Do you find yourself focusing too much on yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s stress more than being in this moment? Where is your brain? And is your brain currently in the same place as your body?
Don’t worry. It’s okay to get off track sometimes.
When stressed about long-standing attachments like family issues or love life or threatened by future worries like deciding on a career path, it’s easy for us to choose to detach from the reality of what is going on around us. We wear our headphones and shut the door of our rooms to escape into the inner worlds of our hearts or into our social media worlds. Or we numb ourselves with vices or surround ourselves with the wrong company. We lose sight of identifying and verbalizing what we want and how we truly feel, and we disconnect from the people who want to reach us.
When asked how we are, we categorically reply: “I’m okay” or “I’m fine.” Yet, we wake up the next morning with the same concerns and not knowing what to do with them, we again either run backwards in fear or run away ahead of ourselves without clear direction. We just don’t want to keep still. We want answers fast or nothing at all.
But what if just keeping still, being in the moment is what will help us get back on track? What if being in a state of mindfulness of who we are, where we are, and how we are what will help ignite that inner compass, that inner peace? When we are calm and consciously mindful of our present – of what is happening within and without – our thoughts can settle, and we start to see things more clearly. We just need a safe and open space to experience that. There are many techniques and applications for practicing mindfulness, but all of them share the same objectives: to help us build a foundation of happiness and an attitude of gratitude.
Here’s an analogy. Think of mindfulness as a traffic light.
- YELLOW. Which light compels us to slow down? The yellow light. Although some Filipino drivers would tend to step on the gas pedal more interpreting this light as “hurry up,” the ideal response would be to take caution and to slow down. Ignore this light and a traffic enforcer can reprimand us, or worse, we might meet an accident. As with the current state of our lives, is there now an acknowledgment of the need to slow down and to just let other cars and pedestrians pass in the meantime? Is there a vehicular build-up ahead? Slowing down is the first big step towards becoming mindful. It begins with the acknowledgment and the humility to recognize our need to retreat.
- RED. When our car comes to a full stop, do we find ourselves noticing things that we wouldn’t have normally recognized had we been speeding on the road? Perhaps we would now take notice of that taho vendor on the sidewalk, the beautiful blue skies overhead, or that grumbling feeling in our stomachs (it’s lunchtime). There are many ways to make that purposeful ‘stop’ through various mindfulness exercises. They help us sharpen our senses, come to terms with the truths of reality, identify and verbalize our emotions without passing any judgment, and discern how best to respond. The red light invites us to introspect and make an honest assessment of our current situation. We discover answers in that momentary pause.
- GREEN. Alleluia, the green light! We can now proceed with caution with a better sense of where we are going and how we are going to get to our destination. Taking that momentary pause teaches us to respond with hindsight and not just to react out of impulse. We have identified our needs, our triggers, and the many things we ought to be grateful for: that we’re okay to let other cars pass and that it is not worth running after that motorbike that cut us. That it’s time to have our lunch now (and taho for dessert would be nice). That the cloud formation we see is so beautiful and that today is indeed a beautiful day.
There will be a course titled “Chill Out: A Mindfulness Workshop for Teens to Manage Emotions and Life’s Challenges” on May 18, 2019, to be held at the Inquirer Academy in Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City.
For the younger ones (kids aged 8-12 years old), there will be “Present! A Mindfulness Workshop for Kids to Improve Focus and Creativity” on May 27, 2019.
The Inquirer Academy is located at 4168 Don Chino Roces Ave. corner Ponte St., Makati City. For more information about the workshop or if you would like to add your input on the article, you may email email@example.com, call (632) 834-1557 or 771-2715 and look for Jerald Miguel or Karl Paz.
Yumi Wada is the author of this article. Yumi has made it her life’s mission to form young people and equip them with the psycho-emotional-spiritual tools to help them face today’s challenges. Her training and exposure as an educator in varied classroom settings for a wide age-range of students from kindergarten, to lower school, to high school, to college, to young professionals have exposed her to a myriad of issues concerning the youth of today. She has been a sought-after retreats, recollections, and leadership workshop motivational speaker and facilitator for almost 15 years now, specializing in youth empowerment, values formation, mental and emotional health, and psycho-spiritual healing.
In 2018, she published her first book “You Make My Day: Daily Wisdom from the Mouth of Babes” which highlights thoughtful mindfulness and celebrating the big lessons in the small of our every day.