Peace Of Mind For Busy People: Mindfulness

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“Do not confuse peace of mind with spaced-out insensitivity. A truly peaceful mind is very sensitive, very aware.” – Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama)

peace of mind

We all want peace of mind. But how do you cultivate peace of mind in midst of a hectic day? In this post I’ll give you some strategies for remaining calm and centred, even when the world around you seems to be in a spin.

The busier and more chaotic our lives get the more likely we are to let our unconscious mind do all our thinking for us. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that we will experience an ‘outside-in’ version of the world, i.e. we mistakenly believe that it is what is happening to us on the outside that is responsible for how we feel on the inside.

When life is hectic and it feels as though we have a million things to do it can genuinely feel as though the world is racing and that we have our work cut out to keep up with it. Of course the truth is that the world is going at exactly the same speed it has always been traveling at. The only variable that changes from moment to moment is the quality and speed at which we rattle through our thoughts, giving us the perception that we are living in either fast time or slow time.

Have you ever been on a train that is sat stationary at the platform and felt as though you were already moving because the train next to you started to pull away? Well, that is how we often experience our thinking. The reality is that we are just human beings having thoughts in a relatively still world, but those thoughts can create the illusion that we are being swept away in the fast moving current of our busy lives.

So, one of the things I will often recommend to clients is that they build moments of peacefulness into their routine. There are two reasons for this. The first is that there are undeniable benefits to health and wellbeing that accompany the act of deliberate relaxation, particularly if their busy lives feel stressful to them. The second is that by taking time to enjoy a moment of peace, it becomes a lot easier to see the link between thought and feeling, which inevitably creates a doorway to a deeper and wiser level of understanding.

We might think that in order to keep on top of our immense ‘to do’ list we have to throw all of our focus and energy into keeping those plates spinning, but often the effect of that is just to become overwhelmed and less resourceful. The feeling of overwhelm is not so much caused by the length of your ‘to do’ list or the number of spinning plates you have on the go, but by what you are afraid it might mean if you don’t keep up.

That fear is just a thought that feels real.

That is not to say that whether you complete your tasks or not doesn’t have consequences, but by definition, at this moment in time, those consequences are only imagined possible outcomes that have not taken place in reality. The fact is we can never know ahead of time how anything will really pan out, so all we can do is bring our best selves to the table to give ourselves the greatest chances of success. But it is hard to be our best, most resourceful selves all the time we are held captive to the imagined pressure of our own busyness.

A great antidote to the stress of hectic living is to practice a regular relaxation routine, such as meditation or guided visualisation. However, I know the reason many busy people do not indulge in these kinds of activities, even though they would love to, is the belief that it requires an investment of yet more of their time and energy. They are likely to say:

“Meditation! Seriously? Have you seen my life? Just when do you think I’m going to get the time to meditate. Nice idea, but dream on!”

So, to make the benefits mediation more accessible to exceptionally busy people I’d like to make a distinction between the act of meditation and the meditative state.

The act of meditation does require you to take a few moments out of your day, to sit quietly and remain peacefully still, just breathing and connecting to a higher level of consciousness. Over time and with practice your ability to let go of your stressful thoughts and to just experience the present moment becomes easier and more effortless. This alone is a wonderful way to refresh your senses and gain a renewed healthy perspective on your current situation. The paradox is that by investing the time into de-stressing and reconnecting to your innate wellbeing you actually become far more resourceful and are able to operate more efficiently in the time you have remaining. In other words, you will get more done in less time to a higher standard.

I’m reminded of a quote. I don’t remember it verbatim or who it is attributed to (possibly Gandhi), but it goes:

“I have such a lot to accomplish today I’m going to have to meditate for twice as long.”

It is important to remember, though, that the purpose of meditating is not simply to engage in the ACT of meditation; it is to experience the meditative state. We all naturally fluctuated in our levels of awareness throughout the day and the meditative state is just a heightened level of awareness that you can access any place, anytime, anywhere; even smack bang in the middle of your busy day. It is not necessary for you to adopt the lotus position and you certainly don’t have to hum!

If you can take 20 to 30 minutes each day to sit and meditate or be guided through a relaxing visualisation (sign up for the free ecourse for audio to help you do this) then I would absolutely recommend that you do that, but if you can’t, or simply don’t want to, then you can still experience the benefits of the meditative state while you go about your daily activities. All you need to do is draw your awareness to your senses and to become mindful of whatever it is you happen to be doing at the time; to just get really present.

There are a couple of strategies that I want to share with you to help you have greater peace of mind in the midst of a chaotic schedule.

1. Mindfulness

The best way I can describe mindfulness is that it is what happens when all of your senses get really curious about what you are doing.

So let’s say that you are typing at your computer. The first step would be to pause and to take a slow deep breath, clear you head and let your body release any tension it may have a been feeling. Then, you would start to become aware of what you are aware ofl with each of your senses, such as the weight of your body pressing down into the chair, the feel of your clothes on your skin, the temperature of the air, your fingertips on the keyboard, everything you can see in your primary and peripheral vision, all of the sounds you can hear, both obvious and subtle…

The more you simply notice and experience whatever happens to be in your sensory reality, in that moment, the more grounded in the present you will become. It is fascinating that any feelings of stress or anxiety are likely to naturally dissipate as the frame of mind that was keeping them alive gives way to the peace of the Now. It is also amazing how much more ‘task focus’ you are able to bring as you resume your work with a clear head and comfortable body.

2. ‘The Only Thing in the World’

Once you are more centred and grounded in the present, the second strategy is one that I call ‘The only thing in the world’. The premise of this is that you set yourself the intention that whatever it is you are about to do, you are going to do it like it really, REALLY matters and that it is the only thing in the world that needs your attention in that very moment.

So again, if you are typing, you would continue to be quietly mindful of your sensory experience whilst allowing your creative mind to effortlessly focus on the best, most appropriate words to type in order to convey your message perfectly. In that moment nobody wants anything, nobody expects anything from you and there is nothing whatsoever for you do except to type like it really matters.

If the thought of focusing on just one task to the exclusion of every other task that has also made it to number one on your priority list freaks you out, then it is good to remind yourself that no matter what happens you can only physically do one thing at a time anyway. As soon as you’re done with whatever is front you, the next thing you turn to will become the only thing in the world that needs your attention. The key is to just continue being mindful of the present moment.

If you think you will need a bit of practice trying out these strategies, a fun time to do it is when you are washing up. The next time you are about to do the dishes take a deep breath, relax your body and get present with all of your senses. Then meticulously clean each of those dishes like it is the most important thing in the world. I also suspect that your unconscious will accept this as a beautiful metaphor for cleansing the mind.
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HOMEWORK
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Think about your schedule for the next week decide ahead of time where and when you will have the intention of being mindful and present as you go about your work.

As you experiment with these strategies, please do come and tell me what your observations have been at the Life Happens Facebook page.
Take great care. Namaste.

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