When I talk about paying attention I don’t just mean listening to someone, but that too. In looking at careers I wanted to look at things I already do. At first I was like, “I don’t do anything!”, but I was wrong. There are things that I might not do as much as I would like, but I do them. One of those things is meditate.
I would love, love, LOVE to have a bolster and a pillow and a little candle where I could go sit at a specific time each day. And I won’t tell you that I don’t have that for any other reason than I haven’t made it a priority. Which is ok. I haven’t needed that to use meditation in my life.
In my struggle with anxiety I’ve had to find healthy ways to deal with my “crazy”. Some simple breaths and positive thoughts are a tool that I could take anywhere, so I have. But I’ve discovered that it’s not just those of us with anxiety (diagnosed or not…) that can benefit from meditation and mindfulness.
As a refresher of sorts (and of course to learn more), I’m taking a course in mindfulness. Mindfulness is basically paying attention to the moment. It could be said that you are meditating on what you are doing in any given moment. Humans have a gift of being able to think about the past and the future, but when we’re doing that that we aren’t in the now. Sometimes that’s a problem and sometimes that’s not. And paying attention can be harder than you think when you’re not in the habit of doing it.
That’s where the second part of mindfulness comes in: intention. Part of paying attention is deciding what it’s important to pay attention to. This should really be reassessed each morning. It’s not that what’s important will change (it will though), but that you need a reminder each day. It helps you to purposefully pay attention to what’s important, but it’s also a reminder that the rest isn’t as important. I’ve found this especially important when working with people that like to put out fires rather than focus on the big picture. Their anxiety can easily become contagious if I don’t set my intention for each day around what’s really important at my job, but also in my life. Intentions help you keep things in perspective as much as they help you to decide what to focus on.
Today my intentions are 1) control my anxiety around jury duty this afternoon (yes…night court) 2) Be patient and in the moment with my son (especially as we do his chores) and 3) be mindful as we eat.
To control my anxiety over doing something that is both new and I’m not sure how pleasant (I’m not fond of going to court, even when I’m not the one on trial), my plan is to be prepared and to practice self care. I find that there is a lot of mindfulness to self care and that mindfulness can be self care. I’m going to take a little extra time getting ready today. I’m not going to have a lot of caffeine. I’m going to make sure that I get enough water and food. I made sure I slept well last night. But more than that, I’m going to be mindful while taking that extra time to get ready. Instead of rushing through my shower thinking about everything but what I’m doing, I’m going to feel the water on my skin and enjoy the smell of the body wash that I chose. I’m going to be in the moment as I do my makeup instead of rushing through and making a to do list for later in my head or thinking about something from my past. It doesn’t mean that it will take any longer, it just means that while I’m doing something, I’m fully there and fully using my senses.
Mindfulness will help me to be more patient with my son. Being in the moment with him as he completes his chores means that I’m not trying to rush through to get to something else. It also means that I really enjoy this time that I’ll never get back. Mindfulness with our loved ones benefits us both. I don’t want to look back and wonder where the time went with my son. The time will always be there, its just a matter of giving our loved ones our full attention when we get time with them.
And finally, I saved my biggest struggle for last. While I am fairly good at being mindful of what I eat, I am horrible at being mindful when I eat. I tend to buy good, wholesome food, but then I scarf it down while doing something else and quickly work to clean up. This has to change. It leads to overeating. It also leads to less enjoyment in life. I need to actually (shocker) taste my food. That means slowing down and paying attention to each bite. That means turning off the TV and reminding myself that there is nothing else that I need to do in this moment other than this.
If any of you are interested in trying mindful eating, here is a link to what’s known as “The Raisin Meditation”: https://youtu.be/tYDXQQBojk8. Just grab a raisin and do it along with the gentleman in the video. The try changing the way you eat your next meal.
Did any of you try the raisin meditation? Mindful eating? Have you been setting intentions? Has mindfulness helped you in someway that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!