When a problem comes up in my life, or I feel like I’m like stuck, or I have a small dream, the first thing that happens is my Inner Voice says:
“But I don’t know what to do about it!”
And that can make my Inner Voice (my brain) feel that things are hopeless, that nothing will ever change.
With Mindful Pathfinding I self-distance from my Inner Voice (my brain).
You know how sometimes you talk to yourself?
Well, that’s called “distanced self-talk” in psychology, and it is a great way to work with thoughts and emotions.
I even have a name for my Inner Voice.
I call him ‘Milo,’ and imagine him as a separate person.
Which may seem a bit strange to you until you try this little experiment:
Notice how you feel when you say to yourself:
“I feel lost. I feel afraid. I feel frustrated.”
Now notice how you feel when you say to yourself:
“He (or she) feels lost. S/he feels afraid. S/he feels frustrated.”
That is the power of what distanced self-talk.
It can transform stress into compassion.
You need your brain to reconnect to the inner guidance from your Pathfinder in order for him/her to find your best path forward for any situation, problem, or goal.
With Mindful Pathfinding, I take on the role of mindfulness coach to my Inner Voice, Milo.
Whenever I notice that Milo is upset, anxious, or frustrated I know Milo has disconnected from Pathfinder’s inner guidance.
So, as his mindfulness coach, I help Milo reconnect using a ‘path’ I call STOP!
In my mind I say to Milo:
S - Step back from all the noise. Nothing else to do. Nowhere else to go. Just be, here, now.
You “step back” in whatever way that makes sense to you. I imagine setting back behind a large pane window where I watch the World outside doing its thing.
T - Take a deeper breath...and then just let go.
It is simply a ‘deeper’ breath than normal. Sometimes, depending on where I’m doing Pathfinding, I may just do a sigh.
O - Observe what’s going on in my jaw, my shoulders, my seat, my stomach?
I don’t try to ‘relax’ any part of my body, I just have Milo direct his attention to it and the tension leaves of its own accord.
This is not simply a relaxation process. It is an exploration in my connection to my body.
P - Proceed with Pathfinding. What comes up when I ask:
“Where is our most fulfilling path forward here?”
In doing this I am addressing my ‘team’ (Milo and my Pathfinder). I am asking “Where is our best path forward here...to a fulfilling outcome for this situation (problem, or goal)?”
It's not my job to come up with an answer. It’s not Milo’s job either. His job is just to mindfully look, without resistance, to what comes up. My job is to help him do that.
And whatever comes up is okay. It is always better that things are expressed than repressed.
If what comes up is Milo complaining, or changing the topic, or criticizing, then I...
(a) Acknowledge it: “Okay, there’s that.”
(b) Label it: “That’s a fear.”
(c) Return to Pathfinding: “What comes up next (when I ask about our best path forward)?”
But most of the time what comes up shifts Milo’s emotional state. It moves from ‘fear-based’ to ‘feeling in the flow,’ feeling movement forward, resolution.
For me, that usually takes the form of a verbal thought like an insight, or an inspiration. Often I get an impulse to act.
Sometimes I just get the positive shift in emotional feeling without anything verbal.
My purpose in coaching my brain is to help him learn how to reconnect and stay connected with Pathfinder.
I am trying to develop a new neural pathway, a new “unconscious memory proceedure,” so that I don’t need to always be coaching him.
And that is a brief glance at how I do Mindful Pathfinding.
Choose a project (situation, problem, or goal) and coach your Inner Voice (name her or him if you choose) in Mindful Pathfinding.
Then join me at The Pathfinder’s Conversation and we’ll go over your experience together.
Try it for a month, see if it works for you.
Only $8 - no contract.
Start anytime. Stop anytime.