Minding the Mind

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Remember the United Negro College Fund’s popular slogan from 1972, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”?  If I had to rewrite it as a personal slogan for myself today , it would say, “My mind is a terrible thing to overuse”, not because I am such a deep thinker or a philosopher, but because I sometimes over think things to the point that I am rendered paralyzed by my own thoughts and the feelings that are triggered by said thoughts. 

Last night, I cried myself to sleep, as I agonized over a particular situation that recently developed.  As soon as my alarm clock went off, so did my mind.  I was jolted awake by a combination of the song playing on the radio and the thoughts clamoring in my mind.  It was a cacophony of sounds, and it pierced the silence of my mind.  The thoughts continued to race through my head as the day progressed, leaving me feeling stressed, worried, and mentally and emotionally exhausted.  I tried to apply all of the sage advice from my friend and mentor, Trude, about staying in the moment, allowing the feelings to move through me, and not being attached to the outcome.  All I could think of, though, was how much I wanted to flee the present moment, resist the painful feelings, and control the outcome, none of which were possible, but sounded good during my frenzied state. 

Finally, I found myself sitting on my couch and sipping some hot green tea before dinner, while my daughters were upstairs doing homework, and I began to focus on my breathing.  I breathed in the fragrance of the tea, felt the heat of the cup in my hand, and listened to the sound of silence throughout the house.  When I quieted myself, I began to silence the negative mental chatter in my head, and I found that I was able to start thinking clearly again and was able to calm myself down.  Episodes like the one today used to last for days and weeks on end, so, while I did not like that I allowed my mind to lead me astray again, I was proud of myself for finally getting out of my way to end up in a better space.  Progress, not perfection.

I am not known for my culinary skills, so, what I did to make someone else’s day better may not sound like a good thing, but I promise you that it was!  It has been a very hectic week for my daughters and me, and we have not had a decent family dinner together all week.  So, I made a healthy meal for my daughters and me, and we sat down to a leisurely dinner together that included plenty of chatter and laughter.  We had one another’s undivided attention and shared the various happenings of our day, and this simple act of eating together ended our day on a very nice note indeed.

In an era known for fast food and electronic communication, the ritual of eating together as a family is sacred to me.  There is something very special about sharing a meal together, and it provides a casual, yet intimate, setting to relax and talk about anything and nothing at all.  I value our time together, and I hope that the girls do, too.  I would venture to say that by the sound of their giggles and the big grins on their faces, they were glad we had a family dinner tonight, too. 

Just one thing each day . . .



Categories: Just One Thing Each Day

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