We all know that constant chit-chat in our head; we think about what we’ll have to do during the day, or tomorrow or in a month. Then we think about what happened yesterday, about that terrible guy who was so rude with us, about the disgusting food that we ate at the restaurant, about this and that… We think then that we need a holiday, that life isn’t fair, that the world seems to be against us most of the time. ‘I just so need a break right now’. We think – think – think.
The process of over-thinking is often unrecognised as being a nuisance in itself. It only becomes clear when we start having trouble sleeping or when we get so stressed that we can hardly eat or when we get into petty fights for no reasons. What if most of our troubles were coming from that buzzing mind? We could then take the reins of our own lives and start to actually control it instead of feeling overwhelmed most of the time.
It sounds good doesn’t it? Being free of worries, living in the present moment, enjoying life’s simple things like the birds singing and the wind blowing in the trees. I know, it sounds hippish. I know, you then think: how’s that even possible? I am not the type of person who could sit for an hour to meditate, that’s just too boring and I haven’t got the time anyway.
Well, you are not alone! I don’t want to be called a hippie neither and between my jobs and my family, I hardly have time to go to the hairdresser yet to sit in a quiet place for an hour (they are no quiet place in the house with my two girls anyway;-) But you know what? I do find inner peace in my daily life, yes!!! It’s not constant, I am not yet Buddha, but it is more and more frequent for me to be present, happy and to stop that over-thinking process that stresses me more than anything else. What do I do? It’s not so much doing that being…
I do practice what people now call “mindfulness”. Mindfulness, or ‘paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally”, is really just awareness – to be as aware as possible. When I play with my girls, I play totally with them, I am not half-playing half-thinking about something else, or texting someone or talking to my husband. I just play. When I wash the dishes, I just let my thoughts go, I look at what I’m doing, I don’t think, I do the dishes. When I walk in the forest, I listen to the Tuis (they are just amazing birds), I listen to the sound of my footsteps, I take huge deep breath and thank my life at that precise moment for it is so great. When I am in my yoga class, I breath and focus on my practice, I couldn’t do otherwise anyway as hot yoga is so just intense that one can hardly think about anything else than trying to keep up with the rest of the class;-)
Practising mindfulness helps the stress level to drop drastically. People feel less anxious, depression and anger drop as well and become more manageable. It increases concentration, memory; heightens compassion and boosts the immune system. It helps sleep better and ease tensions, it helps with feeling happier in general! If you are vulnerable to depression, mindfulness could also help keep those demons at bay.
What’s amazing with practising mindfulness it’s that it is very effective to raise self-awareness. You literally learn to know yourself. Then, when one of these gloomy moment appears, you can catch it and through it away. You know what’s good for you and you just stay with it.
Here after are four keys aspects to an everyday mindfulness practice (from the magazine Good, Issue29):
1. Try sitting quietly in a busy place and watching the interaction between people. Remember not to judge or have any opinions. Just watch.
2. Take ten mindful breaths in and out, calming the body and mind, rest and notice everything that is going on around you.
3. Use an everyday environmental cue (such as an alarm on your phone) as a reminder to pause and breathe.
4. Smile and greet your colleagues or people in the street
I find that eating with mindfulness is extremely important. Watch what you eat, chew well, taste your food, enjoy it in the company of others or alone. Don’t watch TV, have stressful talks at the dinner table, switch your phone off and focus on what you are doing. Not only will your food taste better, but you’ll feel full faster and you will digest better, then avoiding gas or bloating. The nutrients of the food get absorb better as well, so you’ll end up being healthier and happier!
So remember this:
“Mindfulness can give us back what we might have forgotten – ourselves” (Mindfulness for life, DR S. McKenzie & DR C. Hassed)