I write this with reference to the words of St. Francis and my own experiences training to be a surgeon, but this advice is equally applicable to all regardless of your profession or stage of life. There can be days at work or even at home that can seem overwhelming with the sheer number of jobs to do or tasks to get through, but it does not have to feel like that even if the challenges seem insurmountable.
Make a list
Not everyone likes lists, but trying to remember tasks over the course of the day is another activity of the mind that will keep you from the present moment. For those into tech, several smartphone apps can help with this, including Todoist, Wunderlist and Trello.
There will always be some tasks that are necessary to do that day, and these should take priority if at all possible. Deadlines and time-dependent goals come prepackaged with mental stress so get these out of the way first. Applying these principles to my own surgical training, it would make sense to see the sickest patients first before managing the less unwell patient.
Give your full attention
Undivided attention is by far the most important of the three. Whatever you are doing, give it your fullest attention. Thoughts will likely come in, usually about other tasks, the day ahead, the end of the shift, family etc. Even though these thoughts arise, return to the present moment, to the task at hand. Remain centred.
I wanted to write and share this article because of how remaining centred in the present has helped me not only at work but also at home. This practice has the potential to transform even the most mundane task into a powerful mindfulness practice. I can strongly recommend mindful ironing when one can become so immersed in every crease that time seems that there can be no awareness of time passing by!
This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged in the here and now and instead of calling it work, realize it is play. – Alan Watts
Great advice from Alan Watts and St. Francis and indeed they are words to live by.
Article by Vikas Pandey
Dr Vikas Pandey MD FRCS is a consultant surgeon with his NHS base at West Hertfordshire Hospitals.
Written for Pandey Integrated Healthcare. 10 Harley St. London. W1G 9PG