A participant asked this week if it was possible to do fast and vigorous exercise mindfully. We felt we could; clearly not noticing the details of every muscle and bone moving, but even when running fast one can still be in the present moment - hearing our arms moving, noticing sensations on our skin and so on.
I then had a very full and busy day ahead with a great long list of things to do. I wondered if I could I still be mindful and in 'being' mode, even when I was 'doing' a lot.
My conclusion is yes, but it takes more focus and does depend on what I am doing. When it is something physical that does not need much thought, like ironing or cooking, I can focus on what I can see, feel and smell etc even if I am being fast. But when I am doing something that requires more thought, it is much easier to get lost in the doing. I need reminders around me - like my online passwords that remind me to stop, to pause, to breathe. I am sure I am more productively busy when I am mindful, forgiving and gentle with my 'busyness'.
And even if I get caught up in activity, at least I can make the most of moments in between tasks. The 3SBS (3 step breathing space) meditation and other mini ones are great for some quick grounding in the middle of a busy day, or even speedy mindful walking as one goes from one place to another. On that note, I will take a few breaths before uploading a picture!
It is also interesting to consider what makes so many of us so busy all the time? It does seem to be rather a habit, and I can easily get rather obsessed with endless planning and To Do lists. There always seems so much I need to do, for work, my family, my house. An endless list that will never be completed. For those of us who are so driven, it takes being willing to let go to truly relax and let ourselves enjoy the present. By accepting that I will never complete everything, or even a tiny proportion of what I would like to accomplish, I can probably have a much happier life.
Letting go of the need to arrive anywhere, to change or improve anything, can make a great difference to the quality of our lives at a time when achievement is so highly prized.
It is of course important to be able to achieve and accomplish things, and to make a difference to people and the world. But we will probably be more effective and happier if we can let go of the need to be doing this all of the time. Here are some quick mindfulness tips for how to keep calm in busy days.
For some of us, the opposite is the real challenge. How to motivate ourselves to do things when we feel lethargic and without hope? But for now, taking heed of what I have written before, I will let go of any need to cover that in this post as well. That can go on a list for another time!