Practicing mindful awareness helps me find time to do the things I love.
I recently listened to an impactful podcast with Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul. Episode 3 is titled Giving Meaning to the Time Between Your Birth and Death. It starts with a reminder of the simple fact that you were born and you are going to die. It’s a truth that we sometimes avoid but we shouldn’t. He suggests a basic question to pose to ourselves: What are you doing in between the time that you were born and the time you die?
It’s precious time that was given to you. It’s YOUR time. Not your spouses, your kids or your company’s. It’s your time. How are you spending the time you have on this Earth between your birth and your death?
My problem with time
As a busy working mom, it always felt like I was maxed out from a time perspective. Any suggestion of an added activity or commitment would make me feel anxious. I read articles that had so many suggestions of things I should do to improve my life – make meals from scratch, do these 10 activities before 7am, do this workout, read these books, attend this conference. The list is endless. And I could easily fall into a mindset that it’s impossible to do all these things and I would never be happy because I couldn’t possibly “have enough time in the day”. Time was a cause of stress for me until I changed my mindset. I talk about the concept of time in Good Morning, Life! I’m currently reading Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson and found it interesting how Einstein’s special theory of relativity explains that time is not absolute, but rather relative. The rate at which time passes depends on our frame of reference.
My frame of reference generally comes from my mind, so I needed to improve my relationship with time.
Improving my relationship with time
When I first started practicing mindful awareness I didn’t realize how it would change me. Particularly I didn’t realize how it would change my relationships, including with time.
By spending time away from my thoughts and just observing my surroundings, my breath and body, it really feels like time slows down.
I did this exercise the other day with my husband and son – We stood in our driveway and chose something to focus. We all chose a cloud in the sky. I set a timer to two minutes and we committed to focusing on our chosen cloud for the duration. The two minutes seemed to creep by. It felt much longer than a couple minutes. Incidentally, I find that doing planks is also a great way to slow down time, as 30 seconds feels more like 30 minutes. Lol.
The problem is without being intentional about being present and living in the now, my mind will easily take charge of my whole day. It generally fixates on events that occurred in the past or frets about my to-do list or something in the future. I miss the actual moments that are happening. No wonder I ask myself Where did the day go? Because I basically lost my day while in my head.
Time well spent
On top of feeling like I have more time by experiencing my life more fully, I also spend my time more purposefully and intentionally.
When I start my day with mindful time I remind myself of the bigger picture. I am closer to that question of what am I doing with the time between my birth and death? I’m more aware of my purpose, values and the things that are important to me. This makes me focus more quickly and easily throughout the day on things that bring value to my life. I can critically assess my to-do list and drop, defer or delegate some of the less important tasks. However, if I dive into my to-do list without centering myself I can easily get carried away with tasks that are not as valuable.
When I’m mindful I also don’t get bothered by things that can trigger me and waste time in negative thoughts and drama. It’s amazing how much time this saves!
Ditching the drama
One of the big things I save time on is unnecessary negative thoughts about events or things people say. I more easily let them go or deal with them directly immediately and move on. This can be a huge time saver. Negative thoughts and actions can be very costly for companies as well as it can lead to workplace drama, such as gossiping, venting, complaining, and spreading rumours. According to research from workplace drama expert Cy Wakeman, the average employee spends two hours and twenty-six minutes per day on drama and emotional waste. That’s just at work! Imagine the damage and time spent in our personal life if we get caught up in negative thought patterns and behaviours.
When I let a negative thought go quickly and just move on, I can save not only hours but days of my time on more productive things. It not only saves me a ton of time but also emotional stress.
Am I perfect and do I never get upset? Of course not, it’s called practice for a reason 🙂
Mindful helps me find time
People ask me how I found time to work full time, parent and write a book? Other than having an amazing and supportive partner, my answer is that mindful awareness helped me find the time.
You can find the time to do the things that matter most to you too!
Presence. Purpose. Intention