I was in my mid 20s working at a job where I felt so unappreciated, overworked and SUPER underpaid while trying to finish grad school and living with my parents. Stress for me was at an all-time high.
I felt like I had no space to get quiet or relax at the end of my day. Just going from one place to the next. In the mornings on my drive to work, I would spend my entire 10-mile, 45-minute drive through LA traffic gripping the steering wheel dreading the rest of the day.
I had just learned to meditate, but it was in a more traditional setting, on my cushion, in front of my altar, with candles and incense. All the things to help get the “vibe’ right. I wasn’t using the practice as part of my everyday life. It was reserved for moments when I had plenty of time or was in the ‘right’ headspace. Which at that time, felt like never!
I kept hearing about meditation being good for stress relief but as a new meditator I didn't understand why I wasn't seeing those benefits that all the research claimed.
One particular day I was really dreading going to work. Unlike my normal morning rush, I arrived with a little extra time to spare, so I sat in the parking lot and decided to close my eyes, meditate and take a couple of deep breaths.
In just those 10 minutes, I felt so much lighter. From then on, every morning, in this untraditional setting, I started offering myself a few moments before stepping out of my car, 5 minutes of silence and a few deep breaths.
What I noticed was that those few moments of mindfulness in my care helped me to get through the days. It gave me space to think about how I wanted my day to flow and to set an intention. It helped me to get out of my head and open my heart, making it easier to show up at work. It reminded me that I didn’t have to wait to be mindful, but in moments throughout the day, I could take a deep breath, recenter myself and keep moving.
Taking a few moments of quiet before stepping into my busy day helped me to:
Feel clearer and more aligned with how I wanted my day to unfold
Boost my mood, which meant more patience I could have to be with my co-workers
Less stress, which meant I had more capacity to tackle hard decisions that came up at work
Eventually I left that job, graduated grad school and moved out of my parents' guest room. I can’t say meditation was responsible for all of it, but it definitely helped me to breathe through it.
What about you?
How do you practice mindfulness when not on your cushion or in a quiet place?
How does practicing mindfulness help you to tackle difficult moments that come up in the day?