We’re busy people. For many of us, life is overflowing with the demands of work, family, and tending to the practicalities of home and hearth. Slowing down hardly seems an option.
Mindfulness is a powerful way to bring calm and perspective to our days, no matter what life delivers. It’s mostly known as a meditative practice, but it’s also a state of mind that you can tune into any time and anywhere – one that can alter your moment-to-moment experience in a radical way.
These simple tips can help you live with greater ease and connection, even if you don’t have time to meditate.
1. Ask yourself: What Wants to Happen?
Today, ask yourself, “What wants to happen?” This is a very different question than “what do I want to happen?” Do you sense the difference? So often we push our agenda and reality on others rather than let life unfold. As the Zen wisdom reminds us: pulling at the grass doesn’t make it grow any faster. When life unfolds in an unexpected way, we are afforded the opportunity for growth that wouldn’t have been possible if we had choreographed the situation.
For many of us, seeing what’s broken and wrong with a situation is quite natural. Mindfulness practice reminds us that each moment contains everything we need to find happiness. In moments of stress, remember: “I have enough. I do enough. I am enough.”
2. Observe Without Analysis.
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is voluntary. Suffering is natural pain with the addition of our resistance to it. See if this is true in your own life. If you are experiencing pain, try to observe it without analysis, without the extra commentary. We tend to add a storyline to make our pain feel justified. The pain is hard enough; why complicate matters with resistance and commentary?
3. Meditate In Small Intervals.
Meditation is at the heart of mindfulness practice, but for many people, it’s the most difficult part. I’ve been told countless times, “I’m not good at meditation.” There are no trophies to earn here. The only prize is living your life with compassion and integrity. When it comes to practicing meditation, we are all beginners. Let’s forget about getting good at anything and just practice showing up one moment at a time, no matter what is happening inside or outside the mind. We’re all perfectly imperfect. For beginners who are new to meditation practice, frequency is more helpful than duration:
- Try setting aside 30 seconds a few times a day to practice bringing awareness to the breath.
- For these 30 seconds, surrender the need to be productive or solve any problem. Pay close attention to the physical sensation of breathing itself. When thoughts arise, simply return your attention to the breath.
4. Say Yes and No.
Say “yes” when you mean yes, and “no” when you mean no. We can do so much damage when we say “yes” to something but really mean “no.” Resentment can build up that may be conveyed to others in subtle ways, and we may be adding more to our days than we have time or energy for. Let’s dedicate ourselves to compassionate honesty, authenticity, and clarity of motives. This kind honesty can be our gift to the people we encounter each day.
What would happen if we gave our energy to being present more than being perfect? Do you sacrifice your presence in an effort to “get it all done?”
5. Choose Presence Over Perfection.
I remember being invited to a festive gathering when the host spent nearly the entire meal in the kitchen preparing the next course. We hardly saw our dear friend. It was so important to her to make the meal perfect that she forgot to be present. What would happen if we gave our energy to being present more than being perfect? Do you sacrifice your presence in an effort to “get it all done?” Let your full presence be your most radiant present among the people in your life.
6. Remember That You Are Enough.
Is your glass half empty or half full? We can approach life through the lens of lack and deprivation or we can choose to see abundance. For many of us, seeing what’s broken and wrong with a situation is quite natural. Mindfulness practice reminds us that each moment contains everything we need to find happiness. In moments of stress, remember: “I have enough. I do enough. I am enough.”
This is an era of amplified messages and noise. Everyone seems to have an urgent message for us to digest. The Internet, radio, television, and mail bombard with a cascade of information—marketing ads, requests for donations, texts, e-mails, news stories, and political manifestos. Welcomed or unwelcomed, this flurry of information can overwhelm our awareness. Take some time each day to unplug from processing any messages. Drive without the radio, shut off your phone for a few hours, let go of the need for background noise. Live life for some amount of time each day free from messages.
Dr. Brandon Nappi is the founder and executive director of Copper Beech Institute, the nation’s new retreat center for mindfulness, meditation, and contemplative practice located in West Hartford, Connecticut. Learn more at www.copperbeechinstitute.org.