There is a bumper sticker in the town where I live that says something to this effect: “If I’m driving too slow for you, you are in the wrong town”.
Depending what mood I’m in or if I’m in a hurry I either find this adorable or very frustrating.
Some of you are living extremely busy work and personal lives. How, in the middle of that kind of pace can we practice “being in the moment”?
There is so much research out now about the benefits of meditation and related practices such as yoga. We know that exercise removes stress from our body.
What do all of these things have in common? For one, they keep our brain focused on the present moment.
Let’s contrast that to anxiety and worry. Anxiety and worry thoughts are usually focused on future possibilities or re-living or re-hashing things that have already happened.
It is phenomenal, in a bad way, how much energy we can put in to the future and the past. It is striking how much energy we put in to thinking about things that will never happen. (How many hours have you spent this week alone on this?)
So, in super busy lives with plenty of stresses, how can we increase the amount of time we can focus our brain on the present moment?
This doesn’t work well!
I want to use a parallel from coaching. When people, me included, learn to coach they tend to feel a lot of pressure to be thinking up the best, most powerful question possible for their client. The natural pitfall is to be contemplating your next question while your coachee is still talking.
The best way to be as a coach is in pure listening mode - listening for what is said, what is not being said, energy changes, pace changes, etc. It definitely took me some time to get there, took some re-training. There was plenty of repeating our mantra “trust the process”. Strikingly when we practiced being fully in the moment with the client listening well, the questions would be there. Often, by listening so deeply the question was quite different than if it had been created earlier.
How do we borrow from this idea for real life? The mantra from yoga class is also helpful: “Notice without judging”.
What if we could train our brain in the everyday moments? What if while I’m having my coffee I can simply focus on the sensation in my mouth, how it feels sliding down my throat, how it smells. I’m not taking any more time doing this. I’m going to drink my coffee anyway. Noticing sensations in the moment helps to train my brain to be present. It provides a moment of wellness, possibly in the middle of a very stressful day.
That may sound too small to do any good but it is a pattern of being that we can slowly grow. When I’m eating, enjoy the flavor, the texture, the aroma of my food. When I’m in the shower stop planning and just enjoy the hot water landing on my skin.
This way of maximizing on your life lets you have moments of wellness and peace in the middle of craziness, frequently.
In the middle of some of my most intense stress, this practice allowed me to pause and find the part of me that was totally fine in that moment.
It honestly became hard to answer the question “how are you?” because I felt like I had 2 different answers. My circumstances were horrific but as a way of coping I was doing more of this practice of being fully present in the moment. In those moments I felt whole, safe, even happy.
Here is my challenge to you, and to me:
Pick 5 things you do regularly, routinely and commit to practicing being totally present during them. Notice how they are impacting your 5 senses. Notice what your body is feeling.
What 5 things can be your reminders to be fully present in the moment?
Until next time,
Marilyn Orr, MA, CEC, PCC is an Executive and Leadership Coach with Capacity Building Coaching, holding her Professional Certified Coach designation with the International Coach Federation.
Marilyn provides professional coaching for executive and business leaders, mentor coaching for coaches, and leadership development support in the form of coaching skills training and soft-skills development.
Marilyn is author of everyday resiliency workbook “How Absorbent Are Your Shocks?”, available on Amazon. Subscribe to “Marilyn’s Musings” twice monthly blogposts for more leadership and professional development content.