Time to Get Lost, Buddy.
Let’s face it — your body is going through a demanding time. It’s got cold weather to contend with, an increased number of germs to fight off, piling work to catch up on and a ton of “comfort” food to still get rid of from the holidays. As a result, 99.9% of the people around you have been finding comfort in committing to workout schedules, taking on trendy diets and working late to get ahead. What concerns me is that no one seems to be committing to creating a personal space in which to reflect, relax and do absolutely nothing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about turning into a couch potato and binging on Netflix or reality TV, but rather actively pursuing calmness and serenity within oneself. Stay with me, I promise not to go all hippie dippie on you. The purpose of this post is to simply introduce you to mindful meditation, a practice introduced by Zen Buddist Thich Nhat Hanh, and how it can effectively promote both physical and mental health, which inevitably then translates into higher productivity and increased happiness.
According to a report from “Project: Time Off,” a travel-industry initiative that looks at how people use their vacation time, half of millennial employees think looking like a martyr at work by never taking time off will impress the boss. As a millennial myself, I’m very aware of my generation’s association with negative connotations such as entitlement, need for constant praise and inability to commit to a full-time job. But, these stereotypes wrongly place a large number of hard working individuals under one disappointing umbrella that sets them all up for failure. As a result, millennials have adopted a habit of “vacation shaming,” which entails shaming colleagues who actually do take vacation time. I’ve personally been fortunate enough to work at an agency that offers unlimited vacation time and is understanding of employees’ needs to take time off. Yet, I still face this attitude from friends who work at different companies every single time I take time off to visit my family in Jordan or take a short trip for personal benefit to something like a yoga retreat or a secluded cabin in the woods.
The reason behind my requests to take personal time off isn’t because I’m entitled or incapable of handling a full-time job. It’s because I’ve recently learned to understand and appreciate the importance of mindful meditation, also known as present-focused awareness. Every day, I thank my mom for making me read Thich Nhat Hahn’s book, Being Peace. In it, Hahn offers this short mantra that I repeat to myself every morning: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.”
Every individual has a different preference as to where they can effectively practice mindful meditation and find their own peace. These places range from homes and offices to swing sets and sail boats. I discovered that I can best focus on my mind when I take myself away from my daily routine and go to an open-air space like a forest, mountain or beach with plenty to mentally engage in and minimal noise pollution to distract me. This allows me to get lost in thought, focus on being present and work on my personal wellbeing.
I didn’t mean to ramble on, but I’ll leave you with one last saying by my main man Thich Nhat Hanh:
If we are peaceful, if we are happy,
we can blossom like a flower,
and everyone in our family,
our entire society,
will benefit from our peace.
So if you’re not going to do this for yourself, do it for those 99.9% crazed individuals around you!
Posted by Zein