Monday morning begins. The predictable annoyance of the alarm clock melody pulls me out of bed, and muscle memory takes charge. There’s no time to spare. Two outfit changes and a coffee down the hatch. The door shuts behind me as I quickly jog my three tote bags to the car.
Traffic is heavy, but it can’t be heard above the usual playlist. However, it’s the intruding thoughts found most noisy – “Will I be late? What task will I tackle first? What to eat for breakfast?”
It’s loud, but the mind is too busy to notice, trapped in psychological time – the future and past.
But what about the Present?
It’s so easy to get sucked into today’s fast-paced world (especially living in Auckland). Everything feels as though it’s controlled by time, and we often find ourselves focusing on future events or ruminating on the past. We cannot control the things around us, but we can control how we perceive and live it. Take traffic, for example. I will never forget the day my manager Lisa texted me, “Don’t worry about the traffic. Enjoy the present.”
Time spent in the future and past is normal, but it should be a visit, not an extended stay. Constantly thinking about the past or future, triggers the body’s stress response, resulting in emotional strain and the theft of joy. It is not actually possible to experience true contentment without being fully present in the moment. After all, the only thing that exists is now.
When we forget to acknowledge the now, a sense of dissatisfaction arises, and we begin to yearn for something better. Read The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle for more about the “now’.
Our relationships are affected, and loved ones feel unheard and disconnected during what was supposed to be quality time. We miss out on opportunities that arise in the present moment that offer time to reflect on our thoughts and understand emotions – we have to be present to be self-aware.
Being present allows us to slow down for a second and learn to savour the simple joys of daily living. And sometimes, that’s all it takes: being mindful of the simple things. Taste every sip of coffee, drive and pay attention to the surroundings, walk without music, or listen without preparing a reply.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Even when we have nowhere to be, we’re running around like mad men and getting pissed off when the cashier takes their damn time.
We just need to slow the f**k down. But how?
The first step is to recognise that we are caught up in this fast-paced life and take control of time. Plan days intentionally. As we master time management, we can make a conscious effort to be present and mindful in daily activities.
Eat and savour each bite! Pay attention to the flavours, textures, and smells.
When walking, feel the sensation of your feet hitting the ground. Notice the surroundings, the sound of mother nature, and the feeling of movement.
Pay full attention to the task at hand when working, avoid multitasking and concentrate on one thing at a time.
Cook with intention and focus on the ingredients, the process, and the smells. Focus on how each ingredient comes together as a synergy.
Mindfulness is a skill that requires practice. It isn’t simple to achieve in this rat race. But by starting small, on things that I’ve mentioned above, it will eventually flow into larger areas of your life. It will lead to greater self-awareness, much less stress and simply – a better appreciation of the world around you.
Mindfulness does not take more time, it just requires an engagement with the moment.
So, let me try this again…
Monday morning begins. It’s time to wake up, and I’m happy I did. My wardrobe consists of so many options that I have the blessing to choose what matches my mood. I intentionally enjoyed every sip of my morning coffee. Traffic is heavy – it always is – no surprises there. I look around and pay attention to the interesting number plates and the walks of life sitting in their cars heading to different destinations. “Today is going to be a great day.”