Mindfulness is just the first step: How to change mental patterns

For seven days I wrote Now in big bold letters on my hand to remind myself to be present. I suffer from the mental pattern of spending inordinate amounts of time in thoughts of the future. Not just the future thoughts that are helpful for planning your week, your strategy, or daily work. But, the thought patterns where I worry about the future, project what I imagine it to be, feel fear because of the uncertainty inherent in the future. So here are a few observations from my 7 Day Now Challenge.

  1. I still think about the future, but I’m more able to catch myself in the act. Making a concerted effort to notice mental patterns for a specific period of time really does help. If there is a mental pattern that doesn’t serve you, bringing awareness to the pattern is a valuable first step.
  2. I received a lot of feedback about switching my challenge into a positive one, rather than negative. Why notice the future thoughts and ascribe something negative to them, when you could conversely notice the moments of presence and affirm them? That one made me ponder for a while. Ultimately, I realized that bringing awareness to the negative thought patterns was merely the first step.
  3. Awareness creates a sense of detachment. When we move from being engrossed in our mental chatter to observing it, a sense of ease can move into the space created between the mind and the awareness. This space, this ease, can become a superpower. Enjoy this fabulous explanation video.

What is the next step? After noticing the mental habit, it’s time to change it. Affirmations can be a powerful way to create a new mental pattern. An affirmation is a saying or phrase that is framed in the positive and expresses truth.

So, now I begin a 7 Day Affirmation Challenge. Whenever I catch my drifting future thoughts, I affirm this statement,“This moment is a perfect gift from the divine.”

Published by Gita Matlock

Gita is a writer, speaker, and nonprofit professional. She earned a bachelors degree in international studies from Pepperdine University and a masters degree in nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco. She has traveled extensively and held leadership positions with national and international nonprofit organizations. She was born, raised, and now resides with her husband and two children at Ananda Village, the first of eight cooperative Kriya Yoga communities founded by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda.

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