How to Have More Mindful Moments

Mindful blogLast week I facilitated two workshops on mindfulness for employees of John Deere Financial.  I was struck by how earnestly engaged the participants were in the process.  It was like they were hungry to explore mindfulness.  What a gift it is to give ourselves “time out”, to allow our busy brains to re-focus on the present moment as we did during those workshops.

For the most part, we move through our days on autopilot.  Scientists tell us that the average human brain thinks 70,000 thoughts a day.  Now if those were all empowering positive thoughts, imagine how different our lives might be.  

Unfortunately, we humans tend to ruminate on the past and imagine and plan for the future. We also tend to get in loops of repeating memories or patterns of thinking. Consider the times you have re-played a situation in your head and thought about what you could have, should have, or would have done differently if given a chance to “do it over.” The nice thing about using mindfulness techniques, is that every time you awake to the present moment, you have the opportunity to consciously choose how to move forward to the next one.

When you consider career paths, choosing wisely can make all the difference in whether you experience a job that is boring or stressful vs having work that is interesting and enjoyable.   The more consciously aware we are, the more control we have over the course of our lives.  Instead of being at the mercy of our mental default programs, we can start to wake-up to each moment, each choice point.  So how do we become more “mindful”? Here are some exercises you might try:

1.  Watch the mind move in time.  Take a piece of paper and draw a horizontal line.  At one end is the future at the other, the past.  In the center of the line make a circle and write in the word NOW.  Start with your finger on the circle and simply observe your thoughts for 5 minutes.  Every time you realize you are thinking about the future, move your finger on the scale.  Do the same thing when you realize you are thinking about the past.  Don’t try to stop the thoughts, just observe how your mind wanders in time.

2.  Focus your senses.  Pick up an object you find interesting and study it for 5 minutes.  Really look at it, touch it, observe every detail of color, weight,  shape, even whether or not it has an odor.  This is one method to bring you into the present moment.  It offers the additional benefit of increasing your power of sensory perception.

3.  Set wake up calls.  When I was in grad school, I was also a student in The Fourth Way work which was based on the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff.  One of the most interesting homework assignments we were given was called the doorway exercise.   Every time you pass through a doorway say to yourself “I am here now”.  When you realize you have sailed through a doorway without remembering your statement (in essence being on autopilot or asleep at the switch), go back through the doorway and say it.  While it may not be practical to actually go back through every doorway, for instance exiting an airplane, it is remarkable to see how often we are unaware.  

All these moments of mindfulness add up.  You start to realize how much of life you’ve missed because you have been riding around on your own thought train.   Increase your mindful moments and your life begins to change in some interesting ways.  Who knows?  That dream career, that ideal life, may be just around the corner…

 

Making Enlightened Career Choices

Roads in the forest

Are you making enlightened decisions about your career?

Are you doing work that is fulfilling and rewarding? Does your current work give you an outlet to make a difference, to feel alive with purpose? If not, you might want to consider making some changes. You don’t have to do a particular job, work in soul deadening surroundings, or be “chained” to a desk in a cubicle. YOU have CHOICE! If you want to create a different career path you need to make choices that will propel you to new actions.

How do you typically make decisions? Are they based on:
• Shoulds – doing what you believe you should do
• Pleasing others – doing what others want or expect you to do
• Fear – choosing the safe route, or being afraid to make changes
• Habit and reaction – you don’t even think about what you’re doing–you’ve always done it this way

Or, are you consciously considering each decision and maintaining an awareness of these factors:
• Feeling empowered – to choose truly for yourself, not to please others
• Authenticity – you know who you are and choose in alignment with your core values
• Creative expression – you have talents and skills to share, and seek to express these through your work

To make more enlightened, conscious choices:

1. Clearly define your wants and needs. Get in touch with your sense of purpose. Listen to your intuition. Ask yourself; “Does this choice feel empowering or disempowering?” “Is this decision in my highest good?”

2. Consider your current situation and ask yourself; “Why am I doing this? What do I want to achieve?” It may be helpful for you to write down your answers and ponder them. Be more conscious of how you are spending your precious time, because this is your life passing by.

3. Stay out of the victim mindset. You alone are responsible for your life. When you accept this, you will claim your inner power and make better choices. Change often comes from nothing more than a shift in perspective.

4. Be open to new possibilities for yourself. Select one area of your life where you are unsatisfied, and choose something new, something more for yourself.

5. Simply notice opportunities as they show up. We miss so many options because we just don’t see them! Wake up and look around. You have an opportunity right in this moment to choose something new or different.

If you find you spend a lot of time in a job that leaves you tired, frustrated and discouraged at the end of the day, it may be time for “Plan B”. You have gifts, talents, work and life experiences, skills and expertise to create your next career! Identify them and search out how who needs them. Then you can make a plan to move in a new direction.