Many people are under the impression that they don’t have time to practice mindfulness. They feel their day is already so full that they are too busy to fit anything else in. In short, most people think mindfulness is something that is only practiced when they can make time, like they do when they plan a vacation or an outing to enjoy nature. Mindfulness, however, according to Plum Village Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (2012), can be practiced anywhere at any time–at home, at the office, or even during a hectic and busy work day (Hanh, 2012). In other words, we don’t need to set time aside in order to practice mindful awareness; it only takes a few breaths to generate the energy of mindfulness that will bring us back to the present moment.
When we are centered in the present and let go of thoughts about the past or the future, Hanh refers to this strategy as stopping. The stopping tactic is the strategy that works to bring us back to the present moment, where we can focus energy on our surroundings. The thought behind this tactic is that when we learn to stop everything we are doing, it can help us clear our minds so we can begin to see things more clearly from a new perspective. When we see with clarity, we are in a better position to understand the predicament or situation at hand. This is one way we can cultivate an ethical environment of understanding, compassion, peace, and happiness. In other words, in order to be fully present at our place of work with our colleagues, or personal life with our friends and family, we need to learn the art of stopping. Until we can stop and notice what is happening in the present moment, especially when we are experiencing heightened emotions, it will be difficult to generate joy, awareness, or compassion.
In his book, Work: How to Find Joy and Meaning in Each Hour of the Day, Hanh (2013) reveals how one successful business man has incorporated the practice of mindful awareness into his schedule. The busy executive does this by paying close attention to walking with awareness between business appointments. In other words, he practices mindful walking, placing awareness on his in-and-out breaths as he walks between office buildings at his place of employment. The business exec reports that people who pass him by smile at him because he seems so calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the crowds rushing by. Furthermore, the business man asserts that his meetings, even with difficult people, have become a lot easier and more pleasant since he started this practice. In a fast-paced world where chaos reigns, the evidence supports that implementing mindful practices like this, can help make the journey on this roller coaster of life more manageable.
Well, that wraps things up for this week. Wishing everyone a great weekend and have fun implementing your own methods of practicing mindful awareness.
Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.
“Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts…” – Robert Fulghum