A few months ago, I embarked on a quest to be more mindful. I know – sounds like a bunch of hooey, but in truth my journey of self-discovery has been transformative. It’s not for the faint of heart to sit down and dissect every fiber of your being. It’s not easy to admit ones’ flaws but it’s a cake walk in comparison to actually working on improving upon those flaws.
So why am I doing it?
I want to live my life with intention. I want to have meaningful conversations with friends and not feel the compulsion to look at my phone. I want to read books. Real ones – with pages. I want to exercise to strengthen my body and be healthy not to do 100 burpees in 45 minutes and nurse my aching knee afterward. I want to live in the moment and not be so worried about what’s going to happen, what has to happen and what hasn’t happened yet.
But it’s hard. It’s really so very hard.
Especially living in a culture where being “busy” is seen as a sign of importance. Where people proclaim to be Type-A like a badge of honour (because gasp what if you were just you?) and if you’re not juggling more balls than your neighbour: you’re lazy, a slouch, a slacker.
I like to think that I don’t care what other people think of me; I am sure at one time that I did. And maybe subconsciously I still do. With the return of the school year and familiar routines, at times I find myself slipping, disoriented by the rush of it all, losing sight of what is really important to me. And for me.
Breaking this pattern of behaviour doesn’t happen over night but I am slowly implementing ways to be more mindful.
A Pathway to Mindfulness
There are no easy routes. Everything takes time and practice. Practice. Practice. Here are some tips recommended by various experts in the field (a reading list to follow on Friday).
- Get over yourself and your ego. No one really cares. Everyone is too busy caring about himself or herself.
- Learn to say no. When you say “no”, you are actually saying “yes” to something/someone else.
- Let go of judgment. Stop judging others and more importantly stop judging yourself.
- Carve out “protected time” for yourself. Whether it be a bath, yoga, reading with a cup of tea, exercising, – it doesn’t matter what you’re doing so long as it nourishes you. Do it alone and commit to it. Savour each page. Linger over each stretch. Feel the water.
- Be honest about your experiences and feelings. Perhaps if we were all more honest and revealed our vulnerability these exceedingly high expectations we’re striving for would be recognized as unattainable.
- Ask for help and accept it without judgment.
- Set boundaries and respect other people’s boundaries. “Setting boundaries is a lot more work than shaming and blaming” – Dr. Brene Brown
None of this has been easy and most days I feel like I am failing miserably but then I remind myself I can begin again- right now.
And on the days that I am practicing mindful living, I am happier because I am busy being and not busy doing.