In the past I shared a post about a time in my life where I didn’t feel healthy. I was primarily referring to my physical health, my diet, and my general daily routines. In the post I talked about cleansing my life of toxins and negative energy from relationships that left me feeling drained. Today though, I realize how little attention I was paying to my mental health, being present, and finding calm in a storm of constant adrenal stimulation. It was so easy, almost autonomous, for me to fall into this repetitive, degenerative behaviour of constant distraction. With my screens, my evening routine, my habits on social media… none were contributing to a higher self. It was a form of escapism really, and I never want to go back to that place. Putting mindfulness into practice took a lot of time for me, and I’m still not 100% great at it, but I’m getting there.
We’ve all been there.
- In the yoga studio… falling out of position because our minds are racing.
- Intimate with our partners… but thinking about the 1000 things we have to do the next day.
- Walking into a room and forgetting what we were going there for.
I realized that I had been so high-strung for so long.
Until I read something that was able to put everything into perspective for me. It was like getting that missing tetris piece that just clears the clutter of the board.
“Our breath is our life force. When it stops, we stop. Just breathe.”
Right then and there, I took a deep breath (something I felt like I hadn’t done in ages) and just stopped what I was doing. I put down the 1000 things I had to do, and just focused on one.
The word “mindfulness” is a word with a lot of buzz right now, however, it’s a word I feel strongly about for many reasons.
Mental clarity comes from breaking through our mind’s clutter, however best we can.
For me, running has always been a form of therapy. The releasing of endorphins, the focus needed to simply move forward by putting one foot in front of the other, it just gives me what I need in order to break through my clutter.
Going for a hike, taking a bath, doing a puzzle, forest bathing, putting our devices down for more than just 5 minutes. As we know, we are all different. The key is finding and prioritizing the hobbies or pastimes that give you your mental clarity.
Why do we feel that if we’re just resting, that we’re not being productive, or that we’re somehow doing something wrong? Why does there always have to be something turned on… background television noise, our phones, social media, conversation after conversation… When did it become not okay to just do nothing?
Fundamentally, the question I can now ask myself is,
Why was I neglecting my primal need for mental clarity and inner peace?
I took to the works of psychologist Dr Barbara Killinger who expands on workaholism and the human desire to achieve balance.
The fact is, sometimes we CAN’T control our minds, thoughts, or instincts. We have a piece of chocolate and all of a sudden we’re reaching for another piece. Or we lay our head down on our pillow and the mind just begins to race.
What I’ve found is that constant adrenal stimulation conditions our minds to operate at speeds that aren’t conducive to rest… Our mental health is what ultimately suffers.
When I was in the depths of it, focusing on the negative energy of others and trying to constantly distract myself… I lost sight of who I was and what made me, me. I never want to get caught in that storm again.
My positive nature and choosing to focus on good energy is what makes me, me. I can’t ever lose sight of that, because it affects all of the surrounding energy, people, and conversations I have in my daily life.
So how do we achieve mental clarity and put mindfulness into practice?
When I think of some of the activities I mentioned above, I see a common thread. They force us to focus on the here and now. Being present.
And I’m not the only one of this school of thought. I’ve looked at what co-founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe, has shared in the past, and here are my thoughts on parallels I’ve drawn.
There are a great number of us who wish for change. Be it change in how we handle situations, our mannerisms in social settings, or even our personal appearances… that constant desire for unattainable change, leaves us feeling drained. And rightfully so; when we think about achieving change, we often to turn to either the future, or the past.
- We think about how in the future, “things will be different”. We’ll handle situations differently “when that time comes”.
- We think about the past, and reflect (re: dwell) on how poorly we reacted in an exchange or conversation.
Very seldom do we spend time in the present, the here and now, to achieve change. Yet, the present is all there is around us.
The past has already happened and cannot be changed. Thinking about the past only brings about the same negative energy you felt then. The future, hasn’t even occurred yet, so why invest energy in a time that hasn’t yet taken place. In my experiences, the best way to achieve change in the future is to condition ourselves in the present for when that time comes. After all, the present is all we have to live in.
Our breathe is our life force. Being present and being mindful throughout life’s tribulations gives us the tools we need to affect the change we’ve been striving to obtain.
Where else to invest our energy but in the here and now?
My personal thoughts: The power of manifesting a brighter future can only come from the energy we choose to apply in the present.
Nick Joly | Inspired by Nick
be good to your body
photos obtained under a creative commons license, from unsplash.