How do you avoid losing your mind during a busy week? There is so much going on, it can be easy to lose control of time and priorities.
The constant stress of your phone buzzing you about another meeting, text, tweet, or phone call. The anticipation of presenting what you've been working on to your colleagues or bosses. Traveling off site to a client's office or a conference, wondering whether there's going to be parking, or if they'll have coffee or should you get it beforehand. That's just work.
Then, there's your personal life bleeding into your day. The reminder to pick up your dry cleaning, move money to another account, get a birthday card for a friend, set your alarm to leave early the next day, call your doctor's office to renew your prescription, read the bios of the people at tomorrow's networking event.
And no to-do list item stands alone, rather it has multiple parts to it that vie for your limited attention.
I had one of these weeks not too long ago and what resonated with me was the mindful approach of "naming meditation." I don't mean formal meditation, where you sit on a cushion in a quiet room for 20 minutes. I mean that as the day passes, you start naming different parts of it "busy", "necessary", "essential", "boring" or whatever word best fits the situation.
The "naming" separates you from the experience for a brief moment so you can observe it objectively. You're still doing the work, talking in a meeting, listening attentively, but you're removed from all the ego-based thinking: "This is too much for me," "Why do I have to sit through this?" "I have so much work to do!"
That kind of "stinking thinking," as one of my clients calls it, gets absorbed in the name you've given to the situation. Here's how it works:
All of this will take 30-60 seconds in your mind, perhaps longer in the beginning simply because you're practicing the method. You will now be separate from that which has been taking control of you. You will be able to point to it in your mind and know it for what it is, and what it may continue to be, and go back to what you were doing.
The quote that comes to mind to best describe this is:
"Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you"
— Ali ibn abi Talib
If you're saying to yourself, "Isn't the naming itself judgmental?", then take a second and think about the thoughts and perceptions that are getting the better of you. The thoughts are already judgments of the experience you're having.
"Naming" is just a way to recognize the judgmental thinking, call it out in a single word, and go back to the task at hand.
Try this out and leave a comment or email me about your experience! I'm curious about how it works for you personally.