How To Practice Mindfulness Without Losing Your Mind


A medical practitioner recently prescribed a daily dose of “mindfulness” as treatment for a few physical problems I have been having – insomnia, upset tummy, etc.  For 5 minutes of each day, I am supposed to just sit.  Be in the moment.  Breathe.

Question: How hard can it be to do nothing for 300 seconds?

Answer:  Really F#!@!! hard.

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For every 10 seconds that I sit in silence, my inner voice adds something else to my to-do list:

There is a hole in your sock.  You need to go to Winners and get some new socks… and a lamp… because that bedside lamp is ugly as shit.  Shhh… I say to my inner voice.

And you need to shave your legs.  Seriously!  Shhhh…

You are really bad at this.  You need to google “mindfulness”.  And download some ocean sounds.  Maybe it’s time to buy more icloud storage space.  You should change your passwords more often.  Shhhh…

That roll of belly fat is gross. You need to do more strength training. And stop eating bread.  Maybe keep a food diary for a week.  You should google “quinoa recipes”.  There must be some way to make quinoa taste like mashed potatoes with butter!  Shhhh…

Go to the grocery store after work.  Don’t forget to buy butter.  And shampoo.  And grab some wine while you are out.  Shhhh…

You should cut back on the wine.  Wine has like 300 calories a glass.  Wine is delicious.  Google “good malbecs under $25”.   Shhhh

This underwear is uncomfortable.  Buy new underwear. And clean out your dresser drawers – and your closet – and the boxes of clothes in the attic.  You should have a yard sale.  Or list a bunch of stuff on kijiji.  Or both.  Shhhh…

And that was just the first 70 seconds!  By the time I got to the end of 5 minutes, I had a dozen more must-do errands for the week and several new (and ambitious) life goals.  I had shhh-ed myself so many times that it had started to take on a rhythm – like those ocean sounds that I forgot to download. And a zillion thoughts were still scurrying around inside my brain like ants on a honey drop.

I am clearly not cut out to be a Buddhist.  I will probably never be able to sit cross-legged on a cushion, taking long deep breaths and becoming one with the universe.  And that sucks, because I want to be super-good at mindfulness – just like I want to be super good at everything else.  I want to be the most bad-ass mindfulness-er (Is this a word?) who ever lived!

So my first shot at 5 minutes of mindfulness included several moments of me raging at myself for not uber-achieving as a mindfulness-er (This really should be a word).  But here is the weird thing.  Despite my nagging inner voice and hyperactive monkey brain, I actually DID feel a little calmer when I was done.

So I tried it a few more times and guess what?  It seems to work even when I don’t manage to suffocate all those thoughts.  In fact, that may be the secret (at least for me).  Because when I let the voice in my head ramble on, she gets a lot less critical.  In fact, this morning she sent a few happy thoughts my way.  She reminded me to check out the flowers on my back deck, which are growing really fast this year.  And she noticed that the red polish on my toenails looked nice!


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Author: Kim Scaravelli

Kim Scaravelli is an entrepreneur, marketer, content consultant, and author of “Making Words Work”. The best way to keep in touch is to subscribe to Kim’s popular newsletter. Every second Wednesday, she shares practical writing tips, timely insights, and resources to make your work easier and your content better. To learn more about Kim, visit her website.

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