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The Wandering Mind and Unhappiness

Two Human heads, one in the clouds and one with a red ladder going directly into the center of a lightburst  emanating from the center of the head

I CAN’T STAND THIS! We have all been there. We are doing something we can’t wait to be done with. We are hating it. Time is moving excruciatingly slow. We are lost in future thought of what we are going to do when we are done ( for me this is doing the dishes!) or ruminating on past experiences. But mind wandering comes at an emotional cost. Disconnected from the present moment we may experience an increase in what we don’t want to feel like anxiety, stress, dissatisfaction and unhappiness. If we are already running themes of depression and general unhappiness in our lives (without the dishes) not being able to focus on the present moment can exacerbate our already difficult conditions. Dwelling on past regrets or future uncertainties keeps us trapped in a time traveling loop of desire, expectation and disappointment. It prevents us from fully experiencing the now. There are even numerous scientific studies currently supporting a very strong correlation between a wandering mind and unhappiness. ENGAGING THE MIND But what if what I am doing in the moment really sucks? For many years I worked, or I would rather say mindfully trained, at a factory where I performed the same repetitive movement for 10 to 12 hours a day. How brutal is standing in the same spot doing the same thing for hours on end? While others were lost in the music of their ipods for entire time, I chose to work with my mind and focus on various aspects of my sensory experience as I engaged in my task. I noticed how looking at the clock and wishing I was elsewhere made my day drag. I noticed remaining present to my bodily experience made my day fly. I chose the latter and fully focused my mind intentionally—no random wandering.I would concentrate on both inner and outer sensation, sounds, feelings, arisings and passings. Noticing where your mind is, is the first step in being able to ebody yourself with intentionality. EMBODYING THE PRESENT Our senses are the gateway to the present. In that dreaded job, I focused on my bodily movements as if I was engaged in Chi Gong. Surprisingly the body movements of the job mimicked the ancient art. At times I allowed myself to fully feel the emotions of participating in a job that wasn’t fulfilling. Boredom actually has a lot of flavors to it when you fully investigate its contents and contour. This deep investigatory exploration into our experience unfolds a relationship with ourselves that can begin to translate to our other relationships in life, enriching and deepening our lived experience. While these activities don’t create a birthday party kind of happiness that we may think of when we think of happiness, they give rise to an equanimity that occurs from the centerpoint of intentionally. The definition of equanimity is being able to experience our sensory self without craving or aversion. Without the push or pull of wanting or rejecting we experience the wellspring of effervescent peace that comes without having a tug of war game going on in our minds and bodies. This arising and passing of thoughts and experience happen as we remain firmly grounded in the present moment. This is happiness without conditions. The power to transform our experience lies right within us through conscious presence and engagement. By being fully present with our body, mind, emotions and sensory experience you can discover a profound sense of contentment that arises from fully experiencing your life. Need assistance with learning mindful and embodied presence practices? Eileen is an alternative healer who has completed 15 vision quests enabling her to be a clear and effective conduit for your personal growth. She has worked with somatic breathwork practices for the last 9 years and is a certified Unified Mindfulness Coach Contact

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