Even when sitting still, I feel like I live in a perpetual whirlwind of chaos. On particularly stressful days I find myself pulling my coat tighter and tighter, as if it were the only thing holding me together. I’m not just bad at mindfulness, I’m downright terrible at it.
Sounds like I could use some time in mindful meditation, right? But that would take even more time out of my day.
Maybe that’s the point. Time out.
I’ve begun to realize that I’ve been thinking about mindfulness all wrong. Mindful meditation isn’t about putting another item on the schedule, but about taking things off. All of us need a time out at some point. Meditation allows us to step out of life to practice…for life.
We arrive to life in a shocking explosion of cold and noise and pain. No crash course. No manual. We’re expected to wing it from day one. And it just keeps getting crazier. Yet when the opportunity actually comes along to practice for this circus we call life, we pass it by because we’re too busy. But life, like any other skill, requires a mastering of the basics: The ballerina’s first position, the bassist’s scales, the ball player’s swing. And a brain’s mindset.
Mindful meditation isn’t the goal. It’s the practice. Our goal is a mindful life.
When meditating, we focus on the sensations of the present, allowing distracting thoughts to come and go without judgment. By practicing the skills we need to make the most of life we learn to experience life intentionally and observe and accept change without fear. Hopefully we emerge to find ourselves more content, peaceful, and ready to face life.
Of course, none of these things are useful if we dive back in with the same attitude we had before meditation. We have to learn to apply mindfulness to our life as a whole.
Worry is the opposite of mindfulness. All of us have fruitless worries that clutter up our lives. They pull us into the future, prevent us from engaging with the present, and manage to be exhausting without actually accomplishing anything besides making us unhappy.
In an effort to live more mindfully, I’ve begun my week by listing 5 concerns that I am consciously choosing NOT to worry about:
- Finding a new apartment next year.
- Finding gifts for my friends’ unborn children (who aren’t due until July…).
- If people think I’m lazy because I need naps.
- If the weather will keep me from getting to work this week.
- Whether or not I’m ever going to get married.
Okay. That list was kind of hard. But also very relieving. While some of my worries made me feel silly or vulnerable, writing them out helped me remember that most of them aren’t even in my control. They’re real worries, but they interfere with living a happy life. This week, instead of stressing over those things, I’ve been enjoying where I am now. So far it’s felt great.
What about you? What 5 worries are you going to reject? Share in the comments below or on social media, using #faithcounts.
Camille Ward is a student of English Education at BYU. She loves to spend time with her family and is not to be trusted with a budget in bookstores or bakeries.