Thrive in Chapter Five, Embrace Your Journey

Self-discovery and Inspiration

Four Tips to Being Mindful and Present

It’s hard for me to be mindful and present because my mind tends to race.  But, I’ve found four simple tips that help a lot.

1.  Learn to Draw

Not too log ago, I was looking for something to do in the winter.  I signed up for an Introductory Drawing class though the City of East Lansing Parks and Recreation Department.  I’ve always had a creative side, but not that many opportunities at this point in my life to explore that side of me. I thought of it as something I could do with a low commitment.  It might teach me something artsy and at best at best provide a new hobby. Little did I know what it actually would teach me.

“By learning to draw you won’t see things the same anymore.”

At the beginning of the first class, the instructor said after a few lessons, “You won’t see things the same anymore.” And, to my surprise, she was right. Basically, we were instructed to draw our hands, but not to think of it as a “hand” because your brain has expectations of what a hand looks like.  Instead, look at the shapes, points of reference and the portions. Also, to get better perception to start out lightly with the shapes, horizontal and vertical line placement and then tie in more detail.

My initial drawings were pretty rough, but that wasn’t the point.  It got me present to what was right in front of me and looking, really looking, at things — actually noticing the curves, shapes and shades.  It quieted my brain in order to recognize what I was looking at, not as I expected it to be, but accepting it as it was.  Could I actually becoming mindful?

One of my first drawings

Ever since then, she was right, I am looking at everything differently — the outlines of trees, the ripples in a pond, the clouds in the sky… noticing them… and wondering what shape they are and how I could draw them.  It was an exciting way to start seeing things. After just a few lessons, I can say drawing definitely has become a new hobby but also given me a new lens for life.

2.  Don’t Resist

I have also found that one of the keys to acceptance is being present and mindful in what is happening “now”, as it is happening, and not resisting it.

The only thing real is “now.”

I listened to The Power of Now by spiritual leader Eckhart Tolle on a long road trip a few years ago.  What stuck with me were the lessons on how the only thing real is “right now.” I don’t remember exactly how it was phrased, but my take on it was anything other than “now” is just a movie we play in our head and since we can never predict the right ending and we can’t go back and redo things, there is no point in trying to control the future or rehash on what we should have done.

In rehashing the past or trying to control or predict the future, we are only creating resistant energy creating anxiety and frustration.  Resistant energy doesn’t let us enjoy the only “real” thing, which is what is actually happening right now.

3.  Be Still….

My mom has always told me that Psalms 46:10 “Be Still and know that I am God” was one of her favorite Bible verses.  When she sits down to pray or read a devotion she remembers to “Be Still” and in those moments can feel God’s presence.  My friends often talk about how mediation grounds them, but it is a struggle for me to settle my mind so this is something I am working on.

4. Notice your Senses  

Below are some mindful techniques recommended by many to bring you into the present moment. My mind still wanders sometimes, so I think this is a process that requires practice and patience.

When feeling anxious or stuck, try to notice your senses.  Put your focus on:

Something you can see.
Something you can touch.
Something you can hear.
Something you can smell.
Something you can taste

What helps you be mindful and present?  Have you ever taken a drawing class?  Please share and comment below:


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