The dominant energies that intersect and ultimately dictate our moment-to-moment work flow are: (1) optimal creative energy, (2) low-fi energy (also described here as our “dip”), and (3) dullness or lethargy.
In my co-leadership of a yoga-inspired business (Mind Tribes), a yoga-based nonprofit (In-Powered), and my regular private and group yoga sessions, working mindfully necessitates that I possess the ability to identify and adjust for these energies.
Using the lessons I’ve learned in this balancing act, I hope this piece offers a practical approach to empower you to shift into more generative and mindful work:
Firstly, mindful work requires that you identify and leverage your optimal creative time. Knowing the exact period and length of time you’re most creative and productive is essential. Ask yourself: Do I work best in the morning, the afternoon, the evening, or in short bursts throughout the day?
Mindful Tip: Finding and refining this specific optimal space takes intentional experimentation and patience. The key is actually having TIME. If your schedule is dictated by a middle manager, or your employer isn’t yet open-minded about results-oriented scheduling, this may be difficult.
If your aim is to design your own template for life (i.e., a schedule dictated on your own terms), my advice is that you create your exit plan…fast!
For me, that plan involved launching a nonprofit, which eventually allowed me to leave my regular 9–5 and begin creating my optimal schedule. If you want to work mindfully and with radical focus, you MUST start owning more of your time!
Second, it’s important to intentionally schedule work breaks, days off, and downtime around your low-fi energy — when your creativity and productivity dip. Even the most dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneurs experience lulls in vitality and inspiration; and, harnessing your energy can prime you to be most productive when your optimal creative energy reemerges.
Mindful Tip: Build your daily routine around these dips in productivity. In some cases, you’re better off not working, rather than wasting your vitality during an energetic lull.
Personally, after my early morning ritual of meditating, writing, and reading, I notice a break in my attention around 8:30am. I manage this low-fi energy by walking my pup and listening to my daily podcasts.
One thing here is key: You don’t want to completely take yourself out of the game. Instead, adjust accordingly by easing off of the gas, and then orient your work in preparation for the ensuing shift back into your optimal creative space.
Finally, living and working mindfully calls us to be aware when dullness or lethargy creeps in. Our ability to work mindfully is enhanced when we can observe the bigger energtic dips that could eventually become problematic.
Mindful Tip: Be with this energy, rather than trying to rid yoursef of it immediately. You may just discover that hitting the proverbial wall, or feeling uninspired, is a rich turning point because it teaches you patience and persistence.
If you can employ these two traits, you’ll often discover an inspiring breakthrough you’ve been seeking. The up-level in living and working mindfully is to personally manufacture choice-based shifts out of these energetic dark wholes. (Note: I’m not simply advocating of ethos of “being happy” or “turning your frown upside down”. Our emotional field is much more complex than that. I’m sugguesting that emotional richness and complexity [like pain, happiness, and sadness] can exist in tandem…AND that they don’t have to stifle your ability to execute and ship meaningful work.)
About the author:
A full-time mover and teacher at heart, Dan Houston is known for his ability to blend movement principles with applied anatomy to produce dramatic results for his students. He is passionate about exploring human movement through yoga and mindfulness outside of the exercise paradigm. His primary lenses for practice and teaching are Vinyasa, Forrest, Pralaya Yoga, and his education and daily research in Movement & Health Studies.
Dan also has extensive experience adapting yoga for people from all walks of life, including for youth, incarcerated men, trauma-based practice for veterans with PTSD, for the homeless and displaced, and for elderly individuals. He enables his students to adopt whole-life movement solutions to provide access to an individualized, long-term, pain-free practice that embodies breath, awareness, range of motion, strength, and stability.
Dan is a co-founder and facilitator at Mind Tribes, a yoga-inspired personal and professional development brand that offers mindfulness training, coaching, and yoga teacher training programs. Dan and his wife, Cristina, also design and lead mindfulness and yoga teacher training for school teachers through their nonprofit, In-Powered by One Significant Act. He teaches public yoga classes at Pralaya Yoga Studio and In-Powered, in Houston, Texas.