Not Your Typical Meditation Practice: 3 Practical Steps to Live Presently Now
I was fortunate enough to witness this beautiful sunset during a recent trip to Maui. As I was savoring the view, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes:
“Peace: it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. ” – Unknown
It’s effortless to live presently and feel happy when life is working in our favor. But let’s be honest, how often do you find yourself “checking out” when life gets hard? This can show up in different ways such as focusing on unproductive tasks (a.k.a. procrastinating), mindlessly surfing the web/social media, emotional eating, smoking, etc. Just notice how often you check your phone for emails, social media updates, texts, and apps. This could even be out of boredom.
A recent Willis Towers Watson survey revealed that 75% of U.S. employers say that stress is their number one workplace concern. It’s no wonder that corporate mindfulness has become one of the top solutions to address workplace stress. Technology experts/app developers are also capitalizing on this booming market. For example, the app Headspace has now been downloaded by over six million users.
Whichever solution that you or your organization may decide to adopt, let this be a reminder that just like fad diets, there is no quick fix solution to mindfulness.
Mindfulness is an inside out job. Sure, you can meditate for two hours a day and feel more peace during that period. But the real value is being able to harness that peace from within while you’re facing discomfort, chaos, adversity, and your fears right in the face.
Here’s an active and practical meditation strategy to use during times of stress/challenge:
- Breathe. Take 4 – 5 slow and deep breaths to oxygenate your brain. Picture the limbic system (inner emotional structures) of your brain being bathed with cooling, relaxing oxygen.
- Observe. Practice being a self-compassionate observer of what you are feeling and experiencing on a moment-to-moment basis. If you find yourself “checking out,” gently guide your focus back to the now. Remind yourself that all emotions and experiences are purposeful, and most importantly, give yourself permission to be human.
- Discover. Once you’ve calmed your mind and feel grounded in your body, practice being curious by asking yourself questions such as, “What are my options? What’s the hidden gift (opportunity) in this situation? What can I learn from this?” The purpose of curiosity is to enable your mind to be in discovery mode. It allows you to see what is possible and makes it easier for your mind to comprehend how to take productive action.
Ready to give this a try?
Mindfulness is not about finding the best meditation practice. As you personally grow and evolve, so will your practice. The more meaningful goal is to presently embrace all of life’s experiences, non-judgmentally, even if it’s just 10 seconds at a time.
Presence is truly the most valuable present that you can give to yourself and to others.