Are you overwhelmed? Living in chronic stress mode? You’re not alone. Our days are running 24/7, our senses assaulted by the constant pinging of our smart phones and our attention diverted by the endless tweets, Facebook posts, texts, and emails. Always looking for the next thing, then newer thing, the more exciting thing. What’s better, faster, bigger? I want it sooner, now, now, now, NOW! This type of frenetic, wired living leads us to anxiety, depression, insomnia, obesity, and countless other ailments.
Technology is addictive, tapping into the most primitive part of our brain, it drives into our central nervous system. As it beeps, hums, and tweets, we are driven to respond. Our device holds the promise that there is something more important, more urgent, and more interesting than our present moment experience.
But there is hope: Take a deep breath, turn off your cell phone, and slow down. Much like when we practice an instrument, a new language, or a sport to improve our skills, there are also practices that we can engage in to cultivate a happier, more connected, and joyful life. Simple practices that bring us into our present moment experience. Practices that we can incorporate in our everyday, not just on a meditation cushion.
Mindfulness practices can help. Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to your present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. Happiness is being here, NOW. The heart of Mindfulness is being with your present moment experience, just as it is.
We experience our greatest joy when we are present and attentive to our experiences. We are happiest when we are thinking about what we’re doing. Mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy. It seems, you are better off if you do the dishes and think about doing the dishes, then if you do the dishes and think about being in Hawaii. Even in the middle of winter.
Reflect on the last time you found yourself stuck on “autopilot,” or lost in thought. It’s all too common in our everyday lives to find ourselves aimlessly shifting from task to task, with little conscious awareness of where we are or what we’re doing. Conversely, think about the last time you found your mind wandering, perhaps thinking about the past or the future, with little connection to your surroundings. These sorts of experiences are quite common and may seem harmless enough on the surface. But over time they can actually wreak havoc on our mental health and emotional well-being.
When you wake up tomorrow I invite you to stop, take a breath, come into yourself and out of your automatic pilot. Instead of starting your day by grabbing your smart phone to check the endless tweets, Facebook posts, texts and emails, before you even get out of bed you can make a different choice. Try spending just 10 minutes with yourself so that you can begin, once again, reconnecting, finding space, being present and slowing things down. Mindfulness enables us to become more present in our day-to-day lives, and helps us go from a state of mindless autopilot to becoming more fully alive and awakened. Try it, you just might like it.
Megan Morbitzer is a co-founder of NOW House, a UCLA MARC Certified Mindfulness Facilitator and teaches at NOW House. Megan has taught Mindfulness for Parents, Families, and Children, Mindfulness in Schools, and other meditation classes in a variety of settings, including LA prisons and jails. She also facilitates a peer-led meditation group for InsightLA. Megan has more than 15 years of personal practice and intensive study of meditation and is passionate about helping adults and children live with greater ease, self-awareness, kindness, and joy!