Are you Mindful or is your Mind-full?

This post isn’t about marketing but more about pondering the human mind of the year 2017.

More often than not I have a million ideas racing through my brain. What should I cook for dinner? What am I doing after this? I wonder what is new on social media? Crap, I forgot to send that email. When is my next appointment? Do I have time for a social event? Did I walk the dog? Do I have time to walk the dog before I catch my flight? Airplanes… I like airplanes. I wonder how they fly?

One of the biggest questions I ask myself more frequently in our face paced world is “Am I being Mindful”?

 

The list of ideas continue to grow and evolve to the point where I don’t get a free time to just relax. Even when I do relax, do you know how hard it is to turn off your brain? The truth is, our thoughts have an enormous impact on our lives and impact how we live. Steve Bradt wrote an article for the Harvard Gazette in 2010 stating that “people spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing” (Bradt, 2010). I can only guess that this number has increased over the past seven years along with the technology advancements controlling our daily lives.

Bradt states in his article that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. I disagree to a point because some of my best ideas come from daydreaming and following the wandering mind train stopping at different thought stations.
However, I can understand how having a full mind can have a negative impact and become dangerous. With the days stress weighing down on your shoulders, whether it’s from work or school, many people bring that stress home with them. Always thinking and constantly analyzing can hold a heavy burden, especially on young minds that are still developing. Mental health is talked about more and more because it should be normalized, but I believe some mental health conditions begin with stress and having a full mind.

How can having a full mind be dangerous you might ask? Imagin driving a car, a full mind can prevent you from seeing a stop sign posted while pedestrians attempt to cross. A full mind can distract you to the point where you accidentally run a red light. Finally, a full mind can make you forget to slow down in icy or slippery conditions and make you hit the ditch. Not only are you a hazard to yourself, you can cause serious injury to those around you.

The negative impact is when our minds wander, we become mentally absent from the present moment. We literally forget to live in the moment. The human brain likes to produce thoughts of all sorts and it takes a lot of practice to redirect our attention to whats happening or we quickly become absent. The present moment is all we have. Literally! People who spend their days reminiscing about their glory days annoy most people who have heard the stories a thousand times because they stop making new memories. The people who only look forward to planning their future tend to forget to put their plan into action during the present.

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I find that the best people who practice being mindful and who live in the moment are the ones who travel more frequently. Backpackers, outdoor enthusiasts, hikers all appreciate the wonder of the world we live in. They get to experience life by living it. I’m not talking about the ones in the Subaru commercial who set up camp just to take a selfie and then pack it all up again. I’m talking about the ones who do things for the love of it.

 

The good news is that there is a couple of very simple tricks in obtaining present-centred awareness.

3 Tips and Tricks to Recenter and Recharge

  1. Leave your phone! 
    That’s it. It’s that simple. Now I understand this will take a lot of practice, but It is possible to revert back to a simpler time where people lived in the moment. Reducing the use of technology can free up a lot more time and energy. When was the last time you had a family dinner without technology? When was the last time you went for a walk in the park and enjoyed nature without taking a selfie? While writing this blog, I got to thinking….. Has social media taken away our appreciation of living in the moment? 100%! For more on my thoughts about this topic, you can read my next blog post.
    If you believe your phone to be a security measure, leave it in your purse or your car so it’s easily attainable. Other than that, try to reduce its use while enjoying the company of your friends and family.
  2. Practice Redirecting your Awareness
    Become Aware of the moment by practising certain techniques.
    Try Diaphragmatic breathing by placing one hand on your belly and one hand on your upper chest. When you inhale, draw air into your belly first and the inflating your diaphragm and then your chest allowing it to rise out against your hands. When you exhale, you’ll reverse the process: release breathe from your chest first, then the diaphragm, and then your belly.
    Exercise! Practice to the serenity of yoga or channel your inner martial arts master. These are some of the best exercise activities because they promote breathing techniques with philosophies that practice achieving strength and enlightenment of the mind, body, and spirit.
    If that doesn’t work you could also try to become aware of your 5 senses. This one is my favourite because it can be used during panic attacks and anxiety-inducing situations. Take a moment and bring yourself to the present by being aware of your senses. what are 5 things you can see? What are 4 items you can touch? What are 3 sounds you can hear? What are two things you can touch? What can you taste?
    The last one I suggest is to carry a grounding item. This could be something as simple as a piece of jewellery or a token that can fit in your pocket or wallet. I like the story behind Lokai bracelets because it carries water from Mount Everest (the highest point of the earth) and mud from the dead sea (the lowest point) reminding us that life is a journey and it is important to find a balance. I am also an advocate for essential oils. Some of the best oils used for anxiety and distressing are Lavender, Rose, Chamomile and Frankincense. There are also products that are designed to hold sents throughout the day like the Pixie Glassworks Aromatherapy Pendant, which was featured on the Dragons Den on CBC.

    (I am NOT paid to promote these products)

  3. Live like a child.
    Even though children can be sporadic, spontaneous and crazy, more often than not they appreciate the moment they are in. They play in playgrounds, the race across fields, they lose themselves in colouring and as long as they stay interested they remain present by not worrying what they are going to have for lunch. Our problem as adults is that we lost our creativity and our sense of wonder, so we become bored much more quickly. If you don’t like that analogy, try living like a dog without a care in the world. They are simply happy to see you.
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  4. Andy Puddicombe presented a wonderful Ted Talk: All it takes is ten mindful minutes that talks about refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in strange positions.)

What do you think? What causes people to forget about living in the moment and rush through life? Why is there such a drastic change in how we live from 10 years ago to now? Isn’t technology supposed to make life easier? Then why are we so consumed with the need to be busy?
I would love to hear what you think. Are you Mindful or is your Mind-full? Leave a comment below.

 

References

Bradt, S. (2010). Havard Gazette. Wandering mind not a happy mind. Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/wandering-mind-not-a-happy-mind/

Puddicombe, A. (2013). Youtube. All it takes is 10 mindful minutes. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzR62JJCMBQ

 

 

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