I’ve been trying a new practice while walking, driving or exercising. That is to take a moment, look around, smile and say to myself “there’s nothing wrong with the present moment.” It sounds so simple but is applicable to many activities.
This practice has opened up a great deal of space in my day for positivity and gratitude. I have found myself feeling quite “busy” lately, which to me is a sign that I’ve become too concentrated on the noise of everyday life. Whether I’m shopping for groceries or going for a run, I find that my mind goes to worrying and planning for future events.
The reason that this simple exercise has been so helpful to me is I often times lose sight of what’s happening around me. To be going for a run and worrying about an important phone call that I have to have tomorrow is pointless. There’s nothing I can do about it in the current moment yet I’m feeling the stress as if I’m actually about to make the call in the next few minutes.
That is why this simple phrase has helped me. Just taking a few seconds to interrupt a stressful train of thought and replace it with a curiosity and appreciation saves minutes and hours that could otherwise be enjoyed. This is such a simple practice and it takes virtually no time or effort at all. This is important when you live a life that feels as though it is booked solid with important activities and you have no spare time or energy.
A great teacher once told me “the imperfect practice that you follow is much more effective than the perfect practice that you don’t”. It may seem daunting to begin a goal of meditating for twenty minutes a day so it's usually hard to stick to it. But, taking a couple seconds out of each activity to remind ourselves that the fear and stress we’re currently feeling is unnecessary as we are rarely in actual danger or discomfort.
There’s a great deal of science (which I’ll paraphrase) that suggests our current society feels more of a burden of stress and exhaustion due to the fact that we worry more and more often. The reasoning is that in the past, humans reserved adrenaline and stress to incentivize rapid action only during “fight or flight” situations. Intense energy was exerted only when we were in direct peril. Today our stress levels are much higher because we think we are in danger much more often, whether it’s the fear of losing our job because we show up to work late or we’ll ruin a relationship with someone we love because we forgot to buy them a birthday present. With the introduction of technology and the pace of current careers and communication, we have much more opportunities to feel this pressure and worry. This means that our minds feel a greater burden of danger, many times each day, usually during times when we’re not actually in danger.
This to me strengthens my confidence that mindfulness (which takes many forms) has incredible benefit for all areas of our lives. Taking a couple seconds out to remind ourselves that we are safe and free, despite what our mind tells us, goes a long way towards achieving this. This short and easy activity is the first of a few techniques that I recommend to restore a measure of peace and serenity in a busy and fast-paced life. I’ll be writing more on this concept and include further recommendations in the near future, but for now, hope this was helpful and I wish you all the best.