I don’t remember where I heard that said, just that when I heard it I could empathize. So many times I have tied myself in knots trying to keep too many pieces going in my head at once.
For those of you who have written with me since January, you know that anxiety is one of the struggles in my life, one that can paint dark clouds into the brightest day. Fighting it doesn’t do any good. The very act of trying to fight it raises the anxiety another notch. Just trying to keep going while anxious doesn’t help either. Concentration is affected and time doesn’t seem to run in a way that helps me focus. My “want to” gets lost somewhere in the realm of “musts” and “should.” Perhaps you know the feeling.
Concentrating on mindful gifts this month is beginning to make a change in that. It comes with no agenda that tells me what my feelings should or shouldn’t be. It doesn’t chide me for taking things too seriously or give me a check list to determine if I am on task. When I first was introduced to mindfulness, my spirit said a resounding “Yes!” to what it offered but my conscious self was so fixed on regulations that it has taken awhile to get used to this new way of thinking and being.
This week is a good example of one of the gifts mindfulness gives. The week was packed with things that needed to get done — classes to teach, a volunteer tea to help set up, a program to organize, assessments to complete toward grades yet to be written, substitute notes to write for next week, posts to write, trying to reach someone from my rental company about a sink that has sprung a major link, boxes to pack for a move, people to contact for changing utilities…. the list goes on. On a normal anxious day this would be enough to seriously set me under, but mindfulness gives me another option:
“If the thought of how much you have to get done today comes up … you will have to be very attentive to it as a thought…..If you are able to step back from it and see it clearly, then you are able to prioritize things and make sensible decisions about what really needs doing….. the simple act of recognizing your thoughts as thoughts can free you from the distorted reality the often create and allow for more clear-sightedness and a greater sense of manageability I your life. (Jon Kabat-Zinn, Letting Everything Become Your Teacher)
So I have been stopping when I catch my mind beginning to spin and simply acknowledging it. I have allowed myself to be aware of this list of things needing to be done and to ask myself what needs to be done at this moment. I look at when things need to be finished and can step back and see how to organize my use of time to best complete the tasks ahead. Even misplacing the items I needed to create the centerpieces for the table and still waiting for some response to the problem with my sink didn’t shake the center of calm as I acknowledge each time the concerns reoccur in my mind (often) and just acknowledged the need of time and some creative thinking to solve them.
The ability to listen to my own thoughts allows me to determine what I need to do in a way which allows me to complete items and let them go. My mindful gift for today is listening within.