Mindfulness seems to be the watchword these days, or so the latest issue of TIME Magazine tells me. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been going to yoga each week as I attempt to learn how to clear my mind, control my thoughts/processes, and enjoy life in each moment. It’s going, but I feel like it’s a very slow process. Throughout the hour+ of each yoga session, my mind wanders almost constantly and I find myself having to consciously bring myself back to concentrating on my breathing every few minutes. The instructor reassures us that this is normal and natural, but I wish that I was better at letting go of the mundane thoughts that feel like clutter.
I have to give myself a little bit of a break, though, because it’s not realistic to go from constantly always thinking about the next thing to not having those thoughts and just enjoying the moment you’re in. It seems ridiculous when I think of it that way – of course I’ve always enjoyed the moments I’ve been in (well, most of them), that’s how you get happy memories, right? But I realize now that my default is to be thinking about what’s coming: making plans, worrying about or dreading the things I don’t want to have to do but know that I will, and trying to solve problems that I know will or think might be coming my way. It’s exhausting! And I feel like it eats up too much of my free time, which is time that I should be enjoying. I’d like to capture that feeling that I get when I know I have an expanse of days coming when I have control over what I will do with my time. The feeling of nothing on the horizon that I’m worried about or dreading, only free time that is mine to choose what to do with.
While I was in yoga class this past weekend, it occurred to me that there are two approaches to clearing the mind: one is to let go of all the thoughts and worries and so forth, letting peacefulness and sweet, sweet nothingness take over. (This is the one I picture when I think of the ideal of yoga or meditation, like a Far Side cartoon where the Yogi has nothing but fluffy white clouds floating through his mind.) The second is to try to think about other things, distractions that are positive or enjoyable to think about, and let those positive things push the worries out of my mind. The latter is generally what I end up doing, because the former seems impossible. My brain is just not good at letting go of the bone it’s chewing, unless a different bone becomes available.
As ever, I’m impatient with myself and I want to FIX ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW. Which, of course, I realize is never going to happen, and I do see the value in constantly growing and evolving, getting closer to the person I want to be. I just want to be a little closer right this minute. Is that so much to ask?