Mindfulness 101

I had considered doing a full Musikfest wrap-up in here, but honestly, I’m all fested out. Instead, let’s talk about mindfulness. (Possibly not as compelling as the story of my friend who barfed in my other friend’s kitchen sink Saturday night, but much less disgusting.)

“Mindfulness” more or less means living in the moment. It is a term that gets thrown around a lot in my company’s publications – “mindful eating,” specifically. I got to a point recently where I’d seen the mindful-eating reference enough times to wonder if there was something to it, and whether learning more about it would help get me to my race weight. So, I got a book out of the library. It was a bit abstract, so I only skimmed it, but one thing stood out for me.

One of the chapters was called “Hope as an Obstacle,” and it talked about hope as a negative thing. That confused me, so I read the section. Hoping for something implies that you are thinking about the future, and what may or may not happen in the future, but mindfulness is about experiencing the present.

“What’s so great about experiencing the present? I’m just sitting alone in my apartment reading a book,” I thought. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I could benefit from that kind of mentality.

I do spend an awful lot of time thinking about things that have happened or about things that could potentially happen. This habit often causes me stress. I tend to dwell on awkward social interactions, wonder too much about what other people think of me, and replay embarrassing moments over and over in my head. I also tend to build up expectations of people and of future events, and if those expectations aren’t met or exceeded, it bums me out. If I would spend less time thinking about the past and the future, I’d likely be a much happier person. And that only leaves the present.

I read the entirety of this fantastic article from Psychology Today, and I ordered another (hopefully more useful) book from the library. I’ve been trying to catch myself in the act of overthinking, to breathe and to consider my surroundings. And I’ve adopted this man as my personal mascot:

Look at this guy and just try to tell me he isn't living in the moment.

Because I couldn’t just not mention Musikfest at all, here is a man wearing an umbrella hat and dancing like a crazy fool during Tavern Tan’s first set on Main Street Wednesday. I will pretend like this man was sober at the time, though I’m fairly certain he was not. People were staring! People were laughing! Did he care? No. Does he care now? No. (He may not remember. But in my story, he does, and he just doesn’t care.)

I want that! I want to act like an idiot and not worry about it. I want to go into situations without deeply ingrained expectations of how they will turn out. I want to wear an umbrella hat with a basketball jersey and dance in front of a crowd of stunned onlookers. And being more mindful should help me get there.


About Meghan Loftus

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One Response to Mindfulness 101

  1. Pingback: Ellen Langer, Sully Sullenberger, and the Rat King « Remember the H

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