One of the best strategies for staying in my authenticity as a creative solopreneur day after day is the practice of mindfulness. So much so that I even teach it!
Mindfulness is the art of being fully present with whatever you are doing in the moment — the actions you take, the words that come out of your mouth, what you eat, even your own breath.
In a recent Meditation: Focus, Energy & Clarity session I was facilitating, someone asked “How can we remember to practice mindfulness throughout the day?” It’s an excellent question, especially when things get busy and we’re running around trying to get everything done, return emails, make connections, catch the bus, prepare dinner. How can we find time even to take 3 conscious breaths… inhaling and exhaling, inhaling and exhaling, inhaling and exhaling…?
The first thought that came into my mind was “touch points” – shifting your awareness to the physical sensation of a point of contact of the body with something else that triggers the mind to drop into the present moment. For example, taking your seat for meditation and feeling the bottom of your pelvis (“sit bones”) on your cushion or chair OR touching the tip of your index finger and thumb together in a mudra (hand position that cultivates a specific energetic
But that’s still something you have to remember to DO.
My second thought was a practice offered by Thich Nhat Hanh (respected Buddhist monk, teacher and writer on all things mindfulness) whereby every time the telephone rings, that’s a bell of mindfulness. You let it ring 3 times before answering, and each time, you take a breath, inhaling calm, exhaling smile.
This suggestion triggered looks of panic on my students’ faces. We had discussed at length in an earlier session how the chirps and cries and melodies of ring tones and text alerts cause stress and anxiety.
So my third (and best) thought was to choose a different recurring sound in the environment as a “bell of mindfulness.” And low an behold, I thought of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Do you remember that show?
It aired with Saturday morning cartoons in the 1980s, featuring fictional character Pee-wee Herman, created and played by actor Paul Reubens. Every day, Pee-wee’s robot Conky would generate a “secret word” — something really common like “door” — and when you would hear anyone say the secret word, you were supposed to scream really loud!
In effect, the secret word was a touch point to drop into awareness and focus on the present moment, and I supposed screaming really loud could be a “conscious breath.”
In a moment of doubt, the idea hovered in my mind. Do I really dare offer Pee-wee’s Playhouse as a shining example of mindfulness training to my students who have payed me to teach them how to meditate?
The answer was “yes” — I went with my gut. We all had a good laugh. And I promise you, they will remember how to remember to be mindful.
You can try it with me right now. Pick a word, something fairly common but not so common that you hear it every 5 seconds. Now every time you hear your secret word today, take a deep breath in, and smile as you breathe out.
P.S. You can take Meditation: Focus, Energy & Clarity and Meditation for Creatives with me online from anywhere or in person in Chicago. Get dates & details here.