I am sat here writing this because I found myself with time to do something….a VERY rare occasion might I add. In my twenties when I had more of that precious commodity, I would move straight to picking up a book, or taking a bath; full of the wonderful aroma of Lush products, soaking until my skin wrinkled. I found it easy to spend hours walking around shops and stopping to drink a milkshake in my local café – strawberry always. But something happened along the way - life became full of responsibility. With endless school drop offs, work emails, dinners to cook, gymnastics plaits to create, uniforms to iron, football shirts to Vanish and birthday parties to organize; something happened to the importance of me.
Time becomes a word that we dream about – and yes I did actually have a dream recently where a huge, demon sized alarm clock was ticking intimidatingly against my cheek. Only to wake and realise again that I had hit the snooze button for the fifth time that morning and the demon-sized alarm clock was in fact ticking intimidatingly against my cheek. I wake and immediately think “here we go again” - the rush begins – mornings of chaos and snappiness, when for the fiftieth time I’ve asked my 7 year old to “please put your shoes on” and she’s wondered off to find her tiny elephant Sylvanian Family because she “NEEDS to take it to school”. My 7 year old is not on my agenda of responsibility – she’s not managing a family out of the door, not trying hard to avoid being the ‘late mum’ again, she is very much ‘present’. And wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing.
To be present means my head is “in the game” – I am not thinking ten steps ahead about what I’m going to arrive to at work, not tripping over challenges that I have imagined well into next week, not rehashing last weeks row with my partner about whether or not to paint the downstairs hallway denim grey (too dark, versus stylish). Being present is now how I choose to self-care – because the ability to chase ‘time’ becomes an actual nightmare; a Lush bath and a good read maybe once in a blue moon (funnily enough Halloween will serve us a Blue Moon this month – so maybe I will have that bath this year). Being mindful serves me with all the practice of self-care that I can fit into life’s busy roundabout now, but it is enough to keep me grounded.
Mindfulness is the practice of remaining present.
Mindfulness is not:
· Sitting cross-legged saying ‘Om’
· Just for religious people
· ‘Getting rid of’ difficult thoughts or feelings
· Clearing our mind of thoughts
· A quick fix
Mindfulness is: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” We often expect mindfulness will bring us peace or calm and relaxation. This highlights our human tendency to want pleasant experiences and to push away what is unpleasant or average. We want something, we don't get it, and then we're unhappy. We think it's not working or we're doing it wrong. We start to judge our experience and ourselves. Although it's true that you can experience a sense of peace, calm, or relaxation while practicing mindfulness, these are not guaranteed outcomes. Mindfulness is just about noticing whatever experience we're having, including all the thoughts, feelings or physical sensations that are a part of it.
So during my rush of a morning I remind myself to look up, to breathe it all in – because instead of saying to myself “I’ve got to get the kids to school” I say to myself “I get to take the kids to school.”