Getting Out of My Own Way

March 18, 2013

My mind can be a messy place.  I am multi-tasking myself into oblivion. Before iPhones, I had a small calendar in my purse that I would actually write things into. And if I am perfectly honest, I didn’t need to record every last thing. I actually could remember where I had to be and what had to be done. No more. My “balance” is off. Maybe it’s age, maybe too much is going on, but now I am constantly playing catch-up or worried I missed something. I drive with less patience than I should and it has nothing to do with being from Massachusetts!  Whatever the reason, I need to get back to basics.
Mindfulness. Being present, really present, in each moment. I have gotten away from a foundational belief that we at Latham champion. In turn, I must look pretty stressed out to our students and staff. So, I am getting back to those things I know make me feel better: slowing down, taking deep breaths, focusing on one thing, appreciating the view outside my window, pushing back from my computer and stretching out the kinks. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t do a good job of caring for others.
I found the following information on mindfulness from the Benson-Henry Institute of Mind Body Medicine at Mass General: “Mindfulness is the miracle by which we can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.” Thich Nhat Hanh. The Miracle of Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is happening to you from moment to moment. To be mindful, you must slow down, do one activity at a time, and bring your full awareness to both the activity at hand and to your inner experience of it. Mindfulness provides a potentially powerful antidote to the common causes of daily stress such as time pressure, distraction, agitation, and interpersonal conflicts.
10 simple ways you can practice mindfulness each day:
  • As you awaken in the morning, bring your attention to your breathing. Instead of letting your mind spin off into yesterday or today, take mindful breaths. Focus on your breathing, and sense the effects of breathing throughout your body.
  • Instead of hurrying to your usual routine, slow down and enjoy something special about the morning: a flower that bloomed, the sound of birds, the wind in the trees.
  • On your way to work or school, pay attention to how you walk or drive or ride the transit. Take some deep breaths, relaxing throughout your body.
  • When stopped at a red light, pay attention to your breathing and enjoy the landscape around you.
  • When you arrive at your destination, take a few moments to orient yourself; breathe consciously and calmly, relax your body, then begin.
  • When sitting at your desk or keyboard, become aware of the subtle signs of physical tension and take a break to stretch or walk around.
  • Use the repetitive events of the day – the ringing telephone, a knock on the door, walking down the hall – as cues for a mini-relaxation.
  • Walk mindfully to your car or bus. Can you see and appreciate something new in the environment? Can you enjoy walking without rushing?
  • As you return home, consciously make the transition into your home environment. If possible, after greeting your family or housemates, give yourself a few minutes alone to ease the transition.
  • As you go to sleep, let go of today and tomorrow, and take some slow, mindful breaths.
By following the main elements of mindfulness – combining awareness of your breath with focusing on the activity at hand – you will be able to experience every moment as fully as possible.


Contributed by:
Chris Gallant

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