One way to conceptualize mindfulness and the benefit of a present moment focus is to notice the state of mind that is conjured up by dwelling in the past, or worrying about the future. We can even put mood states on a time continuum where depression is induced by thinking about negative events of the past or ruminating on regrets and where anxiety is stirred up by trying to predict the future.
The time/mood continuum
past ——– present ——— future
depression ——– peace ———- anxiety
Of course it’s possible to think about the past with pleasant nostalgia or the think about the future with excitement, but because our brains are wired to have a negative bias, too often past/future thoughts bring discomfort.
Try this mindfulness exercise: By looking at this time/mood continuum it’s easy to see that taking even a few minutes a day to dwell in the here and now can give your nervous system a much needed break.
It can be challenging to spend much time in the present as thoughts of the past or future will try to sneak in. The next time you sit down to meditate and you start thinking about some past event, try simply saying aloud or to yourself, “remembering.” Likewise, if you find yourself worrying about the future, say aloud or to yourself, “planning.” As with any mindfulness exercise, remember to avoid judging your wandering mind and gently bring yourself back to the peaceful present over and over again. Set a timer and try this exercise for five minutes. Let us know the results.
We wish you twenty minutes of peace every day!
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