Do you ever have those days where you wake up and feel completely apathetic about your life? All you want to do is stay in bed, and keep pressing the snooze button?
… over and over, and over.
You finally get up,
dragging yourself out of bed,
Taking a look at your Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat feeds first.
You make it to the bathroom, the kitchen, the car… and finally to work.
While you sit in front of your desk, staring idly at the computer screen,
you space into the ethers, until your co-worker screams your name.
Yes. You just heard your name.
You wake yourself up again.
And the day continues…
With or without your full attention.
Like zombies. Yes, you heard it. Like the night of the living dead, except we are alive. Research shows that the average person is on autopilot 47% of the time. We are more often mindless, than we are mindful. We are mentally checked out, and it’s not making us feel happy, or alive. When the mind wanders, we are thinking of what is not happening, which then leads us to experience unhappy thoughts. Harvard studies have shown that: how often our minds leave the present, and where they tend to go, is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.
We are going on about our lives doing things, often without focus or enthusiasm for what we are actually doing. Perhaps that is why the majority of the US workforce is disengaged, or why depression rates are up, despite an increase in our overall quality of life. Living on autopilot mode is clearly not working for us.
We spend the majority of our working day sitting in the office, but really thinking about the food we will have for lunch, the bills we forgot to pay, or concerned about our Tinder date not showing up. We can experience multiple realities at once, (past, present, and future,) while sitting in our cubicle-like work space. Yes, we have a great capacity to plan, strategize for the future, and reflect on the past; however, our mind’s capacity to manage different time realities is not making us happy.
Biologically, our mind prefers to worry, fantasize, and hypothesize about all possible negative outcomes. If we want to feel awake, and alive, we must deliberately bring our emotional mind to the present reality. We have to exercise the muscles of being present
YES. Ancient Eastern traditions have been telling us to practice mindfulness for ages, and recent medical studies are demonstrating its benefits: increased happiness, productivity, engagement, improved quality of life, focus… We can achieve a blissful state of presence through a range of mindfulness practices that go beyond the total silence of old-school meditation,
For those of us who have ever gobbled up our breakfast, eaten a speedy lunch on the go, while standing, or driving… or ever stuffed food into our mouths, because we simply didn’t ‘have enough time,’ I want to share with you an age-old mindfulness practice that will change your life. This exercise will not only help you slow down, it will increase your productivity, levels of engagement, and your happiness.
The orange meditation is designed to bring you back to the present moment, through the simple act of mindfully eating an orange. Here is an adaptation of an old exercise, step by step:
As I concentrate on the orange, I get deep insight from it. I can see the sun and the rain that are in it. I can see the flowers of the orange tree. I can see the little sapling sprouting, and then the fruit growing. Then I begin mindfully to peel the fruit. Its presence — its color, its texture, its smell and taste — is a real miracle, and the happiness that comes to me from getting deeply in touch with it can become very, very great.
A single orange is enough to give you a great deal of happiness when you are truly there, entirely alive, fully present, getting deeply in touch with one of the miracles of life that surrounds you.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
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