In this week’s earlier post, we got out the shovel and did some digging. We went deep, y’all, and got into some big questions about what makes us tick, and why it can be so hard to just follow that beat and be ourselves. Authenticity is so magnetic in other people (even if the expression sometimes makes you wince), and yet so disconcerting when we see it in ourselves. We want it, but at the same time, we won’t let ourselves have it. At our core, we are so well-versed in self-judgment that we don’t believe our full, honest self is worth showing, much less being loved. It seems too risky to put it all out there, and ruin the carefully crafted version of ourselves we’d be more comfortable offering.
Since our weekend mindfulness challenges are “no-fail,” there’s no reason to play it safe this time, though. Authenticity is only meaningful if it’s expressed, and that takes practice. Even the smallest change can feel like it requires all the courage you have. Good thing you know how to catch your breath, find your center, and push through discomfort, right…?
This weekend, choose a day (or don’t! choose both!) to start with a little mindfulness. Just a handful of minutes will do it, and I’ll even tell you that you don’t have to get out of bed for it. Just don’t go back to sleep. That’s not being mindful, that’s being unconscious. It’s kind of the opposite, actually.
So whether you just pay attention to your breath for a few minutes, try one of those super handy apps out there, take a walk or find your way into a little yoga, get your fix. Make sure you’re connected to yourself, and to the qualities of the space around you, and of the present moment you’re currently in.
After your mindful start to the day, go about your business (and play), but keep paying attention. What you’re looking for is a point of divergence — the place where, in any given moment, you check yourself. What you think does not become what you say. How you feel is not at all how you look. What you believe does not manifest in what you do.
Maybe you notice this split at exactly the right moment to consider doing something about it. Perhaps you gather the courage to push past the discomfort and be fully authentic, even for just one, single hot second. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you see the door open, but you just can’t walk through it. Guess what? That’s still ok. You still caught that “space between stimulus and response” (V. Frankl), and you made an intentional choice about what to do. That’s a victory in and of itself.
(See what I mean about “no-fail”?)
Or maybe this time around, you don’t see that moment as it’s arriving. You might only catch it in retrospect, which is also a-ok. You still saw it, and you sharpened your ability to notice it on the front end next time. Your job in this case will be to notice however it feels to have missed it this round, and to show yourself some kindness if it doesn’t feel great.
Mindfulness helps us deal with challenging emotions, and also offers space for noticing and gently quieting the “inner critic” we all have within us. It offers time for their voice to step back. It’s all part of the process of letting yours come through.
And it is a process, too. None of us is going to morph into a new person overnight. You have to remember, though, that this isn’t a new person, it’s you that you’re becoming. Strange but true. Being your full self, out loud, all the time takes practice.
No time like the present to get started. Close your eyes, take a breath, and let it out. All of it. Everything you are is, altogether, perfect.
Photo credit: Denys Nevozhai