You’ve heard all the hype; you’ve read the research (or at least the Facebook articles about the research); you know that being mindful can help give you clarity, help increase your creativity and productivity, reduce stress, and even increase your physical wellbeing.
But you just… can’t… get… started.
In an ideal world, we would have a room (or a beach as pictured above) that we could go to in order to break free of distractions. We could insulate ourselves from the outside world for a short time and be with ourselves. We could listen to our bodies, our minds, and our hearts and find peace.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. There are constant distractions, ready to pounce like a feral jungle cat, that will steal away your joy. They will rob you of your peace… and you’ll thank them for it.
Imagine that you’ve finally set aside some time for this mindfulness thing. You start the recording, hear the chiming of the bells as the soothing voice of the narrator begins to guide you into awareness.
Then suddenly your phone vibrates. You know that it’s probably just a spam email, but it could be important.
No. I’m being mindful- it can wait. You refocus; you breathe.
Well, maybe I can just look real quick. I can pause the recording, check the message, then get back to being mindful.
It was spam. Just like you thought it was… but then you notice a notification on Facebook…
An hour later, you’ve read 37 statuses, 48 tweets, shared 4 articles, and tagged your best friend in a video compilation of dogs barking to the tune of various Christmas carols.
Damn. Now it’s back to reality. I’ll try this mindfulness thing again tomorrow. Maybe.
I know. I’ve been there. Hell, I’m still there. While writing this article, I have fought the urge to pick up my phone or alt tab over to the 13 articles that I have saved in another browser exactly 257 times. 258… 259…
So what can we do? In a world full of distraction, how do we do this mindfulness thing? Luckily, I have a few suggestions:
1. Turn off your phone… and your iPad… and your pager (yes, they still exist)… or at least put them in another room. If you’re listening to a recording on your phone, put it in airplane mode. If you can’t because you’re streaming the recording, put it on “Do Not Disturb.” Do something. The point is that there are always going to be distractions… if we let them distract us. In order to find time to practice mindfulness, I have to be mindful about carving out time for it. Being mindful about being mindful… how’s that for meta?
2. Continuing on that note- schedule it. If you wait for the perfect time to practice mindfulness, you’ll never do it. There will always be more to do. Adding one more thing to your never-ending to-do list seems redundant, but it’s likely the most helpful thing that you’ll do for yourself during your all-too-hectic day.
3. Know that it’s okay to “fail.” No one starts right out of the gate, sits down to meditate once, and BAM! enlightenment. It doesn’t work that way. Just ask those who have been doing it for 10, 20, 30 or more years. They’ll tell you that there is always more to learn about ourselves, the world, and our place in it.
4. Know that you can’t fail. There is no right or wrong way to be mindful. It’s a process, and no one has all the answers. I certainly don’t. You will get distracted; your mind will wander. It’s okay. Notice that your mind has wandered and pull it back. If your mind wanders 10 times, pull it back 10 times. If your mind wanders 1000 times, pull it back 1000 times.
5. As the Nike slogan goes, “Just do it!” If you have an hour to dedicate to mindfulness, great! I’m more than a bit envious of you. The rest of us have full-time jobs, 2.4 kids, a dog, a cat, and an albino guinea pig to take care of. So for the rest of us, we practice mindfulness when we can. Be it for ten minutes, five minutes, or 30 seconds. Just do it. As you build it more and more into your routine, you’ll find more and more opportunities for mindfulness.
If you’re interested in starting your own mindfulness practice but aren’t sure how to start, give me a call, text, or email. I welcome any questions you have. As for me, I believe I hear a notification calling my name…