• Allison Pelyhes

The Power of 1 Intentional Hour

During my time in undergrad, I took planning to the extreme. I had a step-by-step morning routine and reminders on every hour. My planner was color coded, my calendar updated daily, and my classes separated by binder. It took me months to find a way in which studying and organizing for school worked well. I also took time to reassess my routine each semester when my liberal arts school made me take a class I wasn't so thrilled to take.

"Adulting" has been a whole new experience. Working in a spiritual life center can mean a million emotions spill and pile up in one day either from within myself or from external situations. Add a global pandemic and a hectic political atmosphere, and "planning ahead" seems impossible.

I have accepted that disruptions are inevitable in this season. To cope and find a means to address how this makes me feel, I've been searching for new, intentional ways to integrate mindful practices or rituals into my day that can be flexible and independent from morning or evening routines. The rise and fall of the sun or tick of the clock was once my guide. But, time is in fact a human construct and the beginning and end of the day in the United States is almost never regulated by the rising of the sun and moon. Therefore, one must come prepared for any time of day.

I have been hoping finding one intentional hour in my day where I can focus on activities that feed my soul, allow me to rest, and refocus my mind on purpose and meaning making. Turns out, finding 60-minutes in a row is strictly reserved for folks like Lesley Stahl on Sunday morning CBS or a therapist's wall clock. I have found it harder than ever to engage with my own thoughts for one consecutive hour.

To keep up the practice, I've switched to three twenty minute moments throughout the day that bring me renewal, strength, and focus. They can happen at any time of day where I can fit them. Some practices are active and others make me set a timer on my phone so I can snooze in a chair somewhere. Some engage with the keyboard (like what I'm typing now) and in other practices I'm flipping pages, filling my chest cavity with air, or tapping my toes to the beat of reggae drums.

Today, I glided through a 20-minute morning meditation using the Headspace App (as recommended by the lovely Sam Murray, Academic and Student Experiences Coordinator at Elon). Then, I set a reminder to go on a 20-minute walk with a friend. Now, I'm writing for 20-minutes right into this blog page.

Presto! I've completed a full hour of intentional practices and it's only a quarter to 2. In thinking less about the amount of time I had to find, I focus on a short practice that when combined with others will bring intentionality to the forefront of my mind.

First, make a list of 20-minute applicable practice you enjoy and would like to try. Then, pick three that you are know you need after you've assessed how yesterday went. Ask yourself; do I need rest, movement, or reflection time? Who would I like to see in the mirror later today? Are they wind swept, thoughtful, and wise? Or, rosy, gentle, and kind? Who do I want to be today and how can I intentionally serve myself? Perhaps, you're more community centered...you can ask: who can I serve? how can I serve?

Remember, you can only serve others well if you yourself are well. I also highly recommend you give yourself a goal to refrain from using social media (unless you work demands it) until you've finished you three twenty-minute moments.

For "extra credit": I use core values that I want to focus on to guide intentional practices. For example, if I'm focusing on wisdom, justice, and compassion, my hour is spent on 20 minutes of reading, 20 minutes of writing, and 20 minutes writing cards to friends. Perhaps the next day, I spend 20 minutes memorizing a poem, 20 minutes engaging in self-love by doing chair yoga, and 20 minutes reflecting with a friend on what concerns me in the world today. I switch which values I focus on each month in order to develop new practice and examine how much effort I put forth to live by my values.

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