About a month ago, I began to live more mindfully. Since then, I’ve attempted to write about it several times and found myself stuck every time, including now. These changes have been so profound, even in a short amount of time, that I can say that it has changed my life. Consider this the first of many posts about the topic.
Fundamentally, I am trying to be present in my mind and body at every moment. Truly *being* where I am with no thought of what’s coming next, unless I’m purposefully planning. The only unhappiness and anxiety I have in my lovely life is a product of worrying. When we worry, we use our creative minds to remove ourselves from present contentment and place ourselves in an imagined future where something is going wrong. Put that way, it sounds like a terrible way to live but it is so common!
Recognizing that in this moment everything is fine can be really powerful. In the first few days of thinking this way, I noticed 2-3 times per day that I felt anything other than contentment. That’s it! They were fleeting moments that dissipated as quickly as I noticed them. I was truly amazed by how content I was, even when sitting in traffic, waiting in lines, etc. If you’re just *being* with your thoughts, your music, your podcasts, the sunshine…everything is pretty nice! Of course, not every moment is fine. Someone may say something hurtful, a driver might do something dangerous that frightens or angers you… Those are still realities of life but we can choose whether we let those moments pass quickly or dwell on them, forcing ourselves to re-experience the hurt/discomfort over and over again. No thanks.
I can get daunted pretty easily and daunted typically equals very unhappy. However, when I’m actually doing the daunting things, they always go well! I love my job and whether I’m teaching a voice lesson, a Dailey Method class, or singing, I feel this amazing sense of flow. I’m so fully engaged that time seems to speed up. I leave each activity feeling more alive than before. My motivation for actively seeking presence was to feel as engaged and positive outside of those activities as I feel when I’m doing them.
To eliminate feeling overwhelmed, I committed to stop looking at my calendar. Instead, I take 5-10 minutes each day to sit down with the next day’s schedule and set an intention for each activity. I think about what each student, class, or workout needs. I make a little notation in my phone and boom, the day is handled. I can spend the other 23 hours and 50 minutes of today being in today! I’ve also noticed how much time I truly have when an activity is contained within it’s allotted time (instead of being thought about all day). 4 lessons and 2 DM classes isn’t ALL DAY, it’s only 6 hours. That shift has allowed me to reclaim and enjoy a whole lot of previously squandered time.
Around the time this all started, I had a wonderful Dailey Method workshop with Lorna Samatas, owner of The Dailey Method – Elmhurst. The topic was “Theming Your DM Class” but much of it was about mindfulness techniques. One concept that I really took to was the idea of “arriving” in a space. The idea is that when you cross a threshold into a new space, it’s a mindfulness trigger. You take a moment to pause and consider why you’re there and what you hope to get from the experience in that space. My Dailey Method students have responded well to this as a way to truly begin their practice. I’m using it everywhere from entering a rehearsal to retreating to my bedroom at the end of the day.
Without question, this has significantly changed my running. I will explore this in a subsequent post(s) but I want to tell you that last week’s 17 miler and yesterday’s TWENTY were both amazing runs. I was *calm* the entire time. I didn’t have any dread or fear of the distance. At the beginning, I had no sense of how long I had to go. I simply ran. I noticed physical sensations, noticed ebbs and flows in my energy, noticed clouds, noticed my own happiness. It was tremendous and couldn’t come at a better time.
There’s a lot more I want to share and now that I’ve gotten this first post through my fingers, more will come soon!
Please ask questions or share your favorite mindfulness tips and resources in the comments!