Returning is a key aspect of mindfulness.
What it means is returning your attention again and again from what’s going on in your wandering mind to what’s going on in the moment, usually outside your head.
We never get to the stage where we can stay in the “now” all the time with completely clear minds. Minds generate thoughts, that’s what they do. So what we aim for is to come back from those thoughts into the present moment as often as we can and much more often than we would do if we were not practising mindfulness.
Disadvantages of wandering
Mind wandering is fine when it brings us into happy places. Unfortunately, as we know, it also brings us into places of resentment and regret, perhaps into unfair and unbalanced self-criticism and into exaggerated fears.
Also, wandering in the form of rumination (repeating negative thoughts over and over) is associated with depression.
So for these reasons we aim in mindfulness to cultivate the skill of coming back from that wandering whenever we notice it is going on, and returning to awareness of the present moment.
How to do it
You can do this by coming back to awareness of the breath in your nose or of sensations in your feet and hands or of walking and in many other ways. It’s simple but the benefits are profound.
My 15-lesson online course Easy Mindfulness will give you many mindfulness techniques as well as an understanding of what is behind mindfulness and how to use it.
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