As the train pulled back in to Moorgate Station, my insides exploded with anxiety.
I bolted up to my feet, knocking into the knees of the person opposite me.
I felt my cheeks flush with heat and a disorienting dizziness filled my head.
I mumbled incoherently under my breath, vaguely aware that to any observer I must look slightly deranged
“How has this happened?”
As I looked around the train I realised there was nothing I could do. So I sheepishly sat back down, trying to melt back into invisibility.
Lost in Thought
Rewind nearly two hours (trust me, this is embarrassing to admit), and I had boarded my train at Moorgate.
And here I was, back at Moorgate!
I’d failed to get off the train in Hertfordshire or even notice that I was passing stops for a second time.
I was mortified.
The shame of feeling a complete idiot flushed my cheeks with embarrassment, even though no one knew what I'd done.
The Rat Race
I was working at Canary Wharf at the time.
Pre smart phone.
Workaholic phase of my career.
I was so lost in rumination and overthinking that I literally disconnected from the world around me.
So I forgot to get off at my stop.
Is there anybody here?
Research shows that 48% of the time we’re not present in our lives.
Our minds have wandered and the mind wandering makes us less happy.
Literally half of our lives we’re thinking of something else instead of experiencing what’s happening.
But we’ve all done it.
Maybe not quite to the extreme that I did.
But how often have you driven somewhere only to realise that you don’t remember the drive?
Or opened a bag of crisps and suddenly found the bag is empty and yet you didn’t really taste a thing?
Worst of all, have you been in conversation and realised it’s your turn to speak and you have no idea what was just said?
The difference between Mindfulness and Mindlessness
Our ability to pay attention is a bit like a muscle.
The modern world drives behaviour that lets that muscle get flabby.
Notifications, demands to look at this, pay attention here, open this..it’s endless.
How many times have you picked up your phone to do something simple like send a text message and then found yourself falling down a rabbit hole…and forgetting to even send the message you wanted to send?
Mindlessness is a state where our attention is not under our conscious control and is often filled with judgements.
Like a constant dialogue happening in your own head that bounces from topic to topic or endlessly on a loop.
Mindfulness on the other hand feels very different....
And it’s a bit of a super power.
Bicep Curls for the Brain
Mindfulness is “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgementally”.
So we consciously bring our attention to this moment exactly as it is.
Dropping the inner dialogue that separates us from what's really happening.
Ditching the endless rehashing of conversations and playing out future scenarios.
Just right here. Right now.
But it's not easy.
The good news is that we can train that capacity to pay attention and it's WAY more straightforward than you might think.
Of course you can find yourself a mountaintop to escape to and empty your mind but for most of us that's just not an option.
We need techniques we can bust out no matter what life throws at us.
Make a start
So you want to feel clearer, calmer and less overwhelmed by the endless rush of things to do and demands on your attention?
Let's get started.
No fancy moves or the need to find acres of extra time...
You can simply download my short guide '4 Ways to Find Calm in Your Day that Don't Involve Sitting on a Cushion'.
It includes a short practice you can use any time and any where.
Let me know what you think when you give it a try.
“Mindfulness in its most general sense is about waking up from a life on automatic, and being sensitive to novelty in our everyday experiences. . . Instead of being on automatic and mindless, mindfulness helps us awaken, and by reflecting on the mind we are enabled to make choices and thus change becomes possible.”
- Dan Siegel