With mindfulness in focus this week, here are 3 challenges I often find with applying mindfulness and some tips that can support with overcoming these challenges.
1. Your mind will wander. Matt Killingsworth Ph.D. has done some interesting research with his Track Your Happiness project. His data showed that our minds wander 47% of the time, and almost always wander to negative thoughts and get stuck in rumination which can make us more stressed and less happy. Mindfulness is an antidote to this.
Tip – When you catch your mind wandering, no need to berate yourself. A moment of awareness, ‘I was miles away’ or ‘I was distracted’ and ‘now I’m back’ will suffice. This simple example is the crux of a mindfulness practice.
2. While mindfulness can help ‘accentuate the positive’, it won’t immediately help ‘eliminate the negative’. It ultimately can help transmute and transform a difficult feeling or emotion, but often first, as the saying goes, ‘you’ve got to feel it to heal it’, and feeling it can be uncomfortable at times.
Tip – It is helpful to have awareness that being more mindful when facing feelings that are sometimes mistakenly considered ‘negative’, can feel uncomfortable. We can practice being with more uncomfortable emotions on our own, as long as they are not so overwhelming they would be better faced with the support of an understanding friend, coach or counsellor.
Surprisingly, when we’re not pushing ‘negative’ emotions away, they can move through and move on, but if we resist them, they can linger on in the background causing us to feel the discomfort for longer.
3. Mindfulness is embodied. Many of us are so used to being in our heads, that we don’t recognise when our energy is all up in our head and we would benefit from doing something physical to move that energy through the body.
Tip – If you are very busy and have a lot on your plate, prioritise having movement sessions or moments scheduled. It can be any form of exercise, a walk or even standing up and having a good stretch and a bit of a shake. My go to is dance. It’s not weather dependent, and I can get up from my desk and move whenever I feel I’ve been in my head for too long.
What’s your go to movement or form of exercise that helps you embody more mindfulness?