While I am not a master of any one specific thing, I have developed certain levels of experience that have given me a modicum of expertise.
Some are tangible, like my ability to do virtually anything with MS Word, general technical computer-related skills with both hardware and software, doing and teaching medieval fencing combat, and sharing my writing. Others are intangible, like practicing mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and taking action to find and/or create life how I would like to experience it.
Presently the world is in crisis. The pandemic, at least in the United States, has taken a backseat to protests over police brutality. The protests are making it painfully obvious how deeply rooted systemic racism still is. What’s worse, the political system has been overrun by a horrific, unempathetic President and his party — which is kowtowing to his whims rather than doing their job and checking his corruption. The election in the fall is going to be…I dunno, interesting?
So here we are, the world is overwhelmingly negative and uncertain. Meanwhile, I sit in my comfy home-office, surrounded by the trappings of my white privilege, and feel an inexplicable combination of guilt, sadness, and a tinge of hopelessness.
I have studied enough mindfulness, self-help, self-improvement materials to have created my own take on these. I’ve been sharing my personal philosophy for over 8 years. Still, I am feeling how I feel, and practicing what I “preach” isn’t coming to me today.
Everyone has days like this
Nobody feels okay, comfortable, and good all the time. Nobody. Everyone has bad days. Sometimes you know why and other times are inexplicable but just happen.
Apart from the above matters — over which I have no control, of course — there’s no reason for me to be feeling this way. It’s a gorgeous, sunny day. The wife and I went out for a walk this morning. I had a good breakfast and useful things to do today.
It’s been a long time since I have felt this out of it. How do I explain the feeling? It’s like being tired, except I am not sleepy. I just feel drained, like I have little to no energy to do anything. Even meditation, which tends to make me feel better, just isn’t doing it for me today.
I can allow this feeling to hold onto me and dominate my whole day. Or I can make a choice. I can decide to take control and be mindful.
Practicing mindfulness is easy, relatively speaking. All you have to do is be present and aware of your mindset and headspace. That means you take hold of your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
But headspace is a bit more complicated than the three elements of mindfulness. It’s made up of the physical, spiritual, emotional, and thoughtful. Or, for a different perspective, it considers body, spirit, feeling, and thought. Everything that you experience or have ever experienced in your life goes into your mindset overall.
This input forms beliefs, ideals, prejudices, judgments, habits, and every other bit that goes into making you, you.
Most of these things take up residence in your subconscious. They are at the back of your mind, seldom noticed — but there.
Mindfulness exerts control over your headspace.
Let’s practice some mindfulness
Where are my feelings at?
Right now, I am feeling low. It’s a combination of frustration, anger, fear, and dread both for the present and the future. I know that some of this feeling is based entirely on consuming too much social media, reading about atrocities and injustice, and reconciling who I am, my privilege, and experience with that.
It’s a complex feeling I am experiencing here. I can name it, but to express it is a lot more challenging. It’s a sinking feeling in my chest, coupled with a sense of dull blankness behind my eyes. I feel like I am totally lacking in energy, but at the same time ever-so-slightly restless.
This is what I am feeling. It is how I am feeling, right here, in the present, in the now. This is my conscious headspace.
Where are my thoughts at?
What am I thinking? I am thinking about the work I need to do for my freelance job today. Giving thought to doing some fiction writing and editing. Thinking about how I can get the sales of my book and views of my blog posts to increase to earn me more money. Then, that coupled with guilt over the fact that I have the privilege of not having to worry about being beaten simply due to the color of my skin.
But this is more subconscious than conscious. Consciously, I am thinking about this. These words I am sharing. Expressing practicing my mindfulness with you. Getting ahold of my thoughts, redirecting them to places where they can serve me, rather than running away chewing on things I have little to no control over.
In the moment this is what I am thinking about.
What actions am I taking?
The action is putting the words here. Taking the time and energy to become aware in the now of what I am thinking as well as what and how I am feeling.
As I sit before you, sharing this while it occurs, it feels like the weight is shifting away. Why? Because by working to be conscious of my mindset and being mindful and aware of myself, I have come to see that a lot of the initial sense of dread and drawing a blank was a result of my subconscious doing the driving.
