Muhammed Ali said that “If you want to win, start within”. He was such an inspirational man, but what made him such an icon was that he had the courage and commitment to choose his thoughts about himself. The older I get, the more I grasp that in order to evolve, we must meet our thoughts and beliefs where they are, shake hands with them, and move on–they are not who we are, but where we are. We can may feel that we are “stuck” in this mindset, but it is possible to detach from them and choose new ones.
I’ve heard it said before that to know and not do is to not know. And that’s true–how many times have we learned something, thought it was interesting, but then did not act any different as a result of it?
Since I’ve begun this deep dive into mindfulness, I’ve started to become curious what is my “mind-full” of? What kinds of thoughts am I thinking? Since I want to approach this as the observer, I have been viewing my thoughts in my meditation without judgement and elaboration, trying to engage my mind in the present, labelling my thoughts as a thought about the past or a thought about the future; and after noticing this, putting my attention on the breath, allowing my mind to wander but then gently bringing it back. I think I have been rather successful at this exercise because I was touched by the article about mindfulness stress reduction, and, in particular, the following quote:
“Since it is really about the present moment, the approach has to be spontaneous rather than thought out in advance. It has to be embodied. I just trust that, in a sense, my whole life has been a certain kind of preparation for this moment we call now, and that whatever emerges will be good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It will be good enough for that moment. I have never found that that was not true.”- Jon Kabat-Zin
So now I have been extending my practice beyond the course’s mediations. Since the beginning of this week’s work, I’ve put a sticky note on my laptop to help cue me into cultivating a stronger sense of presence and mindfulness. My note says:
- Am I breathing? (this has helped me to check in with my breath),
- Where’s the Magic? (this is to help me find some wonder and awe in my surroundings or experiences.), and
- Who can I Cherish? (this is to help me connect with the people around me and experience appreciation for them).
I am hopeful that this practice is “sticky” and moves me to help me to create a greater habit of mindfulness outside of these meditative exercise and embody this practice in other areas of my life. I’d rather have my MIND-FULL of thoughts of joy and appreciation, rather than doubt or worry. I feel like this is also great mental training–like Muhammad Ali–cultivating a mind of a champion. In this way, I tap into the power of my being, the gifts that life has to offer me, and the joy of experiencing my loved ones and colleagues.
It’s hard to imagine how much of my life is shifting from noticing the little things. And it reminds me of another quote from The Greatest Man who ever lived: “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”