other people, just do a discreet sigh.
O - Observe what’s going on in your jaw, shoulders, seat, and stomach.
You are not ‘trying’ to relax. You are just centering your attention on those spots one after another and noticing what happens when you do. What happens most often is by mindfully looking at those spots, tension decreases.
P - Proceed to notice what comes up when you ask:
“Where’s my most fulfilling path here?”
You are not asking Pilot to figure out the answer; you are asking your Pathfinder.
All you want Pilot to do is just see what comes up when you ask Pathfinder for guidance.
What usually comes up is one of two things:
(1) Pilot makes a comment (usually negative!) on the process, or gets distracted.
When he does, as his mindfulness coach, you can respond neutrally and say something like:
“Okay, that came up. See what else comes up.”
(2) You may get an insight, an inspiration, an intuition, an impulse to beneficial action.
Pathfinder’s guidance is not always verbal.
Sometimes you’ll just get an energetic sensation, or a feeling of confidence or motivation.
That feeling of forward motion, or a ‘leveling up’ of your experience, is a sign that Pilot has reconnected with Pathfinder.
Celebrate Pilot’s successful reconnection. Thank him/her for their efforts. This is an important step.
You can close the Pathfinding session at that point if you choose.
And that is a brief glance at how you do Mindful Pathfinding.
Want to roadtest this in your own life?
Try it out on whatever situation, problem, or goal (big or small) that you have going on in your daily life right now.
Then click on the ‘Subscribe’ button (it’s $8), join me at The Pathfinder’s Conversation and post your experience and questions online.
Note: While this is a private Facebook group, you are posting publically.
I will respond and that’s the beginning of a conversation about you, your life, and how to do Mindful Pathfinding when you don’t know what to do
The cost is $8 and you work with me this way as much as you need over the course of an entire month.
I don’t tell you what to do about your challenges.
I help you use Mindful Pathfinding to receive the answers and guidance you already have.
If you find this works for you, there is nothing else to do, no where else to go, just be here, now, and it will auto renew for one more month.
If it’s not for you, just click on “Unsubscribe.”
Only $8 - no contract.
Start anytime. Stop anytime.