What are you thinking about right now? How about now? Same thing you were thinking about just a minute ago, or did something totally new pop into your head?
It’s not easy to keep a busy brain in one place. But, it’s not your fault. Our brains are just kind of wired that way. Add in the obvious fact that we live in a noisy, demanding world, and it’s no wonder your thoughts are constantly being pulled in a hundred different directions.
That’s where mindfulness comes in.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully aware of where we are, what we’re doing, and not being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. In other words, mindfulness is all about living in the present moment. And it can bring you some serious peace of mind.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But how do you make that peace of mind happen? Three words: practice, practice, practice. When you practice mindfulness on a regular basis, you learn how the power of being present can transform your life.
Getting started is easy. Four simple steps are all you need to train your overthinking brain to be more still –
- Take a seat. Find a place that feels calm and quiet. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, cross-legged, kneel—whatever feels right. Just make sure you’re comfortable.
- Set a time limit. Start out by setting a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Once you’re feeling good about your practice, you can bump up your timer to 15 or 20 minutes. But remember, any amount of time spent practicing being in the present is time well spent.
- Follow your breath. Breath in, breath out. Follow your breath. Pay attention to how it feels going in and out of your nose. It sounds silly, but it works. When you follow your breath, you’re focusing on what keeps you alive, and you’re truly living in the moment.
- Notice when your mind wanders. Your mind will wander, and that’s ok. Try not to judge yourself. When you notice thoughts trying to pull you away, simply return your attention to your breath and follow it.
That’s it! That’s the practice. You sit, you breathe. Your mind wanders, you bring it back. Your thoughts happen, but you just keep breathing and let them pass on by. Do these four steps daily and before you know it you’ll be better at being fully present.
Ready to get started but need some guidance? Many health care organizations offer mindfulness classes to help you learn and practice the various techniques. Check with your provider to find a class that works for you. And don't forget, eligible members can earn Quart Well points for participating in a mindfulness class. You'll earn points and peace of mind all at the same time.