Life is endlessly busy, and if your like me, you find yourself dashing from one task to another and juggling the constant demands that nag us to be met. This dividing of our attention can be a source of great anxiety as we try to do ever more tasks.
Especially if we have a family can it be challenging to manage the constant schedules and needs of our loved ones, balancing work and our home life.
Have you ever like me driven home and as you pulled up on the drive realised you did so in auto pilot or without any recollection of the journey? Or my favourite which is going upstairs only to forget what you went for? It’s so easy to have our minds preoccupied with so many things that we lose our focus, having a negative effect on both what we can achieve, but also our wellbeing.
This is personally something that I have struggled with, I like to be busy and on top of everything both work wise and at home. This though has at times created in me great pressure, and frustration with myself, feeling like I am never doing enough.
Mindfulness has helped me to adjust my focus and also be aware of where my attention is. I look back to various times in my life and have realised that my focus has been on so many other things, that the moment itself had passed me by, the result – a loss of appreciation for that moment and thus often not making meaningful memories.
Setting clear, positive intentions for what we do enables us to maintain our focus. It also enables us to see where our focus lies and its motive. Our brain subconsciously prioritises things that it feels are most relevant to us, which is often aligned with our mood, worries and anxieties etc.
For example, I hadn’t been on a aeroplane for a number of years which had been both a source of frustration for me, but also great anxiety. So we booked our trip and as we waded through security and sat waiting to board the plane my mind was adrift with many things, my stomach in knots and my heart pounding. As the plane took off and soared into the sky a million ‘what ifs’ took over me and panic set in. So I closed my eyes and tried to focus. I let my breathing settle and thought about what my intention was for this journey. Of course to have a wonderful holiday and start new adventures. Then I focused on what I wanted from this moment in time. I wanted to remember this journey, build wonderful memories and break my fear. I wanted this to be a good experience. In all the noise my mind was creating, I was losing my appreciation. So I opened my eyes and looked out of the window, to look in awe that we were soaring above the clouds. I took in the view before me and the beauty of it. This was a privilege and I felt gratitude. The stress and noise in my head became quiet and my stress ebbed away.
Granted the narrative that we often find ourselves in can be hard to break, they have taken many years to develop. We can however in time write a new narrative and in turn help our emotional wellbeing.
We can do this by using the core values of mindfulness.
The Core Values of Mindfulness
Mindfulness has a few core values that can help us in our everyday life.
- Self awareness – This is the ability to check in with yourself and ask, what is important to me right now? What are my expectations? What are my worries? What are my needs? How am I feeling? This can help us to assess where our focus is and draw our attention to where we want it to be.
- Mental Filters – These are our destructive thought patterns that occupy our mind. Usually for me, ‘I can’t do this’. When we are aware of these filters and how they impact on us we can then in turn choose to change them.
- Our attention – As we become more aware of ourselves and our destructive thought patterns we can address more of where our attention is. If it is always on these negative patterns we can start to direct them towards what is actually important to us and what we actually do want. We can ask ourselves, what it is that we want to give more of our attention to – ourselves, others, or the situation we are in?
- Our intentions – As we said above we need to look at our intentions and what matters most to us. Whether it be a conversation with someone, a meeting at work or a special day out, we can reflect on what we want the experience to be like. This can be especially useful in challenging situations, where if we intend for a positive outcome, we are more likely to achieve it!
All of this also helps us to not jump to conclusions, stops us focusing on the problem rather than the solution and missing the important things, because we are too busy to allow time and space for reflection.
With time and practice mindfully we can focus on the things that matter to us most, quieting the noise that can drown our mind and cause us to lose our intentions. We can stop the destructive patterns that so often occupy our mind and instead build appreciation and feelings of gratitude, as well as sometimes, in the process, make wonderful memories too.