For about a year now, it seems everywhere I turn I hear people talking about the power of mindfulness. To me, mindfulness means paying attention to your experience from moment to moment. Because I keep hearing and reading about this topic, I figure the universe is telling me this should be my development focus right now—and I agree.
In his book The Inner Game of Tennis, author W. Timothy Gallwey states “Quieting the mind means less thinking, calculating, judging, worrying, fearing, hoping, trying, regretting, controlling, jittering, or distracting.” This familiar spinning, spinning, spinning of thoughts is the opposite of mindfulness. In fact, to quote Phil Jackson, former coach of the Chicago Bulls, you might call it jabbering.
As I’ve started to pay more attention to my thinking, I’ve found that I definitely engage in mental jabbering. Most of my jabber involves things that either happened in the past or may happen in the future. I must admit that when my mind jabbers I’m not paying attention to my experience from moment to moment.
As a coach, I’ve begun to notice that my clients also engage in lots of jabber. When I sense this is happening, I ask them questions to bring them into the present moment—which in reality is the only one they have.
So what’s the big deal about us calculating, planning, or reminiscing much of the time? When we jabber, we are missing many of the moments we have to live. We are on automatic pilot and not fully aware of what we are doing or experiencing. We eat without really tasting, look without really seeing, listen without really hearing, and touch without really feeling. In other words, we miss out on the texture of our life experience.
To stop jabbering means to quiet the mind and strive to be in the here and now. It means to gently bring yourself—or possibly a coaching client—back to the present moment. Of course, that’s easier said than done. So here’s some incentive.
When we quiet our mind, we are better able to:
- Fully experience the actual moment in front of us
- Maintain focus
- Manage our reactions/responses
- Reduce stress and anxiety
The list of the benefits of mindfulness could go on and on.
I’d like to encourage you to spend some time noticing where your thoughts are. Their location may just surprise you!
About the Author
Joanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.