Mindfulness seems to be in the back of my mind every day. I know how important it is for my mental, physical, and emotional health. I am aware of the steps to mindfulness. I know how to talk with my kids about mindfulness. But somewhere along the way, I stopped being mindful with intention.
“I blame technology. I blame the state of the world. I blame being a caretaker. I blame running several businesses.” These are my excuses, as well as the reasons that I am aware of for my lack of mindfulness in going about my everyday life.
I am goal-oriented and seek to complete tasks throughout the day. I derive much pleasure from my work which is why I tend to multi-task, flipping back and forth between writing, matchmaking, and emails from clients. There isn’t generally an end to my workday. I take breaks to do laundry, to listen to my child talk about school, and to eat. But these breaks are usually not planned. Essentially, interruptions to my work, turn into breaks. Then I “go back to work” until late in the evening.
The Calm app is filled with meditations, sleep stories, calming music, and health segments from experts in the field.
I listened to an episode of The Spark on the Calm app this morning that helped guide me toward mindfulness today. Anne-Laure Le Cunff discussed mindfulness at work. She shared her knowledge, from studies, that show we are capable of four hours of productive and creative work each day. Beyond this, we are likely to only stare at the screen, wasting time.
This story helped me to organize my workday in my head in a different way. I realize that I do find this knowledge to be true in my creative work as a writer. Two hours of creative writing and editing, a long break, and then I’m capable of two more hours, on a given day. If I’m distracted by emails, children, or phone calls during this time, broken concentration sometimes leads to being done with writing for the day.
Drinking tea, holding the mug, and even just having it near me, are rituals that help me produce creative work. I’ve tried to write without tea and I feel all squirely. IS that even a word? Since more than one cup of caffeine gives me “crazy brain,” I stick with green tea mixed with herbal tea blends to allow me multiple cups. When I’ve had enough caffeine but I’m not finished being creative, I switch to only herbal teas. I believe drinking tea affords me small mindfulness breaks from concentrated time on the screen.
Even the scent of tea can transport me to a calmer state. Meditative State of Mind is a tea I turn to when I’ve had too much caffeine or sugar, to bring me down from those highs. It has a light floral scent that pairs well with fresh, local honey.
I have read about “Wiggle Time” in the classrooms of young children when incredible teachers get everyone to stand at the end of each hour. They put on music and they all wiggle it out. Adults need this too. Standing, movement of any kind, and fresh air are helpful to do each hour. Studies show our brains are more efficient after movement and I’ve noticed this to be true for me.
“Put the phone away, silence it, and don’t look at it for one to two hours, when working on a creative project.”
This is what I want someone to demand of me! I know it would lead to less stress and more focused concentration while working. I know I don’t need to answer emails and texts immediately. But I tell myself I do. This will help me keep strong relationships with my clients. This will show them I am worthy of their business. These are the stories I tell myself.
The truth is, we are likely juggling enough work, tasks, and responsibilities for three people.
In Loving What Is, Byron Katie leads her audience to ponder four questions that can shift their mindset. The goal is to have more peace and fulfillment. Several case studies in her book reveal similar stories of working hard, always producing to be worthy. This can lead to judgments and resentments of others whom we feel SHOULD do things our way.
“The word SHOULD is a prison that we place ourselves in.”Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
It doesn’t feel good to think about how others SHOULD do things differently. The truth is, it is up to us to live the kind of life we want for ourselves. It is never up to us how other people live their life.
“When I am truly mindful in a conversation with a client or a friend, I can hear their story and struggles without taking them on personally. This leads to more compassion and willingness to allow them to go through the stages and path they are on, without infusing my experiences into their story.”
I have found success with writing a Daily To-Do List where I pencil in self-care and exercise. I also write self-care in my calendar, with reminders. I create Goal Lists for the week to include “work” that I do for myself. You likely know all the things you want to do to live a healthier and more peaceful life. Write them down. Whatever blocks we have to do these things are often tied to our perception of time and its barrier to keeping personal commitments. Writing down our self-care goals plants a seed. The seed starts a process within. Our goals become harder to ignore after this process.
Take a Walk
I like taking a walk in fresh clean air before I start preparing dinner. This time of the evening starts my second shift. A nature break is a wonderful way to end the tasks of work before stepping into the tasks of family time. This change of scenery resets me, like a drive home from work used to do. Working from home has led me to create new and different rituals.
Chris Barez-Brown, well known author, suggests that 66% of our creative thoughts come when we are moving. He suggests recording yourself on your phone, which would just look like you are talking to a friend. It tricks your mind into thinking this also. Talk to yourself, dumping everything that is stressful and everything you are angry about. When you are complete, this is when gratitude and creative solutions tend to visit you. The act of being heard is powerful and the person hearing you, only needs to be you.
Tea in the evenings
Meditative State of Mind is also soothing in the evenings during the winter. I love holding my hot mug of tea in bed with a book, to warm me up and relax my body and mind.
Journaling first thing in the morning or just before bed, is a tranquil activity that involves a conversation with yourself. You are the narrator of your life. As you jot down activities you participated in, feelings you felt, and/or conversations that were eye-opening for you, you have an opportunity to relive those experiences in a quiet space. If you are quiet and still, solutions can sometimes arise that we’re unable to bubble out in those original moments.
Feminism: A Journey to Equality has everything you will need to go on a guided journey to the self. All you need is a writing tool and a little bit of time.