An Easy Mindfulness Practice for Busy Minds
If you've listened to the first episode of my podcast, The Mindful Kind, you will know that I struggled with my mindfulness practice, when I first tried it!
I simply couldn't let go of my racing thoughts. I was always thinking ahead, preparing, planning, organising... And when I wasn't doing that, I was caught up in the past. Why did I have to make that joke, which no one laughed at? I wish I'd gone to yoga yesterday! I can't believe I bought another dress when I'm trying so hard to save money.
On and on and on went my thoughts. Rarely settling into the moment, laden with judgement and filling peace with clutter.
However, I stuck with my mindfulness practice and slowly, my thoughts slowed. Now, I can be present when I choose to. I can find stillness and calm. I can fall asleep at night, without spending hours thinking and thinking and thinking.
There are busy and stressful times, which can still send my mind into overdrive. I know how it feels to be unable to switch off, unwind and relax. My determinedly busy mind takes over and it turns into a runaway horse, moving at a pace so fast, it's all I can do to hold on. No steering, no slowing down.
So how do I take back the reins? Meditation is near impossible. My favourite mindfulness tools, like books, baths and yoga, aren't quite enough. Mindful walking or eating? They're not happening.
Instead, I ask myself this question.
“What is happening, right now?”
Well, I'm standing in the kitchen with a stack of dirty dishes and a to-do list on the fridge the length of my arm.
I can hear the fridge whirring, the birds outside and the neighbours' kids playing in their backyard.
How am I feeling?
I feel tired. I feel stressed. I feel like I'm stuck in a rut.
I feel a little bit proud of myself for taking this time to be mindful.
What else is happening, right now?
There are lots of colours around me. Yellow bananas, my black hand bag, a green chopping board, the pink recipe folder. I can look out the window and see the blue sky, spotted with grey and white clouds.
What is happening, right now, in my body?
My chest feels tight, my hands are sweaty. The floor is solid underneath my feet. My breath is shallow. I'm taking a deep breath. It feels good.
Spend as long as you like, asking yourself “What is happening, right now?” Every time you ask this question, you bring your mind into the present.
Try to be as non-judgemental as you can. Simply notice your body, your feelings and your environment. For example, if you're feeling sad, just think “I feel sad” and move on to the next feeling or question. If you can hear the annoying noise of sirens, just acknowledge the sound by thinking “I can hear sirens.”
Whenever you engage in this practice, you are being mindful. You do not need to silence your thoughts or stop them, which is often hard to do when there are lots of things to think about!
You are simply guiding your thoughts to become in tune with the moment.
Try asking yourself this question throughout your day, to have a mindful break from your busy mind. I've found it to be especially useful when I'm doing something I want to enjoy, like going for a walk or cooking dinner. Rather than spending that time lost in my thoughts, I'm bringing my attention to the now and allowing myself to experience it.