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Trying to achieve work/life balance, whatever that is, simply adds more stress and worry to your life. How much precious time is wasted worrying that you have not found the optimal combination of work time and non-work time? In reality, you do not need to even think about work/life balance. What’s important is that you be present for each moment of your life, wherever you are. If you are fully present for the moments of your life, you will see clearly what, if anything, needs to be done. And you will also see what, if anything, needs to be stopped. When you are present, you cease living on autopilot, and consciously choose how to live every moment of your life, sometimes at work and sometimes outside of work.


Most of our day we are anything but present. We are distracted by apps, notifications, texts, and our own nonstop minds. We never fully attend to anything, even when we want to do so. For example, we want to be fully present for our family at dinner but we find our mind drifting to a difficult conversation we had earlier in the day, worrying about something that might happen tomorrow or constantly reaching for our phones and missing our loved ones’ stories of the day. While your mind is elsewhere, your loved ones notice that you are not paying attention. It feels disrespectful and even hurtful. You need to train your attention to counter-balance all the distractions endemic in today’s society.


But, how do you learn to be fully present?


Training your mind to be in the present moment is at the heart of mindfulness practices. Try this simple practice to begin your training:

  1. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit.
  2. Close your eyes
  3. Bring your attention to the sensations of your breath-feel each in-breath and each out-breath
  4. Each time your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the sensations of the breath. Begin practicing with these steps for 3-5 minutes.


The more you practice, the easier it becomes to be fully present, using the sensations of the breath to anchor you to this moment. You will begin to notice more quickly when your attention wanders, and you will know how to bring it back to the moment. So, in the dinner example above, when you notice that your thoughts are enticing you to pick up the phone or start planning for tomorrow, you can make a conscious choice to leave them alone for now and refocus on your family.

This simple mindfulness practice also cultivates your ability to see the ruminations and worries that can cloud your best thinking. And when you step away from the distractions and settle the mind and body into the present, you can focus more clearly on this moment. This moment is the only one you can affect. And when you make the best choice in this moment, it ripples forward.

In the stillness, you might ask yourself ‘what is called for now?’. This simple practice and reflection question allows you to tap into your wisdom and craft the best response to the chaos of the day. It also has the affect of allowing the stress in your body to subside, lowering your heart rate and easing some of the muscle pains often associated with high stress. Find a few minutes throughout your day to explore this simple practice and begin to notice what it is like to fully connect with each moment of your life. It may be just the balance you wanted!