‘Is it really June? It feels like April. I think I missed a couple of months!’
‘Is it 2020? I feel as though I graduated just last year but it was 5 years ago. Where did those years go??’
If these statements feel familiar, you are not alone. When I am teaching a Mindful Leadership workshop or retreat, these types of statements are commonplace among the professionals. Some go even further and speak about a sense of missing a decade or more. So, what is happening? Why are we missing our lives?
The short answer is mismanaged distractions. Distractions come from external sources and internal sources, and they are wearing out our body and our brain. External distractions grow exponentially each year. They come in the form of computers, smartphones, tablets and watches. And they come in the form of a plethora of apps and social media options. And that is just the technology. Distractions come from external demands of people as well. Family needs, workplace assignments and social interactions pile on the distractions as well.
Internal distractions, such as our ‘to-do’ list, worries, plans, and ruminations also distract us. Even when we are trying to pay attention to the moment, all these distractions pull us right out of the room! We are rarely present for our lives. And when we are not present, we are living on autopilot, and the moments slip away unnoticed.
It is possible, however, to meet the moments of our lives with focus, clarity and compassion. But to do so, we must train our minds to be present. This training in mindfulness and mindful leadership teaches us to notice when our mind is becoming distracted, and redirect it to the present. It teaches us to more consistently listen to our own wisdom so we can make conscious choices rather than be on autopilot. And one of the greatest powers of mindful leadership training is that it teaches us that our connection to others is strongest when we are present.
Presence is felt by others. In today’s world, we all need to recognize the power of this presence to help us authentically connect, to deeply listen and to heal.