Developing a Practice of Mindfulness


It’s amazing how songs can inspire you, and that inspiration can come when you need it the most. I was just listening to “Time” by Pink Floyd, when the lyrics got me:

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day…you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today. And then one day you find 10 years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun…

It inspired me to to think about living in the now, and how much we focus on the past that we can’t change and the future that we can’t control. I realize it’s hard to live in the here and now. I remember a friend giving me that advice once but I never really understood how to go about it. How do you get out of your head to experience life now? How do you not let that little voice in your head take over? It can happen because you are bored, upset or anything that makes you not want to focus on the present. So how do you learn to appreciate the present when you are so focused on the past and the future? Well, let me take you on a little journey that worked for me:
  • Get out of your head. When I get emotional about something – good or bad – I sometimes like to engage in this little exercise of “getting out of my head.” I will repeat the situation that is making me emotional out loud. Then I’ll repeat it again in my head, listing the known facts of the situation, not my perceptions of it. I then repeat this again just to make sure I got it. Then, I feel content to move on from it and back to the present.
  • Practice mindfulness. Personally, I find the more I think about mindfulness, the more restless I get. I would love to spend hours meditating and “observing” my thoughts without judging them. However, I am a normal person and I find that really difficult to do, especially when trying to do a million other things in a day. However, spending just five minutes a day to meditate is something I can do. There are tons of apps that can help you with that. If you can do this at least once a day, it will really help to transfer your thoughts and energy into a state of being where you can appreciate the present.
  • Do something. I never really liked dancing – it was something I always felt insecure about. As a child, my parents put me in various types of dancing classes and it always felt like a chore to me. Now, I find that if you can go out and do something, anything, even if you feel really insecure about it, it will transform your life. Go and do something like no one is watching, and let go. Don’t think about it because once you start, you will over think it and start letting past influences and future pressures get to you. I love dancing now because it lets me be me and live in the present.
  • Go away. When you start thinking obsessively about something, it’s okay to say “stop” or in my case, I like to say “go away go away until you come back with something positive.” Worrying is part of life but it doesn’t have to take over your life. Once you tell yourself to stop and refocus on the present, you will see those worries start to melt away.
  • Accept it. If something bothers me, my first instinct is to avoid it and run away. And every single time, I find that running away from reality doesn’t help. In fact, it really just makes it worse. My advice is to run towards the issue and accept it. It’s the only way to move on. Try to understand that it’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling. It’s normal and part of any process.

These are some ways I find have helped me live in the moment. Some days it works and others, it’s harder. I find too that the more I practice, the easier it becomes. When you can experience life in the present, you begin to understand that not everything is a destination. Not every email needs to be answered right away. You can experience life and enjoy it. Do you struggle with experiencing the present as much as I do? What are your tips?

Lekshmy Sankar is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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