You cannot achieve life balance without mindfulness. Mindfulness involves being in the moment mentally as well as physically. For example you could be at home or on a golf course and yet mentally be back at the office thinking about the project you are working on or worrying about the work piling up in your inbox. Likewise, you could be working on a project at the office and yet be concerned about something at home. In either case your body is be in one place and your mind in another.
Mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience. To enjoy your experience of being with your family or on a golf course or lounging on a beach, your mind must be centered on what you are doing at the time – not thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Our minds are frequently working in the future or the past: they seems to be its default settings. You can be mindful at any time, and dwell on the present as it happens. But it takes practice.
Mindfulness is critical to the attainment of a balanced life. Mindfulness precludes multitasking, which is a bane to balance. It forces you to focus on whatever you are doing at the time. For example, if you are physically present with your spouse, you should not be mentally at work.
Mindfulness improves your attention span and concentration – factors that are critical to resisting the lure of technologies and other interruptions in this digital age of speed. You could refer to the “gorilla test” described in the book, The invisible gorilla, where many of the students so intently watching players passing a ball back and forth, never even noticed a fake gorilla walking onto the court.
Mindfulness has been proven to decrease stress and relieve the pressures of a busy day – factors also at odds with a balanced life. Stress has been associated with health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Because of this you might want to start with some mindfulness practices such as meditation or yoga. Or get organized first. You should find it easier to stay organized once you have purposefully set your direction in life and have learned to live with stress.
There are many ways to develop mindfulness, including more formal meditation, yoga, and controlled breathing and relaxation exercises. But you can also practice on a daily basis simply by being “in the now” as you go about your activities both at and away from work.
Using an example of driving or walking to work, you might try observing the street names, location of the various stores and service stations, and generally being aware of your surroundings. Be in the moment. Living in the moment, defined as mindfulness, is a state of active, open, intentional attention to the present. And it will move you from peak performances to peak experiences.