An Important Tip for Practicing Mindfulness Meditation
Does anyone else experience a million thoughts running through their head when they shower?
All of a sudden it’s as if I’m not even in the shower anymore. I’m thinking about wanting to buy a different kind of soap. And then I’m singing along with the music I’m playing and probably thinking about how ridiculous the lyrics are. Within another minute or so I’ve already planned half of my week, decided what I’m going to eat, and drafted five emails in my mind.
This used to stress me out. Big time. I’d feel exhausted after one simple activity because of the overwhelming number of thoughts passing through my mind, and how I was interpreting them. I wasn’t fully present in what I was doing, and I wasn’t allowing myself to relax and let go of the outcome of situations that hadn’t even happened yet.
There was one point in time where I thought there was no way that practicing mindfulness could actually help with any of that.
I thought the only thing that could help was actually changing the circumstances of my life. Minimize the necessities. Minimize the responsibilities. Control the stress.
But as I began to read and learn more about mindfulness and meditation, I started becoming more curious about how I could get the benefits that so many people were talking about.
Less stress. More clarity. A deeper sense of purpose. An appreciation for the present moment. Less worry about the future. Living fully. Authentically.
The more I practiced mindfulness, the more I became aware of those benefits for myself.
Now, the results didn’t all happen at once. And this journey, the path we take to understanding ourselves, truly loving ourselves, and living a purpose driven life is widely varied and as unique as a fingerprint. We move forward with progress, but we also face new challenges over and over again. But, even with the fact that I know I will always be a student of spirituality, I know that I’ve developed some practices that have helped me find peace and comfort in situations that used to bring me frustration and anxiety.
So yesterday I was in the shower… getting ready to go out for my birthday dinner. Yeah, it was my birthday, and instead of being excited or joyful while getting ready… I started to feel worried. Not exactly about anything in particular. I was in the shower and the thoughts popped up out of nowhere. They rolled in like fog, starting so slowly, so lightly that I almost didn’t notice them. Tiny thoughts like…
What if my outfit looks stupid?
I’m already running late and I haven’t even started doing my hair yet.
What if there’s too much traffic on the freeway?
And they continued… Growing faster and more intense… I should be putting a new blog post on Pinterest right now instead of this.
My husband’s been saying I should take cold showers because apparently they’re good for me… maybe I should make the water colder? No way. It’s my birthday and I want to be warm!
I still have to text a million people back. What am I going to say?
Birthdays are too hard for introverts and empaths. I’m already tired.
But it’s my birthday, I should be enjoying this! Right?
Not everyone makes it to see their next birthday.
Wait… I shouldn’t “should” myself, should I?
Yeah… That’s how deep down the rabbit hole I went before I realized what was going on in my mind. I actually laughed out loud, in the shower. I remember thinking, Wow! I just had an entire conversation with some part of myself all about nothing!
None of the things I was thinking about had actually happened. None of the things I was worried about had any real, tangible impact on that exact moment.
And immediately, when I became aware of my thoughts… and how the thoughts were completely separate from the moment I was experiencing… I laughed! No frustration. No stress. No worry. No bad day…
Because before, I probably would have continued my thought spiral until I actually created a bad day for myself. Until I found a thought so frustrating, so despairing, so overwhelming that I would have declared my birthday a complete disaster. I would have decided that I no longer wanted to go to dinner and that I just wasn’t cut out for fun.
Instead, I realized that my mind was simply doing what brains were designed to do - searching for signs of impending danger in an effort to protect us.
I became aware of what was happening, didn’t judge myself for the rabbit hole thoughts, and then I simply returned to the present moment. Showering. The feeling of the water. The sound of the droplets. The smell of the soap. The way it felt to dance to the music.
I refused to demonize and demean the way my mind functions.
Instead I told myself, “I’m allowing myself to be pleasantly surprised.”
And I had a huge aha moment…
How many times have you known something intellectually, but then you experienced something that allowed you to FEEL that knowledge? When you experience knowledge from within… it’s a completely different sensation! A completely new understanding.
That was what my aha moment felt like.
Mindfulness isn’t about actually clearing your mind. It isn’t about getting rid of all of the things that jump into your stream of thoughts. It isn’t about being right or wrong. It isn’t about creating a new method of control. And it isn’t always about immediate success or earth-shattering peace.
Practicing mindfulness meditation produces a deeper understanding of ourselves and how our thoughts work.
It gives us the ability to put things into perspective.
It brings us a decision: to accept and love ourselves as we are, or to convince ourselves that our limitations are permanent and unrelenting.
And when we can see those options clearly, the kind thing to do… the compassionate thing to do for ourselves is to choose love. To choose peace. To choose the wonder, the beauty, the open arms, the surrender. To choose to live fully and completely in every moment.
We don’t have to waste a second. It’s up to us.
Interested in learning how to pay more attention to your thoughts? Want to begin practicing mindfulness everyday?
Meditate and Wonder’s Mindfulness Journal gives you one journaling prompt designed to bring you into the present moment everyday for 3 weeks. Check out The Mindfulness Journal here.
Or, if you’re ready to take journaling to the next level, make it a daily practice for the next 365 days with The Love My Life Journal.
It gives you daily opportunities to practice being present. To call attention to your gratitude. To grow through self-reflection. To create your own happiness. To become the heroine of your story. Check out the Love My Life Journal here.