Don't Let Overthinking Get In The Way
I've said it before and I'll say it again:
Do not let overthinking get in the way
of fully experiencing your day.
(It's catchy when it rhymes, no?)
Far too many of us trod through our mundane lives confined in our minds. We can use different terms to describe it: You THINK about what you need to do, you OBSESS over what so-and-so just said, you WORRY about the news story you just read and what it means for the future, you DREAM about falling into bed at night or plopping on the couch to watch Netflix.
All the while, you move through your daily experiences.
There is a different perspective you can take through these daily experiences, one that isn't trapped in thoughts. It is an experience of the experience - an embodiment of this moment.
It is life - or at least a few moments - lived through sensory awareness, through slowed and mindful movement, through openness and not pre-judgment.
Here's an example.
This morning, I got out of bed, gently woke the kids (and then not so gently repeated said process three times to get them moving), and sat down at the counter to have a bowl of cereal.
As usual, my mind had been going through all of the things I could and should do for the day. Typically, I start my day with my 30 minute walk - but I'd thought myself out of it already. I was tired, I had all day to get it in, etc.
When I stood up after finishing my cereal, I felt the sensation of wanting to STRETCH. So I did, followed by the delightful sigh of an exhale that accompanies a body truly awakening. And as that body awakened, I felt the desire to move. I don't know how to describe it other than it felt like a pulsing energy within that was almost uncomfortable when I sat back down.
So as the kids left for the bus, I put on my shoes and started my walk. As I did, ...
It started to rain.
I was close enough that I could have turned home and walked later. Instead, I tucked my phone and my glasses up in sleeve, turned my face towards the sky, and kept walking. For 30 minutes, I felt the tiny raindrops on my face, danced around puddles, and tingled at the occasional rolling thunder. As you can guess, it was a deeply delightful experience.
Overthinking would have kept me at home on the couch, or walking on the treadmill this afternoon. It wouldn't have been a "wrong" path. However, having experienced what I did, I can certainly say that paying attention to the experiences of the moments and not being obsessed by my thoughts led to a far more enjoyable morning. It led to a type of morning that I would choose again.
Here's the quick interlude to address a, "yeah, but…".
I encourage you to think all of the time, right? To contemplate. To not live through habit, to question your own thoughts.
I honestly think that we don't think enough...or, more accurately, that we don't think about the IMPORTANT things enough.
And / but any practice done in excess is just as harmful as not doing it at all. It can be of great benefit to examine your own thoughts and experience many contemplative moments, AND it is essential that you learn how to experience life outside of the framework of thinking.
Today, try one of the following:
- Set a timer for 5 minutes. Put a do-not-disturb sign on the door if you must. Sip your coffee (or tea or lemon water) and fully experience the temperature, the taste, the texture, the sensations deep in your body as you swallow. Breathe. Tell any thoughts that knock on the door to come back in 5 minutes.
- Pause. Repeatedly. If you can, pause your movements along with your thoughts. Look around. Notice at least 10 things that you hadn't seen before. Consider the light that infuses your environment.
- Wiggle your toes. Have a little conversation with them. "Hi there, toes. Been a while since I've paid attention to you, eh? Thanks for helping with my balance." (Without toes? Wiggle your fingers. Or your ears.)
- Breathe fully and with intention for 3 breaths.
Here's to our practices....may they create the world in which we want to be living.