Spark Inspiration

Settling into Mindfulness

Settling into Mindfulness

I’m hurrying home in my car to a quick dinner before an evening conference call. I notice the tension in my muscles as I wait for the red light to turn green. My right foot hovers over the accelerator pedal so I’m ready to go as soon as the light turns. My breath feels shallow. I glance around at the passing cars and the cars stopped around me. I think about my best and fastest route. Who is making a turn that may slow my progress? Who looks like they will drive slower than the posted speed limit? How will I get around them?

In my rational mind, I know that I am not being mindful. I’m rushing because I’ve scheduled myself too tightly, trying to meet the demands of my work. As I become aware of what I am doing, I sit back a little in my seat. I lean my head back against the headrest. I take a deep breath, exhaling slowly. I know that the tension I feel will not help me to get to my destination any quicker. I know that the minute or two that I may shave off my travel time won’t make much of a difference.

I begin to feel the positive affect of the deep breaths that I have taken. My change in posture is just enough to make me feel a little more relaxed. I begin to look around, noticing the brilliant green in the lawns of the rows of houses that I pass. I smile to myself as I see people riding along on their bikes, looking exhilarated. I take two more turns and I’m home. I’m aware of the change in the way I feel simply from the minor adjustments I made…deep breaths, relaxed posture.

For me, the practice of mindfulness isn’t about spending long hours meditating or practicing yoga daily. It’s about paying attention to the string of seemingly meaningless moments in my daily life. It’s about making a conscious choice to be, do and think differently. It’s about catching myself when I’m not being mindful and making a decision to shift my focus in the moment. I know that I’ll never do it perfectly. I just hope to catch myself more often when I’m pushing myself towards a destination without taking my time to look around.


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