What's something you remember vividly?
Maybe it is the birth of your children. Or the day you left home. Maybe it is when you interviewed for your dream job. Whatever it is, chances are you were practicing mindful thinking.
What is this crazy term I'm talking about? Isn't all thinking mindful? I know my mind is certainly full most of the time – and 90% of it has to do with my kids.
We all know how crazy life can be. Especially if you have children, it's a rollercoaster ride from day one. I'm pretty sure I just blinked, and that tiny little bundle we brought home from the hospital is now a rambunctious, busy 2-year-old.
It's going by in a flash, yet the day to day can drag. All those moments that we suffer through sometimes come part in parcel with the other moments we live to experience. Nobody raised kids to adulthood without temper tantrums, dirty nappies and vomit on the walls.
We've all got to go through each moment one by one. There's not get out of jail free card that allows us to skip through the painfully boring, tiresome days. We can't just jump to Friday and Saturday – we've got to do Monday and all the rest, too.
I find it so easy to get stressed out by my kids. I'm somebody who relishes order and organization. The tidier the house is, the less anxiety I have. Probably should have thought about that before I had kids. For someone who likes life to be predictable, I chose the wrong occupation.
I don't want to always feel like this, though. I want to figure out a way where I can treasure every moment I have with them – both the good and the bad. Because before I know it, this crazy part of my life will be over and I'll do anything to have them come back and rip the toilet paper out of my hand.
Enter mindfulness. Mindful thinking might seem like the new kid on the block. However, it's anything but. Thinking mindfully is a concept that's been around for a dog's age, having helped thousands of people over centuries of life.
It's a significant element that's implemented in Buddhist meditation. It is used in this way by Buddhist monks to achieve complete freedom from suffering ultimately.
You don't have to be a Buddhist monk to exert mindful thinking, however. Psychology Today describes mindfulness as simply having active, open attention to what is in the here and now. Focusing solely on the present and emptying your mind of everything else can do wonders for the state of your mental health.
Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with the busy modernized life we're called to live is the fear of futility. I'm always rushing around either doing something for the kids or my husband or for work, and I hardly ever stop. But when I do, I find it really hard just to take a moment and relax.
My mind races at a hundred miles an hour and is filled to the brim with all the stuff I've still got to do. If it's the weekend, it's thinking about all the things on my to-do list I've already written out for the week ahead. If it's coming up to the weekend, it's full of potential activities we could do with the children.
Mindful thinking is a great way to gently shush all these unnecessary thoughts and simply enjoy the moment you're living in right now.
Being capable of mindful thinking isn't as complicated as you might think (a bit of irony there). In fact, as humans, we are designed with the ability to think mindfully from the very beginning.
You may have noticed that kids are really good at mindful thinking. While they are easily distracted at times, once they get into an activity, it can be pretty hard to drag them out of it. They are completely and utterly absorbed in the wonder of what they're doing at that moment, and hardly thinking about anything else.
Another term closely related to thinking mindfully is flow. Flow is characterized by the state of being you achieve when you've nailed mindfulness. It's the feelings you get when you're fully immersed in the activity that you're doing. All your energy is focused on that one thing, and you're achieving complete involvement and enjoyment of it.
Thinking mindfully and achieving flow can do wonders for your mental health. I know my mental health was lacking after the birth of my second child. I couldn't seem to stop the thoughts from racing around in my head, and I was always stressing about the next task and tomorrows worries.
When you've got young children, you're in a busy season of life that doesn't afford you a lot of time to take care of yourself. This is why finding simple, quick exercises like practicing mindfulness is a great way to implement self-care without compromising the needs of your children.
All it takes is ten minutes a day. Ten minutes to sit down, close your eyes and think about the moment that you are in. While it will take some practice to do, soon you'll be able to apply this mental attitude to everyday activities and even chores. By just being in the moment, you're allowing yourself to make the most of what you have in the here and now.
There's a great book on mindfulness that's been helpful in applying the practice practically. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn is a best seller that has been helping people achieve this everyday state of being for more than twenty years now. Get your hardcover, Kindle or audio copy here.
Subscribe for more awesome, natural approaches to looking after that mind of yours. If you suffer from anxiety, check out my blog post about CBD oil and how it can make a difference.
What thoughts race through your mind the most? Let me know!