Isn’t it interesting how so many “next big things” often become parodies of themselves in certain ways? People can become so engrossed in this new method, this next big thing, whatever it is, and lose all focus on anything that isn’t the thing. Because this thing, this next best thing, is the answer. But like so many things, it isn’t. The answer is often much simpler. It’s often staring us right in the face.
The answer doesn’t need a shiny new gimmick. The answer is, well, the answer. It’s the way. There’s no need to improve upon perfection. Yet often we try.
A Hat On A Hat
Take for instance wearable fitness trackers. It’s not that they aren’t great; they can provide a ton of useful feedback for a variety of use cases. It’s just that sometimes we can become so focused on how many calories we burned or how many steps we took, that we miss the journey, the workout, the conversation with our body, the chance to move freely within it, like we were designed to do.
The self-help/self-care space can be a lot like this too, with shiny new ways to exercise, relax, meditate, and supplement. Mantras for this, candles for that, essential oils for any occasion at all. And gurus abound… they are everywhere in self-care, and just like wearables and mantras and yoga pants, they’ve all got their own angle. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But at the bottom of all of their messages, is always mindfulness. Any message of self-care and love, has mindfulness at its core. For instance you can buy the “happiness journal” with the writing prompts, to write your feelings down, if it’s the thing that lights you up. But documenting your feelings in any way that serves you, is right too. And perhaps more useful to you personally. What if you’re more of a photographer, not a writer? Being mindful of the self-care need behind the journal, and then tailoring a plan by and for you, is a nice way to make the exercise of documenting your thoughts actually stick.
Taking great care of ourselves is never a “one size fits all” proposition. Self- care, as an ultimate solution, isn’t really something you can put in a box and relay to the masses in any meaningful way. Perhaps this is why there are myriad offerings in every imaginable corner of the health and wellness world. A little something for everyone, a hodgepodge of healing. There is a place for all these things, absolutely. Whatever gives you that lightbulb moment, the “AHA! I know how to help me here!” is valuable. If it’s helpful, it’s necessary, even if it’s gimmicky.
My one big hope for each and every person is that we feel good about ourselves… happy, safe, and secure in our lives. And if we don’t feel that way, that we have the courage to change it. To me that means exploring lots of different angles, ideas, and methods. If it feels wrong, it probably is. So to keep moving forward, keep trying other things, until one day you’re feeling a little more right, is the epitome of self-love and care. Whatever that looks like in your world.
Mindfulness Is Self-Care, And Care For Others Too
In this way, it’s all good. Gurus are good. Wearables are good. Gimmicky journals are good. It all serves a purpose, and it’s all valuable in some way, at some time, to someone. But I like to think that a simple mindfulness practice, ongoing, is one of the best ways to care for ourselves and others… no gimmicks, jewelry, oils, or pants needed. Just a constant and sincere check-in with ourselves and our surroundings, as we move throughout our day.
Mindfulness knows something we do not yet know. It’s a “gut feeling” we sometimes ignore. Mindfulness invites us to take a step back… to ask ourselves if we are hungry, or hurting, or in need of something else at this moment. It allows us to see that others need and deserve consideration too. Mindfulness is at the very heart of self-care. It’s that curiosity, that spirit of trying, until things feel a bit more right.
We can take our whole selves into the world every day in a sweet and easy way with mindfulness, consciously looking out for ourselves and others as we move down our path.
Mindfulness can be used to:
- Manage our health
- Maintain an appropriate weight
- Gauge how foods make us feel
- Stop consuming foods that harm us
- Manage exercise and workouts better
- Heal injuries faster
- Get closer to friends
- Help those in need
- Understand our family dynamics
- Help yourself get in touch with emotions
- Be a better coworker, parent, community member, friend
- Communicate more clearly and effectively
- Manage finances and spending
The list goes on and on.
With mindfulness, there’s no expensive equipment to buy, and no Mastermind Summit to attend for the low low price of just ten thousand dollars. It’s only you, tuned in to you, and the world around you. You, asking the right questions, and listening for the answers. Being kind to yourself when it doesn’t go as planned, and moving forward, always, intent on mindfulness and healing… for you and everyone else too. Tall order? Maybe. But it’s free, you can do it any time, and the ripple effect it sends through your life is easy proof that it works. Start anywhere.
How To Be More Mindful
Practicing mindfulness is very simple but oftentimes surprisingly difficult too. I think this is because opportunities to be more mindful are everywhere, all the time. To be more mindful, we need to slow way down, and look for what’s needed in the moment.
Putting your fork down between bites is a classic mindful eating technique. Making your lunch the night before because you know you always snooze in the morning is another way to be mindful of both your diet and your finances. Realizing that you have a meeting coming up that is causing nervousness, and giving yourself a timeout to breathe beforehand, is mindful. Sitting with someone who is eating alone at school, letting a fellow commuter merge in front of you on the freeway, smiling and waving to that person on the bus who seems down… opportunities for mindfulness are found in nearly every moment throughout the day. Your only task is to look for them and then act.
By taking a genuine interest in our physical and mental health and wellness, through mindfulness, we bring ourselves closer to everything in life. As opposed to tools like fitness trackers, the latest guru’s message, or bath bombs from Lush, the tool of mindfulness is not an extra thing to add, club to join, or mnemonic to remember. Rather, it’s a very natural and connected way to move through the world. It’s a way of being that can be learned and improved upon. Checking in here, there, and everywhere, listening for feedback, and making adjustments accordingly, is more useful, valuable, and specific to each of us personally than all the TED Talks on YouTube.
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