Growing up I was used to getting lost with my mother as she had a challenging time with directions. Often when we ventured off of a routine route, we ended up lost for some time. She was used to operating like this and would find a way to make the being lost part interesting. We would find all kinds of new adventures from roadside antique shops to a new pond to search for tadpoles. I thought it was fun until I realized that I also have a challenging sense of direction.
Being “directionally challenged” has been part of my life since orienting on my own. I have developed some coping skills over the years, but recently I have been noticing some advantages of being lost. Once I began driving to unfamiliar places, I adopted some practices that would help me get from A to B. I studied my routes and became very good at reading maps. I learned to look for familiar landmarks and to ask for directions early and often. Of all of the practices I used to stay on track, the one that has served me most (besides the invention of GPS) is to adopt being lost as a mindset. Understanding that being lost is not inherently a bad or scary place. That you can find interesting new things and people and that your ability to focus increases. So I too adopted a good attitude about being lost.
Being lost without being scared or late is actually a wonderful state in which to find yourself. You become very present with your surroundings as you are attempting to find your way to something familiar. You can let go of needing to be somewhere and just wander where you are.
It occurred to me that I could try on being lost as a mindset and cultivate a kind of flow state. Just as you can be lost in the music you are playing, the sport you are practicing or in love, you can practice being lost as a mindset.
Here are my simple tips to practice being lost:
- Get outside, perhaps to a place where you have never been or one that you haven’t visited in a while. You can also take a route you always take but in the opposite direction.
- Take some deep breaths. This will connect you with your body and bring your autonomic nervous system into alignment.
- Begin to notice yourself and your environment with a mindful walk. How does your body feel? Is there any pain or discomfort? What is going on in your surrounding environment?
Being mindfully lost can create deep focus. You may return to your work with more clarity and energy than you had before hanging out lost.
Finally, remember that being lost is an opportunity to surprise ourselves. Focus on your strengths, the things you do well and the things you have yet to realize. You may find a way forward that hadn’t occurred to you before….follow that one!