One mindfully in the moment

The second “how” skill that helps us stay mindful is called “One Mindfully.” I know it sounds strange. Once you understand how to use it, the term will make more sense.

Most people spend their days on “automatic pilot” not really paying attention. We often engage in one activity while our mind is focused on something else. We think we can accomplish more by doing several things at once. This is simply not true. When we bring our whole being into focus on one thing at a time, we are more productive. Sometimes we must quickly switch from one activity to another. The key is to give your full attention to each activity only when you are doing it.

Have you ever washed dishes while cooking?  What about eating a meal, folding clothes, rocking a baby, or some other activity while watching TV? I’ll admit, I write, surf Facebook, and play games on my laptop while watching TV. That’s the complete opposite of mindfulness. When you eat, eat. When you play, play. Do each task as it comes with single-minded focus.

If you have migraine, particularly high-frequency or chronic migraine, you know that time is precious. We rush around, trying to catch up on tasks before the next attack begins. In theory this is not a bad idea IF we can maintain focus on each task rather than letting our minds wander. With so few productive hours available, mindfulness is a way to make the most of them. By focusing all our senses, thoughts, and behaviors on a single task, we will actually accomplish more.

Another way this directly affects migraineurs is our tendency to think about the next attack before it starts. It’s one thing to be prepares for an attack and quite another to keep our focus on the future while missing out on all that migraine-free time in between.

Do one thing at a time

If you must worry about the next attack, then focus all of your attention on that worry. Immerse yourself in the experience, setting aside everything else. You might be surprised to discover that only need to do this for a few minutes before you are able to move on to something else. When faced with a complicated project or long task list, this skill can help get it done. You simply choose the next thing and then do it. When it is finished, start the next thing. Before long that list is much smaller. I found this strategy very effective when looking for a new headache specialist. I went through several doctors before finding the right one. The long list of things to do felt so overwhelming. By taking it one step at a time, I was finally able to find the perfect doctor for me.

Mindful breathing

We breathe all the time. With all that practice, one would think we are pretty good at it. Actually, we’re terrible breathers. We take shallow breaths, rarely filling our lungs to capacity. Several times each day, take a few deep breaths. Focus only on filling your lungs with air and slowly exhaling. Full, deep breaths oxygenate your cells (even the ones in your brain) much more efficiently. Try this for a day or two. Notice how it affects your energy level and ability to focus.

Staying present in the moment

How much time do you spend ruminating about the past or worrying about the future? Rarely do we slow down enough to recognize the moment we are currently experiencing. Even something as simple as thinking about what do eat for dinner while eating lunch is not living in the present moment. It is similar to doing one thing at time except that it adds the mental focus. It is technically possible to do one thing at a time and be completely oblivious to what is occurring because our minds are focused elsewhere. Remember the first lesson on the three states of mind? At the end there is a practice recommendation for achieving Wise Mind. That exercise is helpful for staying in the moment, too.

One mindfully in the moment

Essentially, this skill teaches us to approach observation, describing and participating with one mind (wise mind) in the present moment. DBT therapists and skills trainers refer to this as being “one mindfully in the moment.”

 


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Source: Rewiring the chronic pain brain

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