Mindfulness Enabled Me to Befriend My Mind
Although most of us are surrounded by other people all day, at the end of the day we are still alone in our heads. Take a minute to think about this. Think about a time when you've been with a happy group of people who are having fun, but you've felt alone, isolated, stressed out or anxious. How is it possible to feel anxious and stressed when you are surrounded by other people having a good time? The human mind is such a powerful creation and although it is wonderful it also has some design flaws which can make life difficult, particularly modern day life. Take for example the fact that it only seems to be humans who not only experience feelings and emotions, but who have a separate awareness of them which allows us to wish things to be different, for instance thinking 'I wish this long week would end'. This means that human beings are not only capable of experiencing strong emotions but we are also experts at adding additional layers of stress to whatever is happening by wishing things were different from reality. Usually we resist strong negative emotions once we become aware of them and try and think our way out of what we are feeling. At this point the mind has gone into overdrive trying to solve a 'problem' that it can't fix. The end result is that we become stuck in our heads feeling even more anxious and stressed, surrounded by happy lovely people who have no idea what's going inside our stressed out mind. It can so easily happen. This for me personally is where mindfulness has been most impactful. Mindfulness helps with the experience of being 'alone in your head' in two ways.
1. Mindfulness enables us to switch out of auto-pilot thinking more often. It helps us see when we are lost in unhelpful thought patterns and enables us to bring ourselves back to the present moment. So we may still feel anxious and stressed but at least we also may at times be able to enjoy the company of our lovely happy friends even when we are feeling like that. This sense of connectedness with others is incredibly important when we are going through tough times. The isolation that comes from being stuck in our own minds is terribly painful and even brief moments of connection can lessen that pain.
2. Mindfulness enables us to make friends with our minds and to see the good, the bad and the ugly with compassion, friendliness and a non-judgemental awareness. So rather than chastising ourselves for feeling anxious and stressed and pushing and resisting against that, we are able to show ourselves more kindness, acknowledging what we feel and not making it worse by piling blame, guilt, and other self critical thoughts on top of the stress. The more we are able to face the tough times and strong emotions, the more we realise that these tough times will pass and that each time we go through that tough time we can learn and grow from the experience and bolster our resilience for the future.
If any of this resonates with you then mindfulness could very beneficial to you. It IS possible to live life without being stuck in your head and believe me there is so much to see and so many wonderful experiences to live and share when we get out of our head and into the world.