The first thing most clients tell me when I mention mindfulness is that they just do not have enough time to fit one more thing in. Here lies the beauty of mindfulness you don’t have to fit it in. It fits in with what you are already doing – it just makes it better!
Your alarm wakes you and you lie in bed for two minutes and do a quick body scan just noticing how does your body feel – your head, your neck, your shoulders – perhaps your right shoulder is a bit tight , your chest, your belly – perhaps you have woken feeling a bit hungry, notice your legs and your feet.
You hop into the shower and whilst in the shower you think about three things that are going well in your life – maybe you had a good night’s sleep, you really enjoyed watching your daughter play tennis last night, you finished a project ahead of schedule yesterday so you feel like you are starting the day ahead?
You hop out of the shower and into the busy morning routine at home with everyone getting off to school and work. You push the button to turn the coffee machine on and whilst waiting for it to heat up you take three deep breaths into your belly.
When you have finished making the coffee you really taste the first sip before rushing to referee the argument that has erupted in the hallway.
You finally get everyone organized and you are all out the door, you hop into the car to drop the kids to school and one of your kids picks the song of the day and this helps everyone to get to school without another argument – our family’s favourites are Try Everything by Shakira and Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles.
You drop the kids off and drive to the railway station once on the train you pop in your earbuds and listen to a short mindfulness practice from the Calm app. Once this is finished you use the rest of the trip to practice some open awareness by looking around you and out the window.
When walking from the train to work you practice mindful walking by really grounding into your feet and feeling them against the footpath.
You arrive at work feeling really centred and not frazzled by spending the commute thinking about your list of things to do. As you sit down at your desk you really focus on feeling your feet on the ground, feel your bottom on the chair and your back in the backrest. You are starting the day being present; paying attention.
As you start the day there is a big project that is coming to completion and you can feel everyone is moving at a fast pace. At 10.30am you have a meeting scheduled with your team to look at where the project is at and where the priorities are from this point on. You have decided as a team to start each meeting with one “mindful minute” to ensure that people get a chance to really be present at the meeting and you have all found this to be a pretty useful practice and it doesn’t take up to much time. After this meeting you go downstairs to grab a coffee; you can start to feel the stress of the day is building up for you and so whilst you are waiting in line instead of reaching for your phone which has previously been your default you take the opportunity to focus on your breath as you know that always makes you feel a bit better and calms things down. When you get to the top of the queue you realise your favourite barista is behind the coffee machine – it is a good day!
You get back upstairs to your desk and receive an email from Neil – really? Does he really think that is achievable or that he should speak to you like that? You start typing your reply at a fast pace and you notice your heart starting to race. You recognize this as a tell for you that your adrenaline is starting to kick in and perhaps not in a good way so you take a few deep breaths and decide to walk one lap around the office; this takes about one minute and after doing this you realize you should not email Neil and you pick up the phone to talk things through. Your workplace has invested in some workshops on mindfulness and from these you have been trying to listen more intently and really letting the person you are speaking to have a chance to explain where they are coming from. So you have the conversation with Neil and you feel a little more settled with the outcome. It is not ideal but you do have a better understanding of the pressures he is under and why he sent that email and you feel pleased with yourself that you responded to this situation and did not react; as you know that rarely ends well.
At lunchtime you head to the park next door to your building and really enjoy the fresh air. A few of your colleagues have noticed that you have been doing this and have started to join you. It is a part of the day that you have really started to look forward to.
After lunch you have a meeting at another site in the city and as you walk to this meeting you use the opportunity to practice open awareness and look around as you are walking. Since you started this practice about a month ago you have been surprised at how many people you have noticed and smiled at and they have smiled back. You never thought that such small change would make such a difference.
When you get to this meeting this branch of your organization has decided to start meetings by going around the group with each person saying one thing that is going well! You have been enjoying this practice and it feels like you get meetings off to a great start.
After the meeting you head back to your office where you tackle probably your last big project of the day. You have really been feeling a bit blocked; not sure how to go with this project. You decide to try the journaling that you were introduced to as part of the mindfulness workshops. So you put on a timer for five minutes and just start free writing, at the end of the five minutes you haven’t solved the problem but you did come up with a great next step so you start on that before heading home.
When you pick up the kids from after school care you ask them what went well today and you start hearing about a handball game that was fun and an invite to a party. This is another small practice that you have really enjoyed sharing with your family. When you get home before starting dinner preparation and homework review you decide to water the garden for five minutes because you found this a good way of saying goodbye to the work day. Then you head back into the hustle and bustle of family life.
Before bed you get all the family to write one thing they are thankful for and put it in a big jar. You read with your children, finish off the evening jobs and then collapse on the couch. Before you head to bed you do a short 5 minute mindfulness practice. Sometime you use an app or sometimes you just focus on your breath or count your breaths. You have noticed since doing this you have been sleeping a lot better.
So there it is a day filled with mindfulness – so maybe you do have enough time?