And by fool I mean: a person lacking in judgment or prudence. Now that this is out of the way, let’s start!
“The knowledge of the past stays with us. To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit.”
― Jack Kornfield
Ah… Letting go. Would you agree that this is easier said than done? I know it is for me! Same for forgiving. Sometimes I can do it fast but if the sadness and hurt is still there, that is another deal. Of course we have looked at our emotional self-care and we could spend some more time doing this here but this is not the point. I think that sometimes we need to just drop it. I like when clarity is brought into a conflict or situation. As we look back to see what went wrong and how it has impacted someone negatively, we can find ways to deal with similar situations in the future in a more positive and beneficial way.
However what happens sometimes is that by always going back to the past we tend to stay in our mess way too long, so long it starts to stink. Get the garbages out! This is where spiritual self care comes in, through mindfulness. As Jack Kornfield’s quote mentions, staying in the past binds our spirit. Not only does it bind it, it also blinds it to the point that, in the moment, our focus is either on the past, creating a sense of hopelessness which may turn into depression, or anxiety towards a similar future. Either way, we are not letting our spirit enjoy the present moment.
Mindfulness is by far the best tool I have found to make peace with whatever is obscuring my being. It brings me back to the present moment. In the here and now, there are no doubts or worries, no regrets or guilt. Neither the past nor the future are an option. We let the flow of life take its course, we let go of any expectations we have. Slowing down and introspection are key to create the time to be mindful.
2 ways to practice mindfulness
Of course meditation is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we think about mindfulness. It took me a long time to feel at ease with meditation. Now, even though my mind still wanders a lot when meditating, I am more at peace when dedicating time to my meditation practice. It grounds me like nothing else! Then it is easier to release negative emotions, detach and forgive. I am also a more patient and understanding mom. That is making it for me! Without being an expert on meditation, I can tell you that merely focusing on your breathing and noticing thoughts without judgment as they come is my way. I also have a mantra I recite as it helps to stop the mental chatter.
One other way to live mindfully is to incorporate mindfulness in our daily lives. How? By being aware of our willingness to create consciousness in everything we do. There are so many habits we have that go unnoticed and over time we have routines that are helping us stay healthy, but do we really care for them anymore?
From habit to routine to ritual
This is where rituals come in. Habits are behaviors we have. They may not involve consciousness when done, like sleeping on the same side of the bed every night or always adding honey to our tea. Habits can be good, bad or neutral for us.
Routines are activities that we do repetitively or regularly like a daily chore. My husband routinely does the dishes after dinner. I routinely sweep the floor after breakfast, before I start my home office workday.
When we turn habits and routines into ritual, we add consciousness, intention and mindfulness to our gestures. There is a ritual that I developed out of a routine, and now that I take time to think about it there are really deep reasons why I do it this way. Every Monday, before I can settle into my work in my office, I feel the need to sweep the floor of the entire house. I could see this as creating a distraction and avoidance, but no! If I don’t do it I feel unsettled. While sweeping, I also clean up and put away things we have used over the weekend. Being weekend homesteaders, we tend to have long days outside and need to do as much as we can before the sun comes down. So obviously other areas of the house are neglected and we get mud, sand and probably some tools in the house too. We may not have been that keen on noticing the kids’ toy left in the living room, or the pile of clean clothes that needs to be folded.
By sweeping the floor and putting things away where they belong, I can review my weekend in my mind. I can add things on my calendar as I remember our conversations. Once this is done, I have a blank slate to start off my week and be hyper productive!
Let’s use another example, this time one I need to work on. As I tend to go to bed late, I have the habit of falling asleep while working on my laptop, only to realize it later and drag myself off the couch and into my bed half awake.
A routine would be to decide to stop using all screen and media at 10 pm so I can get ready and naturally fall asleep and go to bed at a reasonable time. A ritual could look like mindfully adding face washing, flossing and mouth rinsing as a way to honor my physical self and tend to it so I feel fresh, clean and more relaxed as I go to bed. I could also add visualizing my days and consciously trigger positive joyful thoughts to fall asleep with. When done this way, there is attention on what we do and why we do it. Therefore the how we do it is taken care of.
Of course, there will always be times when we get off course. When we are late, we need to rush and rituals can go out the window pretty quickly. This is part of life! We notice without judgment and get back on track as soon as we realize what happened. To be successful at first rituals need to be planned. At some point you may realize this is so ingrained in your life you cannot forget about this. It becomes so beneficial that it is like eating or sleeping. This is literally food for the soul.Try this: Set the alarm clock earlier in the morning to have time to write morning pages, count your blessings, walk your neighborhood or meditate.
Slowing down and creating intent and mindfulness is an easy way to add a spiritual twist to everything you do without feeling like you have to become a monk. Try it and please share what you have experienced. Were you more at peace?