As previously mentioned, I have become an expert at distracting myself from the moment. Last year, my partner put together a two-minute-long compilation video of me having fallen asleep whilst staring at my phone. I know exactly how to quiet the thoughts in my brain and it is with an endless stream of media on a tiny screen.
Which I think is one of the reasons I’m so sceptical. I often get so overwhelmed by my own thoughts, especially in times of increased stress, that I shut down completely and distract myself so I don’t have to deal with the situation. So my cynical brain questions the benefits of removing that stimulus and replacing it with stillness. How am I supposed to focus on the present moment when often, in the present moment I’m experiencing negative emotions? I don’t want to feel those things. No one wants to feel those things.
Practically speaking, I’ve tried a range of different guided meditations and they all just send me straight to sleep. Even if I’m sat up in the middle of the room, I’ll have nodded off by the end of it, so I’m doubtful that anything similar would help me tune into myself, and instead just make me nod off. I’ve said out loud that I’m trying to eat mindfully, but often when I’m actually eating, I’m not thinking about anything at all. I’ll try to check in with myself towards the end of my meal, but all I can think about is eating more food. My family has this running joke that my spirit animal is a Labrador because they don’t have the part of their brain that tells them to stop eating, and they’ll just eat until there’s nothing left in front of them.
I have become an expert at distracting myself from the moment.
Maybe all of this is a really good indication that mindfulness practices will be helpful for me, but it also feels like a huge obstacle to overcome and has, so far, put me off trying. The reality is that I find it really hard to tune into the cues that my body gives me. Either I’m intentionally ignoring them, or I just never learned to properly listen. It feels as if there’s a disconnect between my consciousness and my body, and I’m worried it’s what’s stopping me from focusing on the present moment.
This is part 2 of a series entitled ‘A Sceptic’s guide to entering the World of Mindfulness’.