Mindfulness for the introvert business traveller

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Lau Tzu

On Friday evening, I returned home from a short business trip to Montreal. Thankfully, in my current position, I only am required to travel three times per year, and for no more than three days at a time. However, as an introvert, even the shortest of trips can leave me feeling tired and off-balance. I have learned to do my best to get plenty of rest, eat as well as I can while away from home, stay well-hydrated, and sneak some movement into my day. I travel with a thin yoga mat that fits neatly on the bottom of my carry-on luggage, and I unroll it for early morning yoga before heading into the office for meetings. For me, yoga is essential for dealing with jet lag when in a different time zone. I also cherish the hidden pleasures involved in travelling solo (see: extra time to read while in flight).

Those are all important points, but what can be most tiring to an introvert is the mere prospect of being introduced to new people, with whom we may have to make small talk over lunch or dinner. I reflected on this aspect during my travels last week, after attending several events at which I had to make small talk with many new people. As always, presence is the key word. When I attempt to mentally prepare myself for an event such as a cocktail reception, I start to feel exasperated over the prospect. What will I say? Should I shake their hand or give them a kiss on both cheeks? Which cheek do I kiss first? Will there be food at the reception? What kind of food would be safe to eat, so as to ensure that nothing gets stuck in my teeth or gives me bad breath? These questions themselves are enough to leave me feeling drained and anxious about leaving my hotel room.

On the other hand, when I stay present in the moment and work on being the best version of myself right now, that right now turns into the next moment, which becomes the new right now. Eventually, when I find myself at the reception, shaking hands and greeting colleagues with a kiss on both cheeks, right now continues, and before I know it, right now turns into the moment when I find myself once again in the elevator, on my way up to my hotel room for a few restorative poses on my travel mat, followed by a comfortable bed. Just like that, the evening is over and I can move on. I no longer stop to analyze the events of the evening, following the evening down a path into the past, finding myself wondering, “What would have happened if I had said xyz…” Preoccupation with past events no longer interests me. Tomorrow will take care of itself, provided that I continue to breathe deeply, relax my shoulders, and remember to stay present in this moment, right now

Do you have additional tips to offer? I would love to read them in the comments below. Wishing you a week of PRESENCE.

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