I’m always looking for ways to incorporate spirituality and mindfulness into my everyday life (hence this blog), and I’ve found a way that busy people can enfold the spiritual practice of mindfulness into their lives. One technique that I’m working with is to use waiting time (like at the post office, grocery store, lunch counter, etc.) to pay attention to your breath and be in the present moment. I find that by doing this, I am much more relaxed and calm as I go through my day.
You need to understand that waiting is very hard for me to do, for several reasons. Perhaps you can relate to some of them. One is that I am not naturally a patient person – I can see inefficiencies in a process and don’t understand why other people don’t also see it, and fix it! Another reason is that I have years of experience managing call centers in which responding to customer’s calls in a timely manner is the highest priority. Keeping customers waiting in that environment dings the metrics and makes you look bad to management. And lastly, I have taught customer service skills for years, skills that include acknowledging the customer, looking them in the eye and apologizing for any inconvenience. Waiting in line at a retail establishment just raises my hackles.
So, yesterday, I had an opportunity to exercise my “being in the moment” skills when I went to the post office to mail a package. The line was long but instead of internally groaning, I decided that this was an opportunity to experiment (again!) with being in the present moment. I lowered my gaze to the floor, and started observing my in-breaths and out-breaths, counting them to 10 and then starting over at 1. I noticed my feet on the floor and how I was holding my shoulders (I straightened them several times during the wait) and I relaxed my belly which is the place I usually hold tension. Most important, I half-smiled during this time. Not a goofy grin, but just an upturning of the corners of the mouth. This, I decided, was the most important element – the half-smile - because by smiling we feel happier. That’s the mind-body connection at work, in which physically acting happy can lift our mood.
I did OK. My mind kept wandering like a small curious puppy, but I lovingly brought it back to the breath again and again. Small winds of feeling annoyed at the situation and thoughts of how the post office staff could make this better blew through my mind, but I let them blow right on by and returned to the breath. After completing my transaction, I got in my car, took a deep breath and said to myself, “That wasn’t so bad!” Big words for an impatient woman.
Prayer: Holy One, help me to live in the present moment more and more, so I may live fully and consciously, aware of Your presence in my life, moment by moment. I ask for Your help on this journey. Amen.