‘Mind how you go’ is something that is often well-meaningly voiced. Perhaps you have had this said to you when you are leaving a friend’s house or setting off on a journey. You may have said this to others.
Minding how you go makes sound sense, yet ‘Living Mindfully’ is ironically something the average person does not spend too much time thinking about. We are often too busy trying to schedule our lives to the minute so that we can fit a thousand tasks into one day’s time.
I think we can have a tendency to be overly hard on ourselves and our circumstances. Rarely do people fall into the habit of thinking things are actually much better than they are. Mostly we tend to view the difficult circumstances and obstacles in our lives as exactly that; difficult. Some are harder to face and more painful than others. But whatever the circumstance, once negative thoughts enter our mind we can often enter into a spiral of ‘mind chatter’ that takes us down a path of visualising the situation as far worse than it is.
Whenever anything difficult or unexpected happens we may feel the initial combination of two things: fear and stress. How can we possibly overcome this incredible stress and still remain intact? I call this ‘our mind storms’ – the explosion of mind talk that fills our head in times of fear and stress. This blocks us from being ‘present and focused’. Instead, we end up focusing on our thoughts and seeing them as reality rather than what they truly are – just thoughts. Even when we are not conscious of it, our mind is often full of ‘mind chatter’ that takes us back and forth from ‘living in the past’ – in resentment or regret about an experience, or ‘living in the future’ – worrying about something that we perceive may happen: Whatever the mind talk is about, it is never about ‘living in the present’.
For many, ‘mind talk’ fills our lives. And it’s all an illusion that we frequently mistakenly see as reality. We all have our own mind storms; they are our inner and outer battles and our happiness largely depends on our ability to remain resilient within these. I do not mean don’t grieve or feel, because these are natural human emotions. What I am inviting you to practice is trying to be present, trying to accept your mind talk and the mind storms that you have for what it is and finding some calm within it, rather than trying to overcome or avoid it.
For many, finding calm in times of fear and stress can feel impossible. This is where mindfulness can serve us well. Science is showing us that adopting mindful practice helps us to be less fearful and stressed and it helps us respond more wisely.
So, what is Mindfulness? I am asked this quite a lot, but one person (whose mind talk may have been “hurry up, you don’t have time for this”) led me to focus my next post (which I have now commenced writing and will post this soon) on ‘What is Mindfulness?’.