Are you losing your mind?
I recently enjoyed a lovely family holiday to Fuerteventura. A week to relax in the sun, enjoy time together after a very busy year.
Despite the sun, sea and sangria my mind was busy racing with all sorts of random thoughts and the constant mental chitter chatter was exhausting me! I found myself worrying about work projects I needed to complete, people I needed to contact when I got home, the kids school work, the broken loo seat that needed replacing and endless other unimportant stuff. I couldn't switch off and it was frustrating me!
I found that it took almost five days before my mind and body started to wind down. By that time, it was time to pack up and come home.
Thinking seems to be our default setting. It's pretty hard to stop!
Being able to think has great advantages as it helps us function and live our lives. But it's not always an un-mitigating blessing. Our thoughts can trap us if we're not careful. If you find yourself thinking too much about the past you can wind up feeling regretful, sad and guilty. If you find yourself thinking too much about the future you can wind up feeling anxious, fearful and restless. Not a great mixed bag of emotions to be dealing with day in and day out.
What exists between past and future is the present moment and this is where we are at our happiest.
But how often are we really living in the present moment? Not often, that's for sure.
Your mind is busy thinking all day and dreaming all night, you can't stop it doing what it does best, but you can give it some respite.
It's time to rest your mind.
And mindfulness is the answer to stopping the constant metal chitter chatter that exhausts us.
This is a simple skill we can learn just like any other new skill. The benefits are truly amazing. Being mindful helps you break free from all those unhelpful thoughts and thinking patterns. But it also keeps you grounded; it reduces stress and increases your focus. But over all it puts you in touch with yourself and increases your enjoyment of life.
Now who doesn't want that!
My coaching and mentoring business is all about setting goals and planning for the future, I believe this is essential if we want to move our life forward and achieve success, but we also don't want to miss actually living our life in the process! If we are always waiting for some future event to happen in order to feel happy or fulfilled we are not really living and experiencing life as we should.
So if like me, you find that you spend too much time either living in the past or the future here are just three ways to become more mindful and start living in the present moment.
Find your flow.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist from the University of Chicago, studied thousands of people for more than 30 years to discover what makes our lives meaningful and satisfying. From his research he wrote a book called Flow - which he describes as a narrowing of attention, a sense of being absorbed, and a feeling of transcendence and being present. When you're in the flow you are totally in the present moment. Any activity can lead to flow, playing a game, listening to music, walking the dog but it must be an activity that you love. Ask yourself: What puts me in a state of flow? Now think about how you can inject more flow time into your daily life from taking a daily walk, joining a yoga class or maybe starting a new hobby. The more you flow the more present you'll be.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty good at multitasking. I often find myself juggling lots of task all at the same time; cooking dinner, replying to emails, helping the kids with their homework. I'm always focusing on the future. But the truth is, nothing really gets my full-undivided attention. I jump from one thing to the next and back again. It's exhausting! I spend my day thinking about what's next. It's essential that we slow down (albeit a tiny bit) and give whatever we're doing 100% of our attention. If we're chopping the vegetables, we're focusing on chopping the vegetables. If we're playing with the kids, we're focusing on playing with the kids. If we're having a conversation with someone, we're focusing on our conversation. This simple act of single tasking will not only help you get more done, but you'll be totally in the moment and enjoy each task far more.
Breathe it in!
Being aware of your breathing is the simplest thing you can do at any given moment to put you back in the present moment. Breathing does not happen in the past or the future, it happens in the NOW! So when you find your mind mulling over past events or racing off into the future, just BREATHE and you'll be back in the present moment again. This is mindfulness. This is it. You're right here. Breathe.
Remember, life is happening RIGHT NOW: being mindful will help you let go of all those thought patterns that do not serve you and help you to enjoy each moment so life doesn't pass you by.
Louise Presley-Turner is one of the UK's leading lifestyle experts and author of Finding a Future That Fits (Hay House 2012) Get your Life Evaluator now atwww.thegameoflife.co.uk