Finding Mindfulness On the Up-Escalator

It happened in the middle of winter many years ago while riding an up-escalator. I was returning from a coffee break, and going back to the world in which I worked for years. For whatever reason, my mind was consumed in negative thoughts about me, events from my past, and bad choices that only I was responsible for making. In other words, my inner-critic was working overtime. Ruminating on why I did this, why I didn’t do that, and all the “should have-could have-would have” thoughts that kept emerging in between. Sound familiar?

As I approached the top of the escalator, I looked down to exit carefully when the most amazing thing occurred. In that very moment, I consciously noticed my two feet on the escalator and felt an immediate sense of relief. I thought, “I am here, on the up-escalator! I don’t have to be in those terrible thoughts.” What an unexpected sense of vitality to finally understand the power of the present moment and experience what it feels like to be right here, right now.

As human beings, our minds are designed to think, plan, evaluate, and all kinds of other fascinating cognitive processes. But when your inner critic takes over, or when you find yourself ruminating on something that happened in the past, or worrying obsessively about something that hasn’t happened yet…. Take a moment and look down at your feet. With intention, notice, really notice, where your body is, in that specific moment.  Put words to this noticing.  “I’m in a meeting. I’m playing with my child. I’m golfing, running, or walking. I’m in a conversation with my friend."

Wherever you are, that is where you need to be. The present moment is your moment of greatest power. Leverage your own greatness by paying attention, on purpose, and connecting to the present throughout your day.

And the next time you find yourself on an up-escalator, please enjoy the ride!