Are you mindful or do you have a mind full of thoughts and preoccupations?
Well, if you are lucky enough not to have the latter, you probably don't even need mindfulness!!
I have always been undoubtedly a "mind full" kind of person and I liked it, to be honest. Or so I thought. I thought that if I worried and overthought, then I would be in control. But at the same time anxiety and paranoid thoughts consumed me. After becoming a mum, all this worrying and overthinking duplicated, triplicated.
I started looking for books that could help me work on myself and control my mind, to try to calm it down a little and about 3 years ago I came across mindfulness. I started buying all sort of publications, mindfulness manuals, mindfulness diaries. I was intrigued by the concept, but didn't exactly know what it involved and to which extent I had to change and let go of all the mess in my head.
The general introductions are always very interesting, brilliant and spot on. That's exactly what I need, this is exactly the thing for me, I thought. I started my journey through mindfulness with an initiating ritual: the task set in the book was to taste a single little raisin, closing my eyes, trying to savor it as if it was the first time, discovering it for the first time, giving it my full attention, living in the moment, focusing on a little thing, keeping my senses alert and alive.
Interesting approach (weird, thought instead the men in my house…), I liked it, I carried on.
There were a few other "tests" and practical experiences and experiments to carry out, which I didn't mind following and I actually enjoyed them. But then came the hard part... meditation... I had done some sort of meditation during my yoga classes... well, the other yogis meditated while I slightly felt I was slipping away from myself, falling into Morpheus’ arms, every single time. So it wasn't exactly a great success...
But I wanted to give mindful meditation a go. And man, it was hard! First of all, when could I find the time for it? I'm always busy, at work, at home. Where could I possibly find 20 quiet minutes during the day? The only time I could think of was when my kids were finally asleep, but that meant that the moment I touched the sofa or the bed to try the meditation, listening to the guided instructions of soft voiced men or women…. after 2 mins I was sleeping. And when I tried during the day, at weekends, I could hear the noises of the kids in the house and they would come in my room to see which strange things mum was up to and they interrupted me every so often.
It just didn't work. It didn't even work during yoga classes, because as I said, I constantly fell asleep. I introduced a few people to mindfulness and they are doing really well. My dad's partner is now attending seminars, workshops, she is writing about it and she is taking it to another level. I'm still stuck at the introduction pages of my books.... Am I too lazy to take meditation seriously? Am I too unfocused, am I too superficial? Probably yes. This doesn’t mean that I won’t try again harder in the future, but at present I seem unable to make that quality jump into serious mindful meditation.
Notwithstanding this delusional meditation approach, there is something that mindfulness did for me, though. In a very personal and practical way, it helped me somehow. I know that without meditation mindfulness is not complete, but its core teachings and principles have nonetheless changed me a little bit. The focus on the present moment, the grounding of ourselves in the "now", the feeling of acceptance and compassion towards ourselves, the constant reminders on gratefulness and thankfulness, well, they did it for me!
I somehow learnt to dismiss obsessive thoughts, I can now be more focused and grounded in the present, I learnt to “procrastinate” the negative thoughts, telling myself: I'll deal with that later, the problem is not physically present, let's worry when it will be time to be worried. And I succeed in it! It really does work. It takes a little while to let go of the old habits and of the worries but when the mechanism clicks, it's great! I simply dismiss the unwanted thoughts, it’s as if I surrounded myself with a “worrying proof” material and let all the problems bounce off and away from me. And I think I succeed in it because I can focus more on the moment, ground myself in the "now" and let go of all the bad experiences of the past and of the preoccupations for the future. The past is long gone and the future is not here yet, so why being upset by things that already happened and that are not here anymore? The future has not shown itself yet, so why anticipating worries for something which hasn’t happened? It doesn't always work, obviously, especially when the kids are involved, that's my weak part. But I consider it a victory nonetheless because, a part from the children, I stopped worrying about financial issue, futuristic disastrous scenarios and all those things beyond my control that in the past I wanted desperately to control and that affected my feelings, my mood and made me weak and uncertain.
And I have started to give gratefulness and thankfulness a lot of consideration as well. It's a little trick, a very easy one, but it's powerful and it works really well.
When I feel dissatisfied, unchallenged and unhappy, I stop doing what I am doing and start thinking of all I have, of my achievements, little or big as they might be, of my blessings, of the simple things in life that I have and that make me happy and make me feel whole. Thinking of my life in terms of abundance, good feelings and luck for what I have, perspectives change and my days get brighter. I feel motivated to do more, to do better, my mood immediately brightens. I cannot do meditation but I do a lot of mindful coloring, mandala coloring, which in its own way is s sort of creative meditation. It's extremely calming and my sons are always very keen to join in.
So overall I can say that I mainly failed to be a diligent mindful meditating person, but somehow I absorbed some of its teachings. And I feel that my mind is less full, it is working hard to discipline itself to new and more positive approaches and outlooks on the world and on life!