In the last post I had shared some simple ideas about how mindfulness can be applied in your daily life. In this post, I want to share how using this ancient skill has changed me and my life.
Since I was little, I was an ’over thinker’. There was a cycle of constant thoughts going on in my little head. This was too much for me to take at the time, so I decided it was easier to switch off from reality and become a day dreamer. So here I was about 10 to 12 years old always lost in thought and generally those thoughts were about my own Utopian world in my head.
This habit started coasting me. I lost interest in studies and my concentration started deteriorating. There was a big difference in my grades from class 2nd to class 4th. It was a drastic fall. My parents were worried; however I did not care much. I was busy. I was living in another world where everything was the way I wanted it to be. And frankly I started enjoying it. It was almost like an addiction. I would wait for some alone time where I could immerse myself in some uninterrupted day dreaming.
As I started growing older, I began to realize what I was doing and how it had affected me. So I started making an effort to come back to reality. But reality was a dark place for me at the time. And again my mind started working in overdrive. I would be so lost in either obsessing about the future or ruminating over the past, that it got difficult to even sleep. I remember having a migraine for a couple of weeks. By then I has graduated to become a Counseling Psychologist, so I was aware about the dangers of stress on my health. I kept trying to apply different things that I had learned along my academic program. But nothing seemed to be helping me for a long time.
Then something magical happened. A friend of mine had attended a mindfulness workshop. She started talking about it. Although I found it very intriguing, I never thought it could work for me, considering my history of over thinking. That’s when for the first time she introduced me to 'Body Scanning', a process in which you consciously focus all your attention on your body sensations. This in turn helps you to become aware of your feelings in the body and makes it easier to work with them. The first time I did it, it was quite difficult. I think I could hold my attention for just a few fleeting seconds. But those fleeting seconds gave me a glimpse of how it could feel. And that feeling was what I wanted to chase. It was as if in a very noisy and chaotic room, suddenly there was silence. What a relief!
That is how I started practicing Body Scanning. I started my own research on some useful techniques. I learnt how to focus on my breath, how to walk mindfully, how to use my senses to ground myself and calm me down. In a couple of weeks I started noticing the difference. I was much more in control of my thoughts that were running faster than me, I became more aware of my environment, was better able to focus on tasks and most of all my anxiety started reducing. I felt freer than I have felt in a very long time. I could finally relax. I understood what it really meant, especially for somebody who is so prone to feeling anxious. It was a huge achievement.
This has helped me to live a better life, where I am able to regulate my emotions better. Now even when I feel a certain emotion, it does not get the better of me. Of course like any other person I too experience negative emotions, but I am now able to be mindful of them and express them in healthier ways. For example, if I feel anxious now, I begin by acknowledging my anxiety rather than running away from it or indulging in comfort food. I then inspect deeper about where this anxiety is coming from and then work on releasing it. These things have helped me understand myself better and work on my self-development. If there is any one tool that I always recommend to my clients, it’s Mindfulness. Once you begin practicing it, you understand how it can change your life.