With the world in chaos, I have noticed that many of us have become more distracted. I have discovered that practicing mindfulness is a good antidote for this distractibility. In many ways, mindfulness is the opposite of distractibility.
From my experience and from numerous resources, here are a few tips on how to be more mindful.
1. Focus on doing one thing at a time, rather than attempting to multitask.
2. Learn some form of meditation that you can use when you find yourself distracted or anxious.
3. To break your addiction to your cell phone, which is a major source of distractibility for me, go through a process of asking yourself:
Why are you picking up your phone?
Are you picking the phone up for some specific reason or is it just out of habit?
Is there something more productive you could be doing with your time?
Take a couple of deep breaths and notice how good it might feel to let the urge to pick up your phone pass you by.
4. Things that you do routinely, like taking a shower, can be transformed by trying to do it in a new way. For example, if you listen to the radio while you shower, turn it off. If you always shampoo first, try doing it last. Focus on the good smells of your soaps and shampoos. Be mindful of what a treat it is to be able to take a shower in a world where water is at a premium and where hot water showers are a privilege.
5. Learn a mantra. A mantra is a simple phrase you use to calm yourself down. The most common one is Om. But you can draw upon your traditions to use any word, for example, shalom, Jesus, Buddha. In transcendental meditation, they give you a phrase to use, but you are entirely free to create your own. When you are stressed, try taking some deep breaths and say your mantra with each out breath. Do this 10 times and notice how your anxiety has reduced in intensity.
6. Take a 20-minute nap and be aware of how good you feel when you wake up.
7. Teach mindfulness to someone else, especially your children. You could even teach it to a dog. My son Dan has taught his dog, Gator, to relax by listening to reggae music. (I’m not sure if this will work for cats who seem to have their own version of mindfulness).
8. Talk to yourself. I know this is an odd suggestion from a psychologist, but sometimes when you tell yourself what you want to be doing at a certain moment, it could be very soothing for you. For example, I say to myself “Robbie, I am now doing the dishes” and I continue to do what I intend to do until it is done.
9. Be sure you completely finish what you started. Then sit back and enjoy your accomplishment.
10. Get out in nature, and yes, smell the flowers.
These are a few of the things I am trying to do.
I’d like to hear from you about some of the things you’re trying to do to become more mindful during this turbulent time.