Being present: The power of now
Have you ever started eating a block of chocolate and then suddenly realised that the only thing left in your hand was an empty wrapper? This is a state of ‘mindlessness’.
Our exhausting fast-paced life promotes us to become overstimulated, distracted, and increasingly isolated from human interactions. As we jump from thought to thought, we lose disconnect from our body and become engrossed in our feelings. Deep down, we instinctively want to feel connected, less stressed and happy, right? However, we continuously slip into autopilot and become absorbed in our travelling minds. This is where mindfulness becomes more than just a new ‘buzzword’ – it turns off our autopilot mode, takes the ‘steering wheel’, and unfolds the pathway to balancing our lives.
Getting started on the path
Let’s suppose you’re having difficulty learning a new concept. You’ve spent endless hours reading, memorising and quizzing yourself, yet the information will not stick. You become stressed and begin to lose your confidence. Your brain may even feel like this:
In a situation like this, it is easy to become stuck in a mechanical conditioned way of thinking.
Here are 3 useful ways to get your mind back on track.
‘Taking a deep breath’ isn’t a new concept. Many people take deep breaths when they feel overwhelmed and anxious. It is important to note that stress is natural and necessary for survival. However, when worrying becomes excessive, it can lead to anxiety, racing thoughts that struggle to focus, and even panic attacks. Mindfulness allows the healthy level of stress to exist by focusing our attention on the present and helping us to understand that our thoughts are not facts. We do not need to believe everything we think. There are many breathing techniques that allow us to restore the relaxation response in our bodies. One simple way is setting a timer for one minute and focusing your entire attention on your breathing. This can be practised with your eyes open or closed. If you drift away and become lost in your mind, let go of the thought and bring your attention back to your breath.
2. One step at a time.
The catch phrase ‘multi-tasking’ has been around for decades. It’s used to boast about our abilities on a resume, and to make us appear more productive. However, in reality, it thins our attention and makes us more prone to mistakes. In the end, we are left busier and mentally exhausted. Incorporating mindfulness techniques into our everyday life allows our brain’s neural pathways to be positively required. This makes it easier for us to focus our attention on the task at hand!
If you take a second out of your day to focus on doing one task at a time, you’ll find that you will be more efficient and less stressed. You will be less inclined to rush, make a mistake or forget vital details.
As our society is becoming increasingly focused on success and instant gratification, we tend to lose track of our purpose. Remember that life isn’t a to-do list. Life is meant to be relished!
- Be more accepting.
As humans, we wish for better things. Everybody wants what they can’t have. We will never be satisfied with the present conditions. But, by accepting things as they are, we realise their true value. Being mindful allows us to understand that things are neither good nor bad. We create these mental labels.
Practising mindfulness allows us to take a step back, be more conscious of our thoughts, and most importantly, accept the views of others and ourselves. This is the key to learning – we can focus on what is essential, and recognise positives within negatives. Being mindful teaches us to accept that failures may happen, and allows us to turn mistakes into opportunities.