It’s a GREAT question, isn’t it? Lately, I have realized that my mind is totally full and I am absolutely NOT mindful when my mind is full…
How often do you catch yourself stuck in your own thoughts? How many lists do you make in your head a day (and later transfer to the iPad or paper)? Making lists is not the problem. The problem is…the list never ends! You will always find more and more to do, and you will be completely disconnected from the present moment if your mind is full.
A few nights ago, I was preparing dinner for my family. My son wanted fish sticks. As I took them out of the oven, I asked, “Nico, what do you want to dip these in? Do you want ranch dressing or ketchup?” He responded with, “Mom, come on, don’t you know me?” The tears welled up in my eyes because, in the not so distant past, my son would never have had to ask me that question. Unfortunately, I have allowed my mind to become completely cluttered with random thoughts and I now see clearly, just how easy it is to fall into the trap of a full mind!
So what is it that’s on our mind all of the time? Finances, family issues, career, colleagues, relationships, responsibilities, and the list goes on…
We can constantly plan in our mind what it is we have to do and how we should go about it, but we are missing the big picture. In all of our planning and doing, we are not being.
There are several definitions for mindfulness, but here is one I found that is simple and right to the point (just the way I like it)…
Mindfulness is bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis (Marlatt & Kristeller, 1999).
Today, my son and I were driving down a country road as we headed to a birthday party in my hometown. He was playing his DS in the backseat, while I was trying my hardest to clear my full mind. We were only about 20 minutes into our hour and a half drive and I was already feeling my mind fill up with ‘stuff’. As we traveled down the road with only a few cars, I noticed a dog close to the side of the road. He was an adorable hound dog and he looked like he had a tag on, signifying that he certainly had an owner. I saw that he was dangerously close to the line on this winding road, so I beeped my horn as I saw a few cars approaching in the opposite direction. This peeked the dogs attention and thankfully slowed the cars down to avoid a terrible event. I continued to slowly drive down the road, thinking in my head, “That poor dog. I wonder if his owner even knows he’s out. What will happen to that little guy?” I started to pick up speed and went back to my mind full of thoughts, which now included some guilt for not stopping to be sure that the dog was home with its owner.
Within a few minutes, we were about 2 miles away from the dog and I was still feeling badly about the little guy, but focusing on where we had to go instead of the present moment. I looked in the rear view mirror and my son had tears in his eyes. He said, “Mom, we have to go back to make sure that dog is okay. We just have to!” Without hesitation, I turned around to go and find the dog, hoping and praying that he was okay. As we approached the area where we first saw him near the road, we noticed that he was heading into a house with a person. I pulled into the driveway and talked to the owners for a few minutes. It appears as though our beeping cautioned them and made them realize that the dog had gotten out. They were very thankful and we were very excited to know we made a difference.
We backed out of the driveway and headed down the road. I knew what I was feeling in my heart… pure bliss. I then looked in the mirror at my son, and said, “Nico, I am so proud of you for asking Mommy to go back to make sure that dog was okay. You are such a kind and caring young man and you did the right thing.” I smiled and continued on. A few minutes later, I looked in the mirror again and saw my son crying. I asked what was wrong, and he replied,
“Nothing Mommy, these are tears of joy…tears of joy.”
Up to that moment of seeing this hound dog on the side of the road, I was caught up in my own stuff. I was thinking of all the things I needed to do and how long this trip was going to take. I was focusing on what was to come, instead of what was right in front of me. You would think that just seeing that dog almost lose his life would have been enough to break that stinkin’ thinkin’, but it wasn’t. As soon as we passed, my mind started to drag me in again, until my son, a six year old, forced me to BE in the moment. He never questioned going back to check on the dog. If he was driving that car, he likely would have pulled over as soon as he saw the dog near the line of the road! His first and only thought was to be sure the dog was safe. He was so clearly in the moment, and not worried about where we had to be in the next few hours.
When we first began our journey today, I will be the first to tell you that I had a full mind and felt a bit heavy in my heart with worries. I wanted to raise my vibration, but I wasn’t sure how. I was wondering if I should listen to some positive CD’s, like Dr. Wayne Dyer or the Law of Attraction, but my heart still felt heavy. It wasn’t until I shifted my thoughts away from myself and to the needs of another that my Spirits lifted.
Today, I feel blessed to have children in my life who teach me daily lessons and remind me to stay in the present moment. In the scheme of things, it really didn’t matter that we were 15 minutes later than we had planned. I certainly wouldn’t have solved my day to day worries during that car trip, nor would I have solved the problems of the world. Staying in the moment can certainly bring so many blessings to us. Today, being mindful helped a dog get home safely with a simple little “beep,” and it reminded me just how important it is to stay in the moment!
I know that life can get busy and it’s easy to allow the mind to fill, but today, and every day, when you catch your mind filling with all of these random thoughts (that are usually fear driven), take a breath and find something beautiful happening right in front of you. If that’s too hard, then watch a child for just a few moments, because truth is, children spend most of their time in the present…being mindful! As we guide our children to shine their lights, let us remember that they have much to share with us as well.
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