Turn Mundane Moments into Expansive Growth
The term “Mindfulness” is used a lot in the health and wellness industry. While the word certainly isn’t new, it’s gaining widespread popularity for the first time. You’ve probably heard the term as part of a corporate wellness initiative or as vague advice on how to manage stress. But what does it actually mean?
Mindfulness is the ability to consciously reside in a state of being, during which you are completely present. It is an intentional focus on a moment, as simple as holding a cup of warm tea and focusing on the heat in the palms of your hands. It is a purposeful pause that helps you become aware of what you are doing.
Before becoming a certified holistic wellness coach and meditation teacher, I worked in the corporate world. I had no idea what “mindfulness” meant, and I was too busy climbing the corporate ladder to care. I thought if I wasn’t stressed or busy, I wasn’t working hard enough. I was going through the motions without savoring my experiences, my relationships, or my life as a whole. When I finally reached the top of that ladder, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. This lack of connection to myself took a major toll on my health. I was burnt out, exhausted, overweight, and chronically stressed. Something had to change.
I had a lightbulb moment one morning while sitting in traffic. I was frustrated by how late I knew I was going to be, but instead of allowing the frustration to consume me, I took a moment to focus my energy on my breath. I thought about how life can feel meaningless if you don’t take time to appreciate it. I knew I needed to slow down and cherish my experiences, both big and small.
It was after this moment, that I started to reframe my approach to frustration and stress. If I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself to focus on the present moment. I take deep inhales through my nose down into my belly, and forceful exhales through my lungs and out of my mouth. It’s through these reflective moments that I reconnect to myself and assess the state of my inner world.
So, how do you engage in mindfulness?
When I worked in my last corporate job, I spent a lot of time in my car commuting to and from the office, which made me realize that sitting in traffic is one of my favorite places to practice mindfulness. Most of us get worked up in traffic because we’re usually in a rush. Getting mad will not make traffic move faster. Instead, try to remain present and pay close attention to the details of your surroundings.
Do you remember the game “I Spy,” where someone describes something, and everyone has to identify the object? Next time you find yourself in traffic, identify pieces of your surroundings that you admire. Maybe the sun is shining brightly into your car and you notice the heat radiating through your windows. Or maybe you’re in a big city and bumper-to-bumper traffic allows you to appreciate the architectural details on a building for the first time. Or maybe the person next to you is driving the car that you want and you’re able to study the features of the vehicle more closely. It’s all about finding and appreciating the beauty in unexpected places, in unexpected moments.
Shopping Cart Gratitude
I also like to practice mindfulness in line at the grocery store. I actually don’t mind the act of grocery shopping, but once I’ve shopped, I’m ready to get out and get home. While it’s tempting to whip out my phone and get sucked into technology until it’s my turn to pay, I now use the wait as an opportunity to connect myself to the present.
So, next time you’re waiting in line to checkout, focus on gratitude. Maybe you’re grateful for the ingredients for your favorite dinner. Or maybe you’re grateful for an expensive item you usually buy as a treat. Or maybe you’re just feeling an overall sense of appreciation for the farmers who sourced your locally-grown produce
As you can see, mindfulness isn’t just reserved for yoga mats or meditation pillows, it’s something that can be done in everyday moments. The more you are able to disconnect from autopilot, the more you’ll find that even the smallest experiences can have a significant impact on how you experience your life.