I can’t quite recall when I first heard the term mindfulness. While now it is definitely a buzzword, I was practicing some version of it as young as seven or eight years old. Even though I have read many articles over the years about mindfulness and the myriad of ways that it can be practiced, at its most basic level it’s about being fully present in whatever moment you find yourself in.
It’s isn’t always easy to do this. Even as someone who is committed to living a balanced life, it can be surprisingly challenging to step outside of my own head and be fully present. Even though I know I can’t entirely trade my many meeting-filled days and schedule full of responsibilities, I can put the odds in my favor. Because it’s important to me to practice mindfulness, I do my best to incorporate it into my everyday life whenever possible.
This is precisely where I found myself last night as I was waiting for a bus to make the first part of my commute home. It was Friday night on what could only be described as a perfect October evening. I left work around 6:15 and walked to my favorite fro-yo spot with a friend. We caught up with each other for the next 45 minutes or so and I was having such a good time after a very full and stressful week that I completely lost track of time.
Losing track of time is an essential ingredient for my recipe for mindfulness. There I was after waving goodbye to my girlfriend, walking along to the nearest bus stop. When I finally arrived, the bus schedule announced that the next bus was not due for over 25 minutes. By now it was past 7 PM at the end of five days’ worth of intense work, and during a week when my health has not been the greatest.
Initially frustrated at the prospect of having to sit and wait, I resisted the urge to pull out my phone and check my news feed to pass the time. I actually never pulled it out of my bag. For the next 25 minutes I sat near a globe street lamp which resembled a full moon whenever I looked directly at it and enjoyed people watching. The gentle breeze made me feel immediately relaxed as I breathed in the most subtle hint of autumn in the air. With such perfect weather I lost track of time once again. I breathed in deeply several times and closed my eyes for long stretches as I took the entire moment in.
The stressors of the day melted away as I turned a simple 25 minute stretch of waiting into a full-on mindfulness session. The key was not relying on my phone to keep me entertained, allowing the moment to fully take over and then staying immersed even when distractions creeped in (like too loud conversations from people sitting nearby). Once I was no longer concerned with making the time pass as quickly as possible, I became fully immersed in my thoughts while quieting my mind a feat which affords me an indescribable inner sense of peace and calm.
By the time I got home, I was in a much different mood then when I left work and quickly transitioned into my evening routine. Good company and allowing myself to be in a moment, free of distractions to practice a little mindfulness was exactly what I needed to kick start my weekend relaxation.
How do you practice mindfulness in your everyday life?