There are moments of realization and understanding that come to us every day. Are you listening?
A friend was visiting my house recently during my end of day dinner and activity rush and as if the balancing act of visiting with her while fielding questions from my kids and also trying to get food on the table wasn’t enough, the phone rang. I looked at her and we both laughed and she said, “your house is nuts!” I quickly agreed, but added that I used to have to remind myself to breathe at the end of the day because the pace was so fast that I would literally forget to breathe. Now that my post-cancer life has once again returned to this active pace with the five of us sometimes going in different directions, things are just as busy as before, but I don't ever forget to breathe.
This doesn’t feel like that place of serenity and calm that I was shooting for, but you know what? This is real life and I think that remembering to breathe is a huge accomplishment. The tools I’ve been creating and surrounding myself with opportunities to slow down or reminding myself to pause for a sunset or to take 5 extra minutes before I rush out the door in the morning has created this space for me to breathe every day. It’s not always at the same time and it’s not something planned or scheduled, but the practice has ensured that it just happens organically.
In diets we all understand the difference between a diet and a lifestyle change. A mindfulness shift is very similar. It’s when you practice and practice and then one day you realize it has become a part of you. You no longer have to work so hard because you do it naturally. Now, I don’t know that anyone can really fully arrive at a place of pure serenity. There is always a deeper connection you can strive for, but knowing what connection you are trying to make and recognizing progress means you are already reaping the benefits of your mindfulness practice.
In a class I attend it was noted that a practice is something we need to do every day. At first this sounded pretty intimidating. Much like exercising every day is a hard commitment to make even though we enjoy how we feel afterwards and we want to experience all the benefits of such a practice. I asked myself, “Can I really take on another thing that I have to do every day?!” Well that right there is the answer. NO. I say no because mindfulness shouldn’t be something we HAVE to do. In fact, it is something that just happens. We are aware of our surroundings. We are aware of the temperature or the feelings of a friend who is going through a difficult time. We are aware of our to-do list and our social commitments. Mindfulness is something we do every day so it is not something we need to create. It is not a big chore that we need to check off on our list. It’s a state of being. We can choose that state of being and continue to work towards a place that makes us feel happy and whole and of course grounded in our beliefs. With this in mind an everyday practice would look different for everyone. There is no road map. There is no magic number of minutes to meditate. There is no book that will give you the answers and so on. Everything you need to know resides within you. The answers are for you to uncover. Every day we can live with the intention of learning mindfulness to allow us to experience peace and forgiveness, love and joy, and all the other beautiful things that should be a part of our existence.
If you are reading this than you are already open to exploring these parts of yourself. Stay curious. Continue seeking and surrounding yourself with positive energy whether you find it in your family rituals, in a yoga class, during meditation, at a church service, with a friend or in all of these place or any where else you may find it. Continue seeking out these places and people and beliefs that bring you peace and make you feel grounded and whole.
The world around you may be crazy, but you don’t have to be.