A wandering mind is often an anxious and unhappy mind. Harvard mindfulness expert, Daniel Gilbert, says:
"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… 'Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness,' Killingsworth says. 'In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.'… Time-lag analyses conducted by the researchers suggested that their subjects’ mind-wandering was generally the cause, not the consequence, of their unhappiness."
Mindfulness, tuning into the present moment, is an extremely effective self soothing technique and a worthy practice to cultivate. Here are 5 guidelines to bring to your mindfulness practice:
1. Watch your mind for 5 minutes. Set the timer if necessary for 5 minutes. Then breathe. Tune into your mind. Watch it. What does it do? Where does it go? What are its defaults? You'll be amazed at how busy it is, how focused on the past and future it is. Just observe without judgment.
2. Recognize that YOU are not your thoughts. As you tune into the frequency that is your mind, you'll begin to see the stream of thoughts. They are not who you are. Your essence is separate from your thoughts. You are light, essence, eternal--yes, even spiritual. Your thoughts are like trinkets in the pocket of your mind.
3. Begin to label your thoughts. Categorize and label your thoughts for what they are - angry, fearful, funny, etc. "There goes an angry one."...."Haha! That was a funny thought." "That was a 'I want to get more" thought." Just notice and label what is coming up and gain clarity.
4. Decide What is Useful. Begin deciding on what thoughts are useful and where they lead. Decide what you want to discard. Ask "is this thought leading me some place I want, need or can afford to go to? Is this a thought I want to nurture?" Here you can literally spare yourself a week, a month, years of potential suffering as you begin to see that thoughts are seeds that you plant and that will bear fruit eventually. Weed out the thoughts that do not serve your life's purpose.
5. Be Compassionate. Mindfulness practice enables self compassion. By cultivating mindfulness, you're soothing yourself by recognizing that all sorts of thoughts will float through your mind and that you can let them be. The practice creates choice. You are separate from your mind. You can lovingly detach from mind and not believe or act on the thoughts it feeds you.
In the comments please feel free to share your thoughts (ha!) and your experience with mindfulness practice.