I live a very privileged life. Despite the numerous times when my fears, insecurities and doubts over consume me, deep in my heart I have nothing but gratitude for the different gifts that life has given me. At a more practical level, I am blessed to have a beautiful combination of work, family, community, service and self – care that define how I spend my time. It takes a lot of planning, juggling, surrendering and accepting setbacks. One of the biggest challenges of living a big, full rich life is truly being present and witnessing each moment as is before I add my own layers of judgments on top of it (which I am working on adding less of!) and is really hard. It is a practice and like anything else requires repetition for the brain to get it:-)
On most days, I try to go to our office café that serves freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s a luxury to nourish my body and mind with fresh food on demand as many times a day as I’d like to. When you have access to these absolutely amazing Silicon Valley tech benefits every day, it can be so easy to take it all for granted. At first, I’d come, drink, look around, think of all the things that I needed to get done, feel a little blessed and get back to my desk on auto pilot. One day something shifted…
I intentionally slowed down and closed my eyes while I was waiting to receive my glass. I didn’t look up at the two large screens flooded with all kind of interesting updates on what’s happening in the world. I didn’t think of my to do list. I didn’t check my phone (though I was really tempted to). I was in no special meditation position but simply paid attention to my breath & body for a minute. I noticed the tension in my shoulders and neck and reminded myself to relax, smile and then gently opened my eyes.
Instead of rushing to finish my juice, I paid attention to each sip that I was taking. My mind was tempted to check my phone, of course! I tried to bring it back to simply drinking each sip and paying attention. It sure was hard. My mind wandered again and reminded me of how I was not being “efficient” and spending TOO much time on a glass of orange juice when there are so many things TO DO. I tried to stay calm and breathe and drink my last few more sips. I now try to do this every time I have the privilege and luxury to step away for my glass of orange juice and the reality is that paying attention hasn’t taken away from my productivity or output at work. If I am going to take a break, why not do it with intention & awareness!
This simple exercise has been magical in many ways. It’s made me appreciate how fortunate I am to have access to healthy, local food in my office for free when there nearly half the planet lives on $2.5 a day. It’s taught me to relax and not take myself too seriously and that by refueling myself, I have more to offer to my team. It’s a beautiful reminder that my breath, my friend is holding me all the time. I don’t need to be in a yoga studio, at a retreat or on the beach to connect with my breath but just pay attention to my breath and body.
It’s taught me to find other orange juice moments in my days and that there are 1,440 minutes in a day where I can practice being present. There is more time than I realize when I can simply be and not do, practice presence and not plan, not multi task and not analyze too much. And interestingly, this simplicity, this presence has opened up my heart to more kindness, more compassion and more gratitude. It opened up my heart to spend a few seconds saying thank you to the janitor who really makes my work life easy by ensuring I have access to clean bathrooms and clean mugs for my hot chocolate. It reminded me to send a thank you note to a friend who supported me through a tough phase by holding space for my feelings. It reminded me to make another loan on Kiva.
Most importantly, my orange juice moments make me appreciate my life a little more, its imperfections and generosities a little more. It makes me realize I am not as busy as I may think I am or that our culture may make me believe. It makes me realize that every moment indeed is precious and that how we spend each moment is what makes up our life.
What are your orange juice moments? Moments where you pay attention to the sounds and smells in the air. Moments where you notice the tiny white flowers that are beginning to blossom as we enter into spring. Moments where you notice the orange and yellow in the sky as the sun sets every evening….