Can You Afford Not To Connect With The Present?
Mindfulness is being mentioned repeatedly, with the TV, radio, newspapers and internet buzzing about this life-enhancing practice. What would it be like to really take a moment to engage your senses and give it a try?
If I could just stop for a moment, perhaps even pause time and just let all the thoughts inside my head fade away it would feel amazing.
If I could just feel like I had control for just a second, to really feel alive again it would feel amazing.
If I could just lift my head and see the world around me instead of looking down or looking far ahead it would feel amazing.
So why do these feelings all fill me with both dread and a chance of peace? I don’t have time to do these. I’m busy. I have to do lists, commitments, deadlines!!
You see everything we are and do is a choice. So take a moment and ask yourself
What are you choosing? And how is this serving you?
Now from this place ask yourself what would it be like to take ten minutes out of every day (yes that small tiny part of a 24 hour day) and make it all about you? A chance to pause, breathe and notice. A chance to be mindful. To practice the act of focusing on being here in the present.
Perhaps your mind is starting to wander now — too busy to read this article or wondering what value you will get from doing so. If your answer to the following statements is yes, well I dare you to read on, to indulge yourself and see what you might gain.
· “I have to ask people to repeat conversations as I wasn’t really paying attention to what they were saying”
· “I read an article then realised I hadn’t really read it at all just stared at it whilst thinking of something else.”
· “I drive in the car and then wondered how I got to where I was”
· “I feel like I can’t switch off — my brain is just whirring all the time”
· “I eat food but can’t actually remember what it tasted like”
· “I just feel so exhausted from never finding time to relax or just take a breath”
I don’t have time to be mindful I hear you say — well actually yes you do. And there are many benefits to trying this out too. Let me share some with you.
By taking a few moments out during our day we have the opportunity to check in what what’s happening for us. It provides space and clarity to observe situations from a different point of view. We are able to face challenges which strength and stay calm under pressure. Just imagine what you have faced recently and how with a few moments out you could have approached those situations differently?
By practising mindfulness it is suggested you could lower your blood pressure, increase your immune system, sleep better and overall increase your physical and mental wellbeing.
What would it be like to feel more alert? To be present to your current experience and really fine tune your senses? To be able to listen more attentively, to notice the colours around you, to increase your capacity to focus and through all this reenergise as you become more aware of with what’s going on in your body and how you need to respond.
By engaging our senses we are able to articulate more what’s going on for us, which improves relationships as we communicate more effectively.
Regular short mindfulness practices — even a minute at a time can help create space and release tension so that we can see the experience from a different perspective. We get to then step back, see the truth and reality of the situation and even name and tame what’s going on. It provides judge free minutes as we call upon self compassion and even bring gratitude and joy into every occasion.
Connecting head and heart
Most importantly mindfulness brings us back to our hearts. It provides a moment to just pause and breathe. So how can we achieve this? Here are a few tips to try out. Could you spare ten minutes to try a couple? After all — it’s time to invest a little time in yourself — you’re worth it!
Clap your hands three times — yes that’s right- clap your hands three times and then just look at them. Notice what’s going on — what they look like, how they feel — perhaps tingling — just breathe. It brings you back to the moment and you can do this anywhere — you will always have your hands — struck in traffic, at your desk, at the park, and at home.
Take a shower — When you take a shower — what do you think about? The emails you need to send? The shopping you need to do? The chores that need completing? STOP — notice the temperature of the water, the scent of the shower gel and the sound of the bubbles. Just be in the moment.
Take a ride — When you’re in the car, again we can become consumed with the future, with what we need to do when we reach out destination. So turn up the music, notice the scenery (keep your eyes generally on the road though!) and just enjoy the ‘me time’.
Rainbow walk — Mind wandering when you’re walking the dog? taking the children to the park etc? Choose a colour from the rainbow and see how much you can notice with that particular colour or go for all seven of them as you go about your activity! It will bring you back to the present, allow you to appreciate the beauty around you and also switch off your fight and flight mode of worrying about what you need to do in the next moment.
The Satsuma challenge — What have you eaten today? And how did it taste? Can’t remember? Did you eat it too quickly? Try out mindful eating. It’s about slowing down what you are eating and actually noticing what the texture, smell, taste is like. Sometimes we eat so fast we don’t even really notice it. Try it with a Satsuma. Hold it in your hand for a while — look at it, notice it, imagine what it would be like to rip back the outer skin. The scent as you break into the skin. Now peel it back and notice again, now taking a segment imagine what it would be like to take that first bite, the sound of the burst as you pierce into the skin, the aroma in the air of the citrus juice. The textures as you bring the segment to your lips. And as you do all this notice what’s happened to all the whirring thoughts in your head. Hopefully it’s calming.
Just as it has taken you a little while to develop your strategies of running around and keeping busy all the time, it can also take a little time for you to really notice and feel the benefits of mindfulness. So be kind to yourself and don’t be too hard if it doesn’t work the first time. It will feel strange. It’s worth trying them out a few times and seeing which ones work for you.
As Eckhart Tolle says:
“In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much and forget about the joy of just being”
So I encourage you to channel your joy. It’s time to connect with the now. To come back to present and really notice what’s around you, what you’re feeling, sensing and thinking even right in that very moment.
So take a look at your watch — the time is now. Are you here with me in the present?