Like so many others, I have trouble separating my thoughts from reality. My mind is constantly bombarded by a whole slew of recurring thoughts and emotions that hinder my ability to be calm and focus. It is almost as if there is a repeating mental narrative playing over and over again. And it never stops.
The reality is that so many people struggle with this. Your thoughts are cloudy, you are mentally tired, and you create problems in your head that aren’t really there. Sound a little bit like you? For some reason, this seems to affect a lot of people. It’s actually not all that surprising. Our brains are so powerful that they can take control of our thoughts without the consent of our conscious awareness.
I couldn’t focus, and this began to affect other areas of my life including school, work, and my social life. At one point, I even began to think I should get looked at for ADHD. However, I wasn’t going to jump on medication that quickly before seeking a natural solution. So before I self-diagnosed, I started looking into mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is pretty much the active practice of separating yourself from your thoughts. Some refer to it meditation or self-reflection. People also use it for a variety of different purposes. However, in my case, I had always heard of people using this method to increase their focus. So I tried it.
First off, I should mention that I did not go full Buddhist with this. I didn’t sit crisscross on the carpet, light candles and hum peacefully for hours at a time. In turn, whenever I had a 20-minute window, I simply turned my phone off, sat in silence and tried not to think about anything. I just closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. One breath after another. I did this every day for 20 minutes. At first, it was awkward and difficult. It definitely takes practice, but it becomes easier with time. Here are some of my takeaways after 3 months of practicing mindfulness:
My demeanor was calmer. Not in a spiritual-zen kind of way, but a more relaxed frame of mind. I did not feel jittery or anxious all the time like before. In a sense, I had more clarity of thought. My thoughts no longer clouded my head and I was able to concentrate.
That being said, practicing mindfulness did not change my life. I still overthink sometimes, but not nearly to the degree that I was. I now recognize thoughts at thoughts. Think of it as training yourself to be calm in the midst of the stress-storm and not allowing yourself to be mentally overwhelmed by what is going on around you. Remember that you are not your thoughts.
I am not trying to convince anybody practice being mindful. I am simply sharing my experiences and telling you how it helped me. If you struggle with some of the same problems I did, maybe it could be for you. All in all, mindfulness is a fantastic practice to cultivate into your everyday routine!