Recently, my husband and I made a trip to the local garden centre. We sought out the tree and plant guru there, Kevin. This garden expert started out showing us a selection of six possible trees. As soon as he finished his explanation on each tree, I said, “We’ll take this one and that one.” Kevin looked a bit surprised and asked if I was sure I didn’t want to think about each of the options more. I looked at my husband, who really didn’t care about what trees we picked, and I quickly knew what I wanted. “No, thanks.” Then we proceeded to the cash register to pay for the trees when I saw some annuals just outside the far door. I proceeded to actually run through the garden centre to quickly grab these flowers as I didn’t want to hold up Kevin and my husband, Jeff (or myself!).
Later, Jeff told me what Kevin had said to him when I went dashing through the garden centre: “I think she only has one speed!” And let me tell you, I don’t think the speed he was referring to was mindful. When I heard this, my ego took over. At first, I felt a sense of pride for acting so quickly and decisively, packing it all in a short amount of time. And then my ego swung to the other end of the spectrum as I felt crestfallen that all of this work I have been doing over the past few years around mindfulness seemed to disappear and I was back to my “old self,” moving at a super-charged speed through this world. I watched the scene of me running through the garden centre like a video in my mind.
Then I stopped and thought about what I tell my clients: mindfulness is a practice. It is not something I will ever do perfectly, but perhaps the imperfections of it make it perfect for me in each moment. And the fact I noticed was important. I share this with you because I want you to know that it is okay to fail. Failure is part of the journey. And yes, even I, the preacher and teacher of mindfulness, sometimes go flying through my day on autopilot until the awareness comes in. I was thankful to Kevin as he served as a messenger showing me I was starting to lose my way in that moment of how I want to live and be. I was cramming in too much and unnecessarily driving up my adrenaline and cortisol levels. When I was able to stop and see that, I could go back to choose moving and thinking with more focus and purpose. Life is a journey, not a destination.
Interested in working and living in a more mindful way to reduce your stress levels? Here are some exercises to try.
Slow down. For 10 minutes each day, pick an exercise you’d normally do on autopilot such as driving or typing out emails, and slow it down to half time. Really focus on the physical sensations of touching the keyboard and the thoughts that go through your mind.
Deep breathing. For three minutes, three times a day, close your eyes and practice deep breathing. Breathing in through your nose and out through your nose is the best way to calm down your nervous system. This is a great way to recharge your batteries at intervals throughout the day.
Connect with others. Reach out to one person each day in a completely selfless way. This might be an email to check in with someone on a personal level. Or, it could be dropping off a takeout dinner gift certificate for a busy friend. When you give away love, you receive more back.
Nurture your body. focus on taking care of your body Several times a week. This could be a yoga class, spa appointment or even just lying out on a lounge chair to relax. Put down the book for a while and just feel your body.
Blogger Carey-Ann Oestreicher, MBA, BA (Hons.), Chief Engagement Officer, Potential Unlimited
Recipient of a Top 40 Under Forty Business Achievement award, Carey-Ann Oestreicher, owner of the career development firm for women, Potential Unlimited (www.potentialunlimited.ca), holds a MBA and has worked in a variety of senior positions including vice-president level. Her focus is her family and helping women in business find true peace and happiness in their lives while achieving new heights in their careers.
Carey-Ann has been featured in a variety of media because of the success she has experienced with her holistic approach to developing women leaders and entrepreneurs. Her appearances include: CTV’s Canada AM, TSN, CBC News, Global Television, City TV News, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Business magazine, The Toronto Star and The Canadian Press.