It’s excellent to have passionate aspirations or intentions for the coming spring and summer. Intentions or resolutions can be on a personal level or on a larger company effort to satisfy needs such as, better individual health or putting an end to homelessness. Intentions possess great desire; although, they are often never achieved. It’s not that they lack sincerity, but are insufficient for coordinating action for yourself or others. And, with all those long range plans, what happens to living and appreciating the moments of ‘now’?
According to Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard , “Everyone agrees it’s important to live in the moment, but the problem is how. When people are not in the moment, they’re not there to know that they’re not there. Overriding the distraction reflex and awakening to the present takes intentionality and practice.”
We’re not suggesting you abandon goal setting or long range planning. Persistence and determination are personal capacities that bring dreams into meaningful reality. However, as the hallmark of today’s society is multi-tasking, our daily lives have become a frenzy of cell phone use, texting; and possibly driving, concurrently. Since the 1990s, psychologists have conducted experiments on the nature and limits of human multitasking. Overall, these studies have disclosed that people show severe interference when even everyday tasks are performed at the same time, especially if both tasks require sifting and producing action.
As we have become conditioned to this style of living, it can be difficult at first, to remove yourself from the bustle of activity, even for a few minutes. With commitment and practice, you can learn mindfulness to refocus your attention to live and appreciate the present time. Use any of these guidelines to help you:
• At any instant in your daily routine, stop yourself from doing. Observe what is actually happening, especially if it involves activities that require some physical movement. This can be likened to a Zen-like feeling and way of being. It’s been said that the only two jobs of a Zen monk are sitting zazen (meditation) and sweeping. Cleaning is one of the daily rituals of a Zen monk, one of their most important daily practices. They sweep or rake, and they try to do nothing else. They aren’t thinking about being in a Zen state. The Zen state is the sweeping. The next time you’re doing housework, sorting those office presentation folders, or reviewing email on your Smartphone , try concentrating on the motions of your body. Center your attention on how your hands wipe through the dust on the coffee table or, the motion of your arms as they stack the folders, on the physical sensations. Try being a Zen sweeper.
• Manage outside or public expectations. It is not surprising that many of our chores are performed in response to others’ expectations of us. It is expected that you will sacrifice your time for volunteer work at the elementary school, even after a full work schedule. Start this new year with an scrutiny of all the expectations, even those unspoken, in your daily or weekly life. Determine which ones are meaningful to you and delegate or discard the others. Clarity of choice will help you appreciate the uniqueness of the gifts you have to demonstrate in this life, as well as those of others. And, you will find your feelings of regret or resentment diminish as you are now performing chores as a purposeful choice, not an obligation.
• Reflect on how much time you are living in the past. It is not uncommon to reminisce over past events, particularly if they are connected to exhilaration and joy. However, if you find your only pleasure is in history, you can miss out on feelings of cheerfulness and satisfaction from the next 10 minutes of living. Conversely, this can be also be the result from too much future visioning. Carve out some time each day to be aware of how you present yourself, how others respond to you, and notice the subtle clues coming from your surroundings. All will have an impact on how you conduct yourself the remainder of that very day.