It’s been a very interesting September, on many fronts. But it’s also been a beautiful exercise in mindfulness.
Being mindful comes with its own set of challenges. Yes, you read that right. I was getting a tad overwhelmed with the number of things on my plate this last month. In case you didn’t know already, I work a full-time job from home, manage a home alone during the week, cook, clean, run two personal blogs, squeeze in exercise and attempt to bring up a 10-year-old with a strong and wilful personality.
Of course, I’m not the first person to do it and won’t be the last either. So why get overwhelmed at all? That comes from trying to be perfect in every task with no exceptions.
I’m not sure if I really am a ‘Type A’ personality; that’s for others to confirm. But I do know that I try to push myself to the limit when it comes to any task.
Doing that almost without a breather this past month drove me to breaking point. I began to be snappy and irritable, both online and offline. A pet peeve was triggered by a tweet I read and developed into a full-blown rant on my Facebook timeline.
Little things at home, niggling issues, added up and made me almost a pain to be around. I think my daughter faced the brunt of it, sadly. While I didn’t yell at her, there was so much sarcasm and angst that hung in the air between us I’m surprised we’re still on talking terms.
That’s when I stopped and took a long, hard look at the way I was doing things. It was then I began to listen to a few podcasts every night on mindfulness, Zen living and being in the moment.
How can something as simple as mindful living be a challenge? Let’s deconstruct.
Have you ever attempted to focus your energy completely on the task at hand? You’d be surprised to see how difficult it can be at times. You do recall that piece on multi-tasking that I wrote a couple of weeks ago, right?
Take any task: The brushing of your teeth in the morning, for example. While you brush, how present are you in the moment? Chances are your mind is already rushing in five different directions, attempting to answer unopened e-mails, planning what to pack for your kid’s lunch, crafting a well-worded response to a comment on your blog or laughing at that joke you heard last night on the TV. It’s all normal, right?
Now, suppose you focus completely on the task of brushing. Just the way the brush moves up and down, back and forth in rhythmic, slow movements, nudging the gums here, teasing the teeth there, flowing effortlessly across the pearly whites as it does its job, the task teaches you something: Focus.
Why is this important in our over-connected, always-reachable world? It enables us to connect with a vital part of ourselves. That quiet, still person nestled deep in the cocoon of our soul who has a purpose on this earth. What does she really want? Does she want to be the go-getter, the one who gets everything done, the one who is always available everywhere, at the touch of a button?
Or does she need to slow down, look at the moment, breathe it in and realise that peace lies in the simplest of things?
I used to deactivate my Facebook account regularly in 2015. While it did help immensely, it also acted counter-productive to my work and my blogs. People would want to reach me and couldn’t. That’s when I knew that the problem wasn’t the social network; it was the way I engaged with it.
So, now I approach even social media mindfully. I think before posting a tweet, a status update, a picture on Instagram. Why? Because being mindful, online and offline, are inter-connected tasks. Mindfulness allows us to be wholly present and available in this moment. It utilises our energy in the best possible way and leaves us feeling happy, content and at peace.
What of all those tasks that lie undone or those e-mails with your name on them? You’ll get to them, when the time is right, when you have energy to invest in them and the mindfulness to train your soul to accept that truth.
Image courtesy: Mindfulness via Shutterstock