M.A. Psychology, Oxford. McKinsey Alum. Founder & Editor at TAoL.
I just finished writing this response to a thoughtful question from one of TAoL‘s TRACKTION Masterclass community members.
It’s a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a while, haven’t got round to but thought you might enjoy so… voilà!
For context, in my accountability thread on the community, I’d written that I was aiming for 105 mindful moments this week and 10 Metta moments during each of my mum’s birthday and my date night with Erin.
The question was: “What are mindful and Metta moments? And why do they matter enough to be part of your weekly goals?”
Here’s my reply:
Long ago I realised I needed to make a concerted effort to make mindfulness a part of my day beyond my explicit meditation practice.
Mindful Moments – are moments when I remember to return to the present moment and be fully present with my body and surroundings during physical transitions (especially standing up, sitting down).
This doesn’t mean doing anything outwardly special and it can last anything from 1 to 10 seconds, but I’ve found these kinds of conscious check-ins have made a huge difference to my mindfulness practice and also act as a good barometer for how conscious or unconsciously I’m acting each day.
N.B., physical transitions are a good focal point because we’re often also mentally transitioning from one activity to another. Being mindful in these moments, instead of simply switching to “whatever’s next” is, therefore, both challenging and rewarding!
Metta Moments – are mindful moments but they involve consciously projecting loving-kindness towards whoever I’m with at that moment.
Again, this isn’t outwardly obvious but during a “Metta moment” I’ll often visualise deep, light, warm happiness spreading out through that person’s body or think something like “may you be happy“, “may you avoid suffering” or “may you have a wonderful day“.
If the object of the moment is someone I’m reacting negatively to, I’ll remember that this person was once a child, is who they are because of the life they’ve been through and will someday grow old and die – just like me. I find that helps put things in perspective no matter how grouchy I feel and creates an instant softening (often a reversal) in my energy towards them.
Again, tracking these moments is my SMART way of “showing up” to important events and being the best friend or partner I possibly can.
Over time, this very simple practice has made a huge positive impact on my relationships, happiness and baseline levels of patience and kindness.
How do I track these moments? This is an interesting one so I thought I’d share my approach.
If you ever see my hands on a Q&A call, you’ll notice I have 5 black, elastic, fabric hair ties on my wrists. I use these as habit trackers. (You can actually track everything with them but I’ve been using them to track mindful and Metta moments for a few years now.)
At the start of the day, they all begin on my left wrist. To track a moment, I move one band over to my right wrist until all five have transitioned. Then I start moving them back again, and again, and again as I go through my day.
Each time I hit a group of five I keep a track in my head or make a little note in my planner so I remember my tally at the end of each day.
So there you have it!
Mindful moments, Metta moments and simple habit tracking.
Hope it helps! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions!