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We all place priority on different things in our lives, sometimes out of choice and other times out of necessity. What’s ‘too little’ or ‘too much’ of any activity will differ for each of us.
But we all gain from asking ourselves the question, ‘What’s the right balance of [name the activity] for me?’ The ‘right balance’ is our happy or contented place. Most activities are neither good or bad. They can however be ‘in balance’ or ‘out of balance’.
Here’s some examples. What’s the right balance of time . . . keeping fit? . . . with friends? . . . on my own? . . . with family? . . . at work? . . . indoors? . . . outdoors? . . . on social media? . . . keeping abreast of news? spent volunteering? . . . watching TV/streaming? You get the idea. Think through the balance for you physically, emotionally and spiritually.
These activities are often not either good or bad. It’s the balance of each activity in relation to the other activities that’s the key to our wellbeing. It’s the balance that gives us the sense of having our feet planted firmly on the ground, not teetering on the brink or piroetting through each day.
I spent a glorious morning enjoying autumn colours at Stourhead Gardens and knew you would want to share in it. I particularly enjoyed seeing reflections of buildings and nature in a lake. Some detail is present in the reflection and yet the scene is more muted, softer.
Imagine seeing a reflection of your life right now. What are the shapes and colours that would show in ‘the lake’? You might want to draw or write down what stands out.
Ensure the reflection of yourself you are seeing has a softness in it. We need a softness in our perspective that enables us to reflect with kindness, not judgement.
I didn’t write a Mindful Monday post last week. I was immersed in family celebrations – enjoying being with loved ones. It was healing.
I then went to a funeral of a friend. As I recalled the good times and my friend’s gifts, there was healing.
The day after the funeral, I sprained my ankle. It swelled up. Fluid moved into the injured area, evidencing white blood cells getting to work. I found watching the healing take place day by day healing in itself!
Sometimes we need to simply take time out or take a particular action. As we do, we find restoration or put another way healing.
What was the first event, the family celebration? Ah well as you asked, it was celebrating my brother receiving a doctorate. I’m a proud sister!
It can be a challenge to plan how to do tasks in such a way that we are not stressed by them i.e. we schedule doing a task for when we have enough time and energy.
It can be an even bigger challenge to decide whether we are up to tackling a particular task in the first place. We may identify something as a ‘must do’ task when in fact it is a ‘nice to do if time/energy’ task.
Pacing becomes vital – and yet somehow more difficult! – at times when we are unwell, including experiencing increased physical pain or poor mental health.
So what helps us pace ourselves well?
Prioritise self care. Doing this will in fact put us in the best place to also care for others. It’s one of those ‘about face’ things!
Review the ‘must do’ tasks to identify those that we can move out of the ‘must do’. Sometimes we need help from a friend to do this. Alternatively, writing down what we are trying to do in a list can enable us to then revisit that list and identify those tasks that are essential to do and those that are not – we may find none of them are when we see them in black and white!
Learning to pace ourselves – in different situations and phases of our lives – is a life skill. Let’s keep learning. What we learn will help us journey towards being contented in all circumstances.
Whether you are a committed sports fan or not, you can’t avoid sport in the UK at the moment. Alongside millions, I have been watching great sportspeople perform at massive sports events. (And yes, you win some and you lose some!)
Behind each event are sportspeople who have trained, day after day. Without the crowds. Without competition adrenaline. Without sure reward.
Let’s share the joy (and the pain) of these events. Let’s also note the discipline.
Is there something you would love to achieve or do? Mindfulness is about living in the present but it is also about planning for the future, taking actions in the present which increase the likelihood of something happening in the future.
These sportspeople train each day with a future win in mind. Is there something you need to do each day to prepare for a better present and future? Sure we can’t always win but we can influence being well placed!
In mindfulness, there is often a focus on ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ – an encouragement to ‘just be’. And yet mindfulness is equally relevant to when we are doing something, not just being.
We can practice giving our complete attention to whatever we are doing, whether it is something we enjoy or not. Did you notice the word ‘practice’? That’s because we have to remind ourselves to give our complete attention – we need to practice doing it because it takes practice – and we need to treat ourselves with kindness while we practice rather than beating ourselves up when we forget.
Brushing your teeth? Give it your complete attention. Stacking the dishwasher? Give it your complete attention. Typing an email? Give it your complete attention. Talking to a friend? Give them your complete attention. Going for a walk? Give it your complete attention. As you give something your complete attention, you will amazed what you notice, how you use your senses.
As we give full attention to whatever we’re doing – which psychologists sometimes call ‘living in a state of flow’ – we may find a sense of contentment or happiness. And that encourages us to keep going in the practice of mindfulness – in what we are doing as well as just being.
Ah yes, multi-tasking. Ditch it. Give your full attention to whatever you’re doing. You’ll be the happier for it.