If you live in the same world I do, more often than not, the mind lets itself be known that it needs a little space -- a break from the habits of daily life, an opportunity to settle into the here and now. Here's the thing. Going on retreats, vacations and taking time away from the daily grind is important and can help us deepen our connection to what is truly important. However, most of our hours are spent here (well, all of our hours are spent here, but you know what I mean). So here is where we seek the power of now.
Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and tireless peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh says: "There is no enlightenment outside of daily life."
Here are 10 ways to gain freedom from suffering in daily life
Note: If you've heard or thought of any of these before, watch your mind's reactions. Then ask yourself when the last time you implemented them is; that's where the rubber meets the road. Allow this to be a gentle reminder.
- When awaking in the morning, before checking your cell phone for messages, take a few deep breaths and check in with the sensations of your body.
- Think of one genuinely kind thing to say to one person in your house before leaving the home. If you live alone, wish well for someone in your life.
- When driving, use red lights as signals to check in with our breath and body. Choose to take a few deep breaths and soften your muscles if they're tense. Wish others on the road safe driving.
- Walk slightly slower into work or school, open your ears and listen for any birds or other sounds.
- Practice STOP in the middle of your day.
- Intentionally listen to a colleague when they're speaking to you (mindful listening).
- Before leaving work or school, take a moment to look back on the day and note the work that you were proud of and perhaps some things you could do better next time.
- Before leaving your car to step into the house, again practice a short practice, perhaps a mindful check-in and consider how you want to be the rest of the evening. If there is family at home, how would you like to be with them, if it is just yourself, what would you like the evening to look like?
- At dinner, consider taking a few minutes of the meal to eat it mindfully, bringing your senses of sight, smell, and taste to the meal. Consider all the work (including your own) that brought this meal in front of you in this moment.
- As you lay your head on the pillow at night, consider, where was the Good today? For those who are spiritual or religious you might consider asking, where in this day did I notice God?
There's no need to do all of these, just pick a few and begin engaging with them again and again, see what happens. Don't take my word for it, trust your own experience.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom we can all benefit from.