Lately, life at work had been really tough for Jane. There were mounting deadlines, disgruntled employees and a boss that was hard to please. She was physically and mentally spent, getting to a place of burn out. As the work day came to an end, Jane gathered her things and left her office. She got in her car in the underground parking garage, sat down and took a deep breath in, followed by a long breath out. She took a pause before starting the ignition.
Jane drove home in silence with no radio in the background and cell phone turned off. She chose to just be with her thoughts and allow them to float through her mind. She allowed herself, in those moments of silence, to just reflect on her day and get present to where she was and how she felt about it. Before she even realized it, Jane was home. The 45 minute drive home felt like only 5 minutes. But once she got home, she somehow felt clearer than when she left her office, lighter and even slightly refreshed. Jane might not have realized it but on that drive home, she was meditating.
Have you ever felt like Jane? We all experience stress, strain and different levels of trauma, mental, emotional and physical day to day. But what we don’t realize is that there are moments every day in our life that can become meditative moments . For instance the elevator ride up to the 8th floor. Even those 90 seconds (more or less) can be used to just get present to one or two nice deep long breaths. The subtle shifts that one can invite into the body and mind in those little pauses are what create a lasting peace in our life, moment to moment.
In my years of studying the different forms of meditation and ancient techniques from gurus and teachers in India as well as Europe and the U.S., I learned that this was more about how to have a meditative quality in one’s life. As part of my training I cooked, cleaned, spent time in sielnce to appreciate pausing.
There is a preconceived notion that to meditate is to sit in the lotus position for an extended period of time staring at your belly button. While there are many levels of meditation and a variety of techniques, this is not the only one. The benefits of even 5 minutes of meditation or a pause into your day far outweigh the perceived inconvenience.
Some of the times you were meditating and didn’t realize it could have been while you were…
I am just highlighting the 7 top of mind activities in the list above. But this list is endless. Anything can be made into a mediation, the possibilities are limitless. It’s YOUR pause, you can turn anything into your pause.
Try to think of pausing more in terms of getting present and give up the old concepts and belief systems of what it might look like. Just do it.
Some helpful reminders to get present:
Unless it’s “smartphone meditation time”, create a time block when you are not checking email, tweeting or posting during the day. Dinner time is the easiest time to break the interrupt-driven cycle we are in constantly. Get present to the food you are eating and the different flavors. Savor each bite. Feel the texture in your mouth and on your tongue. Pay full attention to the conversations and take your time in listening.
Observe your surroundings. While driving, running, biking, hiking or even walking through the grocery store, pay attention to faces, make eye contact, smile and acknowledge others you walk past. It sounds really basic and simple but in these little moments of connection with people and nature, you begin increasing your self-awareness. You create a ripple effect from within by getting present in these simplest of ways.
When do you feel like you are “in the zone” the most?
How can you have more of what works in this area of your life?