Joyce Meyers talks about the mind being a battlefield. Our thoughts can wage war against so many aspects of our lives then our emotions go right along wherever are thought are going and our peace flees to the hills. The re-hashing of past events exhausts us as we try to ‘change’ outcomes that are no longer touchable and the playing out of possible scenarios, complete with dialogue, can take up much of our inner thought processes. Worry is our go-to meditation and every short-coming we have in our life is free game.
It is no wonder stress is one of the leading causes of illness, both physical and mental. Our mind steeps in stress with thought after thought stealing our sleep and interrupting our wakefulness.
How can we slow these attacks? How can we stop the onslaught of thought?
Mindfulness is one way. Just the ceasing of multitasking and taking time to concentrate on one thing at a time, a unique or new way of thinking to some, can calm our minds. This takes practice in our world today. (I noticed I have several tabs open on my computer right now!) But being mindful of what we are doing…the one important thing we have in our hands…and concentrating on that one thing alone…can somehow close tabs of stress that interfere with peace of mind.
I have made it a practice to wash dishes by hand two or three times a week just for mindfulness. There is something soothing about warm, sudsy water and taking the time to gently, slowly wash…doing nothing else…that calms my mental bantering. My dishwashing becomes a singular focus. Wash, rinse, dry, put away. Each movement is noticed. The weight of each dish is felt and experienced. The movement of my hand to grasp, lift, wipe, and move is seen and acknowledged. If my mind wanders I quickly refocus back to the simple present task. By the end of the chore, my mind has calmed of its back and forth thinking and my dishes are done!
If dishwashing isn’t your thing…or if it is stressful to you…find something simple that is enjoyable to you. Suggestions: weeding the garden, washing the car, painting, drawing, listening to music with your eyes closed…whatever it is needs to be a simple task requiring little decision making. Concentrate on one action, color, or note at a time. Slow your breathing and really look or listen to what you are mindful of. Once that task is finished, take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and call it ‘good’.
Your mind will have had a rest.
This is an active form of mindfulness. It is focusing your mind on one thing for a short amount of time while engaging in just one thing.
Simple? Yes and no. It will be a struggle at times to focus on just one thing. Your thoughts will want to wander into the future or past. Keep them in the present. But when you notice them wandering, bring them gently back to your task. And I emphasize gently. This is not an exercise in perfection, but a practice of letting go. Let any encroaching thoughts go, like blowing a feather away, and realize each time you do your mind becomes stronger in the area of mindfulness. Mindfulness will become a gift to yourself as you become aware of an inner strength to let go of the battle in your mind whenever you choose…just by choosing one thing to focus on.
Breathe. Let the peace in your mind become a new normal.