March's Word of the Month - Mindfulnessby Linda Lee Sheldon on 02/29/16
One way to manage stress and promote peace in our life is by being mindful of our thoughts. Every day we have so much going on and we complicate those daily pressures by layering on thoughts of the past or the future. Research shows that we spend just 20 percent of our time focused on what's happening now - in the present moment. Mindfulness is the practice of moving more consistently into the present moment.
Mindfulness is creating an impartial moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, sensations and surroundings.
Some cultures were raised with a mindfulness practice. But not here in the United States. To Western cultures mindfulness was an unknown concept as we let our minds run away with us. There's no blame. It's just the way our culture and society was focused. But we are seeing that change now as many recognize the benefits of being mindful of what we are thinking.
It's easy to begin a mindfulness practice. Start by paying attention to what you are thinking. If you are washing dishes are you focused on washing the dishes - getting that pot clean, the bubbles in the water - or are you thinking about what happened earlier that day or what's coming up later that night? If you're looking ahead to the future or hashing over the past be careful. You may not see that sharp knife in the wash water!
The first step to developing mindfulness is to check in periodically on what you're thinking. Catch yourself if you're thinking about something other than what you're doing right now. Now there's a time to plan and a time to look at what's happened in the past - but those would be designated as that's what we are going to do now - plan for the future or look at lessons from the past. That's when we look at the past or future. Otherwise, we want to bring the mind back to what's happening right now.
When we start thinking or "worrying" about how what we're doing will turn out or what people might think we are thinking of the future. When we start thinking "I should do it this way because that's how it's always been done." we are thinking in the past.That takes our focus away from doing our very best and what feels right for this project. And it also sets up an emotional response that will then color whatever we are doing.
Begin by monitoring your thoughts. When you catch yourself dwelling on those thoughts of what has been or could be remind yourself you can think about that later, let it go by, take a few slow deep breaths and bring yourself back into the moment. Be kind to yourself. It just takes a little practice but in time your stress level will be reduced and you'll find a deep peace come into your life.
That's a wonderful place to be!
I hope you will share your stories of moving into Mindfulness!