It used to be that when we asked someone “how are you?” the typical response was “fine.” Now, the typical response is “busy,” accompanied by a slightly crazed look which could be either anxiety or excitement. It’s often hard to tell. Either way, the crazed look and feeling is coming from stress hormones that accompany our very, very busy lives. Sometimes these stress hormones are responsible for that feeling of elation about something exciting and challenging. Other times (probably more than we’d like to think) those stress hormones have been pumping at a steady pace and are creating feelings of stress and anxiety. It’s that sense that there is “Never. Enough. Time!” This “busy-ness” is a trap (read more about the dis-ease of busy-ness on Daily Good).
Most of us would like nothing more than a few moments to breathe. Yet, we can’t seem to put our phones down while driving and feel compelled to check email while standing in a check out-line. So, why are we all doing this to ourselves?
Firstly, we can. We have unlimited access to news, media and work. We are a 24 hours per day culture. In addition, “busy” seems to be a badge of honor. Everyone else is so busy, you better be too. It’s also a good excuse. Can’t seem to tackle those personal goals? It’s okay, you’re super busy. “Busy” is a way for us to distract and defend. Being busy assuages guilt and other uncomfortable emotions, providing cover for our more vulnerable selves. The parts of us that feel lonely, scared, hopeful or even bored are quickly covered up with the shroud of “busy.” It then becomes a way for us to detach and disconnect from ourselves, our loved ones and the community at large.
This week, see if you can practice “not busy.”
- Do one thing or project for 40-60 minutes only. Then take a short break for 5-7 minutes before returning to your task or moving onto something else. (Read more about the productivity of working in shorter periods in this Atlantic article).
- During your non-working time try to not get busy with other things. See what happens if you just close the lap top, put down the phone and stop for a few moments.
- Once you allow yourself to be NOT busy; you will likely notice some discomfort. Time may feel like it’s dragging and your mind may flood with all of the thing you HAVE to do.
- Notice where your mind goes and just bring it back to doing nothing for just a few minutes. Space off, close your eyes, whatever you need to do to NOT be busy!
- If you feel super uncomfortable, take some slow easy breaths, rub your temples, stretch and see if you can let the body relax.
Practicing being not busy will help with clarity, mood and productivity. For more, consider coming to one of our Mindfulness Meditation times . The more you practice, the less “busy” you will feel you need to be.
Mindful moments are short practices to be used throughout your week to relax, integrate and center yourself. Inspired by the wisdom traditions and science, mindful moments are meant to be accessible and simple enough for anyone to practice. Many teachers and leaders in integrative medicine have influenced our approach to mindful moments. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Pema Chodron would say it is “practicing in the gaps.” Look for the weekly mindful moment every Monday. May it support you in finding your center to live life to the fullest.
Want to learn how to meditate? Join us for Mindfulness Meditation.