Have you ever noticed that your body is in one place and your mind is someplace else? If you’re like most people, you have thousands of thoughts a day, and the habit of the mind is to be daydreaming about everything except what you’re actually doing. The problem with this tendency is that while mind travel may seem appealing, it is actually detrimental to your health. A wandering mind is very stressful and robs you of having any peace of mind at all. The reason for this is that the majority of our thoughts are focused on regrets or sadness about the past, or worries and anxiety about the future. If only we could get reward points for all the traveling our minds do. Did you know the happiest, most joyful people spend a lot of time thinking about what they’re actually doing? The good news is that there is a better way and that mindfulness cures mind travel!!
In a few days, I’m leaving on a jet plan and going to Spain to walk the last 100k of the El Camino de Santiago. In some ways, it’s a bit of do over for me. A couple of years ago, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with my husband and it was on that trip that I realized that my mind was in trouble. I spent so much time worrying about things that didn’t happen, I left little room to enjoy the experience. The few instances in which my mind was fully engaged in what I was experiencing, are etched in my memory forever. They weren’t the big things, like reaching the top. They were the little things, like seeing the stars at night and putting my weary feet in a cold stream at the end of a long day or the shampoo at the end of the trip.
My goal for this trip is to be mindful of everything!! My plan is that my body, mind, and soul are going to stick together and be present for whatever comes along. I am going to put my mindfulness and meditation practice to the test. I have sat in silence for a period of time everyday for the past two years so that I could live my life more fully, embracing both the comfortable and the uncomfortable feelings, body sensations and thoughts that are bound to arise.
Managing my mind is definitely a work in progress. I would love to say that my meditation practice has cured my mind travel, but I can’t say that. I can say, though, that it’s a lot better and I am much more aware when my mind is on a trip. This increased awareness brings me greater peace as I can choose to bring it back and leave the worry thoughts behind. I often wonder why being mindful of our life as we’re living it, is so difficult. What causes us to stray so far from our natural state of a peaceful mind and happiness? I guess what matters most now, is not what got us into this state, but what will get us out of it? Mindfulness isn’t the cure for everything, but it is a cure for many things!