I’ve always been interested in the holistic world. It was always a normal spoken topic in our home when we were growing up.
My mother was a holistic therapist so it wouldn’t be unusual to smell beautiful incense around the house.
There was often some kind of music coming from her workroom or just around the house in general. That kind of gentle emotive music you’ll hear in a Spa!
Meditation is something I always struggled with though. Like many people, my mind is a busy place. It’s full to the brim with absolute junk and I could really do with a massive clear out of my “mental space” shall we say.
That’s where meditation comes in.
I loved the idea of finding a few moments to be quiet, clear my brain of all its thoughts and just becoming one with myself and my surroundings. Loved the sound of it but couldn’t, for the life me, actually get the hang of it.
I'd spend the entire time telling my brain to be quiet and stop interrupting my attempt to be peaceful. In the end, I’d be so wound up and annoyed at myself that it would have had the exact opposite effect than the desired one.
And then I discovered mindfulness.
I had noticed the term being used a lot in conversation. People would refer to doing something “mindfully”. Being “mindful about” something else and even “eating mindfully”. I assumed it was another avenue of meditation. That quiet, peaceful state that I was never able to find within myself.
As it turns out I was completely wrong. Mindfulness is not about being peaceful. It’s about being in the present.
And funnily enough, it’s about being “at peace” with the present even when the present might be noisy, stressful or representing everything that stresses you out. Now, this intrigued me immediately. The penny kind of dropped that as a control freak I always want to change everything around me. Things that are none of my business. If I could find a way to exist in each moment and find a sense of peace within me despite the other things that were going on, well I could apply that to everything, couldn’t I?
It excited me. I imagined times of loud noises, of bad news and losing loved ones. Times where every inch of your being is irritated or upset. Imagine being able to, even at those times, carve out a sense of being OK in the present. It made me dread the future less because it showed me that even though life will bring many challenges, I will be OK. We as a family will be OK. My kid will be OK.
At first, it was baby steps. I actually did a five-week mindfulness course and learned a lot about just being present. Most of us are doing one thing and thinking about another. One day the teacher used the example of how we actually got to the course that morning. She asked how many of us drove a fair distance and had no real recollection of the journey. We were driving but our body was on autopilot. Our mind was in a completely different place. It was a great realization.
I am the kind of person who is always somewhere between tomorrow and yesterday (and it’s not today). I’m reflecting on yesterday and planning for tomorrow but I’m never really experiencing the now. What scared me is that my son seems to be developing this trait.
He is obsessed with what we are doing next. What we are doing tomorrow. He always wants the next thing and is never really fully immersed in what is going on now. I know all children do this to some extent but this is like looking in the mirror for me.
Life is so short and mindfulness is helping me realize that in most cases the now is actually a lovely safe place to be. It’s also showing me that even when we find ourselves in places where it doesn’t feel good, we can find a way of noticing something positive and like everything that wave will also pass.