Mindfulness and mediation are hugely popular right now. There are apps and classes, even a whole studio in New York City, for encouraging quiet reflection. Great. One more thing on the to-do list that we can all totally and utterly fail to do. One more thing to feel guilty about.
I, for one, have grown tired of feeling guilty. I try to eat well. Sometimes I don’t. I try to exercise consistently. Sometimes I don’t. I try to practice mindfulness regularly. I stink at it. Some days (like during the holiday season), I have too many cookies or one glass of wine more than my body tells me I should. And this is at least the second time my husband and I have tried to have “Dry January.” We stink at that too. But, instead of getting whacked out of shape about these things, I have started to take small steps that contribute to my mental and physical health in surprisingly large ways.
Now that the holidays are over, I am back to eating more salads and drinking less wine. I'm not perfect but "perfection" is not really what I'm after these days; healthy and comfortable are more where it's at for me.
As for mindfulness, which is probably the thing I feel most challenged by and guilty over, I have started capturing dozens of tiny mindful moments during the day. I don’t usually have a formal sit, or only manage to sit quietly for a few minutes, but I recently noticed how rich the world around me is with beauty and joy.
Walking the dog, doing the dishes, helping the kids get ready for school, these mundane activities that make up the bulk of our lives, are actually full of incredible details:
I have walked the dog around the block 500 times but I only just lately noticed the way the sun rises above the trees in the morning and creates a rainbow in the dew on the grass.
I have washed the dishes countless times but how often have I even noticed that the warmth from the water takes the chill off a cold winter day and the lavender scented suds from the soap are actually soothing. Not once until a few days ago.
Helping the kids get ready for school can be fraught with peril and has ended many, many times in raised voices (even tears!) but if I slow down and take the time to engage in what’s right in front of me, I realize that there are quite a few ways to make the situation better, not worse. I have started to understand that my reaction to the morning chaos is sometimes like gasoline on a fire, rather that aloe on a burn.
So, we have choices about how we interpret and react to the world around us. Are you the gasoline or the aloe? Is it just another walk around the block with the dog or is it a chance to find rainbows?
Don’t get me wrong, life isn’t all rainbows and warm suds but if we slow down just a little and pay attention to what is in front of us, we might at least have a chance to notice those rainbows.