One of the many common themes that I have read about in the some of the blogs I follow is mindfulness. Webster's Dictionary has the definition of mindful as "aware." I am so used to associating being mindful with simple living,etc.,that I was a bit taken aback when Ken,Rick's PTSD counselor,told Rick that he should try to be more mindful.
We were discussing Rick's hypervigilence,especially in stores. We came upon this subject because after our meeting,Rick was going with me to the grocery store. This is something he does not normally do anymore.He goes to Walmart,etc.,but rarely where I buy our food. The store I go to is a family owned business,and they have many stores throughout northern New England.However,it is not on the size of,say,Walmart. The store is about half the size and the aisles are closer together. Rick's hypervigilence spikes in stores,but it is worse in close space areas. He will leave his sunglasses on, which he says helps him observe people without them seeing him do so,and,because he is not a small man tends to look rather intimidating .Especially when he appears to be looking straight ahead and standing up straight with the cart in front of him. I hate grocery shopping,so when I go by myself I am in and out as quickly as possible. When Rick is with me,it increases my own anxiety because I know he's uncomfortable,therefore I want to get the groceries done even faster. Ken said that Rick needed to be more mindful,aka more in the moment. Instead of letting his emotions take him back to the market place in Ramadi,or thinking about what he could do if the guy behind us decides to do something rude or threatening,he should stay in the NOW. Ken told him to notice how the cart handle felt in his hands,how cold the dairy aisle is,how fresh the veggies look,etc. Don't let your mind go to the past,or to the future while you are doing something-keep your mind on the present.
This struck a chord with me as well. I am the type of person who always has something swimming around in her brain. I am always thinking of something that has happened,or worrying about something in future. I have been like that my whole life. Even when I am chatting with someone,they could be talking and I am thinking about what I am going to say next.It's a very bad habit,and a rude one (I apologize to all my friends!!!). I could be doing something fun,and thinking,"I really need to finish this," or "I should have done it this way,"etc. You get the picture. So I applied what Ken said to our store experience. I didn't keep thinking about the rest of day,or how quick I wanted to get out of there,I was in the moment,at the store, looking for Kefir drinkable yogurt.(It makes kick ass smoothies with frozen mixed berries and a bit of Truvia,by the way).
While Rick still had some hypervigilence,our time at the store was much more relaxed,and actually fun. We discussed our accomplishment,and vowed to work on being more mindful in all aspects of our lives.It does make a big difference.Paying attention to the details,feeling what your hands touch,noticing the sounds,smells,and all that is with you in that moment seems to help center ones spirit.It's a great tool for living.