Does it seem that our to-do lists get longer as our time gets shorter? We live in a fast-paced, hectic world, where we are constantly inundated with information, obligations, and just plain noise. “Experts estimate that the mind thinks between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s an average of 2500 – 3,300 thoughts per hour.”  Since our minds are even going when we sleep, when does the brain get a break? How often does getting caught up in those thoughts distract us from enjoying the actual moment that we’re in? Mindfulness experts say that the happiest moment is the present moment, free of fretting over the past, or worrying about the future, and just being. If you’re feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, anxious and in general not well, below are some of the benefits you can experience from slowing down, and spending more time in the present moment.
- Deeper Experience – Slowing down, and being in the present moment can help you to have a much deeper, more enjoyable experience, than if you’re doing something, but your mind has you in another place. Try this example, the next time you eat, take the time to slowly chew each forkful, and appreciate the simple details of your meal, the smell, the colors, the texture, the flavor, where it comes from etc. After the meal check in with yourself, do you feel more satisfied? Do you typically finish eating and not even remember what you ate?
- More Connected – With all of the technology we’re surrounded with, and our packed schedules, we often rush through our interactions with the humans in our lives. How often is someone talking to you, but you don’t hear what they’re saying because you’re lost in your own thoughts? Being distracted from the conversation, can cause you to miss important cues, particularly from loved ones, and can also make them feel unappreciated, or even worse, unimportant.
- More Productive and Effective – Focusing on one task at a time, allows you to think more clearly, more focused, and more creatively, and therefore you’re likely to perform better. Completing one task at a time, will enable you to be more productive, and produce better results than if you were working on something while your focus is also on 10 other things.
- Less Anxious and Overwhelmed – Studies now show that multitasking can cause significant IQ drops, as well as increase production of cortisol, the stress hormone; leaving us feeling mentally exhausted. Slowing down and really focusing on the task at hand, prevents us from worrying about all the rest of the to-dos on the list. At the end of the day, you’ll feel more satisfied with fewer completed projects, than with many projects that are partially completed.
- More In-tune – Slowing down not only helps us to connect more with the people around us, but with ourselves. When your mind is racing a mile a minute, and you’re distracted by a million things, how well do you think you’ll be able to hear that tiny voice, your intuition, that’s constantly trying to guide you? Being able to tune into, and heed the advice of our intuition can be life-changing in a very positive way.
Slowing down is not a new age hocus pocus thing, and you don’t need to sit uncomfortably on a cushion for an hour to reap the benefits. If you’d like to learn more about how to slow down by connecting with your breath, join me for Mindful Steps: Meditative Run/Walk Class starting July 14, 6-7pm, in Uxbridge, MA. Details and registration here.