How to be Mindful When Your Mind is Full

 By Joy Leick

You know the scenario, you get home from work or school after you’ve dropped the kids off and work was unreal and the first thing you do is head for the cupboard or the fridge and grab the quickest snack you see.  Or it’s the weekend, your friends are going out, celebrating, or drinking the week away and you have no reason not to go with them and do the same.  How about the time you contemplate skipping the gym for the third day in a row, hoping that tomorrow will be the day that you get back into your “routine”


It’s not uncommon for us to feel stressed out, anxious, and overworked!  Clearly, it’s not a secret that our culture has become inundated with events, work tasks, family obligations, and just one more episode of the most recent Netflix series. Before we know it, the little tasks that we don’t think are cutting into our time have taken over, leaving us feeling exhausted, anxious, and stressed out.


Often times, our lack of attention to what is going on in the precious time that we have can be the culprit for undue stress and anxiety.


Did you know, if you spend just 10 minutes a day scrolling Facebook you’ve spent over 60 hours a year doing that with little to nothing to show for it?  How about nutritionally? We spend hours attempting to count our calories, carbs, proteins, fats, why is it that we are not reaching our goals?  Perhaps the aimless snacking on Doritos when you get home from work is adding up to more than you think it is.


Mindfulness.  Have you heard of it?  It simply means, paying attention to what is happening in your present moment.  


The real question is: what are we doing about being more mindful in our daily lives?  With thousands of opportunities to commit our time, energy, and talents to, we have the choice to pay attention to what is truly important to us, or to find ourselves overwhelmed, overused, and stressed out!


You have goals, dreams, ideas, and so many things that you are trying to accomplish.  Any mindlessness that is keeping you stressed out, anxious, or just plain exhausted in your process is something that can be changed.


Jerrold Greenberg, in his book Comprehensive Stress Management , explains “The Mindfulness Process” as a 4 step process to be present to what is going on right in front of you.


  1. What is my purpose in this moment?

Taking time to grab a deep breath, some fresh air, and some silence from the hustle and bustle of life will help you reflect on what is going on and what it is you need to accomplish.

  1. When your mind wanders, stop and observe; In this moment, where is my awareness or attention? Ask yourself the following questions:

What am I thinking? (about the past or future, planning, worrying)

What am I feeling? (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral)

What am I sensing? (seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching)

What am I experiencing in my body? (tension, breath, tightness)

Simply note thinking, feeling, sensing, or whatever you are experiencing in your body.

  1. Bring your awareness/attention back to the moment and your purpose by breathing in and breathing out.  Do not attempt to change anything, just observe your breath and return to your purpose in that moment.

  1. Repeat the process as often as necessary to bring yourself back to your present moment.

In a time where we are all begging for more time, looking for more stress relief, and killing to reach our goals, what would happen if we all became just a little bit more mindful? Keep your goals in mind.  If you are looking to lose weight but can’t seem to stop binge eating.  Find a way to refocus your mind.  If you are trying to bring more peace into your home, find a way to cool off before you dive into an argument.  


Maybe being more mindful means taking a deep breath or going for a walk before you react to your boss’s snarky comment to you at work.  Perhaps being mindful is taking a drink of water before you take a bite at each meal in order to slow yourself from overeating when you are trying to lose weight.  


Being mindful can overflow into every aspect of your life.  Let’s say you are trying to save some money to buy yourself something new.   Being mindful of your decisions to blow money on Friday night when you know that your goal is to purchase something bigger may leave you feeling a bit more successful in your journey to your goals.


If you took just 2 minutes each morning and evening to write on 2 pages of a journal, by the end of the year, you would have almost 1500 pages of knowledge, wisdom, and so much more to look back on at the end of the year and see how your year went.


If you spent just 5 minutes a day in complete silence, focusing on your breathing, you will have used over 30 hours to simply sit in peace.  In our fast paced, product driven world that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, allowing your body this time to recharge throughout your day may bring a more calming vibe to your life than you think.

Take some time this week to find a couple of ways that you can be more mindful in your daily life to bring yourself a bit more peace. Then see what happens…

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