Today is a little different from the normal Mindful Monday post. I’ll still be incorporating some elements of mindfulness but this is more about something that I do and how it helps to give me a little confidence boost.
My name is Lisa. I am a list maker but I am terrible at finishing things.
Tidying, computer games, books, DIY projects, drawings, general chores – you name it, I’ve probably written a list about what I want to do, started it and then abandoned it.
We all do it, to some extent, and it doesn’t make us bad people. In this age of instant messaging, with almost everything no more than a click away, we’ve come to expect fast results and I’m incredibly guilty of taking advantage of this. Unfortunately, it means that when we start to do something that may take a little longer, we can quickly become frustrated with it and drop it in favour of something easier.
As I say every week (sorry about that), Mindfulness is about being in the present, letting go of the past and not worrying about the future. However, it’s extremely difficult to not worry about the future when you’re surrounded by half-finished projects that could make your future a lot easier.
So, using the basic principle of Mindfulness, how can we make sure that what we do in the present provides for a better future?
The answer, whilst seeming incredibly basic, does require a little work but you can break it up over a few days or weeks. The main aim is to get things done that you may have been avoiding but without any stress.
Any day that you have a free 30mins, take a wander around your house.
Note down anything that has been hanging around for a while that you keep meaning to do but haven’t got around to yet.
Go through the list and sort them in to order of most annoying/difficult/which has been left for longest.
Next, find a day on your calendar when you have no plans and add an entry to check things off.
Reward yourself with a nice sit down and a cup of tea.
On the date you’ve highlighted on your calendar, find a quiet space and begin the first task.
Every time you start to get frustrated with it or disheartened, take a short break. Don’t pressure yourself.
Leave the room if you need to and close your eyes, concentrating on your breathing for 1 minute (see this post for breathing exercises)
When you open your eyes, continue with the task.
Repeat as necessary and, once finished, again reward yourself. (maybe with a cup of tea and a biscuit this time). Aside from the good you will feel from getting this task done, you deserve a treat for your work.
Continue step two as often as you need to complete the list.
Throughout the second step, make sure to consider the following:
If, after a while, you find your doing the mini-meditation more than the task at hand, sit quietly and assess how you feel. Ask yourself if it’s worth it – Will completing this task make your life better? Does the items importance outweigh the negative feelings that trying to complete it is causing?
If YES, think about how else you could accomplish it. Is it something that you could ask a friend for help with? Maybe it’s something that can be replaced rather than fixed?
If NO, stop. Do not feel bad if you decide to stop working on it altogether. Look to see if it can be recycled, maybe donated to charity or how to dispose of it safely.
The point is, do not feel swamped by the task. Remind yourself that you don’t have to tackle everything at once. By breaking it up in to more manageable chunks, you mind even find it a more enjoyable task. Each time you check something off, that’s one more thing from the past to stop worrying about and one more thing that won’t be clouding your future.
Let me know if you have any other ideas for how to use the practice of Mindfulness in everyday scenarios in the comments below.