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Setting the tone: No downward dogs

The most important thing often happens at the beginning — or before that. Make it conscious.

The most important thing about an event is often the first thing that happens — or even something from a time before that. Something that sets the tone, and the rest follows like dominoes falling. At yoga at Nubody’s the other day, instructor Helen Fong said it is a full moon, so we will do a slower, calmer workout to match the energy of the time — no downward dogs, for example. It was a great workout, with a totally different feel. No downward dogs! I realized after class that her little briefing to us at the beginning set the tone for the entire session. Bravo, Helen!

So often in life, the first intention, if I can use the, term, is somewhat negative. It is challenging, or peevish, or frustrated — in any event, less than positive. Happens in sports with the coach, in business at a meeting, with the family around the dinnner table. Maybe the energy calms down and becomes more positive later, but some quality time has been lost.

Sometimes the first something goes awry. But if you are quick you can notice it and reset the tone. An initial shot on the golf course turns out badly; yet you recover and say to yourself — oh, this means we need to focus next time. It can be the start of a wonderful day. 

Being on time or a little early helps set that positive tone. Allowing for slow traffic. Planning ahead a little. Imagining the event in your mind ahead of time helps you be on time, and focused when you arrive. Try getting to a meeting ahead of Joseph Seiler, our Mind columnist. Good luck. Joe is one of the most focused, prepared people you will ever meet.   

 It takes so little to consciously set a positive intenton at the beginning: to send that brief message that you know will set the tone for the next hours. It creates a little magic. Let’s do it more.  

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Uploaded by David Holt