Each day seems to go to its rhythm, and today was no different. Unlike the day before, not as organized and not as structured. Here is, after 11:00 pm, and I am just sitting down now with some time to jot down my thoughts on mindfulness. Today’s thought is this, part of mindfulness is accepting what is rather than what could have been or what might be in the future. Just focus on the now. Be there. It is essential to experience what you live in the moment rather than trying to remember what you did or why you did it later on. Just be present.
Today started with a busy morning, so I shifted my meditation to this afternoon. In reality, this proved to work very well, and I was able to focus. However, I was exhausted today - the combination of lifting, a HIIT workout, and a busy workday wore me out quickly. Interestingly, today’s meditation focused on getting the mind and the body into the same place. A place where both the body and mind are alert and aware but relaxed and at ease. This is not an easy combination.
I was able to follow through on my commitment to meditate first thing in the morning today. The house was quiet, and it was an excellent, peaceful, calming session. Today’s session focused on a technique to ‘brighten’ things up during times you may feel sleepy or if you fall asleep regularly while meditating. The funny thing is, regardless of how tired I am, I rarely have any issues staying awake during meditation.
Being happy with who you are is no small task. It seems that we are forever working to improve ourselves, get in better shape, get more intelligent, or lose some weight. We are very rarely content with who we are. Mindfulness wants you to find happiness and contentment not with who you want to be but with who you are today. As a man constantly looking for self-improvement, I find that concept hard to accept. I came into this practice with the idea that it was somehow going to make me better or more able to deal with stress. In reality, I need to be happy with who I am to improve and find my true self. I can only do this by letting go of the expectations I have and accepting what is.
I’ll be honest; I’m struggling to make mindfulness the priority that it needs to be. While I am continuing to get time each day to focus on meditation, it’s often last-minute or as I get time. This is not how I want this to be, nor was is it my intention when I started working on this practice. Given this, I need to make a change. I want this to be a priority and a part of my day that I look forward to, get up early for, and something in which I find value. I believe that morning is the best time for me to find the quiet I need to be successful, and therefore I need to find a way to ensure that I get up and be present.
Moving from meditation and mindfulness being just another task that needs to be completed to an opportunity for peace and clarity can be a shift in mindset that makes the practice much better. Learning to appreciate the time you can spend in meditation, allowing thoughts to come and go, and finding the blue sky beyond the clouds is an essential part of the journey. I am working to both find the time to complete the task and appreciate the time I have when I have it.
Taking the time to learn and practice mindfulness is teaching me so much about myself. I’m learning how impatient I’ve been in my life, how little attention I pay to the essential things in life, and how much attention I pay to inconsequential things. Even though I get out of bed every morning and start my day, I spend much of the day asleep, unaware of what I am doing or why I am doing it. Mindfulness helps you live each day as if you are awake for it rather than sleeping through it. You can focus on the moment at hand rather than all of the moments to come.
“Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” - Henry David Thoreau
How many times have you missed a crucial moment unintentionally? For example, you took the time to go to your son’s baseball game but then failed to see his great defensive play at first base because your attention was on your phone or in a book or talking to another parent. If you are anything like me, this happens far too often. It’s innocent and not intentional, but the fact remains that you missed an opportunity to share in the excitement because you were not present in the moment. Mindfulness helps bring you back to the present and stay there, focused on what you are doing, not everything else. Being present makes your moments more meaningful and your presence more powerful.
The purpose of mindfulness is not to empty your mind of all thoughts and somehow find peace in your emptiness. Instead, the purpose of mindfulness is to be with your thoughts, allow them to come and pass by, acknowledging them, and returning to your home base without becoming attached to your ideas. There is a difference between these two and finding that difference is one of keys to finding utility in the practice.
An essential aspect of my mindfulness practice is to improve myself for the benefit of those I love. For my wife, I’m working to be a better husband. I want to be more patient, compassionate, and present in the things we are doing. For my kids, I’m working to be a better father. I want to be more present in what they are doing and be a better role model for living a meaningful life. For my coworkers, I want to be someone they can trust and a good friend. Each day during meditation, I focus on these people and hope to become a better version of myself.
Today was a long, but awesome, day. Spent some time with my parents and my family and just had fun. It was a nice break, felt like a true weekend. Too foten we are so busy that we fail to notice that life is passing us by, that we are missing the things that should be the most important to us. Family, friends, and laughing. MIndfulness has helped me understand that being present for these moments is the sinlge most important thing you can do.
Mindfulness Journal - May 1, 2021 - Day 33 of 365 Keeping an open mind going into meditation is an important part of mindfulness. If you approach your meditation sessions with expectations or desired outcomes, you will find it difficult to be successful. Rather, keeping your mind open to whatever comes will allow your sessions to be more positive and deliver better results.
Mindfulness Journal - April 30, 2021 - Day 32 of 365 Today’s meditation was longer than I’ve gone before and I really enjoyed the extra time. While it was only 5 minutes longer than yesterday, the extra time was nice. It allowed me the time to focus and let the distratections move past. Overall, a good experience.
Mindfulness Journal - April 29, 2021 - Day 31 of 365 As I continue to grow in my mindfulness practice, I am coming to learn that mindfulness does not require a place, it does not require a particular time, and mindfulness does not require a special chair or a fancy pillow. Mindfulness can come to you anywhere you are and can take you to anywhere you need to be. You can be alone, or God Himself can join you in your meditation. There are no limits and no restrictions. Everything you need can be found in your focus and your breath.
