Have you ever regretted something? Something you could have changed by just being a little more present “in the moment?” How much are you really living in this moment?
Several years ago I had a brief interaction with a friend, as he was doing some work on our apartment building at the time. I was on the the cell phone trying to get a signal outside of our door, and couldn’t talk to him. I did the whole, point to the phone while I hurriedly said hello to him. I had really wanted to give him a big hug with a genuine hello. Thought I would have a chance later.
What I didn’t know was that night, he would take his own life. And I would never see him again.
If I had been acting a little more in the moment and not distracted, I may have caught myself. I could have been less mind-FULL and more MIND-ful. I could have paid attention to what was important at that moment. Has that every happened to you?
Maybe it was rolling through a stop sign only to find a pedestrian right in front of you.
Or missing important details while listening to a friend or co-workers story, because you were already thinking about what you were going to say in return.
Arrived at your destination without really knowing the details of how you got there?
Tripped while walking because you didn’t notice the raised sidewalk in front of you?
Or too busy thinking about the days plans that you rushed out the door without saying goodbye, or did so in a hurry.
Check out the #3 suggestion below if you do nothing else.
Maybe you’ve tried meditation and you’ve decided it’s just not for you. Hey, no judgement. Or maybe you want to have a meditation practice but sitting still just doesn’t feel good in your body right now.
There are other ways to practice mini-meditations or mindfulness throughout the day. You just have to remember to do it.
Check out this list, adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s, Full Catastrophe of Living, Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Is there ONE thing here you can use?
Hints and Suggestions for Reducing “Work” Stress
Now, if you aren’t going to “work” anymore, fill in that word with, “church, temple, volunteer meetings, visits with friends, the coffee shop, grocery shopping,” etc.
1. When you wake up, take a few quiet moments to affirm that you are choosing to go to work today. If you can, briefly review what you think you will be doing and remind yourself that it may or may not happen that way.
2. Bring awareness to the whole process of preparing to go to work. This might include showering, dressing, eating and relating to the people you live with. Tune into your breathing and your body here and there.
3. Don’t say good-bye mechanically to people. Make eye contact with them, touch them, really be “in” those moments and slow them down a bit. If you leave before other people wake up, you might try writing them a little note to say good morning or express your feelings toward them.
**This one is priceless for me.
4. If you walk to public transportation, be aware of your body walking, standing, waiting, riding and getting off. Walk into work mindfully. Breathe. Try smiling inwardly. If driving, take a moment to slow your breathing before you start the car, and while you continue to drive. Soften the space between your eyes. After parking, take a moment to just sit and breathe before you leave your car. Walk into work mindfully. Breathe. Try smiling.
5. At work, take a moment to monitor your body sensations. Is there tension in your shoulders, face, hands or back? How are you sitting/standing at this moment? Feel your feet on the ground, or both sit bones with equal balance beneath you. What is your body language saying? Consciously let go of any tension as you exhale and shift your posture to one that expresses balance, calm and alertness.
6. When you find yourself walking at work, walk mindfully. Don’t rush unless you have to. If you have to, acknowledge that you are rushing.
7. Use breaks to truly relax. Instead of eating or grabbing a cup of coffee, try going outside the building for three minutes and walking/standing and breathing. Or do some neck/shoulder rolls, chair yoga at your desk.
8. Make time for exercise daily, even if it is just a short walk at lunchtime. This can be a great way to clear the mind, reduce tension and starting the afternoon with more clarity and energy.
9. Try to stop for one minute every hour and become of aware of your breathing. Put up a note on your desk or use an alarm on your phone to alert every hour. Use these mini-meditation moments to reset.
10. Be mindful of your communications with people during the work day. Think about how you might improve them. How might you be more sensitive to other people’s feelings and needs. How might your mindfulness help others at work? How might awareness of tone of voice and body language help you when communicating?
11. As you are leaving, bring your awareness to walking and breathing again. Be aware of the transition. Monitor your body. Are you exhausted? Are you standing erect or bent over? What expression is on your face?
12. Before you walk in the door, realize that you are about to do so. Be aware of the transition. Try greeting people and making eye contact, rather than shouting your arrival.
13. As soon as you can, take off your work clothes to complete the transition from work to home. If you can make time, take five minutes to meditate or stretch before you do anything else, even cooking or eating dinner.
So, could you take some of these actions above to make your days a little bit more MIND-ful? So you don’t end up missing that chance to be truly there.
Need more inspiration about changing habits (samskaras) and creating new ones (sankalpa) to living this moment? Read more here…..