by Lili Powell: When we’re under pressure, our ability to care and to lead can feel compromised…
Mindfulness can provide a path to cultivate the focus and determination of grit and the care and calm of grace, to learn from growth and change. In this practice to arrive, breathe, and connect, Dr. Lili Powell, a professor at UVA Darden School of Business, offers space to fully arrive in the present moment and make a commitment to focusing on being right here, right now.
A 12-Minute Meditation to Arrive, Breathe, Connect
- Get into what for you is an alert yet relaxed position. You may need to adjust your posture a bit to settle into your chair. Put your feet flat on the floor, put your bottom way back in the seat of your chair, and then sit up nice and tall. You can relax your hands, placing the palms down on top of your thighs. And then very slowly lower your gaze or, if you feel comfortable, close your eyes.
- Take a moment to fully arrive in the present moment. You may be at work or doing something else right now, so I invite you to take a moment to put that aside. Of course, if you’re driving, it might be nice to pull over for a little bit. In any case, just take this moment to fully arrive, giving yourself the gift of a moment of focus and clarity. Letting go of your to-do list. Letting go of whatever comes next. You’re making a clear-eyed commitment to be right here, right now.
- Scan through your own body, checking in and feeling the temperature, so to speak. And you may note whether you feel especially grounded right now, perhaps ungrounded or underground. You don’t have to change anything about that right now, just simply notice.
- Now shift your attention inward to your body breathing. Notice inhalations and exhalations wherever they feel most prominent to you. You may feel this most at the tip of your nostrils, where cool air enters the nose and warm breath leaves the mouth. Or you may feel a whole breath that travels from your nose to your throat, into your chest, and down into your belly.
- Connect to a few physical sensations. Notice the ones that we can associate with the kinds of energies that we want to work with when showing up with grit and grace. So with your mind’s eye, begin to trace your spine from the tailbone up through the lower back, upper back, back of the neck, and into the crown of the head. And with this, feel the length of your spine. You may even feel as though you’re growing slightly, offering a little more space between the vertebrae and the spine. Allow your head to sit in a balanced way atop of the spine.
- As you feel into the length of your spine, note the way that this feels like dignity; a grounded and balanced posture. And then bring your mind’s eye to your back and notice the width of your back. Notice the space from one shoulder to the other, from one underarm to the other. You may even breathe more deeply into the back of the rib cage to access this area. And with your width, feel into your strength. Associating this expanse of the body with strength and grit, focus, and determination.
- Now, shift your attention to the front of the chest, right at the breastbone. Your mind’s eye may at first see just a small spot. See if you can focus on the space around that spot; taking in the whole chest. Feel into your heart beating below the breastbone and feel into your warmth. Feel into the energy that is calm and caring and inviting. And, let’s call that your grace.
- Once again, notice the length of your spine and the feeling of dignity. Notice the breadth of your back, your strength, and your grit. Notice the warmth in the front of your chest, the heart, and your grace. And allow these three sensations to be in conversation with one another: Dignity, Grit, Grace.
- Take a few deep breaths. Bring a few small movements back to your fingers and toes. If your eyes have been closed, open them. If your eyes have been lowered, you may begin to raise your gaze.