Mindfulness is Hard.

Over the last week and a half I’ve made a conscious effort to be more mindful throughout the day. Sparked by my recent foray into meditation and yoga, my goal is to snap myself into the moment as frequently as possible. So far I’ve had limited to no success but I will forge ahead. What I have been learning these past few months is that almost everything we do is a skill and as skills they must be practiced and honed. Meditation and mindfulness are no exception.

I meditate every morning as soon as I wake up for at least ten minutes. Some days are a breeze and it seems like only a few stray thoughts enter my mind and are easily let go. Other days, however, I find it nearly impossible to sit still for more than a couple of minutes. Every spot on my face and head starts to itch, I get cramps in my legs, my mind is assaulted with the most random thoughts possible… it is torture. I make sure to always finish the session I had planned, though, and every day it gets a little bit easier. I will always have days in which my mind simply won’t rest just like I will always have days where the thought of having a drink is just a little bit closer to heart than I’d like. The skill lies in not giving in to the despair those situations could lead to. I could easily throw my hands up and say I’m done with meditation because it’s too hard just as I could easily throw back 18 Corona’s and slide into the easy life of letting my mother support me and barely keeping a job. That’s not the life I want though.

Yoga has been similarly difficult to stick with. My impatient self gets angry that after only two weeks I can’t perform every movement flawlessly; upset that I can’t bend over to rest my forehead on my knee. I have to remind myself constantly that in a year of doing this, I will be so much better off. It’s a skill.

Mindfulness as a skill must also not be thrown aside so easily. Every day I manage to come into the moment one more time than the day before. I might stay present for my entire drive to work instead of driving on autopilot while listening to music. Audiobooks have helped at work. Consciously focusing on the words and thinking about what is being said makes it impossible to daydream. This is probably why I get more work done when I’m listening to them. This morning my Headspace app suggested leaving post-it notes around areas I frequent that just remind me to breathe and think about what I’m doing when I come across them. My planner is another way to focus my mind; every day in the morning, after work, and before bed I check in with it to make sure I get certain things done before I move on. It is sometimes hard to remember to even open my planner but, like a skill, I am getting better at it. I am reassured by the fact that the old me would have given up this habit days ago. Every day I stick with it is a gain.

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