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So What Do You Do When You’re Taking a Break?

January 18, 2010

Years ago in an acupuncture class my teacher gave us the assignment to be “totally present” for 24 hours during all of our activities. (This was similar to what the Zen Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh advocates.) So, when we did the dishes we just focused on doing the dishes, no TV, no radio, etc. And you do these activities just for the sake of doing them. I remember feeling so frustrated, annoyed, and deprived. I simply experienced emptiness and it wasn’t pleasant.

I do not have ADHD. I don’t get bored easily. So why wasn’t I able to comfortably do the assignment? I remember as a child exploring the woods on my grandparents’ farm in upstate New York and sitting still and just watching the quiet forest come alive when it thought I had left it alone. I had no problems being present then.

I remember going to the Amazon years later and feeling the world I knew slip away under its dense canopy, as if the modern world had never existed. I felt absolutely present then.

I could sit for hours painting or drawing as a teenager completely immersed in the present moment.

So what was different then? I was sitting in awe of great beauty.
I realized that what worked better for me was not simply removing the distractions, but focusing my attention on something I wanted to fill my life with, like, beauty, joy, connection, peace, etc.

Give the moment to a higher purpose.

When you are sitting in the car, stuck in traffic, try turning off the radio. Notice how beautiful the sunset or sunrise is or the clouds in the sky. Just for a moment. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Just a moment.

Next time you are waiting in line rather than checking your email or texting someone, simply be in line and look around you. Don’t allow yourself to focus on the distracted chaos that is usually apparent, but see something beautiful, something peaceful and embrace it.

The next time you have a conversation with someone really see them. Listen as if there was no time; as if there was nothing you had to do as soon as the conversation was over. Just listen and feel how good being connected to another human being feels.

When you are with a child or a pet this can be easier and might be a good first step. For example, if you ever watch the Dog Whisperer , the host Caesar Milan always talks about how your energy in the moment affects your dogs . This is especially helpful when you have a problem dog. Notice how your energy is around the dog and how when you change it, your dog’s behavior changes almost immediately.

This little exercise will bring you peace. A peace that is not dependent upon the constantly changing events around you. It is a peace that is based on what you choose to place in the spaces between the noise.

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4 comments

  1. Fabulous post Leah! I’m so pleased with the support you and your team have been. Far and away the best spa/clinic in town! Thank you.


  2. ok, yes, I voted the 5 stars, but that’s because leah is really amazing and has earned my trust by helping me with so many issues. it’s a great read….


  3. I really enjoyed this article. It actually helped me connect to the moment in reading it. Your writing helped me move toward some tranquility.


  4. Thank you.



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