A man saw a horse furiously galloping down the road. He was intrigued.
“Where are you going?” he yelled from the side of the road.
And the man on the horse replied, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!”
This story resonated with me because most of us spend our lives being pulled around by our mind horse, losing track of where or why we are going somewhere. We are either traumatized by where the horse had been or worried about where the horse would go.
Wouldn’t it be much better if we can take the reins of the horse and steer it the way and pace we want it. Wouldn’t it be a much pleasant journey than being pulled along upside down with our head hitting the rump.
Mindfulness is the best gift we can give ourselves and the people around us. And all we have to do is notice. Children have got this down pat. We were born with the natural ability to notice everything, question everything and that is how we learnt. And slowly as we grew, we lose the awe. Everything became mundane and we lost control over the horse little by little.
Every unconscious act, every mindless wandering loosens the reigns a little bit at a time, until finally we are caught in the throws of our emotions and lose track of who we are.
What if our purpose in earth is just to notice. To live each day by being conscious, awake to the possibilities, to the beauty of what we have. What would happen if we only take the time to notice. How would that change us?
Mindfulness is the savoring of the cool grass beneath our feet, the feeling of fresh breeze, the music of the bird song. It is noticing our emotions, how we react to something or fail to. Getting curious about them. Why do I respond a certain way? Why did I get angry in that situation. Why am I feeling anxious. Being kind in the way we talk to ourselves and removing judgement, in the way we look or feel.
We rarely see things as is. Every situation is colored with our past experiences, our fear of the future or opinions of the people around us.
I realised this first when I became a parent. Everything my child did, was a cause of anxiety. While my kids were being kids, I was worried about what they would be as adults. I blamed myself if they were sad – I must be doing something wrong. I blamed myself if they were happy – what if they never learn to live through hardship?
Insane, I know. It particularly came as a surprise to me because when I saw the other kids doing the same thing, I wasn’t triggered or anxious. I was even able to laugh and have fun.
Then it struck me, it’s because I was too close to the situation when my kids were involved. I was too judgmental, too fearful. I failed to see the thing as is and only saw it as something that could go wrong some way.
The importance of seeing things as is, is paramount.
Only when we see things as is, could there be a possibility of seeing things as they could be. The first step to change is noticing. It’s with the act of noticing that we take the reins and gently steer the horse. Our thought can be our master or our accomplice and its up to us to choose.
Below there are 10 tips to start on your mindfulness journey. These are just ideas to get your feet wet.
How do you incorporate mindfulness into your life? How has it changed you? I’d love to hear about it.