I was invited to give a speech on Relieving Stress for 3M employees in Dubai, UAE. While preparing for the talk I started recalling my executives clients’ experiences when it comes to stress and its main causes.
It was surprising to me to realize that the major and common attribute brought up in coaching sessions when it comes to stress was being on “Auto Pilot mode”.
It was generally explained as the unconscious loss of being in the moment, being in the now and fully experiencing it, “I am always either in the past judging what I did or in the future wondering what could go wrong” is a common statement I hear from nearly all executives when stress is brought up to the light.
Rushing Through Life
We can miss many of the moments that comprise our lives because we are not fully present for them. Often we go about our day in a kind of autopilot - half there and half lost in thought. Our mind is in the past or future or lost in conceptual thought, not fully in the present. Verify this for your self – don’t take my word for it – next time you are in the shower, driving to work or speaking to your child – check in with yourself to see where your mind is. See how much of you are present with the activity and how much you are not.
With this kind of unawareness several things can happen:
- We miss living the full experience of our lives; eventually we get trapped in the concerns, worries and judgements leaving no place for positive emotions to flourish.
- We may miss input signals from our bodies, we tend to fully ignore the totality of our being, we ignore our emotional and physical status and pay attention only to our mental and logical status which accordingly gives merely a constructed perception of what we think is the ultimate reality
- We may miss thought patterns that cascade into mood shifts, when not fully aware of the emotional and physical status we tend to miss triggers for emotional shifts and allow pleasant as well as unpleasant emotions to slip into our system unrecognized and not processed consciously which creates malfunctioning in our totality wellbeing.
This can become more difficult if the present moments are not particularly pleasant or worse it is unpleasant. Paying attention to our experience moment by moment, not a discursive thinking activity, not resignation or passivity but openness to acceptance creates the wholesome wellbeing of who we are.
Somehow in our culture stillness or silence has become weird. It is in fact a recognition of sanity that being and doing are linked. Lots of discovers come from a place of stillness. In science it often not what you know but be comfortable with what you don’t know. Not discounting thought, but going beyond thinking. We may call it intuition – I call it Mindfulness – full conscious awareness.
From the perspective of mindfulness as a society we are all suffering from ADD. We are all about doing and not being. There is a growing body of research that shows that stress reduction that emphasizes the cultivation of mindfulness may enhance well-being, mental health and physical health.
The Digital Age with Stone Age mind
Such approach provides a way to step out of automatic pilot mode and reconnect with the present moment.
- AWARENESS: Acknowledge & register your experience, even if it is unwanted
- GATHERING: Bring full attention to your totality Emotional, Physical and Mental. Breath, as an anchor to awareness & stillness
- EXPANDING: Awareness of the whole environment around you with high level of sensation to all your surroundings.
Can be useful to do at times throughout the day or perhaps when you feel stressed. It is important to emphasize that that this is not about distracting yourself from the stress or the event that caused the stress. In fact, it is more about being aware of the stress and seeing how it resonates throughout your body and mind and taking a conscious decision on how would you like to deal with it.