If you are restricting yourself to the correct location, time, or setting for your mindfulness practice, you miss a crucial aspect of mindfulness; mindfulness will meet you where you are.
Mindfulness Journal - April 28, 2021 - Day 30 of 365 Today’s meditation was fascinating in that I was very aware that I was feeling anger and anxiety, but I was unsure why. When I have anxiety, it washes over me in waves and builds, wave-upon-wave, until I can feel it crashing down over me. It’s suffocating and uncomfortable. I haven’t yet figured out how to let this cloud of anxiety and anger pass. I can’t see the blue sky when this wave hits.
I was listening to an audiobook today, and the author said something that I think is related to my troubles today. He stated that he finds most troubling two types of anxiety: worry, anxiety about the future, and regret, anxiety about the past. These are the things I most frequently find myself getting anxious about - the future and the past. Unfortunately, these anxieties prohibit me from focusing on the one thing I can control and shape, the present.
Mindfulness Journal - April 27, 2021 - Day 29 of 365 One of the things I started thinking about recently was how mindfulness and meditation work with Christian beliefs and values. Thankfully, they seem to work well together. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to practice mindfulness successfully. Further, you can certainly use the time spent in meditation and introspection to strengthen your spiritual relationship with God. Being true to who you are, or knowing your true nature, is a critical tenant of Buddhism. From my perspective, this includes room for being a Christian and knowing Christ. I don’t see any need to change my faith or modify my beliefs to allow for mindfulness in my life; there is no conflict. I think my mindfulness practice brings me closer to God and helps me find a more intimate place to meet Him.
“May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” Psalms 104:34
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
Mindfulness Journal - April 26, 2021 - Day 28 of 365 Today’s meditation focused on trying to carry your mindfulness practice on to the rest of the day. Being mindful throughout the day, paying attention to what you are doing when you are doing it, and focusing on being present all provide opportunities to improve your daily life. Being fully present all the time is no easy task. I think we’ve all become so accustomed to simply doing without thinking that breaking that habit and putting thought into each action is a challenge. Mindfulness requires that we are not mindlessly doing things and that we are aware of what and why we are doing something.
Mindfulness Journal - April 25, 2021 - Day 27 of 365 Today’s meditation focused on the concept that there is not a right or wrong way to meditate. This idea is essential to me because I often try to find the “best” or “correct” way to complete tasks. To some extent, I think this tendency is an outcropping of a desire to procrastinate and delay the completion of jobs.
Procrastination most often occurs when I am unsure or uncomfortable with what needs to get done. Things like building a deck or finishing a basement fall into this category, but I think meditation also fits this picture. The Meditative practice is individual and unique to each person. There is no one way to be successful in this journey. Instead of focusing on this as a challenge in the path, I will use this as a motivation - that no matter what I do, as long as I keep moving forward, I will be successful.
Today was a good day.
Mindfulness Journal - April 23, 2021 - Day 25 of 365 The true purpose of mindfulness practice is not simply finding time to meditate each day but instead bringing the concepts of mindfulness into the rest of your day. Success in mindfulness means being more present and more aware of what you are thinking, feeling, and doing all the time, not just during the first 20 minutes of your day. I’ll admit, this is a challenge for me. I often treat this journey as a checkbox. I focus on getting it done rather than a meaningful process. I need to bring these concepts into the rest of my life. My goal for today and the weekend is to find moments each day where I reset and make sure that I am aware of what I am doing and why I am doing it. I will find opportunities to check in with myself and make sure I am present in my actions and feelings.
Mindfulness Journal - April 21, 2021 - Day 23 of 365 Because I had to work today at the fire station, I couldn’t meditate first thing this morning. Typically, this causes me issues and makes the session less than optimal. Tonight, I was able to break through that, and, despite the less than perfect conditions, I was able to find focus and have a positive meditation session. There was external noise, a kid playing video games while talking on his phone to a friend, a tv on upstairs and other kids running around, yet I was still able to break through and close that out and focus on my exhale. I still had other thoughts pass by, but I let them go and returned to my breathing focus. I am pleased with this progress.
Mindfulness Journal - April 20, 2021 - Day 22 of 365 Today’s meditation proved to be both peaceful and relaxing. Trying to find the impact of emotions or thoughts on the quality of breathing is an interesting approach to finding calm. I found it easier today to disconnect my physical space and feelings from my mental state. Overall, a good day.
Mindfulness Journal - April 19, 2021 - Day 21 of 365 Today was a more productive day than yesterday. I was able to focus more fully and concentrate. While I didn’t solve the problem I was faced with yesterday, I was able to find some clarity as to what was bothering me so much. Now I can better work to solve that part of the problem, rather than just being angry. It was a good day.
Mindfulness Journal - April 18, 2021 - Day 20 of 365 So, I’ve learned that there are many stops and starts with establishing a practice of mindfulness. Meaning, some days are valuable and move your training forward, and some days are not so great. Today was a not-so-great day for me. I found it difficult to focus; there was too much noise and too many distractions around me to allow for calm. I didn’t find what I was looking for. I know in the long run, having an off day is ok. There will be good days, and there will be bad days (like with everything). However, today’s failure hit me a little deeper because I feel like I needed the calm and the focus of a good meditation session. I’ve been deep in thought a lot today, focused on a personal problem, and I was hoping to sort it out during meditation. Instead, I just got stuck and couldn’t find my way out of it.
I’ll sleep on it and drive through it again tomorrow.