Here we are, we made it through another week!! You are probably finding yourselves shifting back into your routine after the holidays. You may even be trying to hang onto some resolution goals that you made for the new year. Give yourself a pat on the back!! This is one of the hardest week for most people as we struggle to keep up with the fast pace of our busy lives. Students are back in school, you are back to work, the gym is over crowded with people and your job is waiting for you to catch up on endless emails that you may have missed during the holidays. It can be chaotic to say the least!
As I was reflecting back on my own week I thought about a conversation that I had with a good friend of mine. She told me that her resolution for the year was to be more present with her kids. When she told me this I raised my eyebrows in interest and encouraged her to tell me more. She went on to say that she felt that her two children were growing up so fast and she didn’t want to miss important moments. She vowed to pick up her phone less at home and try not to worry and stress about the future. It was the best resolution I have heard in all my years and I felt that it would be a perfect topic for a Mindful Monday!
Are you being counted as “absent” in the roll call of your every day life?
- Are you there for your children’s games, but you are busy working through that “to do list” that you keep on your phone/laptop?
- When you spend time with friends, do you give them your full attention or are you more worried about text messages that may come through and your Facebook feed?
- Do you find yourself nodding instinctually during conversations but your eyes say that you are a million miles away?
- Are you able to connect with others on a genuine level or is the fast pace of our day to day responsibilities keeping us from making those real connections with those around us?
- Do you drive to work/store/school and when you arrive, realize that you don’t even remember driving the last 15 minutes? (this one always scares me!)
Where does your mind reside?
When you reflect on your last week or even this morning, where is your mind as your body goes through the routine of your day? Are you stuck thinking about the past? Replaying a meeting that you had with your boss? Calculating calories from this mornings donut then scolding yourself? Or maybe you are replaying a great date that you had over the weekend and you catch yourself daydreaming.
When our minds reside in the past, we are at high risk for depression, being overly critical of ourselves and not able to move forward in relationships after conflict or disagreement.
Thinking about how you could have done something different can no way change what has happened in the past. You can certainly learn from this experiences and do things differently but bashing ourselves or allowing worry to build, can create anxiety and destroy self esteem. Even when reminiscing about a great time that you had with loved ones can cause you to miss out on the moments of today.
When our minds reside in the future we are also at risk for thoughts that may lead to anxiety and fear. We could be picturing how we would like an event to go, a conversation to flow or have ideas about how our relationships should look. (In fact, I did a 2 part series of should-ing that you can read here and here). As we are busy focusing or worrying about the future, we forget to be a part of our everyday life. We end up “going through the motions” by having our body present but our mind absent.
Breathe. Stay. Enjoy.
What are the areas of your life that you would like to be more present for and how can you work on this?
- Identify a distraction or a barrier that keeps you from being in the moment
- Is this an easy fix, such as leaving your phone on silent, in the other room during dinner or is it much bigger such as stress from your job?
- Can you put this distraction to the side?
- Using your senses, focus in on the setting where you may be. What are the sounds, the smells, temperature, what colors are you recognizing?
- Once you are aware of your surroundings, take a deep breath in to fill your lungs and slowly let it out. Do this three times, focusing your attention on the breath itself.
- When you are “grounded” in the moment, try to stay there, gently nudging your thoughts back to the present moment when they tend to stray.
Try this a few times a day over the next week and notice what happens. The simple act of being present could lower stress, improve your mood and make you a better friend/parent/partner! It could also lead to meaningful conversations with your partner, enjoying each other’s company instead of zoning out to the TV every night.You will also become more aware of what your body may need and it could lead to taking better care of yourself.
What are ways that you stay in the moment? What have you noticed as you became more aware? I would love to hear about your experience! Feel free to leave a comment below!
As always, Much Metta (loving-kindness),