I've often been told that when I'm deep in thought, I look pissed off. My brow furrows a bit and I don't smile. I'm fully engrossed with whatever topic or debate is occurring in my head, trying to make sense of something I don't quite understand or accept. It looks like I'm cut off from everything and everyone around me, like I'm in my own little world...
I've also been told I think too much :)
It's taken some time to accept that I am a thinker, perhaps more than others. It's also taken time to accept that there is more to life than just thinking and that I may not figure everything out. Since having learned mindfulness, I try to practice being more aware of my surroundings and how I interact in it (especially this time of year with all the seasonal changes as we move from summer into fall). It brings me back into the present moment, allowing me to experience all that is happening in the here and now. Mindfulness is also great for when I'm distressed, obsessing or catastrophizing. It's easy to go into auto-pilot, thinking about the next thing that needs to be done, a current problem that doesn't seem to have a solution, the topic discussed from today's therapy session, perpetuating dialogue from the eating disorder and so on. Mindfulness does take intention, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature.
You know what I've noticed practicing mindfulness over the past few days? People coming and going. Little children asking countless questions about how what they are experience works. Dogs... tons of dogs. Birds staring down my sandwich in hopes I'm in one of my 'thinking moods' where I'm not practicing mindfulness and won't notice him there. Pianos scattered throughout the downtown core of Guelph, ON for people to play spontaneously throughout the month of September. Huge spider webs you know won't last more than a day. Cloudless days. Sun rays. I see squirrels, which brings me a lot of happiness as they run around (I saw one this morning that looked like it had this amazing beard... it was not a beard unfortunately... it was just something he was carrying... darn!). I noticed how most people respond when you look them in the eye and say hello as you pass them by... a greeting that wouldn't have been exchanged if I were in my head. I see dew on the grass and feel its coolness as I walk through the early morning grass. I taste the sweetness from the honey in my tea. I hear conversations and dialogue amongst friends, family members, co-workers. I see a wasp trying to figure out how in the world it is going to get out of a window pane it is trapped in and back into the wild.
There is so much life going on outside of ourselves... Lots of precious moments in life we miss when we are disconnected. Health, healing and wellness isn't just about popping pills and doing cognitive behavioural exercises! Although both may* be needed and are helpful, we must not forget the need to be connected outside of ourselves. Try it... what do your five senses experience today? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you taste and see and smell? What things have you realized since having practiced mindfulness? What things make you smile a little? What cool hair cut does the squirrel around where you live have?
*medication is not a 'must' for all clients. This should be discussed and followed by your doctor or psychiatrist.