Lost in Timbuktu
A typical day in my life used to go like this:
I’d get up in the morning and while I was going through my morning routine of shower and breakfast, I would be thinking and worrying about the meeting that I was going to be having later that day. Wondering, what they were going to say and what I should say and if I knew enough and was prepared enough and what they thought of me.
Then I’d drive to work and while I was at work, I was thinking about the concerns I had about the relationship I was in. How I could get my partner to do what I wanted him to and what I should say and do and if I should stay in the relationship.
I’d get home from work and while I was making dinner and going through my evening routine of eating dinner and making sure the kids were doing what they were supposed to be doing, I was rheuminating about that interaction I had with my co worker last weekend. Playing the conversation over, perhaps feeling offended about what she said and what she might of meant and what I should have said back.
Bedtime comes and I cant sleep. I’m concerned about the pain in my knee and think about how it’s going to lead to me having to give up Yoga and working out, how I’m going to gain 40 pounds, lose my job, my relationship and my freedom.
I felt drained, anxious and a little depressed. I had little drive and dreaded the idea of doing this all over again tomorrow. I thought that my feelings of anxiety and stress were due to my frustration at work, my partner not behaving the way I wanted him to, the disagreement with my co worker and my “bum knee”.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Now I know those stressed out days were not at all due to those circumstances! I felt anxious, depressed and stressed because I was lost in thought the whole damn day! I let my mind take me away from the moments that I was in where there were no problems and perseverate on the perceived problems I had! The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.
I didn’t enjoy the hot shower, the taste of my breakfast, the cool looking sky on the way to work, the interesting parts of my work, the smell and taste of my cooking, or the interaction with my amazing and beautiful kids! I wasn’t there for it! My body was there and a small part of my attention. Just enough to stay in autopilot and keep doing all the things I needed to do. The majority of my mind and energy was lost in Timbuktu!
I don’t know what the real Timbuktu is like, but the one I’m referring is not a place you want to live, nonetheless visit! It’s full of worries and catastrophizing and self doubt and self consciousness,……Well you get the picture! ( Kinda like hell actually!)
Mindfulness: The Magic
Mindfulness is “In the Present Moment, Non-Judgmental Awareness”. It’s training our mind to be in the moment we’re in and not off somewhere else where it’s going to get into trouble. We can train our mind in a very similar way that we train a puppy. A puppy wants to run around and chew up your new shoes, get into the garbage and run on the road out in front of a car! We train it by continuing to bring it back over and over again into the yard. With the mind, we bring it back to the situation we’re in.
Now, I have more moments when I am experiencing my life, not caught up in drama about my life situation. I enjoy the interactions that I have with anyone I come in contact with. I see and feel the beauty and value in them! At the end of the day I’m not stressed out and filled with worry! I sleep better, get more enjoyment and satisfaction out of my work, my relationships and life situations down to the littlest moment, like sipping my tea and watching a bee on a flower.
Do I still get lost and feel stressed? Yes, of course! I even get lost in the parking lot at Wegmans because I was lost in thought while I was parking my car. But I’m never lost in Timbuktu anymore. I may get lost a few miles away, realize it and start to make my way back home! Mindfulness teaches to be aware of when we’re lost, how it’s affecting us and how to get back home! To peace, to joy, to gratitude which all exist in the present moment. The only moment we really have!
If you are interested in learning more about the 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program starting soon click here > MBSR info and registration