Who Are You?
I don’t mean the body or form that you walk around in. I’m talking about the essence under that exterior and behind the thinking mind. Have you ever thought about it?
Have you ever felt like there is more to life than this autopilot existence?
I’ve been contemplating answers to these questions for many years prior to my own journey into mindfulness.
Mindfulness isn’t a new concept. The Buddhists have been practicing mindfulness since the fifth century BC, when it was introduced in the 37 Factors of Enlightenment – Buddha’s most essential teachings.
Although mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation, its popularity has skyrocketed in the western world, and much of it can be attributed to a program launched in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School: The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR). Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine and founder of the program, offers a concise and widely used definition of mindfulness: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”
I’ve been learning about and playing around with mindfulness for many years, but it wasn’t until two years ago that I truly committed to living a more mindful and present life. It hasn’t been a cakewalk – I’m not always the peaceful, non-judgmental being that I want to be – but I can tell you this: living presently and mindfully (most of the time) has profoundly transformed the way I look at life.
Welcome to the first post in a one-of-a-kind series in which I share my honest views and experiences, as I manage my overthinking mind through living more mindfully.
Many people seek out mindfulness after a traumatic life event or during an extreme state of stress, depression, anxiety, loss of a loved one or even addiction, my story is both profoundly different and yet quite similar.
I was never depressed, nor did I experience any deep tragedy in my life. What happened to me was like living in a prison: I was utterly trapped in my own head. Self-induced suffering for sure!
My thoughts just wouldn’t slow down, much less stop. I was always thinking ahead – what will I wear tomorrow, where will I park, what will I say at the meeting, what should I eat, should I buy that shirt, did I pay the bills, why did that lady give me the evil eye (she must hate me, I’m an idiot)?
If I wasn't obsessing about the future, I was ruminating over the past. Second guessing every decision, conversation, text message etc...
Between believing the thoughts in my head and being unable to shut them off, I had created my own type of solitary confinement. It sucked the joy out of my life! I wasn't present, at all, I was stuck in my head.
If you haven’t read my other blogs, you can read them here; plus, I’ll give you a quick snapshot of my starting point right now:
My meditation and yoga practice started several years ago. It was intermittent until a year ago, when I decided that I wanted to commit fully to living more mindfully.
I kicked into high gear with daily meditation and yoga practice. The benefits were almost immediate: feeling calmer, less stressed and even a bit more peaceful. I definitely wanted more of that, which motivated me to continue. It was working.
My go-to teachers to date have been Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Kristin Neff, Brené Brown, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Tara Brach, Sharon Salzberg, Daniel Goleman, Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. They have all provided me with valuable insight into meditation and mindfulness in a simple-to-understand way that resonates deeply with my soul.
These days it has become so mainstream to label people, personalities and traits, and I have had a couple slapped on my back.
Those labels were Introvert and Overthinker. And yep, I connected intimately with them both!
I had many tendencies of an introvert and an overthinker (they frequently go hand in hand), and it was pretty easy to justify my behaviors and feelings by blaming my labels: “Well, that’s because I’m an introvert (or an overthinker).”
Thankfully, I now know that I’m so much more than those labels and no longer identify with them (or any others).
My whole life, prior to practicing mindfulness, had felt rushed. And it had been. I’d had a child at 19 years old, gotten married, and had more children. Then I’d gotten divorced, remarried into a blended family (that’s for another blog series), changed careers a few times and basically rushed through life looking for the next thing.
Now, in my 50s, I want time to slow down. I want to slow down. I want to take in every moment and enjoy being alive.
As a pragmatic realist and a lifelong overthinker, I’ve found that being present isn’t always easy. Let's face it, our mind can be quite tricky!
Sometimes, when I’m tired, hungry or not feeling well, I run on autopilot and revert to old ways. I may be judgmental and reactive, and I overthink myself into situations that don’t exist.
Being aware of when I do this has helped me to shorten the duration and reduce the frequency of these occurrences. I hope that there will be fewer of these times and more of the mindful, present, peaceful, less thinking moments. Quite simply, I want to feel more present and think much less.
As an organic reminder of the importance of living a more heart centered and mindful life, Calmer Spirit was born.
For me, wearing these calming yet energetic crystal bracelets has been such an important piece of living a more mindful life. As Calmer Spirit evolves, it will include additional products to enhance your meditation, such as beautiful and natural home decor that creates a peaceful living space.
I’m a regular, normal human being. I’m no better or worse than you or anyone else. My imperfections have helped me stay humble as I slowly and assuredly let go of my unimportant and insignificant ego. This isn’t going to be a picture-perfect journey – not even close – but it’s my journey and it’s perfect for me.
Join me on my exploration of how mindful living impacts my life and relationships. My journey isn’t without missteps, confusion, frustration and, of course, humor.
Everyone has a different inspiration for wanting to live a more mindful and present life, and there is no right or wrong reason or way to do it.
If my journey can inspire and help you to take that first step or deepen your commitment, I promise you, the benefits of living more presently are far better than existing in your overthinking mind.
Most important, thank you for following along. I would love to hear what works for you in living a more mindful and present life. Please comment below or reach me here.