As established in my previous post, I am not a morning person. So it was almost uncanny that this week’s challenge was to be mindful each morning. The task was to take some time as soon as I woke up, to sit, breathe and just ‘be’. I should pay attention to the sounds, tastes, feelings I experienced during my morning mindfulness sessions, and it was to set me up adequately for the day ahead. So I need to sit and breathe and think. How hard could it be?
Well, on the first day, I woke up so late that the last thing I was going to have time to do was to sit and be. I had to get out with the dog before getting ready for my now 50 hour commute (thanks to the really well thought-out roadworks that are causing havoc on my commute for the entirety of the next year). I did, however, try to be mindful of the sounds, sights and smells during my walk with the dog, so that’s something at least.
Luckily, the next day, the minute I opened my eyes I remembered that it was mindfulness time! Unfortunately, I still didn’t leave enough time to sit and be. However, rather than doing what I usually do on a morning dog walk – which is focus on how much better my mornings would be if I didn’t have to walk my bratty dog who chases bikes and nearly pulls me into oncoming traffic and kills me on a daily basis – I made a conscious effort to enjoy the experience of walking. When I felt myself becoming irritable, I envisioned the feeling of frustration forming a little cloud and floating away. That’s how you do this mindfulness business. I waved goodbye to the cloud and having released my morning negativity, was excited for the best, most calm day ever ahead. I loved this new calm, morning loving me and started to think how I could get used to this. Alas, my success was somewhat short-lived, as within an hour of arriving at work my zen was lost, and I was back to my usual I need coffee before I throw my computer out of the window state. At least I managed it for a little while. Baby steps.
The next few days were a bit hit and miss. I forgot that I had to pay attention to the sensations of the shower water on my skin and the taste of toothpaste, but I did correct myself as soon as I remembered one day, which happened to be just as I was taking my prescription steroid nasal spray. I took a minute to appreciate just how acrid the spray tastes – it infiltrates my nostrils and sinks down into my throat making me gag, even after 5 years of taking it. I’m not sure it was quite the essence of mindfulness, but at least I was fulfilling the task. Just call me Mrs Mindful.
The final day of the week was, without a shadow of a doubt, the best mindful morning I had. As I write this, I’m sitting in my hot tub on the balcony of my hotel suite listening to the pounding of torrential rain on the balcony roof. Storm Ciara has arrived and the sound of this teeming rain is infused with the sound of birds singing and tweeting to each other. The air smells fresh and I’m watching sheets of rain falling across the valleys. I can see little rabbits and squirrels hopping about together, pheasants sauntering about the place, and a few sheep just standing around. There are a couple of birds sat up in the tree opposite, looking towards me. I thought about dropping some bread in the hot tub so they could come and join the party, but I figured that might be a bad idea as I doubt the hot tub filter system is designed to filter out soggy bread. Bread-concerns aside, what a beautiful mindful morning.
Having had such a lovely mindful morning on my final day of the week has made me reflect on the rest of the week. I suppose I’ve learned that it’s clearly easier to practice morning mindfulness when you are free and content and not rushing to work. It’s easier to be mindful when you’re happy. But the idea of mindfulness is to keep you calm and present, especially in times of stress or anxiety. I feel like with each task I conduct, my understanding of mindfulness and my ability to practice it increases. I’ve still got a way to go, but I’m making progress.
At this rate, I’ll be the next Dalai Lama before the year’s out! Watch this space.