Mindfulness in Everyday Life: Why I Meditate

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I’m a person who once desperately needed to incorporate mindfulness into her life.

It’s strange to look back on how I used to act, react, and think before I learned to sit still, breathe, and relax.  I learned the value in mediation, and the biggest value wasn’t the sitting meditation itself- it was the way I reacted to the world around me afterward.

Meditation is a practice, and not something that can be perfected overnight.

I hear a lot of people new to mindfulness and meditation tell me they can’t do it, or that they can’t shut off their brain.

Hint: this is why you do it!  This is why you practice!

We are the ones who complicate our lives.  We are the ones who try and predict tomorrow.  The present moment is all we have, and without mindfulness, we’re letting it slip out of our hands.

There are always things we don’t want to do in day to day life, from sitting in a meeting at work to being stuck on a crowded train.  Mindfulness makes these mundane or uncomfortable situations more bearable.  Why?  It’s because due to your practice, you’re learning to be comfortable sitting still within yourself!

Several years ago I used to be go-go-go- manic, even.  I didn’t understand the point of sitting still, and thought I was missing out on something if I wasn’t moving.  All of these thoughts were wrong; even when I was sitting and relaxed, I couldn’t fully enjoy the moment because I was constantly thinking about the past or the future.

I used to use other things to distract myself or calm down my brain, such as drinking, but today I can close my eyes, listen to the birds, and soak in the sun while embracing the now.  I don’t have to make up fantasies or disasters in my mind to fill the blank spaces.

I can just be and live in the flow.

Nothing Will Go Away Until It Teaches Us What We Need To Know

Running away from my problems used to be my favorite coping mechanism.

I can still fall prey to this old bad habit; I’ll hope people who bother me will disappear, or I will leave situations when I’m uncomfortable.  However, every time I do this the same people pop back up, and the same situations manifest in a different way… over and over again.

It’s a fact.

I could write about endless examples, but there’s one I have in mind which was so bitterly uncomfortable that I’m still surprised I got through it.  When I had a difficult roommate, I obviously thought the solution was to move.  To run away.  Despite receiving the silent treatment for weeks, I didn’t leave- and get this:

I was kind.

I still said “excuse me” when we would pass each other in the hallway, and I still tried to be considerate despite her obvious distaste for me.  Although I really had no idea what I had done wrong, I didn’t cower or run away- but I did later learn she had been secretly drinking.

It wasn’t even me that was the problem.

Old Kristin would have run away to avoid the feelings of rejection, discomfort, and anger- but New Kristin dealt with the situation, stuck to her guns, and now has a much better living situation because she stuck with it.

Completing things you started can be difficult- especially for someone like me who hates to be uncomfortable.  If you were to ask me in an interview today if I am a “team player,” I would probably stop lying and tell them I work best independently.  The truth is, I’m not a team player- I’m one of those kids who got frustrated in school and did the entire project themselves.  As a control freak and type-A person, I kept trying to do everything myself, over and over again, and do it MY way.

But those bad roommates will keep coming along, and so will team assignments.  It’s up to you to choose how to handle them today.

Maybe I do work best independently, and I look forward to the day I don’t have roommates anymore.  Nevertheless, as long as I remain teachable and willing to put down my ego and learn to live life differently than I used to, I’ll be just fine.

Isolating Feels Good Until It Doesn’t

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been in major loner isolation mode.

At first, it felt good.  It was nice to go home after work and relax.  I liked saying no to invitations.

It seemed like self-care to go on long walks with no one to answer to.  I enjoyed getting a morning croissant by myself and eating it alone in the park.

Then, people start wondering what’s wrong.  They start worrying about you.  But nothing’s wrong; you’re just enjoying your own time.

But are you?

Even now, sometimes I am still scared to connect with people.

There’s a fine line between isolation and spending quality time by yourself.  For me, I just realized it may be becoming a problem when I feel anxiety about responding to people who care about me.

But lately, I’ve just needed a break.  To reset.  To recharge.  To decompress.

But now that I’ve recharged, I feel a little bit empty.

That discontent feeling I now have is a sign that I need more balance.  My alone time is important to me, but connecting with others is important too.  Sometimes I forget that it isn’t all about me, either- sometimes other people need help.  They care about me.  They miss me.

Sometimes it’s still hard for me to accept that.

For years it seemed easier to try to do everything on my own, so letting other people in is a big change for me.  It’s uncomfortable.  But, I’m working on it.

This week, my goal is to break out of my shell a bit more- and maybe even go get a croissant with another person.