This mind of ours never stops. Research shows that we humans produce some 60,000 thoughts each day. That extensive number of thoughts is an irrefutable consequence of our society’s obsessive need to be busy and distracted.
Many of our thoughts are anything but productive, and we do very little to regulate our mind’s rapacious activity. We allow our minds to be “future chasers” or “past dwellers.” They take us everywhere except for where it matters most — the present moment.
We all have the ability to become more present, awake and aware. The challenge is training our minds to stop — really stop. The mind is prone to wander out of the present but we can train it to move away from the busyness in our heads through practicing Mindfulness.
Practicing Mindfulness reins in our random thoughts and holds us in the present moment. We all have the inherent ability to utilize Mindfulness by going inward and focusing on our breath. As we stay focused on the breath, we connect to the present and are able to look more deeply into what we’re actually feeling in the moment.
Mindfulness reminds us that we’re here in this moment of “now.” It’s a state in which we’re observing our life unfold and becoming better able to experience it with clarity and acceptance. It allows us to intentionally bring our wandering mind into the present, liberates us from our emotional baggage and gives us a more balanced perspective.
With a Mindfulness approach to every moment, we find ourselves eating more slowly and really tasting our food without rushing. We make time for a leisurely walk while paying close attention to the sights, sounds and smells of nature around us. Taking the time to simply observe, we see so much more than when we’re busy thinking about what we have to do next. We open up to what resides in our hearts.
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Explore these ways to transcend limited thoughts and become more awake, present and aware:
1. Stop the brain’s busyness
The mind likes to be busy. It thrives on activity and distraction. It’s incumbent upon us to teach it how to become quiet and still from time to time. When we feel distracted or that we’re not fully present, we can put our focus and awareness on the breath to find stillness. Using the breath as a type of meditation allows us to connect with the wholeness that’s within. We can experience that connection when we take a walk and observe nature, or when we sit quietly savoring a cup of tea. When we’re fully present and surrender to the moment with total awareness, we experience a sense of non-separation that makes us feel whole, complete and authentically ourselves.
2. Navigate the moment with neutrality
Staying present in the moment can be challenging if we’re facing something daunting, difficult or unclear. Emotions such as anger or insecurity can make our minds race. But if we allow ourselves to open to challenging moments with acceptance, our resistance begins to dissolve. We can tell ourselves, “I can handle this moment. There’s nothing for me to fear.” We can direct the moment — meaning we can navigate it with neutrality — because we’re no longer constricting or reacting, but allowing for it to just be. Opening up to whatever challenges present themselves, instead of resisting them, helps us ease into those moments, learn from them and find what rings true for ourselves.
3. Engage in “life gazing.”
When we take the time to simply look around us, we see so much more than when we’re busy thinking about what we have to do next. We can practice being aware of what’s around us when we’re stopped at a red light and notice what’s out the car window. Or when we step outside and observe what’s taking place on the street. Balancing our daily routine of work, chores and running errands with taking present moment intervals to stop our minds from being on autopilot helps us to feel more alive and vital.
4. Strive to elevate awareness
We often function from an unaware routine of simply going through the paces of our day. But by practicing Mindfulness, we’re able to live our lives in the moment that exists right now, fully aware and awake. Finding time to stop the “doing” and connect to our spiritual center will bring us to the inner dwelling of our wholeness, which, in essence, is the authentic self. Taking time to connect to and acknowledge our true selves helps us appreciate this precious gift of life.