Do you observe your thoughts on an hourly basis?
The experts estimate that we have 50,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s 2,100 – 3,300 an hour! Up to 80% of your thoughts will be negative. So, wouldn’t it be great if you could slow down your chattering mind and give your brain a rest from all that worry?
Mindfulness – or a mind less full – starts by bringing your attention to what you are thinking. It involves observing your thoughts as they pass through your mind without judgement. When you gain the ability to be mindful, you will develop a growing awareness of your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations.
To become mindful, you will need to take some time out and slow down. By intentionally slowing down, you will be able to savour what life has to offer you right now – this is called living in the present moment. If your mind starts to wander when you are attempting to be mindful, that’s OK! You will eventually learn to recognise your wandering mind and, with practice, you will be able to gently bring your mind back to the present moment.
When you start living your life in the present moment, you will stop ruminating over past experiences or what might happen in the future. By clearing your mind from these worrying thoughts, you will start to make decisions with clarity. This clarity of thought will bring you a feeling of calmness even when chaos is happening around you.
What stops you from living in the present moment?
When I became peri-menopausal in my late forties, I experienced debilitating menopausal symptoms. I only had eleven out of the 34 official symptoms, but this was enough to send my life into a tailspin! I had no idea what was happening. I became lost. I felt stuck in a place where I did not know how to move forward. My mind was working overtime with worry and rumination.
In response, I started to practise meditation daily. I got up 15 minutes earlier and made it part of my daily routine. I found the app Insight Timer and continued to follow guided mindfulness meditation first thing in the morning and last thing at night, to help me sleep. It took three months of practice, but then I started to develop conscious awareness of my thoughts.
I can now tune into my thoughts and emotions at any time. I live my life more and more in the present moment by practising mindfulness. This has increased my ability to enjoy and savour life’s little pleasures. My mind has stopped ruminating and I now feel more confident in making sensible decisions about my future.
Time for action
Try this activity
Slow down and take some time out to be intentionally mindful. Practise mindfulness during a routine activity that you normally do on autopilot like walking the dog, making a cup of tea or brushing your teeth. Become aware of your thoughts. Observe them without judgement. Then focus your mind on your body and your surroundings, and notice what you can see, smell, taste, hear and feel, such as the feeling of your feet on the ground. Once you focus your mind on what’s around you and not your thoughts – you will start to live life in the present moment!