Not Enough Hours, But a Million Moments
- Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Most of us are busy. Our "To do" list contains more tasks than can possibly be completed in the time we allot. There is no time to waste. We run from here to there, and back again, trying to complete as much as we can. We expect too much of ourselves in the time we have. We resort to multi-tasking and lose focus on the current activity. We believe that if we can remove enough things from our “To do” list, we can give ourselves permission just to be; to kick back, relax, and enjoy the results of our accomplishments. But the list never ends. Frustrated, we claim there are not enough hours in the day.
We will never complete enough tasks to give ourselves permission to be. We are constantly thinking of the next thing, and the next thing, and before we know it, our day, our week, our year, and eventually our lives will have passed us by without our having taken any time to be present and enjoy the moments as they came.
Learning how to bring more presence into our lives is the basic premise of mindful living. Once we are able to do so, we feel there are enough hours in a day. We focus our attention on where we are, and what we are doing. We experience the millions of moments that previously were going by unnoticed.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan. Planning is imperative to organization, efficiency, and progress. We must, however, allow ourselves to be flexible with our plans; use them as a guide, but allow flexibility as things change in the moment. When we bring our attention into the present and focus on what we are doing right now, in this moment, we stop counting the hours. When we can release control over what we believe must be achieved, we begin to experience the joy that comes with the present moment. When we are present, we experience our life instead of worrying about the hours, days, and weeks that lie ahead.
Old habits are hard to break. Here are a few simple exercises to help bring presence into your life. Choose one or two and stay with them. Gradually add more of your own. Eventually, your days become easier, with less planning, less stress, and more joy.
Morning: Before you get out of bed in the morning, bring your attention to your breathing. Observe five full, mindful breaths in through your nose and out through your nose.
Sounds: Use any sound as a bell of mindfulness to bring you back to the present—a phone ring, a bird chirp, a train pass by, laughter, a car horn, the wind, the sound of a door closing. Really listen. Be present and awake.
Waiting: Whenever you are waiting for something, use this time to notice standing and breathing. Feel the contact of your feet on the floor and how your body feels. Bring attention to the rise and fall of your abdomen. Are you feeling impatient?
Daily Activities: Focus attention of your daily activities such as brushing your teeth, washing your hair, putting on your shoes, doing your job. Bring mindfulness to each activity.
Bedtime: Before you go to sleep at night, take a few minutes and bring your attention to you breathing. Observe five mindful breaths.
Remember on the days that we feel we don’t have time to just stop and be still for a moment is when we need to do so the most. Once we commence along the path of present moment awareness and mindful living, we will never again feel like time is passing us by.