I am notoriously known in my family as a “busy body”. Since I was a child I never truly understood how to quiet my mind. Growing up, I wasn’t able to fall asleep until I thought of everything I had to do the next day, when I was going to do it, and how I could squeeze in more so there was less to do the day after that. Defeats the purpose I know.
It wasn’t until my final years of college that I realized that there was more to life than just worrying about getting things done. I was wearing myself thin, and found my mood to be sour most of the time.
That wasn’t who I was, so why was I allowing that to happen?
As I started slowing down, and rediscovering me, I stumbled upon the idea of mindfulness. I couldn’t have asked for a more simple answer, and one that was under my nose the whole time. I just failed to pay attention when I needed to. Now it is something I have learned to incorporate in every aspect of my life, from my everyday activities to my eating.
Practicing mindfulness takes time, and it’s not easy at first. But just like everything else, the things that are the hardest to do are the ones that are worth the most.
Bringing your mind into the “here and now”, is a good way to start thinking more mindful. This is particularly effective when negative thoughts arise. The negative thought is a signal to bring your mind back to the present moment. When we think negatively are minds tend to wonder. We develop notions and ideas that don’t really exist, and are built on assumption and worry. So when this happens, stop, focus on something around you, and quiet your mind. There is nothing that you can do about the thought that came up at that time, so let it go and move forward with your day.
Sometimes it’s helpful to do an activity when those negative thoughts come up. Do whatever feels best for you at that time. Don’t think about it, and definitely don’t worry about what others might think. This eventually becomes a natural process. I tend to find myself sitting cross-legged, on my couch, with a cup of tea. I focus on the aroma, the taste, and how it feels as I drink it. At that time I don’t want to think about anything else.
Which leads us to the next step, of immersing yourself in the activity. When you get lost in what you are doing, you don’t have time to worry.
Sometimes those negative thoughts will come back up, but don’t dwell on them. Remember to bring yourself back to the present moment, and immerse yourself. You may find that the activity that you were doing is no longer working for you, so it’s ok to start doing something else. Just remember to be mindful while you are doing it, and don’t use these activities as a way to escape from things that you may need to face.
Our negative emotions, such as anger, sadness, and anxiety, tend to be associated with past of future thinking. Like I said before, there is nothing that you can do about it at that moment so learn to let it go. Learning to be more present in the “here and now”, allows for positive feelings to spill into our daily lives. And why wouldn’t they? By being in the present moment, we learn to listen and follow our hearts, rather than our thoughts and fears.
If you would like to learn more about being more mindful in your everyday, contact the Inner Door Center at 248-336-2868 for more information on our treatment programs or visit www.innerdoorcenter.com