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.
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.