HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE MINDFUL

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How to know if you are mindful?  To be mindful is to be fully aware, to live in the present moment with acceptance, gratitude and kindness to yourself.  Children are naturally mindful, but as we grow up we start to lose this natural inclination.  We start planning and worrying about the future, multi-tasking in our brains and in general just not being very in-the-moment kind of people.  Is it possible to retrain the mind, to be with the experience at hand, and not off in some alternative mental space?   You betcha!  But first, how do you know if you are being mindful?  Take a look at the scenarios below and see if they sound familiar to you.

Scenario 1

Have you ever walked into a room in your house to get something and stood at the door trying to remember what, because you have totally forgotten why you are there?  It’s not that you have just forgotten that’s the problem.  It’s that you spend half your time on autopilot as you juggle all your roles and responsibilities and try to keep track of everything in your head.  This is called mental overload, and no, this does not lend itself to being truly mindful.

Scenario 2

Do you rush through activities in life in order to then have “time”?  And only somewhere in the recesses of your consciousness do you realize you actually HAD all this time you rushed through… in order to live in some future place.  Is this next space you are in so much better than the other few hours you rushed through?

Scenario 3:

Do you spend time in a daydream world or create fantasies about the past or future?  Are you a bit like Ben Stiller in Walter Mitty, not really living your life and missing great moments and opportunities because you are swept up with fantasies and are not really in tune to what is in front of you?

Mindful living asks you to be present and live every moment of every day.  The scenarios above show distracted living.  Here’s some tips to rewrite those scenarios.

Rewrite Scenario 1

An overloaded mind can have trouble enjoying and living in the moment.  And as this scenario points out it doesn’t even make for efficiency.   I wish I could say you can just drop some of your busy-ness, but I know some things cannot be put off (that deadline at work is real and yes, the grocery shopping does need to be done).  But if you can work on being organized this will help greatly.  Use a planner to write down tasks and delegate time to complete what needs to be done.  If you know you have a plan or at least that something is on record somewhere then your mind doesn’t need to ruminate about it.

Rewrite Scenario 2

Rushing through activities to “have time” is really one of the oddest things we do.  Just a simple shift in perspective can help.  Why does it make sense to rush through vast portions of your day just to get home and put your feet up?  Can you not find some joy in the moments you are rushing through, be it a smile from a colleague, a sense of accomplishment from completing a task, the sunshine out a window that you observe or feel as it warms your face.  Look for the gems in the day.

Rewrite Scenario 3

The funny thing about Walter Mitty that the audience could see that he couldn’t was all the opportunities he missed while he was daydreaming.  He was thinking about some big romantic gesture with his unrequited love interest and he was missing the opportunity to talk to her as she stood in front of him.  While he was dreaming about great things the REAL things were waiting for his attention.  And those moments he missed he didn’t just get back.  He had to wait for other opportunities and his own realization that life happens in the now.  Catch yourself if you are living in the past or the future.  Make sure you look around you and consciously live this in this very moment in time.

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3 Responses to “HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE MINDFUL”

  1. Charlie

    i often find myself trying to get through one thing to have time for something else. But what if I really have to get through that to do anything else? I call this, “Story of my life.” But I still find that the things others demand take up most of the available time, which, like money, cannot be spent twice. Charlie

    Reply
    • Laurie Marsden

      Hi Charlie, There you said, it “The things others demand take up most of the time.” Figuring out what others you have to accommodate and which you do not can free up a lot of time. And the things you have to do can still be done mindfully and enjoyed. Thanks for sharing! Laurie x

      Reply
  2. Madeline

    I find it very interesting that you could lay in bed and think about your whole body rniexlag from feet to your head and fall asleep. I have tried that before and it did not work for me. I really like the statement from John Kabat-Zen Mindfullness involves intentionally doing only one thing at a time and making sure I am here for it. I like thinking about all of the things that could mean. To me it means to focus only on the moment and not stress about other things.

    Reply

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