The Dalai Lama was once asked what surprised him the most about humanity. He answered:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Mindfulness – It’s easier than you (over) think!
…is the perfect time to bask in the healing energies of nature. The flowers are in bloom, the green trees are full of birds chirping, while the salty ocean air provides the perfect training ground for bringing more mindfulness into our lives.
What is mindfulness exactly? It’s the simple, conscious decision to be present in the moment. Not only is mindfulness good for our health, but it’s quite easy to practice, and can help improve the energy of any setting, and priming the day for a more mindful experience greatly benefits both ourselves and our colleagues, and who doesn’t want to create more successful communication in the workplace? So, how do we mindfully decide to bring more positive energy in our lives, especially at our job? It all starts with our morning routine.
When that alarm goes off, it’s probably from the cell phone which is plugged in right next to our head, (which we know deep down is just not good for us!) However, we begin scrolling for those Instagram dopamine hits. This is the first opportunity of the day to make a more thoughtful decision to start our morning with a calmer choice. So, with mindfulness as our goal, here are a few morning tips to recalibrate your workday into a more rewarding experience!
– Your Alarm –
Turn off your alarm, sit up crossed legged in bed, with your back against your headboard or a wall for support. Close your eyes and inhale and exhale slowly for 4 – 6 counts, in and out through your nose. Hearing each full cycle of counted breath will automatically make you more present. Let any outside sounds enhance the fact that you’re present to your environment and come back to the breath once more. Continually doing this for just 3 minutes every morning will set you up for developing a muscle in your mind to stay present, eventually toward most interactions of your every day.
– Your Shower –
You’ve started the coffee machine and now you’re taking a hot shower. Consider doing this: Lather up and then end with a one-minute cold water rinse. Not only will you be more invigorated, but you’ll be recalibrating your brain to be present and mindful once more. After a few seconds of shock, you will notice an acceptance taking over, and this exercise can greatly benefit you when something else may need reframing. The intense action of ending your shower in a cold temperature trains the mind to take control over discomfort, be more in the moment and sets you up for success during any challenges of the day.
– Your Breakfast –
After that cold rinse you may discover a deeper appreciation for the coffee that’s been brewing. Take the aroma in and be grateful to whomever grew the beans for that cup o’ joe. Stop any cell scrolling while you eat or drink. Be aware of the sustenance you are about to receive rather than your YouTube feed. Let your mind be present not only to the tasting and the swallowing of your breakfast, but especially to the cooking of it as well. How often do we picture the hen that laid the egg we are now eating? The answer is never. Send that chicken a bit of gratitude. It only takes a second to realize that there is so much we don’t witness that impacts our every day. It may feel odd at first, picturing that hen in her house laying eggs, but it’s good practice toward noticing other things we may unintentionally miss. There are so many ways to practice mindful and present interactions at work as well. Notice what’s important and explore the possibilities.
– Your Commute –
Have you noticed what almost everyone has in common on their way to work? People are on their phones with no idea of what is going on around them. Practice being present to that, whether walking on foot or riding public transport. Count how many people are NOT on their devices. This will shock and awaken you to your own behaviour. Are you walking to work? Put your cell away and listen to the birds above you. Admire the vibrant foliage on the tree branches hanging over your head. Smell the cologne of someone who’s just walked past you. How often do we really observe these things? We are so in our own heads, especially when hustling to work. Identify at least three sights, sounds, or smells around you. This will prime your senses to being more aware at your desk. If you’re driving, be present to the sound of the cars passing by. Roll down your window and hear the city. If you’re on a train or bus, feel the vibration of your seat. And if you’re a cyclist or riding an electric scooter, take out your earbuds and let the world be your podcast. Use your commute to practice mindful awareness of your actual environment. It’s another great opportunity to train your mind to stay in the here and now.
– Your Workplace –
Write a checklist for your day. Whenever you zone out, refer to your list. How is it progressing? Have you budgeted your hours to set aside the specific time frames necessary for your tasks? If you’re allowed to have music at work, instrumental atmosphere can be more supportive to workflow than music with vocals or podcasts. Silence can feel excruciating to most, so if you’re allowed some audio noise, remember to choose musical ambiance that fuels not just your own soul, but more importantly, your co-worker’s as well. If it’s a no-headphones, shared space, helping to create office harmony sets a wonderful tone that you’re all part of the same Team.
– Your Breaks –
When you sit in a chair at a screen all day, your eyes and body need and deserve a short break. You owe it to yourself to get up and move at least once an hour. Doing even three minutes of seated stretching will rest your eyes while easing any neck and back tension. Your mind, body, spirit, (and your boss!) will notice the positive benefits to your work performance and thank you for it! (For more on self-care in the office, check out our blog on Chair Yoga!)