I try to live mindfully, which can be challenging, partly because of my job as the executive director of a non-profit organization. There is so much to do, and I have difficulty saying “no.”
So I practice in little ways. For example, when I am standing in line at the grocery store, I take a few deep breaths, and I find myself feeling more patient. When someone comes to talk to me at work, I set aside what I had been doing so I can listen deeply. I walk at a park along the lake.
One of the practices recommended at the Center for Mind Body Medicine workshop I attended last month was to write a prescription for self-care (these are medical people, so they think in terms of prescriptions). I chuckled to myself as the doctor/presenter explained the process, because this is something I have been doing as long as I have been journaling. My version is called “things that bring me joy.”At the beginning of each year, and every time I start a new journal, I review and update my list of things I love to do. The list hasn’t changed that much over the years. I still love to bake, read, cook and sew. I love going to museums and poking around in little shops in quaint towns.
But, I learned to knit in my late thirties, and added that to my list. Twenty years ago, I bought my first home and planted a flower garden—and then added gardening to the list.
Running changed to walking after an ankle injury fifteen years ago. Writing for blogs was added about ten years ago.
Walking by the lake the other day, I thought back over the past few months to see how I was doing in the “joy” department, and I realized there were some gaps. I had not baked or knitted for at least three months!
So I came home and baked chocolate chip cookies and blueberry coffee cake; I immediately felt happier.
How is it possible that something so simple can bring me such joy? And knowing that it does, why do I not do more?
To be fair, the past few weeks have seen me in the yard clearing out flower beds and planting annuals. But, I notice that my evenings have been spent watching mindless television—and not even knitting while I am sitting there.
That awareness leaves me feeling unsettled and even a bit discouraged. Why am I resisting doing something that brings me joy?
After a particularly discouraging day at work, and an evening of watching mindless television, I had an active dream night—I think my subconscious is busy repairing the discord of my waking life.The next morning, St. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16 spoke directly to me: “Therefore, we are not discouraged.”
Living mindfully requires paying attention to the everyday moments of my life, focusing on what brings me joy, and letting go of what is discouraging.