Maintaining the Self and Making Time to be

It’s very easy to live on automatic. The busier we get, being on autopilot can be quite helpful with the ordinary stuff while allowing us to focus our attention on the more difficult parts of the day or those we just enjoy the most. But automatic living can also become like a type of sleep-walking. Well, over the last month or so, I’ve started reassessing some habits and patterns and adopting an even more conscious, a more mindful approach to my day. It started quite spontaneously, several times just noticing with a different kind of attention – my environment, and especially the choices I was making – mostly without thinking.

These moments of noticing have a distinct sense of peacefulness and quiet and it’s this quiet – both outer and inner – that I’m appreciating in a way I haven’t for quite some time. In contrast to this quiet is the noise that usually fills the day – thoughts, TV and music, social media. They’re all great things but they have their time and place, and I’ve been guilty of giving them too much of my time and way too much of my space as well.

So, I’ve started making a few simple changes. I don’t look at messages, phone, facebook etc, for at least an hour in the morning, not until my preparation is complete. As I’m usually up with my little boy first thing in the morning as well, this means that our time is all the more pure, less distracted. And as I get ready for the day, I don’t feel my attention pulled in different directions. It’s something I’ve practiced for many periods of my life since I was a kid, but I had let the practice slip over the last couple of years. The same goes with the evening. Rather than automatically turning on the TV, I start with quiet time and I finish the night with quiet as well. I don’t place productive demands on this time, but it has to be ‘quality time’. I might still watch something or listen to music, whatever I like, but it will be a conscious and deliberate choice.

There have been several flow-on effects. I’m starting to feel more relaxed. It’s easy to become accustomed to living with an elevated level of stress and I hadn’t realised just how much the noise of TV, computers etc was contributing to it. The best thing is I’ve found several hours in the evening and morning for taking care of myself, for taking much needed time out without the ‘noise’ that I had become so accustomed to. Sometimes I use it just to have a quiet cup of tea, to meditate or clean my bike. I might take a walk through the garden and observe the day’s developments – which new buds and leaves have started to sprout. Now that the evenings are getting longer and more mild, I carry Will at the same time. Having this new time is also reassuring. Moving forward into the next stage of my own journey it’s important to know that I have this resource of time and space to maintain my own mind, body and spirit on a daily basis. It’s a space that until recently I thought I lacked.

In a very real way it feels like I’m reclaiming my own life – reclaiming it from my self, my own mind in a way, and in the process I’m reconnecting with ways of being that have served me well.

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5 thoughts on “Maintaining the Self and Making Time to be

  1. Thanks for this. I read it at just the right time. Enjoy all that extra time and space! I’ll make a project of finding mine, this week.

  2. Wonderful advice. To your point about not looking at facebook etc for some time … in August I completely stepped off the “grid” when I returned to my family farm in Saskatchewan, Canada and cared for my Mom who was (then) recovering from a serious illness.

    The first day without broadband access felt, I felt a bit odd. By the second day I relaxed and on the third day I no longer thought about work, email, twitter, you name it (although I did miss my blogging buddies).

    The point? So much of our stress and anxiety is self-induced. It is absolutely OK – imperative really – to shut it off and step away.

    Cheers!
    MJ

    • Thanks MJ. I hope your Mum is doing well. Such an appropriate time to tune out and tune in to what matters – caring for ourselves and each other. Understanding how we are creating anxiety for ourselves and then changing old patterns of behaviour can take time, but as you’ve also experienced, the benefits are great. The logical conclusion is that just as anxiety and stress are largely self-induced, so can our happiness and serenity be – not in a way that is conditional on things being a particular way but through being mindful of our habits of thought and actions. Have a great weekend!

      • Indeed she is; apparently my home-cooking and fussing made ALL the difference :). That and my sister’s help … Stepping away and concentrating on what really matters is life-changing and I make it a point to do it regularly.
        Bests! MJ

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