“Headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.”
Since I can remember I’ve always rushed my way through everything. If I wasn’t rushing, I was waiting impatiently to begin to rush. I was like an excited dog on a lead, waiting to be set free in the park.
Rushing home from school, waiting for secondary school, rushing through my exams for summer, waiting for my results, rushing to be 18 years old, waiting desperately for Uni, rushing essay after essay to finish the course, rushing to get my first big girls job, waiting for promotions and pay rises… You get the gist.
About 5 years ago when I started my career in London, I decided to do what every other girl in her 20s with a job in the city did; yoga. My reasons for joining then were very much down to the fact yoga was the type of hobby you could get discounted through Groupon in Clapham. Oh, and I wanted to learn to touch my toes.
*Types and cringes at the honesty*
After about 6 months, I could touch my toes and more significantly I also noticed a change in my day-to-day pace. I’d take my time. I wasn’t eager to rush to the next thing. I wasn’t waiting around impatiently for things. Admittedly, I always found the meditation/mindfulness/breathing aspect to yoga relaxing, and intriguing, but I never really acknowledged it as a practice that could change my mental state and alter the way I lived my life.
After a house move from SW to SE London, a change in job, two knee operations, and one puppy purchase later, weekly yoga was a distant memory. Simultaneously, I noticed the way I was living my life started becoming messier and more stressful. On reflection, it doesn’t take a genius to work out why.
So since the beginning of this year I decided that I was going to reengage in mindfulness. After a few months of being on and off, I identified that mindfulness practice is almost pointless when it’s only dabbled with ‘when I’ve got the time’. Ironically, to succeed with it you need to actually practice!
As such, on my voyage to not rushing through my life at 100mph, I am now half way through an 8 week mindfulness programme (I’m following a guide book called ‘Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world’) which allows me to dedicate a little bit of time every single day to being gently present and acknowledging the moment – in the hope that I am able to discover and experience a more mindful way of living.
As beautifully alluring as that sounds, spending 10 minutes twice a day focusing only on my breath or bodily sensations is not that easy. Admittedly, I’ve struggled to not judge myself when I can’t focus on the present. That being said, I am noticing an improvement in my internal pace and awareness of my autopilot mode.
Alongside my mindfulness practice, I am also attempting to improve on my mental health by beating my digital overload. The latest research shows that being hooked up to tech makes us more anxious – and may affect our physical health too. UK adults spent an average of 8 hours and 41 minutes on screens every single day. That’s more than we spend asleep! Unfortunately, like many other people, I need to be on a computer for work but research has suggested that social media also has a huge grip on our day to day lives. The average user spends almost 3 hours on social media every day. I know from my own habits, this is sadly true, and I am genuinely concerned about the repercussions on my own mental health.
Since we live in such a wired world, developing positive habits to have more awareness isn’t effortless. In fact, it’s bloody hard. But spending more time on doggy walks in nature, and actively not taking my phone with me to days out has been a great start for me. For example, I’m going to the Lake District next week for 6 days and I’m leaving my phone at home! I’ll be taking my camera to get some snaps of the trip, but my focus for those 6 days is to slow down, unwind, explore the mountains, spend time with my little family and practice a deeper sense of awareness and gratitude for the present moment. No rushing and no waiting for the next thing.
Wish me luck!
Are you a mindfulness guru? Have you ever thought about trying it out? Do you have any tips or tricks for improvement? I’d love to hear from you!