If you often feel disconnected or wish for more peace or meaning in your life, it’s probably a good indicator that the life you are living is not aligned with the one you – the real you – wants.
There are two versions of you. There’s the real you, the one that you get glimpses of now and again, particularly on a relaxing holiday. Then there’s the cosseted, task focused version of you that operates day to day, lost so much in your thoughts that you are disconnected from both the real you and the living breathing world around you; I’m not talking about the ‘news’ here, I’m talking about life.
Take your regular route to work for example, do you pay much attention to it? For over 3 years I had the good fortune to commute into the city via ferry, a passage through the islands of the Hauraki Gulf that lead into Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.
Sounds idyllic. Yet there I was, ‘device’ in hand, responding to email after email, doing the weekly online grocery shopping in between, or buying someone’s birthday present, or making an appointment, or following up on a bill, suddenly remembering five other things I had to do and scheduling them in. Sound familiar?
On the odd occasion the ferry captain would pull over so we could watch dolphins or whales and, suddenly, attention shifted, people came alive and momentarily connected as we all took our devices to the back of the boat to photograph these beautiful creatures and post how lucky we are in our various social media forums.
In contrast, before I started writing today, I took a walk around the neighbourhood. I no longer commute, so I make a conscious effort to go out and get some exercise and connect with the world I’m living in. It’s a calm day, with only a very light breeze, enough to bring the scent of flowers if your senses are tuned in. It’s the kind of day that lulls you into a slower pace just to still the rustling of your clothes and hear the birds twittering and tweeting to each other, a much gentler form of social media.
Before I took the walk, I had deliberately taken a short time out to still my mind using a breathing practice. If I hadn’t, the walk would probably have been more like my previous commutes because there’s always more to do than time permits.
Incorporating a period where you deliberately still your mind each day is critical to finding peace and connecting with the real you. Of course, what I’m talking about here is ‘consciously’ switching off as opposed to numbing your mind through that bottle of wine, beer or any other mind altering substance. I’m not saying don’t have those, your choice, but those aren’t what I’m recommending in pursuit of lasting inner peace and happiness.
At first it’s not easy to just switch out of your usual cosseted state, you need to make the conscious effort, it takes focus. Schedule it in, whatever ‘it’ means to you, any activity that allows you to consciously switch off. For me, it’s meditation, yoga or a walk; for my partner it’s a bike ride in the mountains, a swim or a spa. Whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour, just do it regularly and you will be amazed at the results that follow.
For those of you a bit more scientifically minded, thanks to my osteopath, I came across the work of Dr Rick Hansen in Hardwiring Happiness this week, he has some great tips for really helping you leverage your more positive experiences, making the feelings and state of wellbeing associated with them last - and explains the neuroscience behind it all.
As you practice stilling your mind regularly, you’ll notice more. You suddenly catch yourself in the midst of your usual daily whirlwind and you take a moment to notice the world around you. It might be the expression on someone’s face that you hadn’t really been watching, or the carpet in a corporate corridor, or the beauty of a tree outside. Then you notice your feelings on the inside begin to slow down, feel less frantic, less stressful. You wonder why you hadn’t prioritized regular time to still your mind long ago, how did you miss this simple step you wonder.
As I was reminded today by a wise man, in regularly stilling your mind, you won’t necessarily become powerful, famous or rich, but you will feel at peace and connected to everything around you – including the real you. In this state you feel happier, your true passions come to light, your inner knowing provides the answers you’ve been seeking and, in all honesty, you’ll be a much nicer person to be around in an amazingly enriched world.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
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