Consider this: you are a 28 year old parent of twin 5 year olds. The alarm clock goes off in the morning, and you hit the ground running. Coffee, newspaper, feed the dog, feed the kids, shower, clean up the mess that the dog made, and OMG – that early meeting at work was TODAY! Rush out to get the kids to school, arrive late to the mandatory meeting, put out fires at work, and why is the rush hour traffic SO SLOW today. Pick up kids, dinner, homework, bath, and finally, you fall into bed, stressed and exhausted, dreading that you’ll have to do it all again tomorrow.
“THIS IS MINDFULNESS?!?!?! I don’t think I want any of it,” you say.
This was me several (ok, 24) years ago. Life was chaotic and stressful. My body hurt, and my mind was tired. I was in a perpetual state of ‘fight or flight’. What I didn’t realize was that I could be mindful, accomplish the same tasks, and not be so anxious and overwhelmed. Does this seem too good to be true? Read on….
Many people confuse mindfulness with meditation. They believe that sitting for 20, 30, 60 minutes is necessary and that it requires a quiet, solitary place. While this is an incredibly powerful practice, meditation is very different from mindfulness. Mindfulness is more about being in the moment without judgment of yourself or others. It’s about accepting ‘what is’ right now without worry for the future. It is about focusing on what is happening in your life right now while avoiding multi-tasking.
“GREAT!” You ask, “How do I do THAT?”
Because awareness of a problem is the key to solving it, you’re on the right track! Now, imagine that you are in the above scene. As you wake up in the morning you spend a moment – just a moment – looking around and noticing the sun coming through the window. During this moment, if you start to worry about the busyness of the day, imagine that it is a thought that gently drifts in and then leaves your consciousness. Begin to believe that, whether or not you are overwhelmed, everything will get done. Over time, you will realize that, in general, this is true. Now, move gently into the kitchen to make your coffee or tea. Feel your feet on the floor and notice your surroundings. Again, as feelings of anxiety enter your consciousness, avoid hanging onto them. Don’t push the feelings away, but acknowledge them and then let go. I think you get the idea – stay in the moment without regret for the past or worry about the future.
Mindfulness is simple, but it’s not easy. It takes practice to become skilled at it, but you will notice immediate benefits as time goes on. Peace to you as you progress in your practice!