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Playful Self-Discipline: Listening Mindfully

It’s Thursday and time to check in on my Playful Self-Discipline Project! This month’s theme is Mindfulness, and so far I’ve written about starting a mindfulness meditation practice, using mindfulness to spend less time multitasking, and about how mindfulness is affecting my everyday life. Today I’m looking at listening, and summing up my month of focusing on mindfulness.

listen bird

So, first off: a confession

This week I feel like I’ve flunked out of Playful Self-Discipline 101. I skipped Zumba. I let my new flossing habits lapse for several days. I have only meditated once this week, and I was interrupted. Claire and I got sick, and I nursed her all night long last night and the night before, because she was so sick and miserable.

As much as I would love to write that it’s been all success and jolly romps through sweet rose gardens, I can’t. My shadow voice tells me that I’ll have to go through the whole sleep-deprived process of night weaning again, and that it’ll be harder the second time around. That shadow voice says that I lack the self-discipline to meditate every day, and that I’m too self-conscious to really enjoy Zumba.

But there is another voice saying, “That’s not true! I was coming down with a cold.”

This is the benefit of mindfulness, I think. Being able to notice those competing voices, recognizing that I have a choice in every reaction I make. I can choose to listen to the voice that tells me I’m failing or I can listen to the voice that tells me to try again next week. Or I can listen to the silence beneath those two voices.

When I was pregnant with Bea I worked as a volunteer phone counsellor for a kids help line in Ireland. We learned some active listening skills, did lots of role plays, and clearly defined our boundaries, both emotional and practical. And then we listened. We listened to kids, to adults pretending to be kids, to kids pretending to be other kids. I listened to kids who were dead serious and to kids who were taking the piss. As counselors we didn’t give advice or pass judgement or share our opinions and experiences. We just listened.

Mindfulness feels like listening

Just listening to myself, noticing what I’m experiencing as I’m experiencing it. I’m also finding that I’m listening to others more too. Listening to my kids, my husband, my friends, random people that I meet. It’s actually quite difficult to listen without offering advice, opinion or experiences, especially as some of that is culturally expected at times. But the more I listen to myself and to the people around me, the easier it is to connect with people, especially my kids.

I still plan to incorporate mindfulness meditation into my day, but I need to figure out the best way to work it into my routine. In the meantime, I’m practicing by listening during the day. And I’m trying to stay playful with it. On the plus side I went out to the park and ran races with the girls yesterday, despite being sick, and we’re still eating pretty well. I put the computer away during the day yesterday and today, and it felt good. Progress is not always straight ahead, and that’s ok. Although a few jolly romps through rose gardens sure would be nice.

This week is the link-up, so use the linky tools below to link any posts you’ve written on mindfulness, playfulness, self-discipline – anything you think is interesting and relevant to February’s theme! Or share your experience in the comments instead. What does mindfulness mean to you?

Image Credit: striatic on Flickr.

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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Cynthia February 24, 2011, 5:16 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts on this project. I can definitely relate to those two warring voices.

    Putting the computer away makes the biggest difference for me. I need to do that more often. (I say this as I fend off the baby shoving a book in my face on one side and the boy talking to me on the other…time to close the laptop, I think!)

    I linked up an old post I wrote on some of the intentional moments I’d been having at the time. It’s nothing great but I like to re-read it because it reminds me of how those moments really are so much better than the idle time I waste staring at a computer screen instead of living mindfully and intentionally.
    Cynthia´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday- Fun with cardboard

    • michelle February 24, 2011, 10:11 pm

      Thanks for linking up, Cynthia! I love how in your post many of your moments were made more special by taking the time pressure off. Not being in a hurry to rush somewhere else makes it easier to be mindful for sure.

  • Rachael February 24, 2011, 7:21 pm

    It’s taken thirty mumble-mumble years for me to get to this point, but motherhood is finally teaching me to be gentle with myself when I’m sick. So so sorry to hear that you and Claire have been ill. Meh.

    My teacher used to say, “Eight times fall down, eight times get up.” The inverted syntax leads me to believe that he was quoting someone else, but I don’t know who. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen more than eight times, and I keep getting back up. I linked up both of the posts I wrote on playful self-discipline this month. And I’ve had more luck writing regularly since last week’s post. I wish you luck, too.
    Rachael´s last blog post ..Keep a Journal

    • michelle February 24, 2011, 10:09 pm

      Thanks for linking up! It’s true about falling down and getting back up again. I keep having to learn many important lessons over and over again in life, but the good thing is that I’m not running out of opportunities to practice what I’ve learned. :)

  • stefanie February 25, 2011, 11:14 pm

    ugh; we’ve been sick, too. sorry for you and hope it passes quickly.
    on the night weaning tip: do you read the natural parenting center/kris laroche’s blog? she’s been talking about night weaning and it’s both scary and inspiring for me. http://naturalparentingcenter.typepad.com
    we’re nowhere near even thinking about night weaning, but her words have been helpful to me even on nights when i’m like, “seriously, kid?! AGAIN?!”
    stefanie´s last blog post ..scenes from a snowy morning

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