Mindfulness Lessons: Crossing the Line

Monday , 20, January 2014 Leave a comment

At the onset of this journey, I assumed I’d spend my time focusing on being aware of where I am, what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, what I’m feeling, what I really want/need to be doing, etc.  I suppose that’s pretty obvious, now that I type it out.  But, for what it’s worth, it’s a necessary statement to ground what follows.

It took very little time to realize I’ll have to constantly monitor myself for signs of going overboard–signs of crossing an invisible line between mindful and crazy town.  I may have a tendency to go on rampages of “must stay busy!” (secret aside: that’s the understatement of the year).  I don’t know how to relax.  I’m learning, but it’s HARD for me.  People tell me that’s ridiculous.  How can relaxing stress me out?  It’s just that shutting down my head and just sitting and… being… is tough for me.  What am I supposed to do while I’m doing… nothing?  Surely I’m not just supposed to… sit here?  I have no concept of how this is supposed to work.

By nature, then, for me there’s a fine line–it takes comically little time to cross from the land of mindful right into the cesspool of “ohcrapI’mnotdoinganythingrightnowImustnotbebeingmindful!”  It happens, quiet literally, at that speed, in my head (I warned you that things move pretty fast in there most days).  I clearly benefit from staying present to help insure that my time, energy, and focus are going where I choose for them to go.  My sense of well-being and to the length of my to-do list both benefit tremendously when I stay aware of what needs to get done and remain in motion toward accomplishing those things.

However, there’s a limit.  The first week of the semester was one of the toughest I’ve had in a long time–issues and problems that required significant time and networking to resolve along with all of the usual chaos of the week.  When I really, truly, honestly sat and tuned into what my body and soul needed after that week–physically, mentally, and emotionally–I received the clear message of rest.  I trust that message when I’m tuned into it.

Bad news?  My brain resists listening to my heart’s message in those moments and insists on reminding me of my weekend to-do list.  It tells me that mindful use of my time would be to crank through those items, both the tasky ones and the personal-sanity ones.  It creeps back in to remind me of the things I said, pre-weekend, that I simply MUST get done before Monday.

Lesson?  Mindfulness for me -is- about staying present in the moment and being aware of what’s going on around me and what I’m doing.  What I initially failed to realize was that it’s also about listening to the voice of truth within me, trusting my own inner wisdom, and adjusting my expectations of myself and my actions accordingly.

An untouched to-do list might just be the best indicator that I’ve been truly mindful, as opposed to my initial expectation of what mindfulness “should” look like.

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