Driving on the highway of life in the left lane, people and cars move at a faster pace. Maybe they need to be somewhere quicker. Or maybe they don’t have the patience to go slower. Have you noticed when you are driving the streets in the left lane and want to go a little slower, people come up right behind you and can actually make you go faster than you want to. That’s what that space is meant for- to go faster. Who needs that pressure?But the right lane is reserved for those who want to take it a little slower, not be rushed or pushed ahead. We can choose to be in this space anytime, anywhere. Try to keep this visual in mind as you consider how you can choose this space in other areas of your life. Keep in mind that valuing this time involves planning ahead so you can be in this space more often. The more organized we are, the less rushed or in disarray we will be, allowing us more space to breathe and enjoy the moment at a slower pace.
In mindfulness, our goal is to hang out in the “right lane” as much as possible- to slow down and be aware of what is happening around us. When we are moving slowly, it helps us to embrace these things – what we see, hear, smell, touch and taste. Our senses come alive and we notice things that otherwise, we might miss.
Here are 5 ways we can stay in the “right lane” in life:
- DRIVING– Whether on the freeway or on the streets, you can literally stay to the right and slow down. Choose to be one of the slower ones on the street for the moment. Often we don’t have the leisure to do so because of an appointment or commitment we have so when we have made the space to go slower, go for it and grab it. You might be surprised how it affects your mood and outlook and this may help encourage you to plan ahead in the future and carve out that time so you can take it slower.
- WALKING– Most often we circle the parking lot to find the closest parking spot to our destination, whether it be a doctor’s office, the post office or restaurant. Choose a spot farther away and use the walk to be mindful of your surroundings. You’ll get some extra steps in your day as well as some extra time enjoying the outdoors.
Or instead of taking the elevator that will get you there in lickety split, go visit the stairs this time—noticing each step and the sounds in the stairwell. Just like parking farther away, taking the stairs will give you more physical awareness in your body while giving you more physical movement.
- WAITING in LINE– Again, we most often look for the shortest check-out line in a store because it will move faster and get us out quicker. Choose a longer line if you have the time, allowing those with less time to take the shorter line and use that space and time to be mindful of your presence. I’m sure you will be showered with gratitude for it.
This would be a perfect time to take some cleansing belly breaths and practice our calming breathing. Give this exercise a try:
Gently take a belly breath and notice your body settling in and relaxing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest as you choose to breathe easy. Begin with 1 count as you inhale. Then exhale with a count of 2. Take an inhalation breath of 2. Then exhale with a count of 3, and so on until you reach 7 counts, continuing to add one more count to each exhalation so your exhale is longer than your inhale. Notice as your body continues to get more relaxed and your breathing slows down.
Or maybe you might spark up a conversation with a fellow shopper and share a nice interaction that makes both of you feel acknowledged or appreciated. I know when someone takes a moment to say something nice to me, ask me about something I’m wearing or something in my cart or even wish me a good day, it really does make my day better.
- LISTENING– It’s quite common knowledge that most people love to talk about themselves- what they have done or what they are about to do or even what they like or what they don’t like. How many times have you found yourself in a conversation when someone was sharing a personal story and you wanted to jump in and either give your opinion or share a similar story of your own, perhaps missing the opportunity to be a great listener. It’s so easy to do, because on some level we want to help, if even by just validating their words by reciting a common thought. Reach out to someone you care about with the intention of listening mindfully with a supportive ear. Simply hear what they have to share with you with your whole heart without needing to share your opinion or trying to fix their problem. Simply listening will be a gift to you both.
- STAYING on HOLD– “The average wait time is ….4 minutes.” How often have you heard a similar recording on the other end of the phone receiver? Instead of disconnecting the call in frustration thinking there is no way you are going to wait for the duration of the wait time, hang out in the “right lane” and relax. This is a perfect time to think of something nice or positive that has happened during your day so far, or maybe connect with what you are grateful for in that moment. Could it be that you have given yourself time to slow down? Or could it be that you can prepare yourself with an intention of patience and understanding for whomever you are waiting for on the other line?
These are just a few ways to choose a slower pace and be in the moment. In one day, one hour, or even in one minute, there are a multitude of opportunities to choose calm and they are right there for the taking.
What ways will you hang out in the “right lane” today? How did it make you feel? I would love to hear about it!
For today, I choose to hang out in the “right lane” breathing easy and taking life in with acceptance and compassion one moment at a time.