I have spent the last few days consciously taking things slower in the morning and waiting until after my shower before getting into “doing” mode. Even taking a few moments before getting into the days tasks, and taking a few moments at the end of the day before bed, makes a big difference to my quality of sleep.
The goal of being in the moment (or mindfulness) is not to “get somewhere” as this is associated with the “doing” part of us, it is merely to become aware of all of our experiences in the moment (what thoughts, feelings, body sensations we are aware of). This is particularly difficult for those of us who are used to getting things done.
The quest to live in the moment often follows from a sense of striving to achieve, a driven competitive side which does not often allow rest.
The tricky bit I find with learning to control your attention is not choosing which method to learn (book, CD, meditation course or class) but remaining committed over days, weeks and months when it may feel like you are not achieving anything. Certainly I still notice many urges to move rather than sit still, as my mind races to try and tick off more tasks on my to do list.
WHEN TO PRACTICE
As well as doing formal practice of meditation (a specific time of day set aside) informal mindfulness is becoming aware on a random time of the day what you are doing, what is going through your mind, and your emotional reactions: an emotional check in with yourself. This might be just momentary, but I use this method to notice what sort of day I’m having, so I’m less likely to get to the end of the day exhausted and reactive.
Learning mindfulness has been associated with many positive effects. Mindfulness practice can influence the brain, stress hormones, the immune system, and health behaviours, including eating, sleeping, and substance use. Interestingly, brain changes have been shown after only two weeks of regular meditation.
HOW TO PRACTICE
A method that I get my clients to do is to bring awareness to an everyday activity. This might be as simple as being aware of your hand movements when you’re brushing your teeth. It might be bringing awareness to hanging out the washing. It might be noticing the temperature of the water when you do the dishes. The key is to bring awareness to one or more senses and then when you notice your mind has wandered away to something more interesting just gently notice where your mind has gone to, and bring your attention back to the task.