Have you ever heard that thoughts are not facts? That’s because our thoughts are mental events that pop up in the mind and are very attached to our moods. Next time you catch yourself going through thoughts, pause for a second to analyze how your day is going? Have you had a rough morning or maybe things are going exactly as you planned? Pay attention to what kind of thoughts you are having to see if you can link them back to your mood.
How can mindfulness help us with our thoughts? We often lose ourselves in our thoughts and we spend a lot of time wondering about the future or reminiscing about the past. All of this thinking can take us away from the present moment and cause for us to miss out on things that might be critical to our work, life and happiness. Cultivating mindfulness can help us be present and allow us to take part in life, moment by moment. The more we practice being present, the more we can pay attention in a curious, open minded and non-judgmental way.
Mindfulness and meditation will not take away our thoughts. Thoughts will continue to pop in, visit us, and crop in from time to time. Mindfulness and meditation can help us on how we relate to our thoughts and help us manage the constant storm that we have in our mind. What I have learned with mindfulness is to worry less so that I can focus on what truly matters to me. Dutch mindfulness expert, Marisa Garau has a valid way to explain what happens when we cultivate mindfulness and focus in the present moment. She refers to the experience as turning the radio off; suddenly you can hear the birds singing their beautiful songs, you can hear the wind, and you can smell the aromas in the air.
Recognizing your thoughts and where they are taking you, is the first step of awareness and changing your relationship with your thoughts.
Next time you find yourself in a storm of thoughts, try these steps!
1. Recognize your thought(s)-try to focus on one though at a time.
If a thought shows up such as, I'm never going to get my promotion, or some form of negative thought, blaming or self-doubt, take a moment to recognize and be aware that a though is forming in your brain. Key here is AWARENESS.
2. Breathe, Relax and Let go.
Remember that when you are experiencing negative thoughts or emotions, your body is also feeling these. The reactive response system in your body activates, taking you into fight, flight or freeze mode. Be aware of this reaction and take a pause to breathe in and out, use the exhalation to release and let go of any tension within your body, as well as any negative thoughts you may have. Key here is to PAUSE AND BREATHE.
3. Name a Positive.
Now that you have taken a pause to relax and become aware, notice what is happening in the present moment. Ask yourself a few questions. What is actually good right now? What am I grateful for? This exercise will put you in a different mindset. Key here is to REFRAIN.
Try it next time you find yourself in a storm of thoughts and see if you are able to manage your relationship with your thoughts, and bring more calmness to your day.