We tend to live our lives constantly distracted, some of us more than others. I am the type of person to worry constantly, about the past, about the future, and I never really allow myself to completely live in the moment. I’m forever distracted by my thoughts, about what might happen, or what has already happened. I tend to miss out on a lot of things if I don’t allow myself to fully immerse myself into the moment. While I know I can get distracted easily, I don’t realize just how often I get distracted. I never seem to have a sense of “mindfulness” in my everyday life. What is mindfulness, you ask? Mindfulness is a mental state achieved when you are completely in the present moment, appreciating your surroundings and what is happening that exact second, not what has happened or what might happen. It is oftentimes approached as a therapeutic technique I was taught about around a year ago, but I never realized just how much I needed it until now.
The other day, I did an activity to enhance “mindfulness” in my life. While this activity is often done with raisins, I did it with a small candy bar. I was given a Butterfinger, and asked to examine it, focusing on nothing but the candy in front of me. I examined the wrapper, read the words, noticed how the wrapper felt and sounded. If a thought other than the candy bar crossed my head, I would wait until it removed itself and I would continue. I continued to fully examine the candy bar, slowly opening the wrapper and observing it, noticing the texture, the smell, the shape. After about 5 minutes of careful observation, I could finally eat the candy bar. Let me tell you, that one candy bar had such a calming effect on me.
There’s a phrase I just came across: “Be here now.” So simple, yet so not easy. It is so hard to live in that second, and not think about all those homework assignments you haven’t done, those emails you haven’t sent, and everything else that seems to be going wrong in your life. It is hard to realize that even if your life is kind of sucking at the moment, if you live in that second and that second only, you might be able to find something to smile at. We tend to be so worried about the stuff that is going wrong, we miss the things that are going right. Sometimes, there are big things that are going your way, and then sometimes, maybe the only good thing that happened that day was someone smiled at you as you walked past them. But if you’re so worried about the stinky stuff, you might miss that simple smile, a smile that could make your entire day. Now, distractions will happen. They will come in and out of your mind all the time. But don’t allow them to take more of your mind than they already are. Just let them walk out of your mind just as casually as they walked in. Focus on that minute, on that moment you’re in. Focus on the people sitting next to you, focus on the beauty surrounding you.
Next time you find yourself worrying, take a deep breath, and focus on your “candy bar.” Focus on what you are doing right then, and find calm and peace in it. While the raisin activity was designed for those battling with anxiety or depression, I don’t think there is a single soul out there who wouldn’t benefit from it. Focus on something that brings you joy, focus on that minute you are living in, and don’t let anything take away that single moment of joy.
Just be here, now. Nowhere else. Just right here, right now.
Let me tell you, I will never be able to eat a Butterfinger the same way again.