Keep Your Mind Where Your Body Is
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who wasn’t there? Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you weren’t there? Have you ever been in a meeting and no one was there? Most likely, you could unequivocally say yes to all of the above.
From time to time, and more often for some of us, we allow something outside of ourselves to distract us from what’s important in the moment. I often allow myself to become distracted. I allow something to take me on a metal detour, whether I’m diverted by other people’s behavior or drawn into their drama. All of these diversions mean my mind is not where my body is.
When we allow ourselves to be distracted from what’s happening in the moment, those around us suffer. People are affected, including our children, our spouses, our partners, our friends, co-workers, or anyone we might be connected with in the moment. When we go astray mentally or emotionally, we send a message to the person that he or she doesn’t matter. That he or she is not important enough to hold our attention. Our words may say “you matter,” but her actions scream something else.
Not long ago, I was sitting in a meeting with a honking began outside the window. It was loud and continuous. Many of the attendees, including me, became obsessed with the noise for the entire hour and a half. The honking was a condition we could not control, but we could control our reactions to it. We gave each other looks and whispered about the noise. We got so bothered by the outside condition that we ourselves ultimately became the distraction.
You Have A Choice.
Perhaps we were justified in being disturbed. But in truth, each of us had a choice as to whether to give away our power.
We each made a decision, conscious or otherwise, to allow a condition to control our experience. I allowed my attention to be stolen right out from under me. Those of us who choose to be distracted suffered because we missed out on the valuable information offered by the speaker and instead spent the entire time being angry about something we couldn’t control. The presenter suffered because he was never able to recapture the attention of the 15 or 20 people who went along with me for the mental ride. It was a lose-lose situation for all concerned.
So what can we do to be more present? How can we bring our minds more in alignment with our body?
- For starters, admit your mind it’s not always we are your body is. Denying any problem is a prescription for failure.
- Become aware of those times when your attention is diverted in another direction. Call it what it is!
- Be willing to see the damage to yourself, to your relationship, and to your serenity when you are not fully present. Get honest about how it affects you and others. A bold move is to ask someone you’re in a relationship with how your behavior affects him or her.
- Be a careful and attentive listener. Listen to understand, and not to judge.
- Practice quieting your busy mind. The noise in the brain is sometimes overwhelming that we simply must shut it off.
- Practice staying in the moment. Hold your attention. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back.
I invite you to be aware of how often you are distracted. During an important meeting, you were thinking about what you’re having for lunch. Maybe during lunch, you were thinking about work. Maybe when you’re with the kids, your attention was diverted to something else that made you not able to give them your full attention.
Then practice staying in the moment. You may find it challenging at first, but after a while, it’ll become easier. Whenever your mind wants to move away from where your body is, gently bring it back.