I am totally tickled! My personal mindfulness guru, the marvelous Lisa of Being Breath is back with us today. If you have been following Bliss Habits for any length of time then you have certainly been introduced to the wonder and grace that is Lisa Wilson. Lisa has been a guest of Bliss Habits several times over and every time it is a complete treat. I’m sure you will agree, today is no different!
You’ve heard the term. You know the benefits. You’ve probably seen how being mindful is the new THING, how everyone from business CEOs to yoginis to housewives are practicing it.
There are tons of talks on YouTube, oodles of books on the matter, and plenty of classes to attend to learn more about it (yeah, mine included).
But what so many don’t talk about, and what is crucial to understand before enthusiastically charging down Mindful Lane, is how mindfulness sucks.
What is this whole “mindfulness” thing?
First, let’s clarify what mindfulness is: It’s being fully present with what is. It’s that easy, and that complicated.
- It is an ongoing practice. One does not simply become mindful and then float through life in an enlightened state. Because being mindful requires us to be with what is, and because what is is always changing, every moment is another opportunity to practice or to drift off.
- It is returning to the wisdom inherent in this moment, again and again and again.
- It is important to note that a practice of mindfulness asks us to be present with “What Is”. Not what could be, what we think it should be, or how we want it to be, but simply what is. Most of us spend a great deal of energy trying to run from that or trying to hold onto what is forever changing (and thus, finding frustration as it slips away). What Is is messy and chaotic and silent and confusing and contradictory. What Is is the dog crapping on the floor, the pink slip, the yelling, the flower growing slowly in the garden, the water boiling on the stove, and the scent of the laundry on the bed.
- Mindfulness is the practice of being with all of these things, as they are happening, without judgment. We don’t cling to those things we wish would last longer, nor run from those things that are giving us a headache. We don’t ignore the things that seem unimportant. We are present for it all.
I get it – but why does that suck?
- If we are using the mindful path as a way to constantly be happy, at peace, free from boredom, anger, or fear, as a path to success, …as a way to practice anything other than being with life as it is…. the whole mindfulness thing can truly suck.
- If we enter the practice of mindfulness with any expectations of what it will bring us, we will find ourselves disappointed.
- If we charge down the path of mindfulness without the willingness to engage with what we’ve long ignored, we will find ourselves dissatisfied with the practice.
- If we enter with a goal to understand mindfulness without a readiness to experience it, we will be displeased.
The practice requires us to stay with the crusted on sauce we are washing out of the pan instead of thinking of the list of things we are going to do when it finally scrubs off. A practice of mindfulness means we look our child in the eye and truly listen when they are telling us a story, instead of nodding and smiling while trying to finish our work. It asks us to look at those thoughts and fears that we often disregard. Mindfulness asks us to feel the fat rolls and twirl the grey hairs without rushing to fix them.
It demands that we slow down. (Mindfulness isn’t keen on multi-tasking.) It might mean we accomplish less in a day.
It compels us to notice the state of our body, the tension we are holding, the aches we ignore and band-aid. No judgment – just noticing. We must be present with these states of being.
Being mindful seems so easy (just be present!) – and yet it is one of the most challenging practices we can undertake.
Wait – so being mindful means I’m supposed to do nothing?
Being mindful does not mean that we sit and simply observe and accept. We can creatively engage with whatever is before and within us. We simply need to be fully engaged with whatever is before and within us – not caught up in thoughts of anything else.
So why be mindful instead of blissfully ignorant?
Knowing that being mindful can sometimes suck, why would one choose such a practice? Beyond the benefits that have been so neatly categorized by scientists and religions, one chooses mindfulness because they choose to experience life.
Mindfulness allows us to explore the fascinating depths of emotion that lie beyond complacency, the places of vast stillness that exist around every noise, the peculiar ease with which even the most hectic of days can progress. (Or perhaps it won’t. If I encourage you to practice, expecting such things, remember: you will be disappointed.)
I am a huge fan of a mindfulness practice. I’ve found that doing so has enhanced my life in ways for which I cannot begin to find the words. And yep – at times, it has sucked. But every single moment has been worth it – even the crappy ones – because each moment for which I’ve been mindful has been another moment that I have fully experienced my life.
What better reason to practice anything?
(Blatant promotion: For those looking to begin or enhance a practice of mindfulness, I offer a free, ongoing, online practice, “Mindfulness Now”. You’ll receive random prompts in your email inbox of practices you can do right here and now to drop you into the moment. Sign up here .)
Lisa Renee Wilson is an Awareness Artist, practicing in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana with two kids by her side. She shares insights, guides others into mindfully aware lives, and encourages creative engagement with life As It Is. She is determined to Wake Others Up from lives of boredom, stress, and should-filled schedules…one breath at a time. Explore more and sign up to stay connected at BeingBreath.com! Find her here: Blog, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.