By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager
Yes, you read that right. I find myself struggling with mindlessness these days. Less in the moment and more in the future, the past, or just plain distracted. Maybe it’s the changing of seasons and the thought of holidays right around the corner. And I know it’s not just me!
The trend for the times is to seek Mindfulness. Let the drama and chaos of a busy life go. Stay in the moment. Stay focused. Be still. Stay present. Every article and meme says this is how we find a happy and fulfilling life. So, this morning I decided to practice mindfulness on my ride to work. I was going to notice the weather, the turning of the leaves, etc. As I left my house, I noticed pumpkins on doorsteps of houses I never saw before, the trees turning colors, and that the light at the end of my street was taking a long, long time to turn green. “Breathe, it will turn green, breathe….stay present…oh, I like this song…turn up the radio…reminds me of that girl I used to work out with… I hope I am not late to work …what was her name… wonder where she is now…man, this light takes forever…Elaine… her name is Elaine… she moved to Florida… it would be so awesome to be in Florida right now on a beach…beep beep…#%@^…oops- how long has the light been green.”
Ok, maybe the car is not the place to practice mindfulness, but there must be a time and place where it makes sense. Some people can meditate and just sit with themselves and allow the quiet. Some people enjoy a sensory walk where they embrace the colors, sounds and smells. Other people listen to a podcast or audio tape that focuses on being mindful. I tried that but realized at the end of the podcast that I had heard only about one-third of it. The good news is that I did plan my entire holiday shopping list while it was playing. I have a theory that mindlessness is akin to boredom and mindfulness is far easier when we are doing what we love. Have you ever read a chapter in a book and had no clue what you just read? Well, if you liked the story you may have been more mindful and stayed present in the moment to absorb every word. If I was driving along the beach this morning instead of the highway to work, I may have stayed more present. However, every day cannot be filled with doing 100% of what we love to do. That is called a vacation! So, I am challenging myself to find more mindful moments. I challenge you to join in with me. This month we will start at the beginning.
What is this mindfulness and how do we embrace it if it does not come easy to us? I have found a few things that make sense to me as a fellow mindfulness seeker. Mindfulness is not a special added thing we do! We do not need to change! What we do need to do is pay more attention to what is happening right now. Not every second of the day, but maybe just in small doses throughout the day. Initially just devoting 5 minutes of your day to staying present, aware and resisting the wandering mind may be enough. Focus on bringing your full breath in and then allowing it to slowly release. Maybe shut your door, or silence your phone or draw the shades, and create a quiet space. You do not have to stop what you are doing… just do it with more awareness and clarity. Be gentle with yourself if your mind wanders—you can find another 5 minutes later in the day, or the next day. Maybe 5 minutes will turn to 10 and once a day will turn to once an hour. With the busy season around the corner, we have nothing to lose—except our minds!