By Jennifer Novak, Social Media and Content Director
One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the time to step away from the busyness of everyday life, to create moments in which we allow ourselves to be immersed only in the present. We call this the gift of mindfulness. But why is mindfulness such a gift and why it is so helpful to create space for it in our daily routines?
It’s because mindfulness allows us to slow down the worries and trappings that our mind engages in when we focus on things other than the present or when we are too focused on what we must do versus what we are doing. Consider this: When we aren’t focused on just experiencing the present for what it is, where do our minds go?
For some, we plan – we think about our to-do list, the things we are concerned about over the coming days or weeks; or, perhaps we fear an unknown future. For others, our minds wander back to memories – the regrets, that “what-ifs.” While there is value in reflection, and there is certainly value in being prepared, a total focus on these keeps our minds away from a place of rest, of simply existing and appreciating the moment we are living in. It can be productive at times, but also exhausting.
When we allow ourselves to immerse in only the present, without intention or a goal of what must be done, we give our cognition a deserved break. We allow our mind, our emotions, and our body, a chance to recharge and refocus. These moments allow us to be better equipped to face our challenges, our to-dos – they re-energize us and allow us to move closer to attaining the things that give us purpose.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on where you are at today. Right now, in this present moment, where are your thoughts leading? What sensations is your body experiencing? Take a breath and pause, giving yourself the time to reflect on these experiences. Then, give yourself permission to take a break and watch the following, a Ted Talk delivered by the eclectic Tao Porchon-Lynch. We’ve selected this video because through the sharing of her story, Tao doesn’t just calm us – she also inspires.
One of the key takeaways from Tao’s life is a determination to focus wholly on what she can do, not what she can’t. It’s a lesson that we can reflect on once we’ve given ourselves the space to calm our minds. Ask yourself – how often do you find yourself focusing on the things you aren’t capable of versus the things you are? What feelings are attached to this: Shame? Fear? Regret?
In order to achieve peace, we must be able to move past our beliefs around our capabilities and shift our mindset to focusing on what we are able to achieve, of the goals that are possible. If this is something that you struggle with, consider the following techniques:
- Journal regularly as a way of centering: For those who struggle with controlling their thoughts, try stopping and reflecting as these thoughts arise throughout the day. Write down the thoughts when they occur, what caused them, and what you did to reframe your thinking.
- Mindfulness: At least once per day, review your journal. Once you’ve walked through the initial steps of centering, focus your attention on the issue of having these “I can’t” thoughts – process only those events and feelings, and allow yourself to accept that they happened. Don’t try to fix the issue – just reflect.
- Redirect negative thinking: As you grow more aware of negative thoughts and have equipped yourself to understand the impacts these have, start the work of reframing: When a negative thought arises, turn your cognitions instead toward the positive. For example, “I can’t lose weight because of my medical condition” can be reframed to, “I can make healthy choices with my diet and exercise as much as healthy for my unique body.”
Through the above, we can work to not just shift our thinking, but can also give ourselves the room we need to truly grow into more self-loving people. Mindfulness and inspiration alone aren’t enough – we must also make a commitment to engage in these and be willing to do the work required to create positive impacts on our lives.