Featured Picture Courtesy of The Pursuit of Mindfulness
Have you ever heard that statement before? As sure as we live and breathe I’m sure we’ve ALL heard it or unfortunately have been there and done it ourselves!
I’ve often found myself in meetings or even talking with someone and have been somewhere else. The mind is a tricky thing and a terrible thing to waste as per the UNCF (United Negro College Fund). And it’s true! The mind is indeed a terrible thing to waste but while the UNCF was referring to an education, I’m particularly talking about the mind and it’s capability of filling up with SO many ideas, schedules, goals, relationships, what someone said and how you’d wished you had said this instead; all the way to what you want to eat later that day or even two days from now – type of stuff.
The “stuff” that keeps us from being “present and available” at the moment. We miss most great moments because our mind wants to take us on a vacay of “what to do next or after” and it’s bout time to put it to rest – just for a little while.
Do you find yourself being “unavailable” due to your mind traveling west when you’re trying to go east? Here’s a couple of tips to put the mind at ease so you can focus a little clearer, literally.
#1. Cut Down That List – Like NOW!
Listen, there are only 24 hours in a day and if you put EVERYTHING you have to get done on that crazy “to-do” list. You’ll be extremely exhausted, I mean you probably already are, right? If we allow our minds to do it, it’ll make us think that everything in the world is important and has to be done right now and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s okay to schedule that oven cleaning to Thursday, it’s not like it’s going anywhere and you DON’T have to do it today.
Try to figure out what’s truly a priority vs. non priority…..what’s really important vs. not important today. Spread out the work and give yourself something to do everyday instead of all in one day!
#2. Schedule “Me” Time
I’m bad at this tip but it’s so needed. Have you ever scheduled “me time” on your to-do list? My mom would always tell us that Mondays were her “me days” – that meant, no calls and no coming over during a specific time frame on Mondays. She valued her alone times and while I didn’t always understand it because I was being the energizer bunny. Now that she’s gone, I totally get it. You need that time away from other people’s voices and faces, it truly makes you appreciate seeing them when you do. Now what she did during that time, I have no idea but “me time” is whatever you want to do without doing work or even thinking about the things you need to do. It’s a little moment to be selfish and only think about you!
#3. Put It “ALL” Away & Focus!
This one is going to take a little practice, however, remember when I said earlier that my body would be in meetings and my mind would be elsewhere? unfortunately this also happens with my children! They’d be talking to me and I’d be thinking about work, church, getting back to someone, email and etc. Not really focusing on their dilemma – in which to them, everything’s a dilemma!
Now, don’t get me wrong, tuning them out is sometimes therapy for me but when it comes to a failing grade or them having concerns in regards to a friend or teacher or themselves, those things need my undivided attention. So when cases like this happen, I’ve learned to put my phone away, sit with them and totally give them eye-to-eye attention. This way, I can provide feedback if necessary and it gives me insight as to what’s going on with them. We can easily miss serious moments when we allow our minds to time travel. Realize where you are and tell your mind that you’re going to focus on the matter at hand because, in reality, we can train our minds to do whatever we want it to do.
#4. You Need A Sleep Schedule
This definitely may sound crazy but you really do need to “schedule sleep” – if you don’t, you won’t get it and while your mind is on the go the body will shut completely down! Ever been restless at night because your mind was wondering about things you should be thinking about in the morning? I’ve been here too, more often than I’d like to admit. Most times I get up and work and others I just lay there and talk to God or just look…lol.
If you find your mind wrestling with you while you’re trying to go to sleep, try drinking some hot chamomile tea or sleepy time tea before bed (decaf of course). I also like listening to peaceful sounds such as thunder (I know this is not so peaceful but it’s calming for me). I love listening to rain sounds or ABIDE – which has sleep meditations for the nighttime. It’s also wise to put your phone on silent, so you won’t awake to every notification known to man. 30 min before bedtime, get these things in order so by sleep time – you’ll be all set to ZzZzzzzZZ.
All of these tips will not only help you be more present but more focused on what’s really important. Train that mind and don’t allow it to train you, remember YOU have control over it and not it over you.