Over the course of the last year and a half, as we’ve been writing What Does Your Soul Love?, we have set aside times to get away to focus on the writing. Thanks to generous friends with homes near Duck Creek, UT and Avila Beach, CA, these getaways were fruitful times of thinking and composing. We were really able to sink down into the work and focus.
After our second writing getaway I began to ask the question, “Why can’t I focus like this at home (in my home office)?” Why is it so hard to slip into these spaces in my own home? Do I really have to go away to feel away? That doesn’t seem realistic. I can’t easily get away that often. Am I really destined to have that kind of focus only when I’m hundreds of miles away from my actual life?
It’s easy to have boundaries and to let go of things when you are literally not at home. The boundaries are obvious. I only have the clothing, books, and technology that I brought in my suitcase.
It is difficult to feel the boundaries at home because everything happens there. Marriage, family, job, rest, housework. And, whether I want to or not, I carry all of it with me all the time. Not everything is at the same volume, but I carry it nonetheless.
So, is it possible to set and live within the boundaries (like in Avila or Utah) even when I am at home? I can feel both a yes and a no rising up within me. Well, it’s not really a no, it’s just a, “Man, that would take a lot of effort and would be very difficult” feeling. I’d have to learn to put everything aside as though it weren’t there, even though it is there. I would still have physical proximity to it.
When I’m away I feel lighter because I am not in proximity to the other people, work and things I carry. When I’m away, there are no dishes or laundry to do. Depending on the location, there is no internet on my computer, so no temptation to watch something or browse the web. I also understand that I’ve set this time aside to focus on God, my soul or the work at hand. So lots of other things simply take a back seat. They will be there when I return to them.
To do this at home, I would have to make the decision and learn to train my mind and my body to act like it is in that physical space that feels to me like a natural boundary. The work we do takes a distinct kind of focus. Preparing content that is meant for transformation and not merely passing on information means I have to pull from somewhere deep inside of me. That takes presence and focus.
I’ve been practicing this for a few months. Actually, right now, as I sit in my living room, in my special “work chair” I am pretending there is nothing else to do but write these words. And it is working. I know that some people can compartmentalize more easily than others. For some of us it takes real effort to hunker down in to this space. It takes becoming aware, being mindful and making decisions about where my focus is directed. I don’t do it perfectly, but I am definitely getting better at this.
Whether you find it easy to compartmentalize your life or you’re someone who carries the everything in your life around with you everywhere, I’d like to offer a few of our podcast episodes to help you become more present. Each of these are minisodes, so they are about 6-12 minutes in length. They are meant to be used in the middle of our actual, full lives.
You have permission to take a few minutes on your lunch break, before you head out in the morning, or as you rest in the evening. Choose one a day or one a week. See if any of them recommend themselves as an ongoing practice you would like to adopt as a way of bringing yourself back to presence (head, heart, and body all in the same place at the same time).
You know from experience that “being all there” is the most effective way to get things done.
Just like we conclude every episode of our podcast, I’d like to say to you:
We love connecting with more and more friends like you who want to rest deeper, live fuller and lead better.
#10 – S.L.O.W.
#19 – B.R.E.A.T.H.E.
#20 – Guided Prayer in Psalm 16
#28 – The Welcoming Prayer
#36 – The Carry Prayer
#41 – Reservoir Leadership – Influencing from a Full Soul
#47 – The Ocean of God’s Love
#56 – Practicing Presence: Moving from Resistant to Relaxed
#67 – Remain: The Unremarkable, Remarkable Branch