Last week, I was super rundown due to allergies. It seemed like every day was an endless cycle of sneezing, putting in eye drops, and running my essential oil diffuser 24/7 hoping the eucalyptus would magically make it all go away. It didn’t, but I did start to feel better after a few days and was able to get back into my routine.
I felt so much better that I decided to go over to the gym. It was the first time in close to two weeks that I felt able to do so. When I walked in, a woman walking on the treadmill looked over and half-waved-slash-smiled. It caught me off guard but I smiled back as I walked across the room and hopped onto my favorite elliptical machine and got started.
Usually when I go to the gym, the only people there are grumpy guys who zip from one machine to the next, grunt as they lift weights, and have the TV on way too loud. When I walked in that particular day, that’s who I was expecting to see. I instinctively kept my eyes down to avoid making dreaded eye contact with one of these dudes.
But instead, it was just this nice lady who also happened to be working out on a weekday morning, watching something on her iPad, and casually saying hey as I walked in.
It really rooted me in the moment. I was able to get into my zone more quickly and thus have a more effective workout. Now, there’s a lot potentially going on here: I definitely prefer to work out alone as opposed to having multiple guys also working out around me.
But I will tell you that making eye contact with that one other person somehow reminded me what I was there for and it allowed me to fully focus on my workout.
So my mindfulness tip to you, on this sunny first weekend in May, is this: make eye contact with those around you. Even if you’re an introvert who would really prefer to not be seen. It will bring you out of your head and into the moment. It will allow you to focus on what’s around you rather than stay stuck in the swirling thoughts in your mind.
I don’t mean to say that I’ll be walking around making eye contact with everyone I see at the grocery store or the gas station – believe me I will be minding my own business in those places just like I always do! But it’s worth it to look up every now and again to take note of those around you.
They might need a friendly glance or smile just as much as you do.