We’re all busy. BUSY. Cramming so much in, juggling all the things. It can be hectic and frazzling and fuse shortening. But we know that this busy isn’t good for us. This busy can leave us stressed, resentful, focusing too far ahead, or looking too far behind, and basically wanting to tell everyone to fuck off.
Counteracting the busy is Mindfulness. We’ve all heard the term, we all want the peaceful, present-focused, emotionally aware unicorn. Except the unicorn seems rather mythical and elusive when we’re caught up in the busy.
Or sometimes we’re just not that keen on the idea of ‘ommm’ and breathing in harmony and one-ness (being in a house with a baby who is a crawling poo-machine leaves me breathing in something that certainly doesn’t espouse harmony right now).
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be wanky, and it doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time and space to do. It can even swing you from telling the world to fuck off, to smashing through the day. For realz.
If all of this busy is no good for us, how do we become zen, when we’ve got zero time? How can we be mindful when there’s mofos errywhere?
Here are some quick tips to help centre yourself when you’re hectic and the thought of ‘omm’ makes you want to gag:
Yep. My work here is done. *drops mic*
Rather than that rushed ‘omg-I-need-to-breathe-into-a-paperbag’ kind of breathing (which we often unconsciously do when we’re rushing through the day), stop and really focus on your breath. Breathe in through your nose for three seconds, briefly hold and then breathe out through your mouth for 3 seconds. Focus on the sensations you feel when breathing in. Focus on expanding your diaphragm as you breathe in, feel the air fill your lungs. Then slowly control your breath out. The trick here is focusing on the present. Breath going in, breath going out. Rinse and repeat. Sayonara to that fuck-off feeling.
I know, I know, meditation often conjures up ideas of grape coloured kaftans, patchouli incense and sitars playing, but really meditation is just about allowing your mind some space. You don’t need to clear your schedule, you just need a few minutes. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, or an image, or a word, and allow your mind to drift, bringing back to your focus when you need to. This kinda thing can be done on the train to work, in the shower, sitting on the couch, in the middle of preparing fucking school lunches (is there any worse torture??). Anywhere.
Not to be confused with hallucinations, yo. Visualisations are often scripted ideas that help to draw you a picture mentally of an analogy to help you centre and allow your mind a chance to gather itself.
One great, quick little visualisation is ‘leaves on a stream’. Used a lot in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), it asks you to close your eyes, and imagine a running stream, with leaves floating by. You allow yourself to observe, watching the leaves as they go by.
Slowly, you pick thoughts from your mind, and you place them on the leaves and allow them to float past. This can be a quick go-to image when you’re feeling stressed, with the practicality of allowing certain thoughts to go by, without having to tussle with them. Nice one bruva.
Focus on one of the senses
We’ve got five of ‘em (thanks Hi-5). And we rarely acknowledge them for their awesomeness.
One way to bring mindfulness into your day in a quick and easy manner is to focus on one of your senses. Let’s go with taste. If you’re grabbing a quick snack, before you inhale it, just take a couple of moments to focus on the food.
Notice how it feels in your hand, how it looks. Then slowly take a bite. As you take a bite, really concentrate on all aspects of that snack. The texture, the taste. Does it crumble? Is it bursting with flavour? How does it feel on your tongue? What are your teeth doing?
This sort of activity doesn’t take much effort at all, might seem a bit wanky at first but the aim is really to get you focused on the present, savouring the moment and allowing all the other things buzzing in your brain to float by.
Do a ‘present check’
Not the gift kind, but there here and now kind. When you start to feel that stress build, or a ‘fuck off’ pressing on your lips, just stop.
Stop what you’re doing/thinking/stressing/using profanities. Where are you right now? What can you see around you? The colours? Sounds? What’s beneath you? What’s above you? Are you standing? Sitting? Laying down?
Let all the other things come and go in your mind, really just take that second to centre yourself. It’s a neat little distraction technique and fab for being a bit more mindful. Without an ‘om’ in sight.
All of these tips are quick, easy, portable and habit-forming. You keep up the practice, you too can feel less frazzled.
It’s truly a matter of you get out what you put in. If you’re sick of feeling busy, angry or stressed, you can take control by trying to get a bit of acceptance cracking and looking at the present moment.
Yes, shit things are going to happen. They just do. But, there’s lots of other not-so-shit stuff going on too, and sometimes we just need to accept what’s in front of us an let it float by, rather than grapple with it and have it all up in our grills.
And still let out a few fuck-offs. Because. Profanities.