Mindfulness

12 Feb

Last time I wrote was before my 2nd daughter was born. Now she is 2years 7months old.

My reasons for not writing are plentiful with numerous emotions involved. But the crux of the truth is- I’ve lacked mindfulness.

Mindfullness defined by Dan Harris in Meditation for the Fidgety Skeptic is:

”the ability to see what’s happening in your head at any given moment, so that you don’t get carried away by it.”

And later elaborates with:

”Another way to think about this concept is to visualize the mind as a waterfall. The water represents your nonstop stream of consciousness, which consists mostly of “me, me, me” thoughts. Mindfulness is the area behind the waterfall, which allows you to step out of the cascade and view your urges, impulses, and desires without getting caught up in it all.”

“What mindfulness has allowed me to do is respond wisely to things, instead of reacting impulsively. Respond, not react: this is a game changer.“

Enter Meditation. Welcome to the party, Meditation!

If you don’t know who Dan Harris is, well, he’s a famous ABC News journalist that was eventually broken down by anxiety, naivety, a drive to be perfect, depression, anger & self-medication. He broke down on air with an unexpected heavy anxiety attack. If you’ve suffered from this you will immediately have your heart sink by watching this clip of the anxiety bomb dropping mid-report, where he does the sadly familiar “pretend like it’s not happening and push through even though you know it is snowballing out of control”:

This anxiety is something I’ve struggled with at times, too. I’m not positive exactly where/when this anxiety embedded in my brain. What I do know is that I have been immersed in rumination and wandering of the mind since I was a teen. I’ve been an over-analyzer with a big side of Virginia Beach ego and I’ve successfully shielded my struggles from anyone except those closest to me.

I’ve struggled with self analysis. It hurts to objectively critique ones self and behavior and it can be embarrassing. But I did a deep dive into this with feedback from those closest to me.

Self-assessment either isn’t practiced, is half-assed, or your truth is kept a big personal secret because most people are embarrassed and their ego will not allow honesty with yourself. But if you can begin honest meditation, just a small, simple daily practice, the layers of the onion we know as “Me” unpeel (and yes it may make you cry!).  However, it takes time and that’s the quest I’m on currently.

Meditation is a daily moment where I sit in peace in a chair and I focus solely on my physical breath.  When my mind wanders (or sprints in panic) I cut that noise off and simply return my attention to my breathing- the sound, the feeling of the air passing, the natural rhythm, the rest of my body’s synergy with the conductor of the band- my breath.

Meditation, helps train and refine mindfulness.  Mindfulness helps me respond not react. I now practice recognizing what my brain wants me to react with and stop short, and respond with kindness, care, and compassion. This is tough and a work in progress, but science backs the subsequent results of the practice. And let’s face it, I owe it to myself and everyone around me to always be a better me.

So in time, I will update you folks with exactly where I am in life and career and personal goals and performance.  But for now, check out Dan Harris and his work (author, easy meditation app called 10% happier) for yourself and see how you can change your life. He’s a funny guy. It feels good.

Best,

Pete