Our first topic, is one where I always begin in my teaching, PRESENT TIME AWARENESS.
Present time awareness — or mindfulness, is the process of observing what is going on around you. It is engaging with what is actually happening without making it a huge deal nor trying to minimize it.
In practice it looks like this; say I am at the grocery store and the cashier has just finished ringing in a whole cart load of groceries. I go to swipe my debit card and the cashier tells me it is declined. Super embarrassing.
I have three choices — I can get pissed at the cashier and demand she process my card again because I am sure it is her fault it failed. All the while shooting knowing glances at the people waiting in line behind me, hooking my thumb at the cashier, urging my fellow customers to agree that she is completely incompetent.
I can quietly put my failed card back into my wallet and quickly head to the nearest exit, leaving the employees to deal with my cart full of groceries that are now all bunched up at the end of the conveyor belt.
I can ask the cashier if I can load the groceries back into the cart and set it aside while I try to figure out what to do about payment.
Guess which action is from a place of mindfulness? Right, the third. You see, mindfulness happens everywhere, even in a crowded store at two o'clock in the afternoon. We don't need a quiet space with dim lighting and flutes playing in the background in order to practice mindfulness.
How do we practice mindfulness? How do we see something for what it is rather than making it a big deal or pretending it doesn't exist? We have to engage with it in present time.
When we engage with something, we decide to act a certain way or think a certain way. If I am present, I am able to decide to set my groceries aside and figure out what to do. If I am not present, if I am operating on auto-pilot, I am more likely to freak out about the situation because I no longer am present I am thinking, "I am such a failure, I can't even keep a bank balance in order." Which is a belief (I'm a failure) about a past event (poor money management). None of which is happening right now. The only thing happening right now is my card has been declined.
When we are able to practice mindfulness and stay in present time, we are able to make clearer more confident decisions and we have a whole helluva lot less stress and anxiety in our life. How do you do that, you ask?
You have to slow your brain down and begin to control what is even happening up there. Until now, you have likely just let it run wild, making up all sorts of catastrophic scenarios for you to worry about. So, first, set a timer to go off three or four times a day — at random. There is an app I use called the Mindfulness Bell that is available in the App Store for Apple. I imagine there is something similar for Android devices. When the alert goes off, simply observe where your brain is — what you are thinking about. That is it. Simply observe. You don't need to do anything about where your brain is at other than observe. Once you have observed what you are thinking about, take a deep breath and return your focus to what is happening right around you. For example, if my bell were to chime right now, I would return my focus to this article, I would hear the dishwasher in the background, I would notice that it is now dark outside. When I bring my focus back to what is happening around me, I am practicing present time awareness. I am being mindful.
People have a tendency to make this more complicated than it is. Don't be that person. Let this be simple.
Guided Weekly Focus
This will help you focus your intentions, goals, and actions for the week.
Let Go and Flow. This card reminding you to relax, you have been taking things too seriously lately. Let go of the desire to control things so that new and exciting things can flow into your life.
This card is from Sonia Choquette's, The Answer is Simple.
Your Inspired Action List
- Download an app that will alert you 4-5 times a day, or set an alarm.
- When your alert goes off, observe your thoughts.
- Go do something fun, something that will make you laugh until you pee a little.