I have written a lot of articles about work-life balance. Back in 2010, I shared that to be balanced in work and life we need to stop compartmentalizing our lives and look at bringing our work and life into wholeness. I have encouraged you to explore the cost of constantly “doing.” And we have looked into our thoughts about time – as David Byrne aptly sung, “Time isn’t holding up, time isn’t after us.” Through all my exploration of work-life balance, at the core of finding our balance, of releasing the pressure to do, of getting out from under the time crunch, is learning, becoming, and being more present at work.
For a long time, being present was the subject of yogis and spiritual leaders. Now it is becoming more mainstream and has been adopted by many companies. Catherine Johns shares a great article of how mindfulness has entered the workspace, and how it is changing our experience and efficiency of work. To be present or mindful is to be aware of and in control of your experience. I agree with Eckhardt Tolle that now is a time of awakening of our consciousness. This can be on a deep spiritual level for some of us, and for many it is simply the opportunity to stop being stuck in the routine of life and finally take the time to ask why before we act.
Being present is moving up to the 40,000-foot vision instead of trudging through our daily life. Being present is stepping back and seeing the broader picture of what we have agreed to participate in. Think of it like being in a swimming pool. When you are in the water, you are focusing on staying afloat. Maybe you are struggling. Maybe you are floating gently. Maybe you are splashing your pal. But you are in the water and all you can see is water. When you are outside of the pool, you can see the boundaries of the pool. You can become aware of how others are using the pool. You can see those who are afraid or those who are Olympian swimmers. Being present is having the perspective of being outside of the pool, while being in it.
Another way to look at this is when a friend shares with you issues in her workplace. She tells you about issues between departments and people. She expresses challenges with deadlines or technologies. You can understand what she is sharing, but you are not experiencing it. You are separate from it. Often you can provide insight into her situation because you are outside of it and can be objective. Being present is being outside of and objective about our own lives.
Being present is watching our emotions instead of being sucked into them. Being present is realizing we are not trapped in a certain situation. Being present distances us from challenges where we can rise above and make choices based on perspective, not fear. Being present is knowing we are separate from our thoughts and beliefs. Being present is rising above life, so we can make better choices in life.
Have you experienced being present? At home or at work? What did it feel like? What did being present allow you to do that you couldn’t when you were unconscious in the situation? How do you include being present in throughout your day?