It used to be when you asked someone, “How are you?” the standard response was “Fine.” Not anymore. Now when you ask that question, the usual response is “Busy.” Listen for how often in the day you hear that word – from yourself and those around you. Everyone is busy, busy, busy.
Juggling multiple commitments and projects and schedules means that our minds are jammed full of thoughts. Not only are we planning and organizing and problem solving, we are also evaluating how well we have or haven’t done something. If we were able to see inside each others heads, there wouldn’t be much room to cram another thought in. Except we continually try to. Our minds are full to overflowing.
Even when we stop running around and fall into bed at night, our minds are still working overtime, rehashing the day and planning the next.
So what’s the problem with being mind full?
It would be shorter to list what isn’t the problem.
Here’s what happens when we are in a perpetual state of busyness:
We multi-task which research has conclusively shown us is a bad idea. The bottom line – you can’t do two complex tasks at the same time. If you try to, your productivity actually plummets.
We stop paying attention which results in unconscious choices that rarely serve you.
We begin to sacrifice the things that are most important to us in service of the never-ending to do list.
We become a slave to our thoughts. We have about 60,000 of them a day. Most of them are repetitive. Few of them are positive and helpful.
And on and on.
So what’s the alternative to being mind full ?
After Time Magazine did a cover story on mindfulness and Huffington Post declared 2014 the Year of Mindfulness, it seems that people are finally starting to show interest in this simple way to approach life.
Think of mindfulness as conscious awareness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the leading authority on mindfulness describes it as “paying attention on purpose non-judgmentally in the present moment.” That might sound like a mouthful, but what it really means is simply creating natural pauses in your day in which you can slow down and pay attention to what is happening in the moment.
When you do that, you are more likely to make conscious choices. You have a greater sense of calm, even when things are busy around you. You pay attention to what matters most.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
It is. What it isn’t always is easy. It’s a learned skill and like any skill, it takes practice. Lots and lots of practice.
I can tell you from personal experience, it’s worth the effort. I think it’s one of the most important life skills we need to master.
For now, just take a moment to breathe.
Nothing to do in this moment.
Nothing to solve, fix or plan.
That’s how it starts.
What’s your mind full of?
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