Every day, we are assaulted by a barrage of noise.
There’s social media notifications. Disturbing headlines. Emails with stress-inducing subject lines.
Then there’s the daily clamor of a more internal variety; the thoughtless remark a co-worker made. Anxiety about an upcoming deadline. General feelings of inadequacy.
All of this stimuli can make it *really* difficult for us to focus on the work in front of us, let alone the inner person.
Since it’s impossible to block out all of the noise we confront throughout our day, what can we do in order to make sure we’re taking time to check-in with ourselves and care for our inner person?
My suggestion? Take time alone.
Yes, this is coming from a me, a chronic extrovert, someone who feels lonely after approximately 7 minutes without human interaction. Believe me when I say if I can do it, so can you.
Do you have a place you can go to at home to treat yourself to utter silence for at least 5 minutes a day? For me, it’s the loveseat in my living room that faces giant windows. I don’t have kids or pets, so it’s not hard for me to find a quiet zone, and frankly at times the loveset feels heavenly. However, I realize not everyone has an environment as quiet and kid-less as mine, so here’s my tip to you: If you if can’t think of a solo space in your home, a closet will do.
Once you’ve got your spot, sit quietly – and meditate.
Now, let me clarify here: Some advocates of meditation recommend assuming certain positions, chanting, or repeating mantras using various talismans – this is not the type of meditation I’m referring to.
The Latin word “meditate” means to “think deeply, to ponder, to muse.” Therefore, I recommend doing just that.
- to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect.
I promise this will be insanely difficult at first. If you’re like me, the first few times you meditate, your 5 minutes will be spent stressing about the email you need to compose or the trash you need to take out.
If (or when) this happens, be kind to yourself. Acknowledge the rambling thought, and then politely ask it to go away so you can return to meditating.
Once you’ve stilled your mind, choose a specific subject you’d like to explore deeply. You might ponder your career. Think about what aspects you enjoy about your job and what you’d like to change.
It could be a relationship; you might contemplate ways to be a better parent, spouse, brother or sister.
Or maybe you have an ingrained pattern you’d like to overcome, like people-pleasing or not knowing when to say no. Reflect on ways to overcome this tendency, even visualizing what you’ll do the next time you’re tempted to give in to your default behavior.
Whatever the subject, give yourself complete peace and silence while you dedicate thought to it. I’m sure it goes without saying, but keep your phone and all other devices silenced and in another room.
The beauty of meditation is that it DOES get easier with time. The mind, like any muscle, can be trained and strengthened when exercised properly. Once you make a regular habit of meditating, you’ll find that you’re more present and in-tune with yourself overall.
Eventually, your nourished and well-trained mind will nudge you when you attempt bad behavior, like people-pleasing or saying, “Yep!” without a second thought.
It will remind you of the kind of parent, spouse, or sibling you want to be.
And it will enable you to feel grateful for the aspects of your job you love, and energized to change the aspects you don’t.
In other words, the more time you spend thinking deeply, the better you’ll get to know yourself. Being present means not only being the highest version of yourself, but also aligning the person you want to be with the person you are. ♥