Finding Your Own Way to Mindfulness
If you’re anything like me you’re constantly searching for ways to bring some sanity into an overly busy, overly stressful, overly complicated world. Why is it *So Difficult*? I can tell you all the advice you’ll ever need in 7 bullets and it’s nothing if not 100% obvious: 1. eat healthy, 2. exercise, 3. put your phone down, 4. spend less money, 5. spend more time with the people you love, 6. be kind to other people, 7. be mindful. We all know this and, if not, there are millions of blogs and books and people to remind us.
But how do we do it?
Therein lies the trick. What I’ve learned in my quest for peace is that the “how” makes all the difference in the world. It’s the difference between success and failure because different people need different ways to arrive at these simple, worthwhile goals. I get inspired when I read about other people’s journeys, their wins, their tricks. But while I gain a lot of inspiration from them, their strategies do not always apply to me for one reason or another.
Reading Mr. Money Mustache for the first time left me so struck by the absurdity that we all allow to pervade our lives. Nothing he said was earth shattering, yet watching him poke ozone-size holes in all our collective societal “givens” so deftly and with such pizazz really inspired me to rethink. Am I going to live on less than $30K a year? No. That just doesn’t work for us as a family of four in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country… where I grew up and where all my family lives.
But his insights genuinely inspired me to listen to my inner voice and figure out what financial health (and mental health) mean to me and to find my own way there. Listening to your inner voice goes hand in hand with mindfulness, something that does not come easily for our information-addicted, mercilessly fragmented and boredom-averse brains, regardless of how many of us do seek it.
Mindfulness and meditation are something that I have chased, with middling results. I appreciate their value, having read numerous books on the topic, all of which were insightful and inspiring. And while there have been times I have been able to steal away from my children and hide in my closet for 15 minutes (literally) to meditate, I have still not been successful in doing it regularly.
But something funny has happened since I started taking my dog to the park in the mornings (now that I can trust her off leash)… I have been enjoying some of the most mindful, clear-eyed, meditative mornings of my life. My dog is a miniature greyhound. Watching her run on the fields and through the wooded paths is a transfixing experience. It is an act of joy so pure and so uplifting, it is possible to think of nothing other than the happy little creature before me, doing what she was born to do and to feel her feeling of freedom and rightness doing it.
I take the dog to the park because she needs it and it is the right thing to do for her. But as it turns out, the same can be said for me – it is an effortless meditation. There was a recent study demonstrating that the simple act of walking in nature can have a powerful effect on the brain, especially for city dwellers. To begin my morning this way informs my outlook all day, and it has been a revelation.
Just like that, I found my way to a little helping of mindfulness, peace and sanity… it was right there waiting for me to discover it. Of course Wordsworth, Emerson and Thoreau already knew this 150 years ago.