Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Laura McLeod.
I have a hamster wheel in my head. The speed and velocity of the spinning depend on whatever’s going on in my world at a given time – I have a busy job and I’m in a training program that takes up many of my non-work hours. Conscious effort is needed to slow the spinning, and maintaining any kind of regular meditation practice is a continual challenge.
On a whim I picked up an Eckhart Tolle CD about meditation while shopping at PCC. Author of “The Power of Now,” I’m only loosely familiar with Tolle’s work. But, while I don’t always practice it, I’ve long subscribed to the notion that the point of power is the present moment. The subtitle of the CD is “practicing presence in every moment of your life,” so I thought I’d give it a shot.
The nugget came early in the CD. Tolle says even those who achieve great states of consciousness when they meditate may still have gaps in their daily lives. He suggests finding ways to bring presence into everyday life, recommending “mini meditations” – something you can do wherever you are. For example, every time you get in your car, take 30 seconds to practice being present.
Mini-meditation? I was intrigued. Now I have a daily practice of two 60-second meditations – once before I leave my driveway for work in the morning, and again when I leave work in the evening. I knew I needed a reminder until I formed a habit, so I put a sticker on my dashboard that reads “:60.”
My 60-second meditations change daily, but I typically focus on one of the following:
To stay present in the moment, I may focus on my breath, noticing my inhales and exhales. Sometimes I check in with how I feel both inside and out. For example, when I’m aware of my current anxiety, as I focus for 60 seconds, it dissipates. Or I notice that the temperature is cold, and I’m suddenly more cognizant of my immediate physical surroundings. I may hear birds or traffic, and rather than worrying about my to-do list, I’ll focus on what I hear.
I have so much to be grateful for, yet it’s sometimes easy to forget when the day-to-day gets in the way. I direct my attention here: I have a great job, a comfortable home, a partner who loves me and I’m healthy. Some days, it’s just the little things (like fuzzy slippers, dry shoes, or having money for lunch).
What do I want to create or accomplish today? Intentions look to the future, but they’re stated as if the conditions already exist. These help keep me focused and mindful throughout the day, responding rather than reacting to whatever shows up.
Affirmations are a bit like exercise. Do them enough and they can help shift your thinking, break a habit, or reinforce your stated intentions. Even something as simple as, “I’m capable and I can do this” in moments of self-doubt can have exceptional results.
It may only be two minutes a day, but it works. I started this practice a few months ago, and I’ve noticed I’m more focused and calm. I can also apply this technique if the day starts getting the best of me, anytime, anywhere. While the hamster wheel may still spin, it’s spinning less often and not nearly as fast.
Laura McLeod is an internal communications manager at LifeWise, and is convinced that lifestyle trumps genetics. Because her genetics include many lifestyle-based illnesses, she strives to eat well, exercise and get regular check-ups. While she’s officially reached ‘mid-life,’ she believes you’re only as old as you feel. Laura lives in Ballard with her long-time partner and her energetic, playful cat. Learn more about Laura in our Living LifeWise video series.