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Moving from Mind-full-mess to Mindfulness

Is your mind more like an overstuffed junk closet or a Zen monastery?

Is your mental state closer to a crowded freeway than a sweet country lane?

Do your thoughts bring you panic or bring you peace?

If you are like most humans, your mind is more mess than mindful, more chaos than calm.

During a full moon, our minds can sometimes be at their worst. While the full moon is beautiful to witness, it can intensify the chaos in our minds if we are not aware of how we are being affected. Here are some tips for happy, healthy mind maintenance.

The Moon and Mindfulness

First, be aware that the moon DOES affect the state of your mind and your body. Humans are a part of the great rhythms of life. Just like nature, we live within the cycles of the seasons, circadian rhythms, and the lunar cycles. You only have to look to the ocean tides for evidence of the moon’s great power.

During full moons, the tides are at their peak, with the highest high tide and the lowest low tide of the month. As the push and pull on the Earth’s tides are increased, similarly, the full moon has an amplifying effect upon us all. You may find during the full moon that the chaos in your mind is magnified and intensified.

So, what is mindfulness and why should you care about it? Mindfulness is our ability to use the power of our entire mind to be present and aware in each moment. Most of us don’t live in the present moment. Most of us live in all places at once, trying to manage innumerable thoughts, ideas, demands and judgments.

Because our minds are spread so thin, with no moment really being fully experienced, we get fixated on certain thoughts or stories that are grabbing our attention at all times. And the part of our mind that is most getting fixated, is the small, but very loud: critical judge.

When your judge constantly criticizes you, berates you for not being “perfect,” or endlessly compares you to others, your mind gets messier and messier. You will find yourself making up all sorts of stories about who you should be or what you should do or where you should be. Which means you are everywhere else except the present moment. This is a perfect storm of anxiety and frustration.

And when your judge is active your victim-self shows up, feeling more and more worthless, hopeless, and powerless against the onslaught of your negative thinking.

And that is just the beginning. Throw in worst-case-scenario media and “you-should-be-different” advertising, mixed with other people’s opinions and reactions (both past and present, real or imagined) and you have a serious brew of mess.

When the judge is running rampant causing chaos everywhere and the victim is fleeing in every direction at once, it can feel a lot like a captainless ship being tossed upon a rough sea.

Happily, you have a sharp sword of clarity that is always ready, available, and at your service: your awareness, or mindfulness.

How Mindfulness Helps you Navigate Choppy Waters

Mindfulness is mind-love-ness. Instead of letting your judge narrow you down into fear and worry, take a step back and invite your whole mind to come online. By putting mindfulness into practice you are countering the negative thoughts that are causing the chaos and anxiety by bringing control back into the equation. In essence, you are taking control of the ship and steering it where you want it to go.

Here are five steps to move from mind-full-mess to mindfulness:

  1. Start by becoming mindful of your breath. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Mindfully connect to your breathing. All you need are three deep, mindful breaths to start slowing your mind down.
  2. Bring your attention to all of your senses. Use your mind to scan your physical body and check in on physical sensations, sounds, tastes, sights, and smells. Take one sense at a time and increase your perception of each.
  3. Activate your superpowers: love, compassion, and patience. Treat your mind as a friend rather than a foe, but a friend that you need to make strong, clear boundaries with.
  4. Talk to your mind: Hey, sweetheart, what’s going on with you today? What can I do to help you feel safe?
  5. Shake your body. It is amazing how much we can get into the present by taking a few moments to move to music, do some jumping jacks, or stretch.

Mindfulness is just one of many tools that can bring you closer to living a life of intent and purpose. By practicing mindfulness you are adding another tool of self-awareness to your repertoire. With each new tool adding to the effectiveness of the others, you are well on your way to gaining greater personal freedom, and moving from haphazard living to living with purpose.

This post first appeared on heatherashamara.com;  reposted with permission from the author.

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