Banish Forgetfulness - Create A Mindful Awareness
Ever entered a room not knowing why you came in? Came back from the store and forgot the one item you actually needed? Are you getting forgetful and is there something you can do about it?
Let’s imagine for a moment that you are sitting by a quiet stream in the countryside. You take in the bright sunshine and the fresh air. All of a sudden, right in front of you, a big fish jumps out of the water and splashes down. It swims away furiously as droplets of water run down your face. You hear the wind as it howls through the trees, the rustling leaves, perhaps a gurgling stream as it brushes against the rocks. The wind gently carries the smell of freshly cut grass. As you walk along the bank, you savour the fresh delight of some of the juicy, sweet berries that you have just picked. You taste the tangy juice as it drips down your throat.
Whether we are walking in a quiet country road or in a busy shopping mall, whether it is during the workday or while we are on a holiday, we take it for granted that we know what our surrounding is like. Our senses connect us to the world around us. Our senses help us perceive things that can bring to us a whole range of feelings, from intense happiness to sadness. But sometimes the information from our senses can be misleading, or we are too overloaded to interpret it. However, did you know that only a fraction of the information, or sensory stimuli, received by our sensory organs (eyes, nose, ears, skin, mouth) enters our consciousness? In fact, our brains have several filters that prevent us from being overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of new stimuli. By filtering out new information, we can concentrate our attention on the things that are important and thus keep the world in perspective.
Have you ever had the frustrating experience that your expensive state-of-the-art digital camera will not focus on the person in the tiny screen but on some unimportant object in the background? Fortunately, this cannot happen to us, for our brains are far more intelligent than the microchips and computers that run our camera. The brain automatically separates important things from what is secondary or irrelevant. In effect, our brain knows that you are more interested in taking a photo of your grandmother, uncle, aunt or child standing in front of the tree rather than the tree itself.
Likewise, an “aware” state of mind helps you to focus on what is important and what is “background noise”. For example, how many times have you ignored what a spouse or a family member is saying because you were too focused on something on television. Or how many times have you walked into a room and not know why you entered the room. Or how many times have you gone to the store and returned home and forgot a grocery item that was running out? Sometimes our filtering mechanism fail us but we can overcome this by practicing “mindful awareness” of what is important.
Here are some tips to improve your memory and train your brain. We can train our minds to focus on the task at hand. So the next time you need to go into a room to get a pen, think of a large spot of ink on your favorite shirt pocket. If someone interrupts you while you are giving a presentation, make a mental picture of where you stopped. If you run out of milk and need to run to the store, imagine a cow with a apron telling you to get the milk, instead of coming home with a pack of frozen pizzas that was discounted. Remember, it’s all about mindfulness. Try it!
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