People talk a lot about being mindful; it's hard not to hear the message to "slow down, be present, be mindful". I have read the Buddhist foundations of mindfulness and have touted them in my blogs and my newsletter, but what about really practicing what that means, trying it out in a, well, a very mindful manner?
I notice when I'm in a place of conflict or indecision that it is easy to talk, talk, talk to everyone I know about what is going on. That helps me to process through my feelings and to get more present to them. However, at some point well-meaning listeners will not just echo what they hear from me, but their own ideas and feelings will start to flavor the conversation and I can end up feeling like "this is what other people think, but I'm still confused about what to do".
I was recently feeling a desire to re-visit what practicing mindfulness really means and see what happened when I did so. I decided to be conscious regularly of what I was feeling -- in my thoughts, in my body, in my emotions.
I am a very Feeling person. Friends kid me about starting every sentence with "I feel...". I have prided myself on being in touch with my feelings, aware of them, and being emotional. But I think the piece that is added when I am mindful, is true awareness, clarity and acknowledgement of the feelings, without stuffing, 'making nice', or thinking about it later. My plan was launched, to begin to take note of what I was feeling in each present moment and to describe to myself without judgement what I was experiencing.
For example, I woke up this morning with an expectation of how my morning would go with my mate. He was already up and downstairs. I thought maybe we'd take a bike ride together, but as I started to head downstairs I heard his truck start. I asked myself what I was feeling. I felt angry, sad, abandoned, un-cared for, lonely. Didn't he care about me? Where was he going without me? I decided to go ahead and take a walk on my own, so I dressed to do so. As I was ready to head out, he returned. I had forgotten he had planned an early morning run to Home Depot for supplies to finish the fence he'd been working on. He thought he would dash over while I was still sleeping. I told him about my feelings, which felt painful. I got a little teary. He acknowledged my feelings. None of our conversation was about me telling him he was a dog for leaving without consulting me, but just about how I felt.
While out on my walk moments later I asked myself what I was feeling. Uh oh my thoughts were back at that incident. I asked myself what I was feeling in that present moment as I was walking, in my body and mind. I recognized I was feeling joy at seeing and hearing birds everywhere. I felt the warmth of the sun without the heat that will be there later today. I felt my body feel strong as I ran up a hill. I felt emotionally good to be out walking on an early summer morning. As I breathed in I could even connect with a smell of childhood summer mornings which made me smile. Be here now was calling to me. Look at these great feelings and sensations, the whole point of why you are walking!!
My plan is to continue this experiment of sorts and to really be present to my feelings in each moment which I recognize now can intensify my feelings, but also spur me to action, which I'm craving. As I walked in the kitchen after my walk I noticed a little grease on the stove and noticed I was noticing it. I grabbed a cloth and cleaner and quickly wiped the stove down, something I might have put off until later if not being mindful, perhaps thinking not so mindfully that it needed to be done and I'd get around to it "later".
More later. Right now my mind, body and emotions are saying it's time for what's next, which is most likely breakfast.