By Carlie Kerechanin, Contributing blogger
Sometimes, our bodies are not an accurate depiction of what’s happening inside of our heads. A calm exterior may hide a mind full of thoughts that are out of control, embodying countless ideas, topics, and memories.
This chaos isn’t always beneficial. Caught up in the mix are things from the past and hopes for the future that can distract you from the moment at hand. Compartmentalizing your thoughts and taking control of that lawless space in your head can create a better environment for you, increasing mental clarity and emotional wellbeing.
Mindfulness is important, and understanding how to achieve it can change your life. Here are some tips for controlling that mysterious space inside your skull.
Taking Control (and Releasing It)
Not everything in life is controllable. Take control of the things that are, and release those that aren’t.
Understanding how to control what you can is a huge step to achieving mindfulness. In a world with an overload of stimuli, it can often feel like you’re being dragged in different directions without your input or permission.
Take control of your mind by practicing meditation. Meditation is a great way to focus on each moment, and learning to regard individual moments as important instances of their own allows for clarity in the present. You’ll feel in touch with your senses and surroundings, without the judgement of the past and future or the distraction of external factors.
When you meditate, sit or lay quietly, observing your thoughts as they travel through your brain. Allow your thoughts to flow however they’d like, and don’t try to dictate them. Simply make yourself aware of each and every one.
You can also try concentration meditation, or the practice of focusing on a single point. Whether this means focusing on your breath or a single word, direct your whole attention to that facet of your existence and try to cancel anything else out. Simply letting go of random thoughts that appear during your meditation will help you gain control over your mind and its peculiarities.
Finding a Purpose
Another way to achieve mindfulness is to create purpose. Instead of rolling through life on autopilot, learn to appreciate the little things and notice small details. Pause between actions, and take your time doing things.
When your brain is full of information and your senses are overloaded, press the reset button. Ask yourself what is important to you right now and try to understand why you’re feeling the way you do. If you are overwhelmed or feel disengaged, list your thoughts in order of importance and remind yourself why they are important. Eliminate any distractions that are not beneficial to your purpose at this particular moment.
Having a specific goal or purpose will help you live in the present. When you’re alert and focused, you’ll accomplish more and find a deeper satisfaction with your actions.
No matter where you are, be fully there.
This is the most important mantra of mindfulness. Live in each moment by investing in each moment. Not only does this require focus, but it requires a willingness to engage with your surroundings.
Make sure that wherever your body is, your mind is as well. As much as we try, it’s easy for our minds to wander away from the situation at hand. Whether you’re thinking about what to make for dinner or replaying an awkward moment during yesterday’s meeting on loop, your mind can be a huge distraction from the present situation.
One way to improve upon this is by practicing active listening.
When you’re having a conversation, do you truly listen to the person you’re talking to, or do you simply think about what to say next and wait for your turn to respond?
Next time you’re speaking with someone, invest yourself in the conversation by listening to everything the person is saying and fully comprehending it before responding. Simply moving mindlessly through your words or discussing small talk is not fulfilling for either party.
The quality of each moment increases when you choose to be present.
Practicing mindfulness can lead to a fulfilling life. When each moment in our lives gets the full attention it deserves, we can accept the present for what it is and make the most of every minute.
The world continues to get busier. Every day new content fights for our attention. The future worries us. The past consumes us. Anxiety and stress are at every turn.
Mindfulness helps eliminate these modern evils. The ability to focus on the present moment and accept it without judgement is critical to stress reduction and overall happiness.
So, go ahead and add mindfulness to your list of resolutions this new year. You’ll be glad you did!