*This is a guest post from Misbah Haque of the Airborne Mind
I’ve been exploring meditation, journaling, and mindfulness for a few years now. It hasn’t been a perfect journey. I’ve fallen off the boat just like anyone else. I’ve abandoned what works and wondered why. But you quickly figure out where it is you want to go. And once you make that choice, it becomes easier and easier to pick yourself back up and move forward.
You work hard day in and day out. In today’s time, you are DOING more than ever before. You wake up at the crack of dawn. You’ve got to get the kids ready. You go to work for eight hours. Despite how tired you are, you drop everything and train. You stay disciplined with your eating. You’re putting out fires all day long.
You deserve to enjoy every moment to the fullest. You’re going through such an amazing ride with everything that you get to do.
Unfortunately, all the noise in our daily lives cause us to forget the ride, and focus too much on the outcome.
The biggest challenge is training ourselves to respond rather than react to everything that happens.
There was this time I was driving on the highway and passed a sign that said “Next Rest Area: 18 Miles Away.” I was doing my best to stay hydrated and was now paying for it. I should have stopped at the last one because there was no way I could hold my bladder for the next 18 miles. So I pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway.
If you’ve ever stopped on the highway and stepped outside of your vehicle, you can feel the ground shaking beneath you as every car zips by at 80mph. The noise is rattling.
Although, I didn't have the guts to pee on the side of the road, I stood there for a moment soaking the fast pace of the moving cars in. I can’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed while everything else was moving so fast.
That’s kind of what mindfulness is meant to do. The cars are your thoughts flashing by all day long. Instead of getting distracted and reacting to every single thought, you simply just watch them go by.
When my eyes open in the morning, I feel like I’m hit with an instant rush of the thousand things I have to get done. This has been my biggest challenge. I’m more of a night owl, not an early bird. You know how the morning can set the pace. If you wake up grumpy, and someone cuts you off during rush hour, you can get stuck in a limbo of road rage.
This can also be applied to food. When you’re cooking your meals, you’re thinking about eating the meal. When you’re eating the meal, you’re thinking about doing the dishes. When you’re doing the dishes, you’re thinking about whatever it is you’re going to do next. That’s how life passes you by a lot of times.
“I’ll be happier when I get a job.” You get the job of your dreams.
“Never mind, I’ll be happier when I find the love of my life.” You find the perfect partner.
“Never mind, I’ll be happier when we’re married.” You get married.
“Never mind, I’ll be happier when we have kids.” You have kids.
“Never mind, I think we need a shore house.” You get the shore house.
“Never mind, I need a house in the mountains.” You get the house in the mountains.
“Never mind, I’ll be happier when I retire.” You finally retire. You look back at your life and wonder where the time went.
This is how most of us live our lives. Always living in the next moment. Forgetting to enjoy what’s happening right now in front of us.
This is easier said than done. When thoughts come, it’s so easy to react immediately. One thought after another. By the end of the day, you’re absolutely exhausted. You think to yourself what a busy day. Sometimes you feel like you went through the whole day without getting anything productive done. You just put out fires all day long. Before you know it, the day is over. You’re tired and beat up. Motivation starts to wear off.
The truth is that you can’t. Sooner or later, you’ll have a breakdown from all this extra noise. It will trickle down and affect the people around you. It will cause you unnecessary pain.
The voices inside your head never go away. They aren’t meant to. You just become better at managing them.
“Your inner narrator, the voice that chases you out of bed in the morning and yammers at you all day long. It has you constantly comparing yourself to other people, engaging in ruthless self-criticism, and casting forward into the future or ruminating about the past, to the detriment of whatever is happening right now.” — Eckhart Tolle
Stay tuned for the next post in this series on why mindfulness and breathing go hand in hand and how you can use it to your advantage.
Misbah is a weakness manager for newcomers and CrossFitters looking to get stronger. His coaching practice is centered around filling the holes in movement so you can keep doing what you love for a long time. He also runs the blog @airbornemind
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