Thursday, 21 August 2014

Less to do, more to see (the end of Week 2)

Before I start, I just want to say one thing.

I saw this in the paper last week, about a cult-like movement towards enlightenment and self improvement that has hit NZ shores. It seems to be a little bit of scientology and a little bit of a pyramid scheme and a lot about word of mouth and spreading the "Avatar" message.

If you saw the same article and are wondering if this is related to my journey in any way, let me tell you it is not.

This dodgy Avatar crap is NOT Mindfulness nor does it have any relationship to anything I've been talking about in my last few posts. As I've said previously, "Mindfulness is based on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) which was co-developed by Professor Mark Williams of Oxford University. MBCT is recommended by the UK's National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence, and has been clinically proven to be as effective as drugs for preventing depression." Mindfulness is based on science, and research, and clinical studies - which matters a lot to me because it means this can genuinely work and isn't a sham. I'm not sharing my journey because I've been brainwashed (!!).

I simply want to write all of this down for myself, and for anyone else out there that can relate to what I'm saying and is inspired to find some balance too.

So, I'm now at the end of my second Mindfulness week. I'm really looking forward to moving on to the new set of meditations tomorrow as I've been finding this "body scan" one quite challenging. I get the point of it (tuning into your body, listening to it and treating it more kindly), but by the 10 minute mark I just completely zone out / fall asleep / think about something else / hope the next 4 minutes goes really fast! I'm also supposed to be doing this meditation twice a day, but this is completely impractical with the two little ones, so perhaps I need to keep practising this meditation along with the new one in the coming week. I'm trying to stay open minded and not beat myself up if I'm not doing it all by the book - I wouldn't expect to turn into a professional athlete after 2 weeks at the gym, so can't expect my mind to be completely zen after the same level of workout!

One truly positive development this past week is my 'to do' list has shrunk, dramatically. Initially I thought this was because the meditations had magically made me way more productive, enabling me to get more done. Instead, I realised I just hadn't added that much to my 'to do' list in the first place this week, which - funnily enough - was enabling me to get more done.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a special relationship with my 'to do' list. It has just taken me almost 3 years to realise this relationship is no longer working for me; it has less relevance to me as a mum than it did beforehand. Even though I haven't read anything (yet) about Mindfulness and 'to do' lists, I suspect if they ever did meet they wouldn't have a good relationship either. While Mindfulness is all about calm, presence and enjoying the current moment, 'to do' lists are about future stress, workload and always thinking ahead.

I'm a "list" kind of person though. Traditionally, if it was on my 'to do' list it was guaranteed to get done. Of course I assumed this would transfer to mummyhood, and I don't know why it has taken me this long to realise how ridiculous that is. I am at the mercy of two barely-speaking, fairly-irrational, extremely-cute, highly-adventurous, on-their-own-agenda individuals. But, up until this past week, I had put everything on my silly daily list. Chores such as vacuuming or sweeping up leaves, enjoyable pastimes such as reading more of my book or writing this blog, reminders related to my wellbeing such as back exercises or Mindfulness meditations - it was all there, on that one gigantic list. Interestingly, the one job that I actually do each day without fail, never made it on the list - KEEP MY CHILDREN FED, THRIVING, HAPPY, DRY & ALIVE!

In my life pre-kids in a PR agency, a favourite saying in the midst of some crisis was "PR not ER". It was a saying that was supposed to give us some perspective and reassure us; this isn't life or death. Well now I am actually in charge of two little lives, and there can be extreme consequences if I drop the ball in this job. There is more at stake here, which is why I think I'm more anxious than ever.

But as far as 'to do' lists go, if I achieve nothing else in my day but keeping the kidlets alive and happy, then I am a success. To be honest, I have very little time to do anything but this anyway. It's no wonder then that my old 'to do' list (filled with tasks that don't actually matter at the end of the day) was making me feel overwhelmed when I looked at it in the morning and like a failure when I saw how much I didn't do by night time. Why do I need to add "vacuuming" to my list when the crumbs I can see on the floor remind me to do this anyway? Why add "write blog" to my list when all it does is make it a chore instead of the passion it is? Old habits die hard and I still have a little list, but it now consists of important tasks with a specific deadline that I mustn't forget, like "pay the electricity bill".

Everything else can be done when it gets done, enjoyed when it happens or be saved for another day.

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