Have you ever wondered why at some point in your day you start feeling like you can’t take any more thinking? That point where even coffee might not be doing the trick anymore. Sure the caffeine is keeping you awake to some extent but it can’t get your mind to think any more clearly. It’s as though all the thoughts of the day have finally caught up with you and your head is swimming around in them, you feel like you need to mentally decompress, and your mind is just counting the moments for it’s chance to break free from all this processing. You might even try to take on new tasks but just feel bogged down, tired and maybe a little impatient. So how can we move into a lifestyle that includes a mindfulness practice?
When you look at the list of things you were hoping to get done, you feel like you barely made a dent given all the other events that those around you decided you needed to immediately respond to of course. Whether it’s from sources at work or at home, our day is filled with constantly changing priorities and need for shifting our attention continuously to the new issue that comes our way. So what do you do about it?
The trick to mental clarity, or one of them, is to learn to finish your thoughts.
What many of us haven’t been taught is that we need to let our mind complete its processing in some way, shape, or form in order for us to move forward with more clarity. Otherwise we build up a pile up of incomplete thoughts, actions, and emotions in our head that have nowhere to go but stay stuck where we left them. Our mind is like a computer filling up its memory with loose ends, and eventually you can’t help but be bogged down mentally. The reason this happens is because many of us have been taught to do the opposite – to set something aside meant putting things on pause in our head, or just shoving them out of our awareness while we tackle the next thing; which for our minds is exactly the same as putting something on pause. Like an app window you minimize to look at something else, that app and the video it was playing haven’t actually gone away. When we put things on pause in our minds, they literally get stuck wherever they were at the time. You may not be looking at it anymore, but it’s still there.
Fear not, there are practical techniques you can use. Some of which I just happened to list below so you can get yourself moving. After all, you haven’t read this far just to have more scenarios and mental descriptions thrown at you.
Tips To Start a Mindfulness Practice
- Before jumping on to the next task, emergency, mommy / daddy moment – stop, breathe deep once, and acknowledge where you are in your current task. Then quite literally tell yourself that you are letting go of it and move on to this next issue. Feel or see yourself letting go of it, see it leaving your awareness, and sense yourself acknowledging you’re taking on this new task.
- 5 minute meditation. Yes, this is not a shameless plug to get you to meditate. It actually allows your mind to let go. But don’t try to make your mind go blank. Instead allow your thoughts to process through and, without getting attached to them, seeing them being taken away, on their own time, by a gentle stream going off into the infinite.
- Stop to acknowledge what you have completed so far in your day. Stop and take account for all the amazing fire fighting, task completing, and creating you actually accomplished. Instead of looking at what might be left ahead of you, actually acknowledge the amount of work it’s taken for you to get to where you’ve gotten so far – no matter how small your progress might seem initially. You’ll be surprised at how good you feel as you kick start your mind’s reward mechanisms and your mind starts to let go of its inner tensions – clearing your mind and giving you back a whole bunch of mental energy. And who knows you may be able to let go of needing those other reward mechanisms that aren’t so constructive – i.e. binge eating, drinking, and/or endless hours of youtube.
- Practice 5 to 10 minutes of qi gong. If the meditating doesn’t work for you, qi gong is meditative movement, which puts you into an alpha brainwave and gives your mind the chance to decompress.
Oh and one more thought (pun intended) – by this point some may have expected me to preach learning to create healthy boundaries and not letting yourself be disturbed; or something along those lines. But if you practice any one of the things I mentioned above, you’re already creating that healthy space for yourself without feeling like you’re blocking or being disrespectful to others. Start by practicing the above and learn to pause yourself during your day. Allow your thoughts to complete, your mind to feel accomplishment, your emotions to process through, and you’ll go through your day with more clarity, joy, and fulfilment and maybe even prevent putting on a few extra pounds if it alleviates needing that good ol’, cafeteria provided, self reward apple pie.
You can absolutely master this yourself and take charge powerfully. While other times to really dig deep and get very proficient, it might benefit you to reach out to a coach that understands these concepts and how to take you through them. After all, we go to others to learn all sorts of skill, it’s also powerful to go to those that can help us tap into our minds and get you started on a healthy mindfulness practice.
Publisher’s Note: Mike Popovici is a Life Coach, Guide, Qi Gong & Mindfulness Instructor, and founder of Phoenix Internal Arts Academy.