Have you ever found yourself caught out whilst listening to someone, as they pause, awaiting your response, and you suddenly realise you’ve got no idea what they just said? I’d like a dollar for every time I have! Or driving your car along a familiar route and suddenly wondering, “where was I going”, and with a little anxiety trying to piece it together? Or perhaps walking into a room and wondering why you are there? Ever had so many thoughts and emotions competing for your attention that you can’t focus on your work? Or find yourself unable to enjoy something you’ve finally achieved or attained, because your head is saying, “Oh, this won’t last,” or “what if I lose this?” etc, etc, ad nauseum?
One major fact of our modern life is that most of us are busy, often tired, and a lot of us feel like we’re “losing touch” with ourselves and the things or people that matter most to us. We are often in one place wishing we were somewhere else or anxious about needing to get to the next place. Many of us are torn between competing goals and values (when I’m working I feel guilty that I’m not with my kids, but when I’m with my kids I feel guilty cause I’m not working. arghh!) Often, we feel insecure and compare ourselves to others to make sure we’re “keeping up”, and doesn’t that just bring on a whole new world of inadequacy, as we compare our insides with other people’s outsides?!
And do you ever notice that one day you just go with the flow and feel like “yeah, I’ve got this!”… moving relatively easily from one thing to the next. Yet on other days, or even later that same day, you can somehow reach breaking point (a melt down, an outburst, or worse yet a break down). And then for some of us, there’s day after day of just this gnawing anxiety.
Whilst there may be underlying issues that need to be addressed psychologically, physically, socially, etc., there is something we can do to pause and allow the opportunity for a bit of relief. For calm. For a reset or reboot.
The reality is that moment to moment, there is a constant stream of thoughts, feelings, sensations and desires filtering through our awareness. Some are pleasant, some unpleasant, some neutral. Some we try to avoid, others we try to hold on to. Our bodies often react to the thoughts we think as if they are real life events, kicking into motion our stress response, (aka “fight or flight”). This releases cortisol and adrenaline, and all kinds of chemicals and hormones in our bodies. Whilst these are awesome when there’s immediate imminent danger and we need to fight or run, if this response is being triggered by worrying, obsessing, criticising ourselves, and going round in mental loops, then we risk ending up with pain, fatigue and even chronic illnesses.
Luckily, our body also has an innate relaxation response. This works the opposite to the stress response, and there are ways that we can assist our bodies to allow it to kick in.
Whilst there are many types of meditation, they all bring about a level of relaxation and enhanced well being. The practice of mindfulness and meditation allows us to pause, become of aware of what’s happening within and around us in this moment. Not in the past which we often regret or long for, and not in the future which we worry or fantasise about. But right now. And in the moment there is energy and power. In the moment there is peace.
Whether you start with 2 minutes a week, or 10 minutes a day… you may begin to glimpse the benefits mentally, emotionally and physically. This often leads people to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into their life. And whilst ongoing daily practice can prove nothing short of life changing, any period of time, no matter how small, that is spent being mindful and fully present can be of benefit.