I know many of us work so hard to balance all of the obligations that we have acquired (maybe by choice or maybe not). Attempts to cross off or delete to-dos from a list that seems to go on forever can be exhausting and depleting. On top of the roles we juggle (employee, student, parent, friend, child, sibling, etc.), our society seems to feed the ego’s never-ending wanting and desire for instant gratification, so being connected (via social media and all of our devices) and striving for more is pretty much the norm. How can we enjoy the fruits of our life’s labors if we are constantly distracted with all of this? It has been my experience that one can’t truly enjoy something if one is not actually present.
Practicing mindfulness can be helpful in reducing depressive, anxiety, and other psychological distress symptoms (as well as a variety of other things). It focuses on the moment with awareness, without judgment, and with acceptance (note: acceptance is different from approval; this is for another post). If we are fully present, we may enjoy moments with ourselves and our loved ones more.
You don’t have to travel to India or go on a 2 month long silent retreat to live in the moment (how amazing to do this, of course, but this may not be an option for most us juggling folks). There are ways in which you can incorporate mindfulness into your life (both formally and informally), and there are many mindfulness and meditation resources in the Bay Area...Yes, there are apps for your devices, too.
Up for a challenge?
Do a task that you normally consider mundane and focus on it mindfully. For example, if you are folding the laundry, don’t watch tv while you are doing it (multitasking, by the way, is the opposite of mindfulness). Focus your attention and senses (all 5) on the art of folding the laundry. Be aware of any judgements that come up and/or if your mind begins wandering from the experience. Attempt to focus back on the senses when your mind gets off track. Reflect on the experience (what did you learn? how did/do you feel?).
I have found young children (not connected to a device) to be very mindful. Next time you are with your child/a child, observe what they notice. Maybe they stop to look at and describe something that they find on the sidewalk, or maybe you witness them studying the drops of rain on the car window. If you are up for another exercise, try to play with your child(ren) mindfully by setting boundaries for yourself (no phone, no multitasking when playing). I do understanding that this can be difficult when you are juggling, but this small gesture may provide you with a deeper connection, because you are fully present.