“In the choice to let go of your known way of being, the whole world is revealed to your new eyes.” – Donna Faulds
My midlife reawakening in 1998 wasn’t planned. If someone had told me I’d be moving from New England to California someday, leaving behind a secure life – husband, home, garden, business – I would have laughed. My fitness career wasn’t planned. I graduated from college with a degree in Interior Design, before going back to school a year later to earn my degree in Exercise Science. My book Twelve Mindful Months wasn’t planned. The idea came to me one day on a hike when I was about to begin the 4th rewrite of a novel I’d been working on for five years. My passion for yoga wasn’t planned. I took a class, needing the flexibility, and came out realizing there was much more to learn from the practice. My life as it is today wasn’t planned. I always imagined I’d never be divorced, but be happily married with several children and the proverbial house with the white picket fence. I don’t have the house or the kids, but I do share a satisfying life with a loving husband. And I have no regrets.
What about you? How much of your life has gone as planned?
A question was raised In my mindfulness class: If we are being truly mindful, living in the present moment, can we still plan for the future? Yes,it is important to have plans, but we can’t be so fixated on the results or goal that we aren’t present to the life we have now. Like on a road trip, when the GPS or map fails, we have to rely on our intuition and creativity to get to where we are going. And sometimes along the way, we discover a new place we never would have found had we stayed on the planned route. Authors have been quoted that they often don’t know where their characters are going until the end of the story. Painters don’t know where their brush will take them as they place the first stroke on a fresh canvas. When we are living in the moment we go where the mind and body take us. And often it can surprise us, revealing a startling discovery, a profound thought, or our true nature.
Mindfulness is something we all have; we just need to cultivate it.
One aspect of mindfulness is letting go of our hard and fast beliefs, seeing things as we always have, instead of how they really are. Our egos cling to what we’ve always believed to be true. Our egos want to be right. We need to not fall back on old habitual ways of thinking if we wish to move forward. And to see others as they are now, and not as they were in the past. I think that’s what keeps us fresh, keeps us inspired. Staleness really dulls our spirit. It doesn’t mean we have to leave our marriage or career or move across the country. Except, perhaps, if it keeps us from living our true potential as a person.
What’s your fallback plan?
Do you go back to same workouts and schedule each time, even though it didn’t give you the results you were looking for? Have you lost weight with a particular diet and then gained, but always go back to the same plan again, even though it didn’t allow you to maintain it long-term? And what do you fall back on in your work or relationships that hasn’t led to positive outcomes in the past?
Fall back on mindfulness…and see where it takes you.
Go outdoors for a walk unplugged – without using your cell phone or even your music. Instead, plug-in to nature and connect to your surroundings with the naked awareness of a beginner – seeing, hearing, and smelling things for the first time. Intentionally pay attention in a non-judgmental way: When you pass a house with a yard full of leaves, notice the leaves, and the wondrous abundance of them (be glad you don’t have to rake them), but avoid thoughts like “They really should rake their leaves.” When you are mindful you may notice a negative pattern in your observations (of surroundings and people). Use this awareness to change your thinking to be more like an unbiased observer or reporter. This practice will help rake your mind of old ways of thinking and allow new pathways to be revealed. And just like raking leaves, the process requires continual repetition. The autumn foliage – the life cycle of the trees – reminds us of our own ability to change our colors. When we are in harmony with the seasons and the rituals of nature, we can be in respectful harmony with our body and will feel the freedom within ourselves to move forward on a new path that is free of obstacles.
For more on how mindfulness can help you avoid falling back to old habits, read “Twelve Mindful Months: Cultivating a Balanced & Fit Body, Mind & Spirit” by Carol Tibbetts. Stay on the mindful path with me by signing up, above, right, to get future blog posts delivered directly to your inbox.