We process about sixty thousand thoughts a day, which explains why it’s so easy for our minds to go astray. Some of these thoughts move in and out of us: Grocery lists, random memories, and trivial facts grab our attention for a moment then disappear. Other thoughts stay with us, reappearing over and over again to distract or nag or amuse and encourage.
When we aren’t able to control our focus, the mind can feel out of control. This is when the mind becomes vulnerable to any and all interruptions and it runs wild in overreaction, fear, blame, and anxiety. Then the mind builds storylines, explaining what others are doing with no basis in fact. Relationships can be put in jeopardy when you start believing your own storylines.
Sometimes we can go too far in the other direction. Just forcing the mind to stop represses the issue rather than healing through it. Simply rejecting uncomfortable thoughts as they float through the mind is not the answer. It can lead to bottling up feelings in a dangerous way and denies you access to a truth that is trying to get your attention. Repression calls for too much control and leaves you in constant danger of failure.
This is where the comfortable middle road of mindfulness comes in. Mindful self-awareness creates an environment for us to heal. Mindfulness welcomes the lessons that every thought and impulse offers, while also maintaining a firm hold on where the mind’s attention goes. There is no need for hyper control, only a sense of calm and the decision not to judge yourself. With mindfulness, we are no longer threatened by the fearful apparitions that loom behind our reactions because we have found a torch to illuminate the scariest of paths.
With a daily commitment to an inward practice, the mind relaxes. It no longer bombards you with a hundred dissatisfactions at once. Mindfulness practice creates a safe space for those dissatisfactions to go. When you notice yourself being wooed by storylines that don’t serve you or anyone else, use your mindfulness practice to let them go and heal your mind once and for all.
Practicing the Meditation for When You Don’t Know What to Do it is a great way to explore the middle road of mindfulness. Rather than push feelings and sensations away, you work toward accepting where you are in the moment and take loving purposeful steps to move through difficulty. This is the brilliance of meditation: It helps you pay attention to your life in the moment so you can take the right action to soothe and support yourself. If starting a meditation practice has intrigued you, why not give it a try. Start small (3 to 6 minutes a day) and do it every day. These few minutes of mindfulness will reward you with so much.
I hope this article was supportive if so, check out my book Inside: A Guide to the Resources Within. The book has 40 daily practices to guide you inside to happiness and health.
For more opportunities to interact with my work, please check out my coaching page and my workshops.