Have you ever stopped to think …

By Martha O’Regan

“Have you ever stopped to think and forgot to start again?” When I saw this bumper sticker many years ago, I laughed out loud with a response of, “Yep, all day long!”

How many times a day do you get distracted by all the “bright shiny objects” that continuously vie for our attention?  Do you get to the end of a day with that to-do list still full? And, who doesn’t walk into a room and wonder “why did I come in here” and have to retrace your steps to remember? Or, is it just me?

We come by it naturally because, the truth is, we live in a world of information and stuff overload and our brains are so jumbled with conflicting data from so many experts or too much stimulation from all of our technological gadgets, making it difficult to focus, even when we desire it.

Unless we are living on a deserted island, we all have the propensity for one of the many “alphabet soup” syndromes labeling our inability to give undivided attention to a specific task. Understanding how the brain works helps to create methods to teach ourselves ways to focus our attention on what is important for a healthy, joyful life, ultimately eliminating procrastination and self-sabotage.

Every morsel of information that we are exposed to through our five senses goes into the brain and either begins building a new neural pathway or gets connected with one already formed.  If we repeat our experiences or emotions, or receive certain information continuously, that pathway gets more grounded and familiar, contributing to our behaviors and patterns — both good and bad.

So, just by living in our current world,  we are continuously bombarded with too many bits of unimportant, unfiltered, and nonsensical information that just gets jumbled in with the other bits of the same, never really taking hold, resulting in confusion or deficits in our attention.  If we could periodically “defrag” our brain like we do with our computer, we could clean out or organize the bits of data that are just floating around in there.  But, that hasn’t been discovered … yet.

In the meantime, one tool we all have is self awareness. Becoming aware of each moment allows us to focus on just that moment, not the other gazillion moments on the horizon.

Start by tuning into those times when you feel overwhelmed, scattered or unfocused and just note where or how you feel it in the body.  Then, allow yourself to stop or slow down for a moment, close your eyes if practical, take a deep breath and just be in gratitude for clarity and focus. Continue this process until you feel less scattered or a direction reveals itself to you.  Quieting the mind allows that small, still voice — often referred to as our “inner wisdom,” “higher self” or God — to be heard.  Being still and quieting the chatter, allows our intuition and inspirations to occur with greater clarity and wisdom than we can achieve with our own ego mind running amuck thinking it’s large and in charge.

As you practice self-awareness, you will begin to hear and sense the differences between the frazzled mind and the calm one. One is fast talking, loud, scattered and/or repetitive, while the other is more subtle and surprising.   One is based on your knowledge while the other is based on your knowingness, which comes from deeper within and is far more brilliant.

When we learn to honor the wisdom and guidance that this still, small voice provides, we can begin to trust that we truly know more than we think we know, allowing life to flow more gracefully with clarity and ease. This sure beats expending unnecessary energy zigging and zagging through life confused, lost and upset.

So, next time you stop to think, take a moment to breathe and allow that small, still voice to rise up from deep within and re-direct you for your highest good.  It just might surprise you.

Live Well … Have Fun!

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