Maybe you didn’t notice, but things have been a little different around here this week. But don’t worry, I’m here and I still have your back for your “no-fail” mindfulness challenge for the weekend ahead. I’m taking a page from some of your books, and am back to a little bit of school myself…
I’m working on my yoga teaching certification and completing an intensive week of residency slightly off the grid. The days are long, my body is suuuper sore, but my brain is on fire with all the new info I’m gathering as I learn even more about this practice I first found (by accident, btw – story for another time) when I was in my own days as a grad student. For the record, it’s also where I first found mindfulness, but I digress.
Aside from my screaming shoulders from approximately one million chaturangas, the experience of learning to teach something new has brought along with it plenty of other kinds of discomfort. I’m in a situation where I don’t know as much as I want to (yet), I can’t do things as well as I want to (yet), and the only way to remedy both of those things is to stand up, show up, and do it anyway – no matter how awkward I may look or feel in the process. Oooh, and it. is. awkward. Trust that…for now, anyway.
These are the types of days where I feel the benefits of my mindfulness practice kick in on all cylinders. Because I have tried to sit with the discomfort of a racing mind, or boredom, or irritation, anxiety, etc. in my mindfulness practice, I am able to lean into it here, in the “real world,” towards the pursuit of a goal I am going after in my everyday life. I can keep myself in the game, so that I might be able to make something that I really want into something I have achieved. I can deal with feeling unsure, unclear, imperfect and anxious because I know that they are passing emotions, and I don’t have to let them overtake me. I can breathe, and I can make it through to the other side of them, where great things await.
If you’re in the mood for a “no-fail” mindfulness challenge this weekend, try this on for size:
- Make an effort to notice a moment when you’re uncomfortable. I’m not talking about in a “these pants seem to have shrunk on their own” or “who turned the a.c. temp up when I wasn’t looking” kind of way, but more like internal discomfort. This is more about the “he’s really getting on my nerves” or “why is this line so long” or “I could never do that like she does” kind of discomfort. I’m sure you’ll have a moment – or a hundred – like it as the weekend carries on, if you’re paying attention.
- When you find this moment, take a breath. Don’t do anything else. Don’t respond, speak, leave, or quit – in your mind or real life. Just breathe.
- Observe how it feels to not run away. Just because you’re uncomfortable doesn’t mean you need to check out. Checking out just removes options. Staying present keeps all your options open.
- Note any thoughts or feelings that come up. See how I said “note” and not “engage” or “struggle with”? This is about seeing what comes up when you let yourself stay uncomfortable for just a minute longer than you want to in this particular situation. No analysis necessary. Just observe.
- Take a REALLY deep breath. A big inhale and a truly giant exhale. Let it all go.
- Get back to business, whatever that business is. Decide what to do next from a place of empowerment, knowing that your responses are your choice, and some little drop of discomfort isn’t going to prevent you from making choices you’re still proud of a minute, a year, maybe even many years later.
Uncomfortable feelings are totally normal in an endless number of circumstances, but they only have as much power as you give them. If you want to be able to grow into the person you know you’re on your way to becoming, then you need to save as much of that power as possible for the actual work you need to do to get there.
So, chin up, heart open, gaze focused ahead. Inhale, exhale, and before you release, take just one extra breath. In the choice to do that, you’ll find all the power you need to do just about anything.
Photo credit: Matthew Henry