Dan Millman wrote in his book, ‘Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ the following, “The world was peopled with minds, whirling faster than any wind…addictions – used to distract from a chaotic inner life…the parade of regrets, anxieties, and fantasies…If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want you suffer.” Millman is pointing out that our minds wander and careen instantaneously though thoughts of yesterday – around regrets such as ‘I wish I would have, could have or should have,’ and thoughts of tomorrow often with the accompanying idea that ‘I’ll be happy when…’ – conditional happiness. But true happiness isn’t conditional and when we allow these types of random, chaotic thoughts to occupy the precious space in our brain we miss the moments of today. Moments that will never be repeated. Just look at the time right now and think…you will never get this moment back again. So how are you going to chose to spend the time you have on planet Earth?
When we lose our keys, misplace a bill, or forget an appointment it’s because we were not fully present at some point. Trying to do or think about multiple things simultaneously – ultimately results in less rather than more. No matter how smart we are we are still human and can’t divide our minds into separate screens like you can on a computer monitor and expect positive results …it just doesn’t happen that way. Think quality not quantity here. We can’t multi-task our way though life, trying to get more and more accomplished as we check off the one hundred and one things we did today without losing an essential part of ourselves and our relationships with others. Life becomes simply…what’s next. Often we get to a point where we are physically and mentally exhausted or overwhelmed with life. No wonder…we were so busy doing we forgot to be…
Being happy – truly happy in life requires that we engage in whatever we are doing. If we are talking to someone it means not letting our minds wander but giving them our full attention. Showing we care enough about what they are saying to fully listen is honoring them as human beings. I’ll bet you do that with the special people in your life what about others? When is the last time you really looked into the eyes of a sales clerk at the grocery store as they were checking out your food items. They are coached to say something like, ‘have a nice day’ but how often do we respond in kind or offer a thank you in return? They are human beings just doing their jobs yet are so often dismissed in our attempt to move faster and accomplish more. In the work setting as well as in our personal lives the greatest compliment we can receive is when someone says ‘I always feel valued, that you truly care. You make me feel like I am the most important person in the room.’ Being engaged doesn’t take more time – just focused awareness. Why not bring your total self to the equation?
That’s what the practice of mindfulness is really all about and it is amazingly simple. It doesn’t cost anything and yields great personal benefit. It starts with slowly taking a long deep breath and exhaling slowly thinking only about that breath. As thoughts push into your mind (often at warp speed) just let them pass by and go back to thinking about your breathing. If you try your best to practice this calm breathing technique for even 3 to 5 minutes a day you will experience less anxiety and stress and feel more in control. As challenges pop up you will find yourself taking a deep breath before deciding on your next step. This process is all about responding calmly and deliberately rather than reacting quickly and pays great dividends. With practice you will be amazed at the increased depth of your awareness. Don’t be surprised if others begin to comment …they will notice as you begin to respond with a renewed sense of calm in your demeanor. And just think..it all starts with simply closing your eyes and breathing. It doesn’t get any easier than that right?
Have a great few days!