DaVita® Stories

How to Be More Mindful—Professionally and Personally


Have you ever arrived at work and have no idea how you got there? Have you ever been sitting down with a friend or colleague for lunch and have absolutely no idea what they are talking about?

With how busy our world has become and how fast we get information these days, it can be difficult to stay grounded, connected and calm. Being more mindful during your day can help you feel more connected, grounded and calm, and might even help you get more done.

Let’s take a look at simply being present in my day, whether in the Village or at home. Mindfulness for me, means asking: Am I being intentional in my actions 75 to 90 percent of my day? How do I evaluate this metric? Wait, is mindfulness now a metric? What have I done? I’m already underperforming and not on the leader board!

So, after many years of running experiments on being more mindful—long bike rides, exercise, health coaches, diets, fitness trainers, trying some apps and all the latest and greatest methods—below is what I have found are the things I need to keep working at each day to be more mindful.

Sleep, diet, water, exercise, reading and walking my dog are some of the ways I now practice mindfulness, beyond a traditional sitting practice, known as meditation.

  • Walking: Am I feeling the ground when I am walking the dog or walking to the light rail? A quick assessment if I feel the air on my face—less asking questions, more being in the moment, am I slowing my steps down by half? This practice has taken me years to instill.
  • Diet: Is what I am putting in my body to derive pleasure or give me fuel? What’s important here is being present to what I am doing. Whether I’m eating a piece of licorice or a carrot, feel it, smell it, be fully present to what I’m doing versus slamming piece after piece in my mouth because I am on autopilot. This practice still trips me up.

Two years ago, I placed a column on my dashboard (a place where I track my projects and goals) titled Life Alignment with eight sub-categories. One of the categories was meditation, which I committed to practicing three times per week. I focus on four central themes with my meditation: self-management of emotions, working smarter, being kinder and taking care of myself. Most weeks I’m on top of it, but the weeks I’m not, my body gives me cues and eventually lets me know that I need to get back to meditation.

Typically when I start anew year, my initial focus is stress. What can I do to build up “muscles” to work with it and really limit the negative side effects, and find a balance with positive-induced stress (e.g., deadlines, commitments, getting ready for a vacation/holiday with my family)?

Here’s what I’ve committed to do:

  • Play more, especially with Harper (our daughter), 30 minutes per day
  • Eat better: Three to four salads per week—no excuses
  • Sleep: In bed by 9 p.m., up by 5:30 a.m.
  • Be physical: Keep fit, by doing something physical for 10 minutes a day (even light exercise) and do exercise that produces sweat at least three to four times per week
  • Sitting/Mediation Practice: Three to four minute sessions, six to seven times a week

All of these take practice—a lot of practice. If you’re searching for an app to support you and your path to mindfulness, here are some apps that I like to use:

  • Insight Timer
  • Productive
  • Chill
  • Calm

Of course there are a lot of ways to be more mindful during your day.

What are you doing to be more present with your work, families or hobbies? Comment below!

Terry Hayden

Terry Hayden

Terry Hayden joined the Village in 2013 and serves as faculty and coach on the Wisdom Team within the School of Leadership. He enjoys spending time with his family– his wife Karen, daughter Harper and their amazing dog Pearl (big black lab/great dane mix). They can usually be found in one of the Denver city parks or hiking around the Front Range of Colorado. In addition to lots of life practice, he is working on a professional level coaching certification in 2017.