Whether it’s failing to focus on an important task because your brain keeps replaying scenes from your favorite new show in your head, or finding yourself having to re-read the lines in the new book you’re trying to put a dent in because you’re imagining when the pandemic will end so you can start planning that long-deserved trip to Maui — we’re all guilty of a wandering mind.
In fact, Harvard researchers recently discovered that most of us spend nearly half of our waking hours thinking about something other than what’s directly in front of us…
While distractions have always been a part of everyday life, some of us have become so equipped to let our minds race toward another thought that we’ve forgotten how to truly be present.
By learning to be more mindful, you can strengthen your ability to focus on the task at hand. To do this, you need to master the art of paying attention to the present moment, without associating a story to it or reacting to it in any way.
Experts advise that by embracing a still practice - like meditation – you can train your mind to focus on the here and now. Observing your breathing is a good start. Whenever you find your mind wandering, guide it back to your breath.
If sitting isn’t your style and you find the notion of meditation daunting, there are a handful of ways to get more mindful while on the move. These include going for a walk where you focus on the sensations of moving – your feet touching the ground, the sun on your skin, the smell of the trees.
Another common physical practice is stretching. You can turn the movements into mindful practice by feeling the sensations on your muscles being pulled. Everyday tasks that tend to be mundane can also be transformed into mindful sessions – like washing the dishes, for example.
Instead of being lost in your thoughts and worries while you scrub off last night’s dinner from a pile of plates, catastrophizing past or future events, try and turn the physical activity into a mindful practice. Feel the sensations of your hands running under the water, or notice how dirt washes away as you scrub a certain spot.
You can even incorporate mindfulness into your daily commute. Whether it’s driving to the office or riding the elevator to your floor, try and pause a minute to take a breath, observe your surroundings, then proceed.
Finding meaning in the mundane can keep your mind grounded. With enough practice, you can also help build your mindfulness muscles. The important thing is to start small.
Regardless of the form of mindfulness you try, the fact that you try each day – even if it’s just for a few minutes - is important enough. Start small and try to make it fun. Choose activities that pull you into the present, and adopt tools to help you stay focused.
For example, sensory tools like the Hydrean can help center your mind on the present by drawing in your sense of touch. By coupling your senses with activities that you enjoy, you can truly master the art of being more mindful.
So, what are you waiting for?