A Mindful Journey
With the dawn of a new year upon us, I am reminded of long driving trips, passing through several states on an exciting journey to somewhere. Entering a new state – especially one you’ve never been to before – can be filled with anticipation, wonder, curiosity and a desire to soak in the sights. It is often connected with positive feelings and emotions. You may notice things that seem different than the places you’ve traveled before, as well as things that look the same or have a certain familiarity. After some time, you may have more of a settled feeling in a new state – you know where you are, and you’re immersed in the experience.
Where have you been? Where are you at right now? Where is your journey taking you?
The past, present and future are all “states” that we visit each day in our journey called life. As we transition from one year to the next, you may notice yourself thinking ahead to what lies further down the road for you – in the future – in another “state.” You may find yourself planning, anticipating or even worrying about what might come next, while the “state” you are in right now (the present) passes right by you. You may also think about past “states” that you have already visited. You may have fond recollections, regrets and even a desire to do some things differently if you could.
Practicing Mindfulness on Your Journey
Of course, thinking about what’s to come and what has already transpired is completely natural and normal – it happens countless times every day. Remember, we can have the intention to stay present and then find ourselves replaying/reminiscing/ruminating on things from before or planning/worrying about the future.
Being intentionally mindful can aid you in staying in the present experience. At the very moment you become aware that your thoughts and attention have drifted into the past or future – you are practicing mindfulness. It is that awareness that allows you to return to the present moment.
Noticing your breath, the sounds around you, the sights you see – all of these are helpful ways to notice, and then come back to and immerse yourself in the present moment. It can be helpful to remind yourself that drifting attention and thoughts are a part of our humanness, not a sign that you are “failing” at mindfulness practice.
Each day our thoughts and attention will naturally drift. You may begin to anticipate the next “state” ahead that is steadily approaching. There may be places or things that you hope to see and experience in this new “state.” You may also feel uncertain about what’s to come. On the other hand, you may find yourself revisiting a past “state” – replaying a conversation, thinking about something you could have said or done differently.
Mindfulness practices help to remind us that the present moment is all that we have, the only place where we have some degree of choice as to how to proceed.
So, what choices are here for you now – in this moment – as you continue your journey?
Contact the Mindful Counseling Center at 609-377-5859 for assistance with mindfully staying on course in your journey of being and becoming the person you want to be, no matter the state you are in!
Article by Patrick Connelly