Many of us, even though we're working with a lot of intensity, are metaphorically asleep at work. Very rarely do we get present during our days and wake up to what it feels like to be us in this career, right here, right now. It's not that we don't think about our work enough, it's that the nature of our thoughts often keep us stuck in the future or past. The hardest part seems to be waking up to what's right in front of us in this moment.
I recently finished a book by the renowned meditation guru Sharon Salzberg called Real Happiness at Work. It's all about how helpful mindfulness can be in our workplaces and throughout our careers. It's radically simple, and helps make clearer the path toward greater ease and fulfillment in our work.
I would definitely recommend it if you're looking for some practical ways to apply the concepts of mindfulness to your professional life. I'll also be using and reworking some of the concepts into my own practice and trainings (see below), so you can benefit from the book in that way as well!
To help get you started in one small way today, I want to offer a take on one of the practices Salzberg includes in her book:
- Choose a "mindfulness stimulus" - something small that you do multiple times a day, such as walking through a doorway, picking up a phone, or getting a glass of water.
- Each time you encounter that stimulus, do a quick body scan: from your head to your toe, where is there tension? Imagine gently loosening any tension in your neck, shoulders, back, gut - wherever it is for you.
- At the same time, ask yourself: Am I living fully present and awake in this moment? If you're worrying about something in the past or the future, simply bring your attention to your body.
This practice can happen in just a matter of milliseconds - I know you can't walk through every doorway doing a 5-minute body scan :) The point is to simply start training your brain to be mindful, to pay attention to where and how you are in this present moment.
When we can cultivate presence in our lives, there's room for clarity to come through, whether it's about small situations at work or how to go through a major career transition.
Mindfulness also helps us wake up to the beauty all around us - that of our own souls, those around us, and our environments. As Salzberg writes, "The spaciousness of mind and greater ease of heart that naturally arise through concentration, mindfulness, and compassion are fundamental components of an open and renewed spirit."
I hope today you'll practice being here, now, and play with what you see as a result.
psst: there's still time to register for my upcoming class, Work Life Harmony for the Modern Professional!