It’s been a stressful time recently and I have found myself practising Yoga Nidra these past couple of weeks more than my usual seated meditation. Feeling pretty exhausted, I was on my train journey home yesterday looking out of the window but barely noticing the beautiful summer scenery beyond. Suddenly a thought came to me, covered in the midst of my busy and tired mind, but singing as loudly as a principal opera singer. It said, “You need a pit stop”.
It was a funny thought to occur, but as I blinked my eyes back open it made perfect sense. Doing a meditation in the morning or evening wasn’t enough. It was the rest of the day where my energy was being depleted. My usual mindfulness had been replaced by mindlessness these few weeks and it was time to regain my sense of wellbeing.
To be fair to myself, I had noticed the mindlessness these few weeks and at those points focused back in on my breathing and noting how I felt. However, my attention simply hasn’t been as unwavering as usual. And so I have decided to write myself a list of ‘pit stops’ to enact throughout the day. I find that the best choice of pit stop are things that we do frequently but that seem trivial. As an office-based worker, here are some useful pit stops where I can take a moment to breathe and re-centre myself.
1. Getting a drink
This is one of my most favoured pit stops as it has the added benefit of getting you on your feet and promoting hydration, so long as you don’t end up drinking something dehydrating.
2. The walk between meetings
This is the time between that we often forget exists. As I work in a building with a few floors, I mainly opt to walk between floors and practise mindful walking along the way.
3. Sitting in long meetings
This can be a time when we really struggle, particularly if you’ve been invited to meetings that technically don’t require your attendance. However, I realised it can also be a great opportunity to take a moment to breathe.
4. Opening an email
Sometimes we can hurriedly open one email after the next and feel as if we’re drowning in our mailbox. Before I open an email, I sometimes like to take a pause.
5. The moment before we speak
I actually wish I’d remember this one more. Yesterday, I took an extra second to breathe before I spoke. I was really surprised by its effects. Due to my extreme tiredness, my outputs were slower even though my mind was still racing. Giving myself an extra second or two to compose myself meant that all of my responses came out unflustered. For me, this is quite unusual as vocally I often stumble over what I am saying. My brain works a lot faster than my mouth can seem to process. These few seconds made my speech flow better. I also thought how useful it would be to practise this generally as I’d then perhaps not fall into the trap of speaking hasrhly during times that I feel angry. It’s definitely a pit stop worthy of practise.
So there are my five pit stops. Are you having a busy time or wanting to enhance your mindfulness practice? Why not think of five mindful pit stops to suit your day?