Mindfulness: A Cure for Mindless Mayhem

Posted on: September 21st, 2011 by susie No Comments

Do you ever find yourself putting something away in the cupboard that belongs in the fridge, or forgetting your umbrella/phone/pants and walking out the door (ok, maybe not the pants), or going into a room and not knowing what you went in there for?  I know when these things happen for me, it’s because I’m off “in my head” and not actually present with what I’m currently doing.

I’ve become more and more aware of how there seems to be a constant swirling cloud of thoughts, plans, worries, regrets and wonderings going on in my head, and it can really feel overwhelming at times.  The practice of something called mindfulness has helped me combat the ‘mindless mayhem’ that results in being forgetful and feeling scattered and anxious.

Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”  It’s about deliberately noticing what I’m doing in any given moment, and not evaluating it as good or bad, liking or disliking it, or having to change it in any way.

Mindfulness can be practiced with any task, for example, washing dishes.  So rather than a) rushing through washing them and feeling irritated about having to do this and/or b) being completely absent from the task and spending the entire time thinking about (or stressing about) other things, I can practice being present and aware of what I’m doing.  I can pay attention by noticing the smell of the soap, feel the water on my skin, hear the dishes clank against each other as I set them to dry, and be conscious and present with this experience and awake to the moment that I’m in.

Besides picking a daily routine task in which to practice mindfulness, the three minute breathing space is another simple but deliberate way of spending – you guessed it – just three minutes being present and aware.  I explain this in the article on stress that you can receive by signing up to receive my monthly newsletter.  As well, I found a lovely one page summary on cultivating mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  He refers to meditation, which can be done more formally, or as he says, meditation can be how you live your life.  I felt more present and grounded just by reading it:


And now I will go and mindfully clean out the litter box. : )

Here’s to being alive and awake to each moment as it unfolds.

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