“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” -Mother Theresa
I have a strong tendency to think in fast-forward. Meaning, my thoughts race as fast as my feet do during a 5k I’m trying to PR. Except, when I’m racing, I have a short time to give it all I’ve got – mentally and physically – with a very well-defined end goal.
It’s become ever-present (for lack of better terms) that I am not fully present in my day to day life. And I’ve written about it before. It’s difficult when life is filled with busy-ness, never ending to-do’s (for whatever reason, that word is one of my least favorite, but I’ll use it here for emphasis), and defining our worth by what we accomplish – no matter how menial the task may be.
I knew I wasn’t alone. It feels ever so common to insert, “I’m so busy.” “I’m so tired.” “I have so much to do.” “I haven’t slept all week.” into daily conversation. But, do we realize just how draining those comments, for both ourselves and our listeners, can be? With them carries a weight and a response that tends to go something like this, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” But, the “sorry” is flat-lined. There’s no empathy anymore for those who are stressed and tired, because we’re all stressed and tired.
How do we break free of the cultural norm of the rat-race of being busier and more tired and overworked than one another?
Maybe, we hit a breaking point and have to leave the country for two weeks with no communication to our lives back home. Maybe, we take a drastic leap of faith and alter our lives completely with a new job venture, ending of a relationship, or moving to a new place.
And, maybe for some, that works.
For most, not so much. For me, definitely not.
(via Mindfulness with Demi)
So, I’ve dedicated this week to slowing down, reducing stress, being present, and living in the moment. But, I’m no expert that’s for sure.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Working out in the morning is wonderful.
Yes. It really is. I’m a changed woman. I’ve found myself excited to wake up at 5:30 am for 6:00 am classes at the Y. There’s something special and peaceful about being up before everyone else. Walking out the door to hear the crickets and birds chirping. No music. No noise. Just me and the early birds. There’s also a certain type of dedicated person at a morning workout class. The energy that fills the room is one of renewed, refreshed spirit and a sense of eagerness to tackle the day at hand.
Yoga is hard.
(via my Instagram)
Yoga is hard mentally and physically. As a runner, I’ve realized that the amount I stretch pales in comparison to the time I spend pounding the pavement, and it shows during yoga when the instructor tries bending my leg in a way that it surely isn’t meant to be.
Mentally, yoga is a true test. This week, I tried focusing only on what was going on in the room, on my mat, my movements, and my thoughts – making sure they didn’t wander in any way. Talk about a difficult feat. But it made me realize just how much my mind does wander to what my day will look like, the things I still need to get done, the things I’ve forgotten to do… the list goes on and on. Morning yoga helped me channel my thoughts in a directed way – a mindful way.
I left those classes feeling great – calm, relaxed, and ready to start my day.
Running is a great way to practice mindfulness.
Running is my antidote for any mental ailment. This week I learned that it’s another great way to hone in on your thoughts and take in what’s around you. A fellow run clubber (check out ARC Running if you’re in Charlotte) suggested running as a way to practice presence and mindfulness. Which, in his eyes, was running without music and paying attention to what’s going on in front of you. I tried it. It works. It sounds awful – to run and focus on running – but, much to my chagrin, I felt at peace with myself and my thoughts.
I’m addicted to my phone.
Yes, I’ll admit it. It’s true. The biggest takeaway from this week… I’m addicted to my phone. I tried to be mindful of how many times I looked at it or thought about checking it, and it’s embarrassing just how much I thought about and actually did check my phone. I noticed my mind wandering in the middle of conversations to unanswered messages on my phone. I tried to put the thoughts away, but it’s surely a weak area that needs working on.
I’m not the only one who preaches the importance of mindfulness, slowing down, and being present.
Tim Ferriss, who I wrote about in this post, recently posted a podcast (How to Cage the Monkey Mind) where he touched on his morning ritual of writing to “Cage the Monkey Mind.” If you don’t have time to listen, he goes into deeper detail in this blog post: What My Morning Journal Looks Like. Each morning, Ferriss writes or journals simply to lay out and possibly untangle his troubled and problematic thoughts before starting his day.
He says, “Morning pages don’t need to solve your problems. They simply need to get them out of your head, where they’ll otherwise bounce around all day like a bullet ricocheting inside your skull.”
For more mindfulness and meditation, Ferriss covers these topics quite frequently in his podcast: Four Hour Work Week
Another new favorite writer of mine, Maria Popova, creator and author of www.brainpickings.org, touches on being present in her post, An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence
She says, “Indeed, my own New Year’s resolution has been to stop measuring my days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence. But what, exactly, makes that possible?”
What is mindfulness?
According to Popova it’s “the ability to go through life with crystalline awareness and fully inhabit our experience.”
Our ability to be present seems to also determine our happiness.
This week, I found myself less stressed, happier, and more energized. Here’s to another week of being present and mindful.