Your day starts out as any other day – hurried and busy. As you are driving to the office you are thinking about all of what you have to do today. You realize you have back to back meetings. There is no wiggle room for the unexpected. You are wondering how you will get it all done?
Then you realize you have arrived at your office and don’t remember the drive. Although you were physically driving, your mind was somewhere else. When you stop the vehicle you notice feelings of overwhelm, anxiety about the day ahead and concern about things you missed while you were driving.
When a plane is on autopilot the aircraft’s control system maintains a pre-set course. It is a navigational device that keeps an aircraft going in a fixed direction. Pilots use this device when they are busy doing something else such as looking more closely at the weather radar ahead. The device is intended to reduce the workload for the pilots so they can focus on other aspects of flying to keep the aircraft safe.
Autopilot in our lives is when we act without conscious awareness or an intentional effort. Whether it’s due to overwhelm, fatigue or familiarity with the task we are doing, we aren’t fully paying attention. This is when mistakes are made, things are overlooked, and important details fall through the cracks.
So how do you shift from living on autopilot? By training your mind to pay attention through the practice of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is training your mind to be in the present moment and aware of what is happening, right here, right now. A formal meditation practice of sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing is the best way to train your mind to stay in the “now”. When your mind starts to wander, you notice where it went, and gently bring it back to your breathe.
Sounds simple, yet it takes an ongoing discipline just as with physical fitness.
Just as muscles become stronger through repetitive, consistent exercise, mindfulness is an intentional effort to focus the mind. It is a habit that is trainable and can become a part of your daily life just like physical exercise.
Here are five tips to start today even in the midst of your busy day:
- Set a timer for five minutes to sit quietly. Consider it as a pause like you would pause a webinar in order to take in what the Speaker said. You are taking a pause to take in what’s here, right now.
- As you breathe in, notice the sensation of air coming in through your nose or mouth; the rise of your chest or stomach, and the release as you breathe out.
- Notice if your mind starts to wander (it will, that’s normal) and gently bring it back to focusing on your breath.
- Notice any discomfort, agitation in being still.
- End by asking yourself “what is one thing I can do today to be more focused in whatever I am doing?”
I would love to know what you experience as you train your mind to be more focused. For example, as you drive to work mindfully, let me know what you notice that you never saw before!
Make the Conscious Choice to be present in your life
and become aware of things you may have been missing!
Bonnie Artman Fox
Mindfulness Trainer and Coach
If you would like to learn how to reduce stress and increase focus in your workplace, contact info@AConscious.com and a program can be tailored to your specific needs.