Now that we’ve all been home for a few weeks, I’ve been rearranging my schedule and routine to add more awareness practice to it. Many of us have found the adjustment to working at home to be quite difficult. After all, when we typically get home from work, we release the tensions of the day and feel the comfort of home as though a welcoming hug.
Everything seems to be blending, now. Sometimes I feel as though I’m not really leaving work because I see my computer, my extra table, my books and binders, right in my place of peace. In other words, I’m finding it difficult to walk away from it all.
We all know the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” One of the first things I do when my work day is completed, is stow away all my work related materials. In a previous article I demonstrated a way to organize books and materials so that your work station isn’t cluttered. Visually, I need to put everything away so I don’t get distracted once the work day has ended.
As a replacement, I pull out something desirable and put it on my desk as a healthier distraction. For example, I’ve been reading books on grant writing and photography. So, I set those books on my work station or I’ll put a drawing pad or canvas there as my replacement activity. So, if regular work “thoughts” try to distract me, I have a different visual distraction.
I’ve also incorporated another awareness exercise that has helped with the stress of working at home for myself and my family. This is an exercise I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh in his book, The Art of Living. Simply, find a bell or use the alarm on your phone and set to ring it about every half hour or so. In doing so, everyone should simply stop what they’re doing and: take three refreshing breaths, bless a friend or family member, or express gratitude for something in your life. This brings you to the present moment (which is all we really have), and reminds you that there is much more to life than work.
Centering exercises are a good practice and should be part of a daily routine more than once a day. There are many ways that can help center one to awareness. I need to move often, as I find serenity in movement breaks and breathing the outside air. Sitting or walking through the woods is an excellent centering exercise. I know this may sound cliche but hugging or leaning against a tree is a magnificent way to bond with nature and center your being.
Many experts call these types of exercises as “mindfulness practices.” I prefer not to use the the word mindful as it connotes having a full mind. Right now, it is best to release our full minds of all the commentary and negative stuff and replace it with “no-thing.” Right–nothing. In other words, empty the mind of spinning thoughts and replace it with the awareness of breath and the consciousness of the present moment and all it has to offer.
We often take the present moment for granted. Many are able to verbalize the present moment, “It is what it is,” but they don’t truly surrender to the feelings associated with it. Awareness practices are abundant. We can relax through music and various teachings. “Let it be,” is a fantastic mantra for present moment awareness.
So, when and how often do we incorporate consciousness exercises or awareness practices into our daily routine? I say, as much as possible, all day, every day with focus and intention. How do you focus with intention? Through breathing and recognizing the power of intentional breathing.
Our mind and body gives us many indicators of the need to shift focus and take a breather. As I sit at my work station toiling over a work issue, I can physically feel pain creeping into my lower back or a headache coming on. This is your body calling out that something isn’t right and needs your attention. This is when acknowledgement is important.
Ring the bell, get up and walk around, go outside and breathe. It doesn’t take long and the benefits are amazing. You’ll begin to feel energy move through your body with automaticity. I’ll leave you with a quote from the book, Breathing as Spiritual Practice by Will Johnson:
“A breath of love is entirely different from a breath of anger or fear. It’s full. It’s relaxed, It’s gentle. It’s deep. It radiates warmth and caring, an understanding that everything is connected.”