Have you ever found yourself sitting in front of your laptop, with an open Word document, but you’re not able to type a thing? You know what to do, you’ve done it before, but it’s like your mind is refusing to co-operate with you! Your mind is zooming from one thought to the next:
“… I need to wash the car tonight…”
“… I wonder why my boss was so rude in his mail. Does he have a grudge on me because I didn’t laugh at his joke?”
“… I hope there is less oil in the sabji today. I get no exercise and I am putting on so much weight…”
What is Mindfulness?
Your mind is filled with thoughts irrelevant to your job at hand. These unrelated thoughts keep bouncing in your head till you are thinking about so many things at once, that you can’t think of the one thing you are supposed to be thinking about. Did your brain get all messed up reading the previous sentence? Such a state of mind is called mindfulness.
We all have our ‘off’ moments, but the good news is that you can train your mind to practice mindfulness.
3 Simple Steps to Mindfulness:
Step 1: Observe your Thoughts as a Third Person
Firstly, take a second to notice a million thoughts buzzing in your head and acknowledge them. A mind that is wandering and corroded with thoughts is not conducive to happiness.
Harvard happiness expert, Daniel Gilbert writes, “People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy…”
Instead, detach yourself from your thoughts and observe your thoughts as a third person or outsider. Another way of putting this is to ‘witness’ your thoughts – just witness them, do not indulge your thoughts. Simply watch the thousands of thoughts that are in your restless mind. Now, this may seem like a tall order, but it honestly is not. Meditation and breathing exercise aid in the process of observing the mind.
Step 2: Label these Thoughts
The next step is to label these thoughts. You must not label these thoughts as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but label them as per their nature. So you could label the thoughts as ‘angry’, ‘sad’ or ‘fear’.
From The Upward Spiral:
…in one fMRI study, appropriately titled “Putting Feelings into Words” participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.
Labeling it helps you frame it and “separate” it from you as a person. And it can reduce the emotional component and help you relax.
Step 3: Let it Go
Once you label and recognize the thoughts, the third step is to let go. You must not cling on to or fixate on any of these thoughts, but you must just let them pass like vehicles on a highway.
As Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman famously said, “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.”
After this step, you have control over the thoughts, instead of the thoughts having control over you.
Try fixing a time and place every day to observe your mind and make a ritual out of it. These are few minutes spent that will guarantee the rest of your day going well. You will be calmer and your thinking will be clearer. This makes your decisions more rational and less impulsive. Because at the end of the day, it is the quality of the thoughts that are converted into actions that make all the difference.
Give your comments and feedback after practicing this.
If you have any troubles practicing any of the thoughts, reach out to our life coaches and they will guide you through the process.