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.
Gratitude is a huge part of my daily life. There isn’t a moment I don’t notice something- anything- that brings me joy or makes me feel grounded.
Sometimes that isn’t enough, though.
Sometimes you just feel agitated.
Maybe your roommate left passive aggressive notes in the bathroom, or maybe someone pushed past you on the train. There are endless reasons for you to roll your eyes at the people in your life, society norms, or just the mere thought of human existence (it can’t just be me, right?). We all have those days; and that’s okay.
That’s when you need to practice self love.
Don’t beat yourself up for your bad mood- give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself when you’re irritable. Do something extra special- even if it’s just stopping for your favorite latte. These little things add up- and soon you’ll forget about the other little things that brought you down.
Whether it’s a phone call from a friend or a beautiful bouquet of flowers, remember- it’s the little things in life that bring the most joy.
Even when you’re not feeling upbeat or grateful, those simple pleasures will bring you back.
They say the best things in life are free, and from my experience, that is absolutely correct.
For years I looked everywhere I could to fill the void in my soul- I was addicted to shopping, I sought out approval from others, I moved from city to city, and I tried to slow down my brain by drinking excessively.
I went from bar to bar, boyfriend to boyfriend, job to job, and handbag to handbag- yet whatever I had was never enough.
Sitting still wasn’t even an option- and back then, I didn’t realize how amazing stillness could be.
When I started Mindful in Style, I had just left my fashion copywriter life in New York City. I dated actors and Wall Street attorneys, bankers and startup entrepreneurs. I mingled with designers and screenwriters, fellow fashion bloggers and alcoholics. I justified my behavior by associating with people in the same circumstances as me, for better or for worse.
What I failed to do was look within to improve myself.
Battery Park, 2014. Photo by Rik Parker
I thought that if things looked okay on the outside, they must be fine on the inside.
I couldn’t have been more misguided.
Although I seemed to have everything, that hole in my soul was still as deep as ever.
What they don’t seem to teach you as you grow up is that life doesn’t have a “happiness” finish line or an invisible box to check in order to reach fulfillment.
Living a beautiful life doesn’t mean grandiosity, status, or material gains- living beautifully is about living in the now, embracing life’s simple pleasures, and making the most out of what is right in front of you.
My best days now are strolling through the city, enjoying my coffee by the river, or sitting quietly with the cat. It’s the peace I have found within that makes my life so beautiful- and although I still enjoy a great handbag, true happiness is found in the mindful moments that I used to take for granted.