I am frequently faced with the challenge of recalibrating, refocusing and resetting my priorities. As a multi-passionate novelty-loving creator, I have no shortage of ideas, offers and clients shooting new projects my way. Add to that being a single mother to a humanitarian and activist on the rise, and it’s easy to imagine that my stress level hits the red zone — often.
The challenge is that with so much information coming into my awareness along with the never-ending to-do list running through my mind, I can sense an impending anxiety episode if I don’t follow a few simple rituals. As I shared in my TEDx, I dealt with near crippling depression and anxiety for years. So I remain vigilant for any signs of relapse. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I’ve learned the hard way that having a bit of an obsessive control over my internal world and a slightly less obsessive handle on what I allow to occupy my time is what is needed to keep all of the balls floating in the air and peace of mind on earth.
My sanity is always my number one priority. Self-care is my saving grace, and living, breathing and embodying compassion is my way of life. I discovered that my tendency to bend over backwards to please others and to micromanage my professional projects could push me into a frenzy that left me irritable and snappy. And as a mother of a high sensory being, those qualities are not well tolerated.
I struggled a lot when my daughter was tiny, because I felt that I needed to devote every waking hour to her care. I went way too far, overboard you could say! And when I neglected my exercise regimen, avoided taking mid-day naps, shortchanged my meditation time, my little one’s mood and attitude would reflect my own dis-ease.
‘Physician chill thyself’
I recognized that my energy, vibe and reactions were being mirrored by my daughter. So much so that I could predict when she was going to have a meltdown pretty easily. My own emotional battery level was reflected in her!
Knowing that I want her to understand that she absolutely can and should take steps to nurture and calm herself, I had to model the behavior first. Setting good boundaries with friends, family and clients allowed me to protect my fitness, meditation and retreat time. Since I couldn’t always retreat to the spa or head to the mountains, I had to bring my meditation practice into my every day life. So I created a simple 5-step meditation process that allows me to release tension, tune into love and compassion, reset my mental focus and allow an opening for inspiration or guidance from a higher power.
This Attunement Meditation Process has saved me from meltdowns and proves to be my most effective resilience builder. It provides a reset-button function that leaves me feeling inspired, full of gratitude and free from my neurotic anxious mind.
Align your life with a higher purpose
I also committed myself to fully embodying my life’s purpose and advancing on my spiritual journey. I realized that I could use all of my talents and resources to that end. So my work has become a type of yoga — karma yoga. I am fortunate that I can align my work with what I consider to be my dharma, the highest calling of my soul to use my life to end suffering. By reflecting on my time as a precious asset I could see that if I wanted to feel fulfilled as an entrepreneur I would have to really become more selective about the projects I took on. (Read more about my recovery from depression in my new book I Love You, Me!)
So my self-care routine became very simple and easy to follow when I decided that living in alignment with my core values was a must. But even with the decision to work on projects with clients who are also spiritually minded and heart-centered I found that I have more work on my plate than I can presently digest. And when I’m pulled into the flow of an exciting and inspiring project, I can get lost for hours at a time. And when I get to the end of a week, month or year and sense that I allowed my crazy-making mind to derail me from my plans I started to investigate the traits and tendencies that tripped me up.
Success leaves clues
In 2010 I discovered a coaching system called Best Year Yet, based on the book with the same name by Jinny Ditzler. The system allowed me to set my priority and uncover how I was sabotaging my success. To set others on the path to personal freedom I now provide free live workshops to go through the 10 questions of the Best Year Yet program. I offer it as a gift to my online community because it has been the most effective way to uncover, in an honest yet compassionate way, which mental habits, fears and time-wasting behaviors were derailing my progress.
You can see the video of me leading the workshop here. I encourage you to see how this system can help you set up an accountability practice so that you make consistent progress to the goals that matter to you most.
Bringing conscious awareness into how we set up our lives is the key to architecting an epic life. Each year I review my overall progress in every area of my life, I look at the underlying belief systems and habits that need to be changed and I outline my personal success mantra which keeps my energy level high.
Epic lives don’t happen by chance
In addition to the yearly review, I’ve been making a regular practice of keeping my major life focus, my current work focus and short term objectives in clear view with the Diamond Life Design framework for creating an epic life. By outlining the values that I live by, and by which I run my company, it’s easier to stay focused on the motivation behind my work. Somehow holding myself to my highest standards keeps me more realistic. It would normally seem to do just the opposite.
With my core values being authenticity, integrity, excellence, love for beauty, oneness and compassion, it could seem that I would be working all the time or moving toward an unreachable ideal. But I’ve also learned the value of bringing the idea of excellence into the moment. With realistic constraints that each project or client brings, such as time, financial resources and overall objectives, I’ve learned to focus on doing my best with what we have — and letting the results be released to the ethers. Instead of being detached or dispassionate, I’m able to focus and bring my best to my work, knowing that it’s part of a bigger tapestry I am weaving with my entire life.
My daughter has lovingly provided feedback on this approach to life and she’s been inspired to put it to work in her own way. She’s starting a charity to help the less fortunate beings on our planet find homes, love and food — for humans and animals alike.
Become the architect of your Diamond Life
The conscious life building approach works best when I make a visual reminder of each area of my life that deserves my attention, the various roles I play, the milestones I need to reach along my journey to achieving some of the big 1, 5, and 10 year goals I set. You can download the Diamond Life Design framework here.
I enjoy teaching these processes because they unleash the hidden or wasted potential we all have for living, loving and experiencing the best life has to offer — with no regrets.
So these three rituals, the Attunement Meditation Process, the Best Year Yet workshop and the Diamond Life Design framework provide the long-term, short-term and in the moment focus on my goals, my highest spiritual ideals and practical values. I can easily reset my focus, renew my energy and revive my enthusiasm with a few breaths and a glance at my wall. Try them out and let me know how they work for you.
I wish you a life filled with adventure, passion and meaning. Every day is a chance to start again, realign with your purpose and go after your dreams. I look forward to connecting with you in the various live video sessions or on my radio show, Liberate Your Authentic Self on the America Out Loud radio network and iHeart Radio.
A spiritual awakening showed me how to love myself and overcome depression
For decades I hid my battle with depression from the world. As a functional depressive, I enjoyed a high powered media career with all the outer appearances of success. But I was miserable inside. My life as a medical journalist, physician and acupuncturist showed me the power of ‘mind over body’ but it left so many questions unanswered when it came to loving myself.
In 2005 I hit rock bottom and I cried out to God to take my life. What happened next blew my mind — and my depression out of sight. I had an out-of-body near-death-like experience and arrived at a place of unconditional self-acceptance and real self-love.
My awakening inspired me to research neuroscience, the world’s spiritual traditions, and energy psychology to understand what happened to me. A 5-step framework emerged, The Cornerstone Process, which I present to you in this book.
This article was first published on December 25 at www.AndreaPennington.com