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Healthy Minds in Practice: Reconnect to the World

Photo courtesy iStock

As the world begins to open up after a year of challenges and isolation for many, this moment brings an opportunity to enter into a new phase of inspiration and excitement. In this 10 minute practice, we reflect on learnings and wisdom we have gained over the past year and how to  intentionally carry that forward as we begin to reconnect with the world around us. 


Reconnect to the World

Led by Cortland Dahl

Hi, this is Cort with the Healthy Minds Program. Thanks for joining me. In this practice we are going to explore this unique historical moment that we’re in. We have all had an extremely difficult year, but things are starting to open up. Maybe you are getting vaccinated these days or there’s something like that on the horizon. Whatever the case, let’s see if we can leave the past behind and enter into this next phase with a sense of inspiration and excitement. 

Let’s start with a few moments of mindful awareness. You can settle into a comfortable posture. You want to be both upright, but loose and relaxed. Do whatever feels natural right now. Go ahead and close your eyes if you’d like, or leave them gently open with a relaxed, soft gaze. And as you settle in, take a few slow, deep breaths and notice how this feels in your body.

Okay, great. You can let your breath return to its normal pace. And take a few moments to rest in open, effortless awareness. You don’t need to do anything for these next few moments. See if you can shift from a state of doing, to one of simply being.

Now let’s do a short reflection. We’ll explore how we can bring a bit of insight and wisdom, and perhaps even a greater sense of purpose, into this time that is yet to come. Look back over the past year. Instead of focusing on all the problems and the difficulties that you faced - focus on what you’ve learned. Are there any important values? Any important insights that you’ve gained? Anything that you’d like to carry forward into the rest of your life? Take a moment to reflect on this.

Now see if you can zero in on one or two especially important insights, or perhaps core values, that you want to bring forward. And clarify this for yourself. You might even put this in the form of a statement, “I want to make this next year all about kindness.” Or, “I want to take this insight that I shouldn’t really take things for granted, and I want to bring that more fully into my life.” See if you can get crystal clear about whatever this insight or value is and affirm that for yourself.

Now let’s get even more specific. Think about your relationships. Is there some way that you could apply this principle, this value, this insight into your relationships? Give this some thought, and get really specific here. Think about different people, different relationships and interactions and how you might apply this in those situations. For example, if you really found that you want to focus on your health and that’s an important value for you, you might think about how you might do that in the context of your relationships. For example, how might you support other people in their health journey? How might they support you? And how might you share that experience? Just get creative here. And get specific. See how you can apply this insight or value.

Now let’s take this in a new direction. Think about your work life or any important pursuit or hobby that you have. How might you apply this value or insight in that situation. And again, be really specific here. Imagine yourself in actual scenarios and what it would be like to embody this new perspective. And you can always switch it up. If this particular insight or value doesn’t quite fit this situation, you can continue to explore and find something else. A different insight or value. And don’t forget to trust your intuition here. You can always switch the topic or switch the value if you find it helpful.

Next, let’s take this in yet another new direction. Imagine if you could apply this insight or value or whatever you’ve been reflecting on to how you deal with challenges, or how you deal with setbacks, with adversity. Imagine the kinds of things you might face or perhaps even a challenge that you’re facing these days. How might you live this insight or value? How might you use it to get through these difficult moments of life?

Now let’s zoom out and look at our life from the big picture. Imagine what you want this next chapter of your life to be about and affirm this for yourself. You might think to yourself, “I want this next year to be all about kindness.” Or, “This year I just want to make the world a better place, in whatever way I can.” But think big. Think beyond yourself, your own needs and concerns. And imagine what life might look like if you view it from this bigger perspective.

For these last few moments, you can slowly open your eyes if they’ve been closed. Take a moment to look around. Notice what you see and what you hear and bring a sense of appreciation and warmth into this moment.

Alright, that’s it for now. We rarely step back and view our lives from the big picture. But that’s just what we did here. This is really a skill. It’s the skill of shifting our perspective so we can gain insight and bring a sense of meaning and purpose to how we view things. See if you can continue to practice this skill. You can do this for short moments many times throughout your day. Just pause, take a moment to reflect, and make whatever you are doing about some key insight or value. Keep it light and playful, and see what you notice. So take care, and good luck with your meditation practice.

Awareness. Connection. Insight. Purpose. We consider these to be four ingredients of a healthy mind. You can train yourself to improve these skills, just like you can develop any habit. This audio practice is provided by Healthy Minds Innovations (HMI), an external, affiliated nonprofit dedicated to supporting the mission of the Center for Healthy Minds. Want more practices? Try the Healthy Minds Program App.

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