A friend recently posted the cartoon to the right on Facebook. It made me think about how so many of us struggle with “full minds,” constantly thinking, whether it is a “to do” list, a fear about the future or a memory from the past. This constant state of thinking keeps us from being mindful in the present moment.
I love how the cartoon shows the dog as being the “mindful” one. We have so much we can learn from animals and babies who simply exist in the present moment. They are not worried about the past or the future. They simply exist in the NOW.
When I started taking classes at the Foundation for Spiritual Development (FSD), I started to meditate on a more regular basis. I discovered that giving myself a little quiet meditation time actually helps me shift my whole outlook and perspective. It allows me to be more mindful throughout the rest of my day. During meditation I let go of thoughts, worries, to dos and anything else that I’m obsessively thinking about. I do this by visualizing healing energy light going through my space and taking away all that stuff. Afterwards I feel calmer, clearer, and more present in the now. This allows me to see more clearly what really matters in the present moment – how a project or task could easily be accomplished or what to say in any given situation.
Another technique that has helped me be more mindful is paying much closer attention to my senses. What do I see, hear, smell, taste or feel? When I notice that my mind is racing on and on about something, I aim to take a step back and go into one of my senses instead. This process refocuses my mind and helps me get out of the think “spin cycle”.
It has taken me some time practicing these techniques before they turned into habits. At first it was hard to meditate every day, but now it’s hard not to meditate because I literally don’t feel as good if I don’t take that time for myself and my days don’t run as smoothly. As my senses became stronger I’ve noticed that on walks in nature I now notice much more than I used, whether it’s the sound of the wind in the trees or seeing a tiny insect or the smell of the earth.
These are just a few of many different techniques that can be used to be more “mindful” and less “mind full”. You can explore and find what works best for you. It is also very helpful to remember that it takes time and repeated practice for new things to become habits, so be gentle with yourself!