Taming My Rowdy Mind, Ten Seconds at a Time

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.
Hanh Nhat Thich

I sat in in my office, slumped in my chair, fingers tapping away on the keys of the laptop.  I was writing this post and I suddenly realized that the actual thoughts streaming through my brain were not the ones appearing on the page.  Oh, I recognized the words all right.  They had sailed through my consciousness just moments ago, but they were not the ones I was thinking about. My autopilot was doing the actual typing.

In the present moment, my rowdy brain had moved onto five new thoughts.

I was deliberating what I wanted to say next, deciphering the noise coming from downstairs and reviewing my daily ‘to-do’ list.  I felt my stress level rising because I was lagging behind on the tasks I wanted to get done and I had an overwhelming desire for a cup of coffee.

Was I being mindful or not?   Not.

Mindfulness is a mental state where we tame our runaway thoughts.  We become calm and accepting of the present moment without judging who we are, where we are, what we are doing, our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.  It is a moment of stillness, of presence, of peace.

I do not believe that in our fast-paced world it is realistic to live attentively every minute of every day; nor do I believe the pundits who promote mindfulness expect us to.  Having said that, there is much written on the benefits of having a disciplined practice of meditation, the mental exercise that gets us to a state of heartful mindfulness.  Some of us, however, struggle to do so.

Someone suggested to me about a year ago that I consciously and deliberately slow down what I was doing three times a day, for ten or fifteen seconds at a time.  All I had to do was take a few deep breaths, let my thoughts go and just be in the moment. I was to calmly focus on my breathing and continue my activity while quietly noticing the physical sensation of sights, sounds, smell and touch.  After I finished my ‘moment’, I was free to return to my normal obstreperous operation.

It sounded simple enough.   I was surprised how challenging it was.  The colossal momentum of life seemed to always take over I couldn’t remember to stop for these special ‘moments’!  Oh dear.

I decided to use triggers to remind myself.  Here are some of the ones that got me started.

The first cup of coffee in the morning! I hold my cup, feeling its heat radiating through the tips of my fingers. I breathe in the aroma.  I take my first sip and let the coffee linger on the tongue before I swallow it.  I feel its warmth trickle down my throat.  I smile.

Sitting in a car stopped behind a red traffic light.  Sometimes I spin my ring to help me focus.  There’s nothing else to do but wait, so I breathe deeply, allowing the jumbled thoughts to float away like a ship at sea and focus on the stillness and the twirling of my ring.

In the shower!  Generally, when I rinse my hair, just for a few seconds, I stop to feel the water drops against my skin and listen to their hum and feel their warmth.  Pure luxury.

Beating eggs with a hand mixer while baking in my kitchen. I’ve learned I cannot rush the blending of eggs and sugar.  (Oh, I’ve tried!)  Now I just stand back, breathe, accept and get calm.  My thick fluffy egg/sugar ribbon will be done when it’s done and not a moment sooner.   Recently Hubby asked if I’d want a countertop stand-mixer so I could do other things while the ingredients were blending.  I said, “No.”

And finally, that instant delectable bursts of joy when eating CHOCOLATE!   The rich buttery bite makes me want to twirl it with my tongue, tease it and savor it before I swallow it.  A chocoholic’s delight!  How can I not be present for that?

Today I’m finding it easier to remember to include mini-mindful moments throughout the day.  Some days I have more of them than others and that is okay.

I think the real magic started to happen when I chose to engage in this practice while doing loathsome tasks like cleaning the toilet.  Gradually, over time, I have somehow lost some of my aversion to undertaking these tasks.  That, in my book, is a miracle in itself.

Okay, I’ve waited long enough.  I’m going down for my cup of coffee.  Care to join me?



16 thoughts on “Taming My Rowdy Mind, Ten Seconds at a Time

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  1. Hi Kate! I don’t think I can hear or read about mindfulness enough because OBVIOUSLY there are so many other exciting things floating around us and darting through our heads at any given moment. That’s exactly why I think “training” ourselves toward mindfulness is so very important. I know it takes “discipline” which most of us dislike even thinking about, but as my blog post today suggests it really, really helps us in so many ways. I love your suggestions about how to practice. As you said, we BOTH were on the same mindset this week. Thank you for the reminders to be mindful!! ~Kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kathy! My “meditation” these days is through a flow yoga practice. I do it almost every day and miss it on the days I don’t. I miss the feeling of having stretched fully and the calmer feeling that lingers through most the day after I finish the routine. Even when the instructor switches things around, she knows not to tinker with the beginning and ending of the routine since those are my triggers of ‘getting into the moment’ of stillness and flow. It is easy to get disciplined doing something we like. 🙂


  2. YEs! Yes ! I want to join you. This morning as I was putting on sunscreen as if I needed to scrub off my skin I was thinking about how I needed to make the bed. That I had already made. The sunscreen is a moment that can keep me present…but instead I was jabbing, looking ahead, and chastising myself for not looking backwards ENOUGH. This was a great reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Anna! Our autopilots really are amazing things – what would we do without them – burn our skin in the sun, for sure. 😉 When I stop to really think about what I’m actually thinking about – it does become funny sometimes. Time to go smell the roses … oh, the spring air will be nice!


  3. Oh, these ARE lovely… I feel you on the coffee. I love to sit and savor it, alongside a bit of something sweet and I try – sometimes it works, sometimes the kids prevent it. *laugh* I love these other ideas. I try to stop and just look outside to notice the weather, the temperature, anything outside. It’s calming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nature has a rhythm of its own and it is so different than ours! I suspect we used to align more with nature’s rhythm – not any more. Good choice Dakota; nature is calming – except when the weeds take over my garden; then it starts nagging me to get out there and get rid of the pesky intruders. (*chuckling*) I do love putting my nose up to a bunch of roses and taking a deep breath. Come back and join me for a cuppa anytime. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This: “I do not believe that in our fast-paced world it is realistic to live attentively every minute of every day;” It really is more challenging than it sounds. But I will share that chocolate and have a cuppa with you! ❤️☕️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great post! You tell a wonderful story, as always, Kate. Plus you offer some great suggestions that I’m going to try myself to help induce more mindfulness. Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you dropped by and stopped to chat. Thanks for your kind words. I hope you are able to find some triggers of your own. I’d love to hear about the ones that work for you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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