Be Your Most Productive Self
By: Pragito Dove
We would all like to increase our productivity. That may be easier said than done, however, if we go about it in the wrong way. It is my con- tention that the secret to being our most productive selves is awareness. Awareness is the quality of being awake and present in the moment. All great athletic per- formances are examples of how awareness fuels high-level performance.
Once we identify and understand awareness, we have the key to self-mastery in virtually every area of our lives. According to great masters like Lao Tzu or Buddha, most of us move through our lives like sleepwalkers, never really present in what we are doing, never fully alert to our environment, and not even aware of what motivates us to do and say the things we do. A lack of awareness can allow us to be completely overtaken by negative emotions.
To be our most productive, a clear mind is imperative. If the mind is filled with fear, self-sabotaging beliefs, and self-doubt, we are impeded, like driving a car with the brake on. Emotional turmoil clouds our view.
When we become aware of the mind, we learn to witness thoughts as they pass by, so they don’t affect us. The special knack of meditation is to develop the watcher, the one who pays attention within us. When we
do a simple sitting meditation, we sit comfortably with our eyes closed and watch the energies that move within us all the time: thoughts, sensations, and emotions. We develop the knack of simply watching these distractions go by with a feeling of acceptance. To acquire this ability, we begin by being a witness to the mind by becoming disidentified from it, just as when we look at a tree, we are separate from it.
Watching is the key. When we watch the mind without repressing anything, we slowly begin to disidentify, realizing we are not our thoughts, our sensations, or our emotions. During meditation, especially at first, thoughts surround us from verywhere. They will buzz like a swarm of bees stopping us from seeing clearly. When there are too many thoughts, the instinct is to fight them. Thoughts are shadows; if we try to fight them, they will defeat us.
It is best to watch our thoughts in a calm state, letting them come, go, rise, and disappear. Simply take note: the thought is rising; the thought is there; the thought is gone. Eventually, we will start to notice the gap of silence between the thoughts. Over time, the thoughts become smaller and the gap of silence becomes larger.
The liberation we feel once we realize we are not the mind is extraordinary. Anxiety disappears, and we are at ease. We know we can drop down beyond the mind to our inner haven of peace and clarity. The mind becomes clean and clear, and we are more productive, focused, and relaxed.
Being aware makes a substantial difference to our productivity. With awareness, when we become irritated, angry, or reactive in any way, there is an awake quality in us. We have the observing presence in the background who is more who we are than the emotion. We are still present as the emotions happen. Now we have more mastery over ourselves and the situation. Awareness is the key to being self-directed, centered,
and free in every aspect of our lives.
30-Second Stop Technique
You can do this while walking along the street, folding laundry, or sorting files at the office. While you are engaged in one of these activities, stop. For 30 seconds, be present in whatever is happening. Be aware of your breathing, how your body feels, where your mind is, and whether you are in the present. Watch, observe, and notice yourself without judgment. Then start moving again.
Practice this technique anytime, by yourself or with a friend. You might even ask your friend to surprise you with a 30-second stop when you’re walking down the street together. Or you can try it yourself anytime: at work, on the bus, in the grocery store, in an elevator, or while doing the dishes. Remember, it must be done suddenly.
Benefits: This technique can almost instantly bring you to awareness and help you relax. By practicing it regularly, a subtle relaxed alertness will begin to weave itself into your day. Just knowing that you can access this state of relaxation at any time helps you feel more in control of your life, more in touch with yourself, and more productive.