A plan for becoming more mindful
I drove by a crowded miniature golf course earlier this week. My skin started to crawl and my neck tensed up. Blech! I can’t stand miniature golf! Chasing a tiny ball around, trying to coerce it into a tiny hole with a tiny stick, especially in the hot sun on a crowded course, is not my idea of a good time. “Now, the driving range… that’s something I enjoy,” I thought to myself. “Give me a heavy club and let me hammer away, ball after ball… I can have fun for hours.” It’s so cathartic and rewarding all the while being encouraged to hit something as hard as you can! I almost drove straight to the ranges that very instant. (This is such a telling paragraph. I’ll have to remember this so I can show it to a therapist some day.)
Stimulated by the mundane, as I often do, I started contemplating this aspect of my life as I drove back to the office. I had a bit of an epiphany, actually. For my entire life, I’ve enjoyed (and have been better at) large, powerful movements. As far as anything athletic goes, I’ve enjoyed things that require strength and gross motor skills like water skiing, off-road cycling, racquetball, weights, and now kickboxing. For instance, I could always throw a baseball incredibly far, but I could never pitch because I had terrible aim. Yoga, Pilates, piano lessons and painting classes have always proven boring and frustrating as isolating specific muscles is incredibly difficult if not impossible for me, not to mention my natural speed of operation is usually several gears higher than my teachers’ so I run out of patience. You can probably imagine what playing ping pong with me is like. I do enjoy decorating cookies and cakes, but it’s the end result that is so satisfying. Intricate designs requiring refined movements and minute adjustments of my hands typically end in disappointment or anguish because I simply don’t have the dexterity it takes for such painstaking work.
Hmmm… patience and self control… This led me to further analyze both my own mindfulness and social awareness. I determined I’m a bit of a contradiction when it comes to social and environmental awareness. Sometimes I’ll walk by something 20 times and never notice it, yet when my husband asks if I’ve seen his wallet, I can usually respond quickly with, “Check on the corner of the bed. I think it’s partially covered by your bath robe.” Likewise, I fall deeper in love with my husband and children every day when I notice their subtle mannerisms or the slightest twinkle in their eyes as we pass in the hallway. Music… no question there. I’ll stop in my tracks, close my eyes and mentally step into a piece if it grabs me. And I think this blog, an open diary of sorts, proves I am observant and contemplative. All this is to say I notice things! On the contrary… let’s just say I have a chronic case of “foot in mouth” disease. And even though I said I wouldn’t, I still make physical contact with strangers. (I happily slapped a Vietnam vet on the back at a blues show a few months back, and I almost had to peel him off the ceiling.) After pondering all of this for several days, I finally realized the reason I lack total coordination and some social awareness is because I also lack mindfulness.
Let me clarify. I’ve actually known this for years, but it didn’t really click until now. I’ve known the reason I walk into furniture and doorways so often is because I’m moving too fast and I’m usually focused on something else. In fact, my aunt has been trying to help me for years. She happens to be a published author on the topic of meditative prayer and a lay member of a monastery. It’s not like I haven’t had the opportunity to change, I just wasn’t ready. Today, for me, the driving force behind finally pursuing mindfulness is to improve my relationships as well as certain skills needed for my interests and hobbies (and to stop walking into things).
• To improve spiritually & live peacefully, I need to seek God in the world around me.
• To be a better wife, mother, & friend, I need to listen more closely & be more generous.
• To be a better employee, I need to slow down.
• To become a better pianist, I need to be able to play dynamically (varying the beat & loudness) when called for instead of flatly banging out notes throughout the duration of a song.
• To become a better kickboxer, I need to have better aim and control. I need focus.
• To become a better artist, I need better dexterity in my fingers and hands.
I’ve finally seen firsthand how it all fits together. How a mindful person leads a more fulfilling existence.
SO… I’ve decided to try to be more aware of and practice the little things (small movements, kind gestures, intricate details). Some of these things I’m already doing but will do more intentionally. Some are new goals.
• Private morning devotional prayer
• Sending token reminders of love to friends and family
• Piano exercises focusing specifically on dexterity & dynamics
• Drawing/Coloring/Hand lettering (most likely with my kids)
Whew! Learning. Growing. Loving. Piece by peace.
Xoxo (or should I say Namasté?) :)
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” ~ Pema Chödrön