I expect you’ll be asked a question like this many times a day, and how do you usually respond? Fine, yes good thank you, I’m OK – thanks for asking.
But let me ask you a question: How are you feeling? NO REALLY – Exactly how do you feel right now? Just take 10 seconds to scan your body for tension, pain, relaxation etc. Now take another 10 seconds to notice any emotions you are feeling right now.
If you do this properly I expect you’ll be surprised how much is happening to you that you just weren’t aware of. There might be a stiffness in your back from sitting too long at your desk, maybe you need to stretch your legs to stop them going to sleep. Perhaps you’re upset because of a recent conversation you had or you might be feeling a little unsettled or nervous but can’t quite put your finger on exactly why.
When we take a little time to check in on how we are feeling we are stepping into the present or being mindful. We are noticing things as they are right now and you’ll probably understand that we don’t do this a lot these days.
Try another experiment: Close your eyes and listen to everything that’s going on around you. What else can you hear other than the traffic and the people close to you? Be careful not to analyse or judge what you are hearing, just observe or notice it. If you do this for more than 30 seconds you may notice a feeling of peace descending on you, a relaxation or a slowing of the mind.
This is what the practice of mindfulness gives us – peace and gosh it is needed in our fast paced world today! With regular practice (5 – 10 minutes a day) you can create this peaceful feeling at will, without closing your eyes and without sitting still. Imagine what the development of a skill like that could do for your stress levels. What would happen to your overall well being if you could create a feeling of peace wherever and whenever you wanted?
Many people feel that they can only create that peace in their life by shutting out the rest of the world, perhaps by attending a retreat in some remote place. However, with practice, you can get this feeling anywhere at anytime. I noticed the All Blacks doing this on the field during the Japan game on Saturday night. In the middle of a frantic, hard fought game, in a stadium packed with 40,000 people, with millions watching on TV, the cameras caught them doing a mindful breathing exercise to calm themselves down and re-boot their minds.
Learning this technique has been the best thing I’ve ever learnt to do. It means I can slow down, stop blindly reacting and respond wisely to the things that happen to me. It has made a huge difference to my stress levels and my mental well being and I encourage you to learn it. For more information go to www.johnshack.com/pause