The other day, I was walking through Barnes and Noble when I felt a Spiritual Intuition. I followed the feeling, letting it guide me around the store, not sure where it was taking me. Suddenly, I found myself standing in front of the journals section.
I picked up journal after journal, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do, see, or find. At last, I found it: the Mindfulness Journal.
Intrigued, I picked it up and brought it home with me. I am so glad I did!
For some time now, I have felt unable to be present in The Moment. My mind always seems to be preoccupied with something or other, whether it’s planning for the future, thinking about the past, thinking about current issues, etc. I find that I am often too distracted, too weighed down, and too overwhelmed by life’s demands in the Big Picture, to have fun and be present in The Moment.
This might seem a bit strange, because for those of you who have known me awhile, you’ll remember that I used to be extremely present in The Moment. I used to be very present, very able to enjoy myself, very spontaneous, and very able to relax.
All of that changed once I finished school and needed to find a job. Suddenly, I had to worry about long-term and short-term finances, errands, chores, to-do lists, cleaning, and administrative work. I had to worry about being early, commuting, and traffic patterns. I had to worry about eating healthy and meal-prepping. Not to mention, I had to worry about all the components of proper self-care, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
As someone who eternally struggled with time management and planning, I really did not like this aspect of adult life. Yet I realized that my poor time management skills and poor planning skills needed to change, because they resulted in me being eternally late for every appointment and they resulted in tasks continually falling through the cracks because I couldn’t do everything by myself.
These days, I am proud to say that I have Become a Master of Time Management. Yet in spite of that, I feel that I need to elevate my standard of mastery in this area even higher. I need to master time management even further, such that I can both take care of myself and my responsibilities, as well as relax and enjoy the moment.
This insight came directly from following the prompts in the Mindfulness Journal. The first exercise it had me do was to turn off my phone (!) and other devices (!!) for 1 hour. Then I had to write down everything I had observed.
The results were so startling!! I took a walk in my neighborhood. I noticed businesses, shops, and boutiques that I had never seen before (despite passing by them literally every day). Without my iPod on, I noticed the sounds of the birds chirping and the cars whizzing past. When I went to CVS, I actually browsed the store and saw what was there, aside from the item that I needed. I even was present while I was waiting in the checkout line.
Takeaway #1: Technology is VERY distracting. I am going to start putting my devices on airplane mode in the morning until I actually need to interact with other people.
Next, the Mindfulness Journal told me to observe and describe a moment that I was fully present. I chose to do this at my last orchestra concert.
Again, I was only “mindful” for about 1 hour for the first half of the concert. I was again very startled at the results of this experiment.
This time, I didn’t just notice things like the fact that I was extremely focused in playing my part of the music, that I was actually playing to the audience, that I was actually enjoying how the whole thing sounded overall, and that my concentration was so much better that it had reduced 98% of my playing errors. This time, I noticed and was aware every time my mind started to wander.
What did I think about in that hour? A whole wide range of topics:
- How I didn’t have work the next day so I didn’t need to think about preparing for that.
- The chores I needed to do this weekend.
- Summer finances.
- My recent “breakup.”
- My life in Nevada (my old apartment, sunshine, warmth, my friends there, Trader Joe’s) (??? wtf lol)
- How I “suck” at time management and how I don’t respect myself because I don’t follow my own schedules.
- How maybe I should be more In The Moment, because I do want to be fun, creative, and carefree, and words really do matter. Do I really need to focus on body language as much??
- If I change myself again (change myself back), then I don’t know what personality type my future husband will have.
!!! Wow. That’s all I have to say.
Takeaway #2: I don’t think I even knew that I spent so much time thinking about all these different things, but apparently things like that run through my head all the time and I don’t even notice.
No wonder my ear lost its hearing.
Anyway, after that experiment was over, I had a weekend of very deep thought and planning. I did my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s instead of Wegman’s, and I discovered that it’s a lot less expensive and it has my fruits and nuts mixture that I realized I had missed. I tweaked my schedule to include more flexibility and relaxation time. One of the main reasons I didn’t like following my own schedules is that by nature, I’m a spontaneous person, and I don’t like feeling over-structured. I decided to have my morning and work routine be structured, but then have my evenings always be relaxed and spontaneous. I also added time on the weekends to plan for variances in my schedule in the coming week, so I can accommodate for them and not have things fall through the cracks. Finally, I added time each day where I can just think about my feelings and emotions. Maybe now, with better planning and strategy, I will be able to be more present.