Bringing mindful awareness to everything you do is a prescription for highly effective living and optimal performance.
Vacations, retreats, and Sabbaths have a common purpose, to step back from day to day activity and rest. That period can be dedicated to oneself, the universe, or to God. Regardless, it is a period of rest; a time for closing off from the often frantic pace of day to day life to reflect with a more objective perspective from a calm, clear frame of mind.
Typically, people think of these periods of rest and reflection in terms of days or longer in which there is a physical separation from the mundane. It's about leaving town for the beach or mountains or going to the temple or meditation hall. Clearly these retreats from the day-to-day are important and valuable. They give us a concrete taste of being outside and above it all. But why limit it to that?
There are lunch hours and breaks; walks around the block, workout times and more. In fact, anytime you choose to make it so can become a retreat or mini-Sabbath.
Muslims pray five times a day; Jews, three times. Christians do it eight times a day with the Liturgy of the Hours. Serious meditators reserve two or more times a day for formal practice. These formal periods, if they are entered into consciously as opposed to out of habit or obligation, are little retreats that clearly bring attention to something beyond the mundane.
Taking it a step further, we can take micro-breaks just about any time. These micro-breaks are moments of making sure you are awake and present. Some techniques for waking up throughout the day are:
- Set a gentle alarm to remind you to come in touch with your body and breathe so you can be present for a moment.
- Use habitual thought or behavior patterns to wake up and be present. For example, if you have a tendency to get frustrated when your computer responds too slowly or when you or someone close to you makes a trivial mistake, you can use each instance as a reminder to step back and wake up.
- Recognize when you spontaneously realize that you have been on auto-pilot and in that moment relax and note the difference between being asleep and awake.
- Use common behaviors, like putting the phone back on the hook or opening or closing a door, as triggers to take a moment to center yourself and relax by coming in touch with your body and breath
- post pictures or little notes that remind you to awaken from auto-pilot mode and to smile, and relax.
These micro breaks take little time, so the excuse of not having the time to step out of the mundane doesn't work anymore. If you want to live more consciously, cultivate the qualities of optimal performance, loving kindness and compassion, relieve unnecessary stress and tension, etc. then you can take the effort to change the way you use your time.
Are you ready to leave the comfortable place of reactive, habitual behavior to explore what it is like to be in the world but not driven by it?
Ultimately, we want no separation between the mundane or material realm and the absolute or spiritual realm. Mindfulness and conscious awareness can pervade every moment so that while one is doing anything - chopping wood, carrying water, doing the dishes, selling, buying, painting, etc. one realizes that they are immersed in the absolute. This absolute is the all-encompassing boundless field we exist within. When we are aware of it, relaxed in the moment, then there is the possibility to go beyond the reactive subjective, self-centered mode of living to see the big picture and operate optimally.
Until we achieve the ability to be continuously present and aware we need effective methods to train our minds. The training becomes part of our daily life and our daily life receives the benefits of greater clarity, relaxation, responsiveness and general sense of well-being. So take breaks, celebrate Sabbaths and take the opportunity to wake up in the midst of your day.
Relax and enjoy.
� 2013 Pitagorsky Consulting