We wake up each morning, thankful for the opportunity to see the beautiful day ahead of us. What’s the forecast for the day? Maybe there are clouds rolling through the sky, or perhaps the sun is shining down on you, filling your body with warmth, Vitamin D, and rays of love. As the day progresses, you start your day’s activities – take a shower, eat breakfast, go to work. As it gets later in the day, you don’t often realize how fast time has gone by, and how much life is happening all around you.
So often we consume ourselves with tasks – keeping busy makes us feel productive, “fulfilled”, and satisfied thinking that we are doing something we “should” be doing. Have you ever stopped yourself in the moment and thought, “Wow, where did today go?” or “Why is time going by so slow?” We’ve been conditioned by our culture in Canada to keep at it, to work hard at our jobs and to give our company’s overtime: but at what cost?
I’ve spent the past year focused on being more mindful. Mindfulness is a state of focusing actively on the present, without judgment towards your feelings or thoughts. When you’re more mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without criticizing or judging them as good or bad. I like to imagine it as seeing your thoughts and feelings on a cloud in the sky. You see them there, but you just observe them as they float on by.
Taking a New Perspective Through Mindfulness
From my experience, practicing mindfulness takes time and patience. For the newbie, the concept of actively focusing on the present can seem difficult, or even daunting! “How do I observe my thoughts? I’m thinking about all of my day’s activities, troubles, concerns…it’s so hard for me to NOT think about them!” Well, it is true. It is hard for those just starting out. But, let me reinforce how valuable this technique is, the more you practice, and the more you integrate it into your life.
I heard an analogy once about learning something new. I think it relates very nicely to mindfulness, or even other techniques in personal development. In Canada, we drive on the right-hand side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the left-hand side of the car. Now, imagine you’re in Antigua, where they drive and sit on the opposite side. In this situation, we’re assuming you already know how to drive. But, you don’t have experience with driving in this type of environment. So how will you learn this new skill? Well, you’ll probably learn the rules and patterns of this different style of driving, and then get real experience behind the wheel. While driving, all of your focus will be on paying attention to the details around you (as it really should be when you’re driving!). After time, and practice, you’ll start to get the hang of things, and this new skill won’t seem as difficult.
So, as you’re going about your day-to-day business and activities, start to notice what in your life is on autopilot. Are you noticing your actions? Are you consciously aware of your activities and surroundings? If you’ve answered no to any of these then stop for a moment, and notice the sounds around you. Maybe the humming of a fan, or the sound of the breeze against the leaves, or the dogs barking in the distance. Next, stimulate your eyes! Tune in to the colours around you; let your eyes soak in life’s beauty.
As they say, “stop and smell the roses.”