How often does your mind take a rest?

Apologies for the long gap but an extended holiday means I have fallen behind my target of writing every 2 weeks!

After a recent conversation with one of the carers I am working with, I thought I would change the topic slightly. Almost at the same time, a mindfulness session I attended reminded me that it might be helpful to write about ways to bring some calm to both your mind and body. Don’t be alarmed. There is a lot in mindfulness which is very easy to use and doesn’t require you to meditate. I know that many of the carers I have worked with assumed that mindfulness couldn’t offer them anything. Their assumption was that you have to sit and meditate for long periods every day and they just don’t have the time for that. Apart from that, meditating sounds as though it would be very difficult. They told me – “As carers, we want our lives made easier, not more difficult!”

Does your mind ever feel as though it is going 19 to the dozen? Does that sometimes result in you feeling physically exhausted? Maybe as if there is a motor running constantly inside your body?

What is your mind occupied with when you feel this? Is it going over things that have happened and wishing they hadn’t or that they had been different? Or is it consumed with worrying about what might happen tomorrow/next week or even further into the future?

Through mindfulness I learned that our minds can be in one of 3 places – the past, the present or the future. If you can be aware of what your mind is doing, you might discover that it spends little time in the present. It might be consumed with going over the past or worrying about the future. However, it is the time in the present that can be really valuable. Being in the present might help us to restore our emotional energy, it might help us to discover new insights and solutions to problems, and it might just mean that we enjoy what we are doing rather than clockwatching and worrying about what we have to do next!

A lady I worked with a short while ago cared for her young daughter who had some really challenging problems and needed a lot of physical help all day every day. Through the work we did together this lady became aware that she was never actually “in the moment” with her daughter. Her mind was always occupied with what she had to do next and she was constantly watching the clock and worrying that she might run out of time to tackle all the things that needed doing. She learned to be in the moment with her daughter and what fun they had together!  

So how can we change and be in the present more? As you can imagine this is a huge topic but here is a tip to help you get started. First, notice what is going on in your mind, what is it busy with? Then try to be aware of and connected to whatever is going on right now. If you are hanging out the washing – taking time, noticing the birds, the smell of the grass, feeling the breeze on your face. If you are walking to the shop – take a little time to chat to neighbours or the shopkeeper, notice the beautiful colours and smells of the gardens as you pass, notice the cool or warmth on your face. Notice anything going on around you and appreciate it rather than rushing and watching the clock. Being in the present might be just being in the moment while doing whatever needs to be done – washing or dressing the person we care for. Or it might be about making some time, even 10 minutes a couple of times each day to be in the moment. Sitting down, drinking a coffee, enjoying some music.

The first step is to notice what your mind is doing and if it is repeatedly occupied with any of the Ws – worrying, wanting, wishing, waiting, wondering – then it might be worth staying with my blog. Next time, I will try to help you to discover how to create some balance across the past, present and future and to feel the benefits.