As a family, we’re constantly on the go. We love to be together and love going on adventures. In this day and age, it’s a good thing we have GPS. Without it, who knows where we’d end up (which we’d probably have fun with anyway but I digress).
Recently, our son Benjamin has taken an interest in the GPS on the dashboard. He knows that the triangle inside the circle is representative of our car and that the car follows the line. He loves being the in-car voice for the GPS, telling us when a turn is coming up. I find it pretty cute that he likes to be so involved and helpful in getting us where we’re trying to go.
Occasionally, though, I’ll accidentally brush the screen and we’ll end up looking at a map with no car icon and no directions. Ben will ask me about “where our car went” with some exasperation. It certainly makes it a challenge for him to help me with directions without knowing where our car is. It also makes it difficult to make driving decisions based on a blank map; thankfully there’s a “re-center” button. Wouldn’t it be nice if life had one of those, too?
Good news. It does.
Mindfulness is your “re-center” button.
Think about the GPS metaphor like this; you can only make really good, quality, valued life decisions if you know where YOU are in the process. When you are presently-focused, you are seated in a space of equanimity that will allow you to be wholly yourself and subsequently make decisions based on actuality.
If you’re “looking at a blank map” (read, scatterbrained and chasing thoughts all over the place) you don’t know when the next turn is coming. You can’t know if there’s traffic up ahead. You occasionally might even forget what the final destination is supposed to be.
You might be making choices that affect your life based on information that’s not actually factual. For example, if you’re making choices based on something you think or assume someone else is thinking (rather than know that they’re thinking), you are building your story on an unstable foundation. Who knows how far that will spiral away from the truth? It will likely affect how you treat them, how you respond to them, and how you feel about them.
Hitting your “re-center” button just takes two minutes. Here’s what I invite you to do: Close your eyes and breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus solely on your breathing and watch yourself come back to the moment you’re actually living in. From here, you’ll be able to accurately determine where you need to be going and how best to get there.
This is, after all, the point of being centered. It enables us to live the life we actually want without just going through the motions. It allows us to be deeply engaged with our loved ones and to get the full benefit out of our everyday experiences. It allows us to make choices based on what is, rather than what we’re assuming. You, too, can be mystified by the simple parts of the world like Benjamin. All it takes is being truly aware of what’s going on around you.
The next time you’re feeling lost, overwhelmed, or out of control give this a try. Use your breath to hit that re-center button and give yourself another chance at the life you really want to be living.