Do you ever feel like you are running from one thing to the next and mindlessly going through your day?
Me too....often. In fact, on Saturday, I was rushing to a morning speaking engagement, thinking about the bat mitzvah where I was going to meet up with my family, hoping they remembered the gift, then wondering if my daughter had her volleyball uniform ready for two games later that afternoon, then wondering how we were going to get each of our children to their respective evening events and make it to a fundraiser on time....that's when I realized I was on 75th street instead of 95th street. I had gone further than I needed to, because my mind was hours ahead of my body.
Do you ever notice this? Your body sits in a car, but where is your mind? Your body arrives at a location, but does your mind arrive there too?
I notice this in my children's days too. They move from class to class with a few minutes in between to go to their lockers, talk to friends, grab the next set of books, go down the hall to the classroom, find a seat, remember to turn in homework, then switch their brains on for a new academic subject.
Over and over again, we move through our days at a brisk speed into new settings and never truly arrive. Try this practice and be intentional for a few seconds to arrive where you are. I think you will find you are more aware, mindful, and present with those around you and the task at hand. I'm working on this one too this week!
When you arrive somewhere, set your attention to arriving mindfully.
That means allowing yourself a few seconds to sit in the new place, notice what is around you, be aware of the people in the room, and remind yourself what you are here to do or be.
What this looks like in practice for you each day:
When you get into your car, pause, and run through thoughts similar to these: I am in my car. I am driving to work now. Do I want music, podcast, or quiet? Where am I headed and how will I get there? I will now put my phone away so that I am not tempted to look at it. I will drive carefully and give this my full attention.
When you get to your desk at work, pause, and run through thoughts similar to these: I have arrived at work. This is my desk. I feel my chair supporting me. I am here to help others. I will focus on a project for two hours and then go to a meeting.
When you go into a meeting, pause, and think these thoughts: I am here, right now, at this table. I can feel my body in this chair. I take a deep breath. We are meeting about... I hope to contribute... I notice...
When you have lunch, pause, and think: I am at lunch now. What do I feel like eating? What does my body need? I will eat mindfully and pay attention to each bite. I will enjoy this food and the energy it gives to me.
When you are with a group of people, pause, and look around: Notice each one of them. Think about their name. What color are they wearing? Send them a kind thought. Can you sense what someone is feeling? Is there something you want to say to them?
For students changing classes and arriving in the classroom: I am now in this room at this desk. I feel my body in this chair. I take a deep breath. I am about to learn about [this subject]. I am listening to my teacher begin the class. I hear what they are saying. I am now focused and paying attention.
When you get home at the end of the day: I have arrived at home. I am safe here. I notice tension in my shoulders and neck. I will allow that part of me to relax now. I will take a deep breath. I will enjoy my family and/or some quiet time alone tonight.
The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness.
We can go through our days mindlessly and then wonder where the day went. Or we can be mindful and arrive fully into the moment, each and every moment.
I have been told that Google employees do a version of this know as "a minute to arrive" before team meetings. Everyone in the room takes a breath and gets present in the room with the people there. The feedback is that meetings are more productive, people feel more connected, and efficiency increases.
A physician was telling me she was always running late and rushing into the patient's room out of breath and distracted. Now she uses her own version of the Arrive practice before she goes into a patient's room. She stands at the door, takes a deep breath. She says the patient's name and "be present" to herself. Then she walks into the room. She has noticed that she is more calm and attentive the moment she opens the door.
Find your own version of arriving. Become more present. Match your mind to where your body is - where ever you are, be fully there.
Life gets better, we make fewer mistakes, and people feel that we are paying attention. When you are present and less distracted, you are naturally more compassionate and kinder. And isn't that what we are all longing to be?
Sending you love,