Week 6 – Mindfulness

Please enjoy a summary of this week’s post on Youtube.

What are you doing right now?  What are you thinking about?  Are these the same?

Since I quit my job and am on my journey of transformation to discovering the ‘new me’, I have struggled with being present in the moment.  Every day, I spend way too much time thinking about ‘how things are going to be in the future…when I get a job…when I finish my book…when people read my blog…when Spring comes…when – you fill in the blank here.’  I am not enjoying (much) the here and now!

Oh yes, there are little episodes that distract me for a period of time. Like the news comes on and something peaks my interest – that’s 30 minutes.  If something exciting happens – I get an order from my Amazon store; someone phones (or more likely texts) me; I attend a planned event (few and far between now); getting mail (really?).  But these are merely distractions that simply amuse me for a short period -there is no experience of joy, which really, isn’t that what life is all about?

In order to perform my best when I am teaching a fitness class, I have really learned to ‘be’ in the moment and ‘see’ all the participants and ‘feel’ the energy of the movement and ‘enjoy’ the overwhelming warmth and health and breath running through me at that precise instance.  I have come to crave this feeling.  I love talking with the participants and getting a little bit of their life into me.

Writing also provides me with great joy…and great frustration.  I procrastinate for long periods before I sit down and write, but when I get there, I become lost in the moment.  The minutes and hours just fly as I delve into the realms of a completely different world.  I think I procrastinate because I know that it will be hard work to find just the right words and perform the research to ensure realism, making the effort seem huge for the small resulting text.  Invariably, I am interrupted by family, responsibility, and life demands.  Much of the time I leave distractions turned on, like the tv and the internet and e-mail, inviting interruption – not quite sure why.

The other day, I noticed that I spent the entire morning planning what I was going to do when I have a job that provides cash-flow and how our life would be different.  I realized that there are no guarantees in that thought.  I need to enjoy the right now and I need to ensure that I can afford the right now.  The only guarantees I have in life are those that I am willing to put my full effort and passion into.

When I was working, I used to daydream about a day when I would not have to ‘work’ so that I could pursue my dream of writing and building a business.  Now that I am not working full time, I am wasting that time away by worrying about money and thinking about yet another future time when things will be ‘perfect’. I am here to tell you (and me) that there will never be a time when things are perfect. Nobody has that.  Just pick up any celebrity magazine or website and you will see all the scandal, bad choices and plain old unfortunate circumstances many are currently in.  Read the biography of anyone that you admire and hold on a pedestal and you will see that they struggled and overcame very unperfect situations by committing to their passion and goals.

To find great joy, we must give ourselves the permission to experience great joy.  Joy is around you at all moments, you just have to open your eyes.

I just ate the most marvelous eggs and toast!  Beautiful music is playing on the radio upstairs in the background.  Anticipation of writing this blog has got me excited, especially being able to produce a video which I find so much fun, hoping that I will reach someone who can use this information to get them through a tough period.

There are ways to engage mindfulness.  Practice makes perfect, or at least makes it better.  You can work at living in the moment; being present to what is right in front of you; experiencing joy in this precise instance.  Small things like doing a puzzle – word find, crossword, Sudoku – bring you into this very moment and help to centre you.  Try it.

Eckhart Tolle tells us that the only guarantee we have is the present moment.  We cannot change the past and the future is uncertain.  All we have is memory of the past and anticipation of the future.  Think about that for a couple of minutes!

When we spend too much of our time thinking about what we want that is lacking in our life, we cannot enjoy the now.  Many times, (like above when I so yearned for time to write and now that I have it am procrastinating), we get what we thought we needed in order to be happy and find out, that’s not it – I’m no happier!  Everything you need to be happy is within you and within your grasp at this very moment.  At this moment, you cannot be any more than what you are, and what you are is wonderful!

What do you have control over right now that you can focus on?  Happiness does not have to be elated joy at every single instance of my existence.  Realizing this, I can appreciate the little things in my life and the happenings of this exact moment.

Take time today to pay attention to everything you do.  As you drive to work, really look at the weather, the other drivers, the things occurring outside and inside your car or the bus or your bicycle.  Listen carefully to each conversation and don’t worry about what is coming up next, except if you have set aside time to plan for it.  Embrace interruptions by paying attention to what they mean and what purpose they have for you.  Open yourself to receiving joy right now.  Really taste each bite of food you put into your mouth today and savor how it makes you feel.

When you are pursuing a goal, set aside specific time for the purpose.  If your mind is ‘clouded’ with other thoughts at all times, you cannot be right here enjoying this moment.  Being focused on the current can provide a deeper understanding, connection with the other people or things involved, and a feeling of great contentment or joy!  You will see, hear, feel, sense, taste, and smell things you have never noticed before, even if you are doing the same old thing you have done day in and day out forever.

Also, speaking of same old same old, try something NEW!  Do your routine tasks in a way that is different for you!  Listen to a different news channel or radio station.  Use your non-dominant hand for a routine task.  Say more than just ‘Hi, how are you?’ to a coworker and learn more about them.  Take a different route to work and REALLY look around.  Go to a different grocery store.  Change around the furniture in a room.  Go to a movie during the daytime on a weekday – and eat popcorn!  Wear a different hairstyle!  Phone someone you have not talked to in a while.

Today, I will take joy in removing the snow from my sidewalk; the brisk, cold air reminding me of how fresh and clean the outdoors are!  If someone walks by, I will talk to them.  I am looking forward to teaching a spectacular fitness class tonight and engaging with the people who came specifically to get fit and feel well!  I am stoked about working on my novel outline this afternoon and finding out what my characters are getting up to!  I will turn off the television, radio and e-mail to ensure distractions do not take my focus away from their importance.  This very moment, I am content writing this post, carving the words into something that will inspire, relax or spark something within you!


Exercises and Questions:

The Oprah website has some suggestions to refocus mindfulness that will take two minutes each to complete:  http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/Simple-Steps-to-Mindfulness/1

Read Eckhart Tolle’s take on mindfulness: http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/Eckhart-Tolles-Guide-to-Transforming-Your-Life_1/1

Spend time being mindful.  Challenge yourself to focus in the moment for the next hour, morning, whole day, or week.  Write down your experiences and things you noticed that you never saw before.

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