On Being and Beginning Again
We went to NYC for about a week for my daughter's 12th birthday. It's her happy place. Like her mom, she loves herself some museums, walking everywhere, and delicious vegan food. This picture is sunrise over the East River, on her birthday.
Sunrise is my favorite reminder of beginning again. Any moment can be sunrise, where we choose to reset and simply start over. When I get up in the morning, I do a practice variously called:
I think open awareness is my favorite, as there's something I don't like about the words monitoring, choiceless, and pure. There are two types of mindfulness practices: either you're focusing your attention on something—an anchor point, sound, sensations in the body—or you're focusing on nothing and experiencing all the phenomena that arise as contents of your consciousness, and you do nothing in response. And by nothing, I mean you don't narrate your experience or address anything that's occurring. Instead, you simply allow whatever arises to do so, and you observe. That's it. That's the whole practice. Here's more. And here's a practice 👇.
During our trip, The Tween had more than her share of sugar. We talked about how sugar makes her feel and how it affects her thinking and her energy level and the way her body feels. We reminded her that she could begin again each day, or even in the middle of the day. She could make different choices, she could put her candy away or throw it away. She could decide to experience the effects of too much sugar and then do nothing, or she could experience the effects of too much sugar and do something different.
But that decision doesn't happen absent the observation of the effects on the body and mind.
This Isn't Judging
Once you start judging yourself or your experience, you open the door to shame, which negatively affects mental health and mood. So when I get up in the morning and I do 10 minutes of open awareness, what that means is I'm observing my thoughts and sensations as they come and go. After the 10 minutes is up, I reflect. I look for patterns in my thoughts and sensations, and then I recall what happened during the evening or the day before or maybe there's something ongoing that contributed to me feeling exhausted or achy. Or maybe the same thought kept popping into (or out of) my head. In other words, after I practice, I have the opportunity to learn. But only if I practice and reflect.
If You Find Yourself Judging . . .
It happens to everyone, and when you find yourself judging the contents of your consciousness (i.e., the thoughts or sensations), or yourself for having them, douse yourself in self-compassion. You're doing your best. It's okay.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness for Financial Advisors will begin again in the Fall.
May ease find you.