I left the office the other afternoon with my mind racing.
I had a bad day. I forgot my calendar at home that morning and it seemed to spiral from there. I had a ton of work to do that still needed to get done, I realized I needed a new laptop that morning, we had overnight guests coming at the end of the weekend and I was leaving for Wisconsin the minute I got home that night to make a college visit with my daughter, traffic was a bear and I was getting more and more anxious and overwhelming as the minutes went on.
After my hour long commute home, normally these thoughts and feelings are miles away. I normally turn off the radio and transition from therapist to mom relatively easily.
Not this night though.
I just kept going over it all and was getting more and more anxious and crabby or as my grandmother would say, I was working myself up into a “tizzy.”
I remember the drive to Wisconsin thinking and thinking. Apparently, I was not going to let this all go. Somewhere around the border I realized that I only have a limited time with my family. That they need me much more then paperwork, insurance companies or new laptops and I realized I had to pull myself out of the cloud of brain chaos that I had created and back into the family car.
So, I tried what I suggest people try every day.
Mindfulness is best described by Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book, Mindfulness for Beginners, as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” That is what I needed to do–pay attention on purpose to the moment without being judgment. But how? I was in a “tizzy”, this would not come easy.
There are so strategies to being mindfulness that I particularly like. I don’t know exactly where these came from, and I know I have switched them up through the years, but they seem effective for those that try them.
Sometimes just making the choice to pull yourself into the moment. In other words, pulling yourself into what you are doing, focusing on what you are doing in the very moment you are focusing, and not judging yourself when you have to pull yourself back time and time again.
Life is easier when you focus on what you are doing rather what you might do in the next second or next day or next year. Just doing what you are doing.
There are other, more hands-on ways to create and foster mindfulness. Water seems to help with mindfulness. Doing the dishes and focusing on the smell, feel, sound and sight of the water and the dishes pulls you into mindfulness or when you bath and focusing on the smell, feel sound, sights of the water. Feeling and experiencing the full experience rather than thinking about what is going to happen when you get out of the shower or get done with the dishes.
Another method to try when pulling yourself into mindfulness is to incorporate all of your senses. For taste, Lemon Heads definitely create a mindful experience. You cannot focus on anything else then try a Lemon Head. If you don’t believe it, try it.
Hearing- try music you have a strong reaction to. Not necessarily something you love but something you have a strong reaction to.
Smelling- find a strong smell that makes you have an emotion or memory.
Seeing- Be aware of what is around you. Look at your surroundings. In my office I have an amazing view of the world. I focus on the trees and the grass, the small creek down the hill. I make a choice to notice and be mindful of the beauty.
Feeling- Mindfully rub lotion on your hands or face, mindfully get a manicure or hair washed. Mindfully hug someone.
These are just some of the many suggestions to incorporate mindfulness.
I want to tell you what happened when I was mindful that night. I had this amazing experience with my family. Nothing noteworthy happened. I just felt presence in the time with them and I felt refreshed and better then I felt for a long time. I enjoyed food more, the conversation more, I enjoyed looking at the scenery more. It all felt more real. And everything that I was feeling overwhelmed with felt more manageable and less “big.”
Be present in what you are doing today.