Mindful Magic

Stuck in Your Head? Try this quick mindfulness trick

 

I’m an overthinker. A ruminator. A mull-it-over-endlessly-until-it-no-longer-makes-sense-er. I can take a minor detail and spin it endlessly out of control, working myself into a needless lather over just about anything! Fun, right?

Blame it on my Aquarius moon, my book nerd brain, or my very religious upbringing (that taught me to dissociate from my body lest it lead me into temptation). But the fact is that my safe space – my most comfortable home – is deep inside my head. Maybe you can relate.

In this respect, I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to mindfulness instructors. Where many of my colleagues teach a skill they’re naturally inclined to cultivate, I, on the other hand, came to mindfulness kicking and screaming. For me, focusing solely on the present moment (and not the great many anxious delusions pressing for my attention) is HARD WORK.

It was hard for me to learn, and it continues to be hard for me to practice. But the silver lining is that I truly understand the challenges of adopting mindfulness when it’s foreign to your constitution. And I can personally attest to the benefits of practicing, from the perspective of someone who really needs the help.

Why Mindfulness Helps a Racing Mind
Have you ever sat down to a spiritual practice but found it hard to maintain concentration (on the mantra, the breathwork pattern, the visualization, etc.)? The harder you try to focus, the more lost you become. Pretty soon, your inner critic pipes up, telling you what a fraud you are, that you can never stick to anything, and that this ritual is just one more fad you’ll disregard alongside so many mouldy sourdough starters. Your brain has taken the facts of your practice (that it’s feeling difficult), and made a story about what those facts mean, pulling you out of the present moment. When your mind is spinning, this just adds fuel to the fire.

By contrast, mindfulness is just paying attention to the present moment without judgment. To practice, we need to focus solely on the facts of what’s unfolding right now, so that we avoid telling stories about what these facts mean in relationship to the past or future. If you’re like me, often losing yourself in the swampy wasteland of your thoughts, the mindfulness practices that will most effectively pull you from the quicksand share three key elements:

1) Simple
2) Sensory
3) Snappy

Keeping the exercises as simple as possible helps us avoid spinning a tale about a future worry or a past transgression while practicing, which gives the mind a fighting chance to slow down and escape the anxiety loop.

Exercise: Slow Sipping
One of my favorite exercises that I practice personally and teach in my corporate workshops involves taking a generally unconscious act, like drinking tea, and bringing it to the conscious mind by slowing down the pace.

Here’s how:
Step 1: Brew your favorite blend of Magic Hour Tea and pour yourself a cup.
Step 2: Wrap your hands around the cup. Notice how the cup feels. Is it smooth? Hot?
Step 3: Look at the cup. What colour is it? What colour is the tea? What textures do you see? Can you see steam rising?
Step 4: Raise the cup to your nose. How does the tea smell? Can you feel the warmth on your face?
Step 5: Take a sip and hold it in your mouth. What do you notice about the flavor? Where do you feel it on your tongue? What does the temperature feel like?
Step 6: Swallow the tea. Notice how it feels as it travels down your throat.

Afterwards, take a minute to notice how you feel emotionally. Do you feel different than when you first began? Do your thoughts feel a little less emotionally charged?

While I can’t promise you that this practice will prevent you from stewing in your thoughts in the future, I can attest to the fact that it offers comfort – and a little bit of joy – during the times when we need it most.

Written by Kyra Evans