• That means doing nothing! No talking, no phones, no texting, not thinking about our thoughts… just doing nothing (Dolce far Niente - the sweetness of doing nothing).

 

We expect so much from our mind to constantly perform and be at its best all the time, but how much do we look after it? Think about what we do at home: We look after our cars, we get them serviced, we fill up their petrol tank to keep them going, give them a wash ‘n polish (sometimes) so they look good; we look after our bikes, get a new chain so the pedalling power flows easier, we lube and oil them to keep the forward motion ticking over, blow up the tyres to have a smooth ride, and we tend to the shocks so we can take the bumps and drops easier. What about our house? It gets a regular clean to get rid of unsightly particles, we maybe paint or paper it, change light bulbs when they blow or even rewire the house when required.  All this effort to retain a supportive and working environment that we are proud to call our home.

So what are we doing with our minds? How much time do we spend on making it gleam?

We often fall into the “I’m so busy and so stressed” mindset that puts even more pressure on our minds. Yet we keep pushing and pushing and just expect it to keep up. The pushing keeps our minds active and stops from allowing ourselves to engage with what is happening right now.

Being present in the here and now is so often UNDERrated. We tend to get caught up in the things that have happened in the past (worry) and the things that may happen or need to be planned for in the future (anxiety). This concept of not focussing on what is currently happening and being elsewhere with random thoughts is known as a ‘wandering mind’. A research paper from Harvard based on Killingsworth and Gilberts (2010) work about ‘wandering minds’ has identified we spend 47% of our time lost in thought, (often worrying about what has or might happen), which is stated as a leading cause of unhappiness. This can mean that we would be spending nearly half of our lives in an unhappy state.

The answer to reverse this is to look after our mind, fill up our own tank (with things that are satisfying and fulfilling) and do a little maintenance to keep things running smoothly. This can be done by spending 10 minutes a day being mindful, focusing on the here and now! According to the Killingworth study, “we’re happiest when we are mindful of the moment, and we’re least happy when the mind is wandering”.

So how do we change this and become mindful? We stop, step back, and let the story that we are telling ourselves dissolve away. We pay full attention to what is going on inside and outside of ourselves without judgement. We engage all of our senses to hear, feel, see, smell and taste in order to BE completely present - not planning or analysing anything, just BEING.

Taking 10 minutes every day to be present in the here and now by stopping, focussing on deep breaths, letting the thoughts that crowd (or rush) our minds flow on through and just BE! This is being mindful and will allow our mind to slow down, have a pit stop to do some well-earned maintenance, and recharge our battery.

Christine Burns 2015