Over the past few days, I have been told to slow down on more than one occasion. Words like you are walking too fast or speak slowly you talk too fast to understand. You’ve finished eating did you just swallow your meal in one go. The last one that I heard just yesterday got me thinking. Have I gotten myself into the habit of living life ‘full up’ and in the ‘fast lane’ with little or no time for leisure or pleasure? Do you feel the same way too, or do you practice mindfulness already?
Technology is meant to make life easy and more enjoyable for us. It is in fact just changing the pace at which we live it. We have this, that and the other on our to-do list all the time. Ask yourself when was the last time you enjoyed a morning, taking the time to enjoy a cuppa tea. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the sunrise before it goes into shrill horn blast mode. Instead today we wake up to the alarm of the mobile-only to progress to tab and laptop as work kicks in at home. Even before we have begun our real workday, it’s alarming.
An International Survey from early this year puts things in perspective the French have a 35-hour workweek the Germans a 28.8 hour one, the Indians a 52 hour week. The Americans and the Britishers falling back with 50 hour weeks. Yet the French and Germans have better productivity than the rest. Proof, that if we do things calmly and carefully, without rushing we can achieve more and have time to enjoy the scenery. Mindfulness is all it takes. The question is how do we achieve this?
Be aware of the moment you are in. Mindfulness keeps you in the present moment focused on the task at hand instead of thinking either of the past or planning for the future. Many a timeout mind flitters moving to capture a million tasks. It leads to a feeling of being overburdened. How I do it makes a note in my mind of what is really really important and the time I will take to do it. I begin the day with the list, going on with a focus to achieve what is on the list. Being aware is mindfulness!
This attitude sometimes leads to fear that something bad will happen if things don’t get done. To calm that fear we work harder, and longer, and harder, and longer only to realise that there’s more to do. Letting go of the compulsion to do all things can be awesome. Try it and you will feel the difference. Fear only makes you run faster. Mindfulness of fear is half the job done. The rest is reasoning with yourself consciously that the fear is only of the unknown.
Ask yourself the big ‘connection’ question do you need be on the iPhone or the tab or the laptop all the time. Try and adopt a ‘no device beyond this time’ rule for yourself. I know it’s difficult but you could begin with a ban on all devices at the dinner table and 2 hours before you retire for the day. Connect instead with family and books and other non-device passions. Be present with friends, family and colleagues. Give them time and love practice in the moment mindfulness. You will watch beautiful relationships grow and blossom around you. Just Be Mindful!
I live in a big city where everything is a whirlwind, the constant chatter of horns outside my residence communicate a sense of urgency. To break out of this I spend 15 minutes each morning just taking notice of the beauty of nature around me. Creepers that adorn the front porch and the little white flowers that shine through each morning. Miracles such as these happen around you each day. Take time to notice them. It’s refreshing and brings peace and great joy. Find pleasure in anything and everything. Enjoy your time through mindfulness!
Go on long walks! Become one with the outdoors, breathe!
When you find you are tense and stressed out take a break. Practice Mindfulness! Walk away from whatever you are doing, step into the outdoors and breathe. Every breath you take will help you relax. When you become aware of your breathing for a few minutes you will have automatically distressed and slowed down whatever it is you are doing.
I would like to end with a poem by William Henry Davies on Mindfulness – entitled:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.