I want to shake up this whole mindfulness solves everything business. Mindfulness can make your overwhelm feel a lot better or a whole lot worse. And it’s definitely not a cure-all get out of jail free card to plaster over the cracks in how you treat (or mistreat) your ‘human resource’ Man I hate that term/ Use people up and get some more in.
Mindfulness can be so, so powerful for living more skilfully. But it can also be just rubbish really.
I remember a time when I was struggling with working too hard, not living the life I’d dreamed off at all but loving a job I worked so hard for and not wanting to give it up so secretly surfing the verge of breakdown instead. You might know exactly what I mean. That looking like you’re holding it all together whilst shoving down secret tears and bracing yourself first thing in the morning to get through another day without given away just how close to the edge you feel.
It takes a lot of skill to secretly surf this verge. But is no way to live. I tried a ton of different things, including upping my intermittent long-standing practice of mindfulness.
And this memory really sticks in my mind. I remember walking mindfully, feeling every step on the floor through my Vivo barefoot shoes (love those shoes – but why no wellies any more?! I live in wellies. Please make me some more)
So I’m walking mindfully towards my classroom door (back when I was a maths teacher) having just taught a lesson, utterly aware of just how much I did not want to open that door, of just how desperately I needed a break, how exhausted I was. Every cell in my body was screaming ‘do not open that door!!’
That’s mindfulness for you – making you excruciatingly aware of just how crap the present moment is.
Actually there’s a whole ton of other stuff not talked about as much – the deep stuff about compassion and kindness and acceptance.
So now if I was in that situation I would be walking towards the door hearing and acknowledging those internal screams, kindly, curiously.
I would be practising not judging myself as too weedy, not tough enough or worrying about whether there was something wrong with me. Or comparing myself to other teachers who seemed to cope so much better than me.
Because sometimes it’s enough to just notice and instead of pushing away the desperation and exhaustion and frustration. Notice and listen, really listen like you would an old friend.
Works for me now. If only someone had told me it was that easy.