Mindful About Mindfulness: Decision-making made easy

This morning, after my meditation, I was thinking about mindfulness.  Yes, that sounds ridiculous. I started laughing at myself, too.  “Thinking” and “mindfulness” are two totally different approaches. To be mindful about mindfulness is more appropriate.

One of my habits is to overthink a situation, which often has me in an “analysis paralysis” mode.  I go around and around with the information, search for more data, dig into the past for similar situations, try to figure out how I feel about it, confuse myself, and sometimes don’t come up with a decision.  Hmmm? No decision IS a decision – to do nothing, which usually doesn’t give me the results I want or expect. 

Then I feel crappy, which leaves me starting the whole process again.  It’s no wonder that I occasionally have a day where I feel as if I didn’t get anything done. This situation also affects the quality of my relationships, because most decisions (or non-decisions) affect others as well.

I’m curious.  Does something similar happen for you?

Be mindful about mindfulness.

For me, mindfulness is a much more effective approach, when I remember to put myself into that state.

You might be thinking, “What do you mean, put yourself into that state? How?”

I define mindfulness as a state of being whereby I’m totally present and in-the-moment.  It is a conscious awareness, and un-attached acceptance of my thoughts, feelings, and bodily functions as they are right now – un-attached, and without judgement.

I haven’t been able to maintain this state for long periods of time – yet.  However, as I continue to practice, it gets easier and I’m able to be there longer.

Be mindful about mindfulness.

When I am in this state, I find the best answers pop into my mind without effort.  Or I get flashes of alternatives to experiment with in my mind, which allows me to determine my best steps forward.  There is no second guessing, or doubt or judgement or justification – just the clear answer.

When I’m in this mindful state, I also know that my decision is ecologically sound.  In other words, it is most appropriate from the perspective of other stakeholders and my environment. When I trust in this, the quality of my relationships improve.

Be mindful about mindfulness.

Not so easy though.  The challenges I’ve had are twofold:

  1. How to put and keep myself in this mindful state
  2. How to know the responses are coming from a mindful, love-full state

1. How to put and keep myself in this mindful state?

It is reasonably easy to put myself into mindfulness while meditating.  Also, when I’m walking in the forest, hiking in the mountains, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing, mindfulness washes through me effortlessly.  I’ve been practicing this for many years.

But, during a conflicting dialogue or un-expected situation, mindfulness has been a challenge for me in the past. I’ve learned to imagine I can push a “freeze-frame” button, which has everything stop briefly.  This allows me to take a couple deep, slow, cleansing breaths and clear my mind.  When the action starts again, I’m calm, relaxed, and with a new in-the-moment view.

When I sense I’m slipping back into thinking in my brain, I take a couple deep breaths, and look up slightly above eye level to where dreams and visions are born in my mind. 

Be mindful about mindfulness.

2. How to know the responses are coming from a mindful, love-full state?

If I’m not mindful, I see pictures which are extremely complex and confusing.  I hear long, drawn-out justifications and explanations of all the things that need to be considered.  These explanations are coming from my brain, not my mind.  I have weird uncomfortable feelings in my gut, brain, and chest.  

When I’m mindful and love-full, the pictures are clean, crisp, and simple.  I see alternatives I hadn’t seen before.  I hear short, concise directions, such as “Leave in 10 minutes.” Or “Go left here.”  Or, “Yes.” When others are involved, I hear and accept their perspectives without judgement or assumptions. Feeling of peace, calm, confidence, and hope fill me. I am open to anything; and attached to nothing.

Be mindful about mindfulness.

As I ponder this, I realize how simple my life, and your life can be when we choose to be in a mindful state, even some of the time.

Be mindful about mindfulness.

What about you?  What do you think about it (pun intended)?

4 Comments

Bonnie

I have been struggling for the last couple of years with thoughts from the past that will go around and around in my head . I am having great difficulty being in the present moment. I have been trying to meditate but with little success. Do you have any suggestions

Reply
Thinkin Outside The Barn

Hi Bonnie,

Thanks for your comments and I totally understand how that “around and around” thing can go. I think there is a myth about what meditation “should” be. I think it can be different things for different people. To me, when I am present and peaceful, I call that a meditative state.

I don’t know what will work for you, however, here are some things that have helped me.
Get into nature – I find that if I sit in the forest, or even on a grassy (or snowy) spot where I can see the magesticness of nature, it helps me to slow my mind down.

Deep breathing – I focus on my breath, breathing in as deeply as I can, hold it for a few seconds, and then release slowly. Once all the air is gone, I hold that for a few seconds before inspiring again. It takes attention to do this, and allows my mind to focus on the breath rather than the other stuff.

Gratitude – wherever I am, I focus on the things I am grateful for – nature, clothing, home, family, friends, community, food, air, safety, etc. There is beauty all around me and when I put myself into a state of gratitude, I feel a relief from whatever was on my “ego” mind.

Being un-attached – By this, I mean that I focus on becoming an “observer” of my thoughts and feelings, to notice them, and let them go, without getting mentally or emotionally involved in them. I remember reading a book about yoga where it talked about tying the puppy to a tree. The puppy is like the thoughts. It is too easy to let my mind go chasing a thought and be totally engaged in it. By allowing the rabbits and birds, and insects go by, it helps me to be in-the-moment and un-attached.

Awareness and Acceptance – I don’t know much about Budhism, however I’ve read about their philosophy of being consciously aware of the thoughts and feelings, and just accepting that is the way it is now, yet in the next moment, it might be something else.

That’s a few to experiment with, Bonnie.

Have a super day! I love you.
Dan

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.