It’s Easter Monday, and I’ve been alternating between agonizing over my To Do list, and anesthetizing myself with chocolate all day.
Mondays for me are for blog writing, for dealing with technical details on my website, and for getting focused for the week. Today, however, I’m feeling anything but focused.
I’ve had so many ideas for this week’s blog post, the thoughts have been RICOCHETING through my head, and yet I’ve been struggling with getting any of them written down.
And certainly I have been busy all day, but I have not been the slightest bit productive.
And then I came across this Word document on my laptop, written a few years ago as a social media post. And I woke the fuck up.
I’ll let you read it in a moment, but for now, consider all of those times that you’ve felt scattered and overwhelmed. Consider all of those times that you’ve felt busy and stressed. Consider karate tournaments that felt like epic fails, and the anger, shame, or crushing disappointment that you experienced as a result. Consider all of those times that you beat yourself up for messing up your kata or weapons kata… or wanted to beat someone else up for criticizing your technique.
Consider every single time that you lost your focus, lost your shit, or lost your way.
Consider every single time that you lost YOU.
Feeling it in its dark, emotional entirety? Okay good. Now read this:
So, you’re having one of those days where you’re wrestling with your dog in the vet’s waiting room, not-so-patiently suggesting to the well-intentioned receptionist that she not fire treats at your dog across the room, cuz it makes her lose her shit, every single time. And then this lady comes in and sits next to you. And she starts telling you all about her life. And she has this quiet, compelling voice, and she pets and hugs your dog as she tells you about this horrible car accident she was in, and she points to the scars on her face. And when you tell her how lucky she was to have survived, she tells you that she actually died. But she came back. And then she tells you about all of these other people in her life who have died and come back, and of her one friend who is crazy, and that she herself is going crazy. And all of this is said with tears streaming out of only one eye, apparently damaged from the accident. And you listen, fascinated. Marvelling not at the weirdness of it, but at how peaceful and utterly content she seems to be.
And that feeling of peace hangs with you throughout the day, right up until the moment when your dog pukes all over the carpet. And you notice with murderous rage in your heart that the consistency looks suspiciously like kitty litter. A suspicion which is later confirmed. And, before you know it, you’ve given in to that anger, and you’re grinding your teeth and spewing forth your unique brand of foul eloquence (of which you are rather proud, admit it). And this goes on for awhile, amidst other annoying events, until you make a decision. To calm the fuck down. To let it go. To just breathe through it. To be fully present and accepting. To really see your dog—not as a foul, pestilent, litter-spewing, stanky-assed, thoroughly repulsive, vomitous mass of ane breath—but as she truly is. A dog in all of her normal doggy dogginess. Just a dog, doing neutral doggy things. Not out to get you. Not ruining your day. Just there. Part of it. Part of your present moment.
You realize, as you’ve realized in the past, that the mind just loves to hold on to things. Whatever seems most compelling in the moment, that’s where your mind will take you. Whisked away before you know it. Before you realize what you’ve lost: yourself, completely aware, in the present. One moment you’re here, fully aware, tuned in to Right Now, the next you’re pulled down that path, that seductive spiralling path of anger, or joy, or fear, or whatever. And that moment is suddenly and forever gone.
And you think to yourself, as you’ve thought before, that maybe it’s time to finally commit to that mindfulness practice you’ve been attempting for the last 15 years or so. Maybe it’s time to wake the fuck up and start paying attention. Not just when it’s interesting. But all the time. Cuz that last 15 years sure flew by, didn’t it? That last 15 years of opportunities to be fully awake, and you just spent it on autopilot, half-aware at the best of times. And how are you going to spent the next 15? And the next? Or whatever you have? Alternating between joy when things go exactly your way, and rage/frustration/sadness/fear when they don’t? Pulled from this want to that wish, always feeling like something’s missing?
Perhaps there’s another way. Perhaps you can spend it in calmness and peace, self-awareness and self-acceptance. Perhaps you can live fully present and content with the way things are, with one broken tear duct and scars on your face and the knowledge that you’re absolutely, irrefutably nuts. And that your best friend is nuts. And that the whole world might be crazy. And that your future might not go the way you’d hoped. And perhaps, just perhaps, for possibly the first time in your life, you can finally be okay with that.
Are there areas in your life in which such a mental shift would help you? Perhaps in your martial arts training, work, or personal life? How do you think mindfulness could help you personally right now? Please share your thoughts below.
Here are some great books to help you improve your habits, focus, and mental game:
(Disclaimer: Some of the links on my website are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase.)
Check out some of my articles on performance and competition:
Here are some of my articles on nutrition and health: