I’m doing a lot of work on mindfulness at the minute. One of the underlying principles of mindfulness is living in the present moment.
For me that isn’t always the easiest thing to do but as I began to read I realised that so much stress and negativity comes when we don’t do this.
I have always been very good at analysing and reliving the past. When something happens, I wonder could I have done things differently. If I had said that would the outcome have been different. However, with all the wondering things don’t change. The time spent wondering is time wasted. When we spend time dwelling on the past there is always a danger we’ll get stuck in the why me mentality. If we’re focusing on things we feel were bad or unfair then we are in danger of developing a victim mentality.
Society, at the minute, is focused on “what ifs”. What if things get worse, what if we can’t reopen, what if we do reopen and then………… Many hours are being spent wondering, analysing things that might happen and yet we have no control over these things. There are huge amounts of fear in circulation, fear of what might happen, fear of things that might never happen.
Again spending time worrying about the future is also time wasted. We can, and should, plan for the future, planning based on what we will do, based on things we have control over. However, to start foreseeing the difficulties that might arise and to try and deal with all the obstacles and what ifs becomes overwhelming and we can even get to the stage of never taking any action.
This is all very logical but it seems to be built into some of us to live in the past and the future – me for one – so how do we stop doing it. The first step is to begin to take control of our thoughts. So often we let our thoughts happen. We aren’t even aware really of what we are thinking and are completely caught up in these thoughts when we do become aware. One simple thing we can do is STOP
Stop what you are doing for a moment.
Take a deep breath. The breath is an anchor for us. Many people use it for meditation.
Observe what is happening inside you – any feelings, negativity, discomfort – and what is happening outside you – the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and anything you can feel eg wind on your face, the chair under you etc. Really focus on these things.
Proceed – continue what you were doing.
This need only take 2 minutes but can remove you from getting caught in up in the cycle of living in the past or the present. This is a very simple strategy but if you try to put it in your every day life it can have a profound effect. What I did was I put a wee card in my phone with STOP written on it to remind me to stop. When I do this consistently, I find I become more aware of my thoughts and when I’m aware of them I can then take control of them. This is a very important step in the journey to more intentional living. For more ideas and support on the journey join my group Inspiring Intentional Living.