Mindfulness might just be the hardest thing to master, ever. Despite it being incredibly easy. Despite it being the answer to everything from depression to adrenal fatigue. Despite it being something I have written about myriad, myriad times, and despite it being something that I know, in my own heart, to be a profoundly wonderful, effective, and stress-relieving thing. I am in this moment, right now, nowhere else – not worrying about tomorrow, not dreading next week, not away on holiday a fortnight later. I am listening to you, feeling you, absorbing all of your you-ness, not mentally executing the shopping list or panicking over that missed deadline.
None of this is very helpful. What IS helpful, however, is identifying the things that really do help to make me more mindful, and damn well doing them, as often as I can.
The first, major one, is:
1) Spend a lot less time on Social Media. This is unfeasibly boring and sanctimonious, of course, because it’s such fun at times, and such an easy way to pass a relaxed hour or half, scrolling and messaging and uploading, that it’s become in many ways the new ‘guilty TV’ habit. I’ve never had a guilty TV habit (I just don’t watch much TV), but I am increasingly drawn into the SM world… let’s be honest – as someone who works in the wellness industry, I am fully aware of the power of Social Media, and I want to be a part of it. I want to connect, to grow, to diversify, to build this thing that I really believe in (the Balance Plan being at the heart of my life and the ultimate fire-upper of my passion). BUT, I achieve very little by standing in limbo in the kitchen when I should be resting or doing yoga or painting or having a valuable conversation with my husband, for 10 to 15 minutes at times, on ‘social media’ (Instagram, mainly). I estimate that I spend around one hour a day on Instagram, which I realise is not a huge amount compared to a lot of brands and bloggers, BUT it is too much for me. I feel it – it tires me out, I feel almost anxious afterwards, and it does not bring the joy into my life which should be the sole purpose of doing anything (in an ideal world). So, my new resolve extends to spending just enough time on SM (at times when I am alone, e.g. in a taxi home), or short bursts of time to upload relevant pictures, as and when – but never, never allow it to spill over into my time at home with family (I am religious about this with the children, but less so with my husband). To do it, put it away, and then – the crucial bit – just stop thinking on it.
2) To send a signal to my brain that takes me from WORK to HOME mode, every day. Akcelina recommends carrying fresh cardamom pods in the pocket, and just as I walk up the front steps to home, crushing one in my hands, taking 3 really deep breaths as I inhale, and then, walking into the house. It’s a marvellous idea. I’ve also come to rely on the amazing Aveda Chakra Sprays – number 1 is grounding, and it’s the perfect ticket for pinning that flighty mind down, and bringing it to a place where you can really enjoy the home, and all of its pleasure.
3) To create a Joy Drawer. I gathered my unused watercolours, my favourite stationery, my wool and needles, my favourite childhood books, a bar of the most delicious dark chocolate, a mix ‘tape’ CD made by my husband, photographs of the children, and put them into a deep drawer in my dresser. Whenever I need a boost, I go in, pluck and play, knowing that this is just for me, in this moment, to enjoy with no distraction.
4) To counterbalance MUST with WANT. My husband and I have been talking about beginning each day with yoga for some time now… the issue is that we’re often woken by the children, and setting the alarm feels unnecessarily cruel for two people who are often in need of as much sleep as they can get (particularly in winter, when the duvet is a thing of complete and utter joy). We’d been feeling bad about it until we decided, quite simply, not to. If you want to do something, we reasoned, it should be something that doesn’t come with a whole other set of obligations (we have enough of those already!). So, we got out the yoga mats, left them at the foots of our beds, and the next morning, with the kids in fine fettle and vocal discord, we did some deliciously imperfect yoga for just 10 minutes, en famille, which, we hope will not only help to boost our bodies, but also to lead our children down a yogically sound path one day in the future too…