It doesn’t take long to practice mindfulness and regain control. Let me tell you — I already feel quite a bit better.
In the time it took you to read the above, I worked through practicing practical mindfulness. As such, I have already begun to feel clearer, better, and less weighted down. Now my thoughts are less clouded, and I have more desire to act on the things I need and want to do today.
This is a life-long process
This is not a one-time action. You practice mindfulness constantly. It’s a matter of stopping where you are at, in the now, to ask questions that make you conscious as you answer them.
· What am I thinking?
· How am I feeling?
· What am I feeling?
· What actions am I taking and what is the intent behind them?
All of these — and others like them — will make you aware in the here-and-now. That is consciousness.
Since they are always changing, this is going to be something you need to do regularly. It might be daily. It could be hourly. But the action of asking and answering these questions makes you mindful and more aware.
I would go days, weeks, probably even longer without practicing mindfulness. I just followed daily routines, allowed my head to get full of data that I could do nothing with or about, and lived subconsciously.
Sound familiar? Even if you practice mindfulness to a greater, lesser, or equal degree, you surely know people who don’t. They are sheeple, or otherwise seem to be constantly lost. They believe things that you can’t fathom anyone could believe. Passively or actively, they spew propaganda, opinion, and misinformation like they know.
Let’s admit to a painful truth:
We can do nothing for anyone else
Yes, I can help you move (or if we’re close, move a body). I can be a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, friend, confidant, co-conspirator, and many other helpful options. But anything I can do for you is wholly dependent on YOU.
I am not in your head. Your mindset is a mystery to me, for the most part. Just because you may grant me a peek inside doesn’t mean I am in your head. I’m not. Only you reside in there.
Thus, the only things I can do for you are what you allow me to do. My advice, ideas, philosophy, and anything else I can think of to share with you will have ZERO impact if you do not desire it, don’t care for it, or disagree with it.
This is why I can’t do anything for anyone else. I can hold the door open, but you have to decide to walk through it.
The one person over whom I can exert any real influence or control is me.
This is ongoing because I am always changing.
Change is constant
Mindfulness, positivity, conscious reality creation, and any other self-help, self-improvement, or similar notion is not a one-time thing. There is no single, one-shot way to be conscious in the moment and find or take control of your mindset/headspace/psyche.
Why? Because change is a constant.
Who I was in my 20’s is very different from who I was in my 30’s. Who I am now, in my 40’s is changed in many ways from who I was in my teens, 20’s, and 30’s.
Change can be fast or slow. Hell, sometimes it’s both. When I was 27 years old, a blink-and-you-miss-it accident changed my body forever. In my late 30s, I met a woman who, over the next ten years, changed my life experience from all about ME to WE. Both of these have an ongoing impact on who I am in different ways.
Change is unavoidable. Like it or not, it happens. Some are within your control, but a lot of it is not. However, that doesn’t make you powerless, either.
For those who are saying the current protests are serving no purpose — I beg to differ. All the cops involved in the atrocity of George Floyd’s death have been charged with varying degrees of murder. Multiple police forces’ unethical and irrational treatment of protestors and journalists are being exposed. Cities are considering changing the mandate of police departments and how they operate.
This will be an ongoing process. But change is coming, and the people have brought this on.
The protestors have found a purpose they believe in. They put themselves out there to stand up for the rights of the marginalized and abused. They choose to make their voice heard. I would bet they feel damned good about what they are doing.
You have all the power
Protestors are taking their own empowerment and sharing it. That’s why they put themselves out there to make a stand, make a statement, and strive to impact the world at large.
I can’t attend protests locally largely because of COVID-19 and my wife’s increased risk factor — but I am still making my contributions. I write about my stance, my support of Black Lives Matter, equal rights, and other support for social justice and being an ally for those most impacted by it all.
Yet it still feels like I can and should do more. I was drawing a blank also because I was thinking I do no good for the world at large by sharing these notions — plus feeling like I am not doing enough. But now, having finally put the words out here like this, I can see that I am doing my part and should continue to push at it.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
That is the action I am taking, and the direction I am working on shifting my thoughts and feelings towards. You might be able to relate to this.
Let’s do this. Keep at it. Be the best you that you can be. Practice mindfulness to be present in the here-and-now and make a difference. Whatever form that takes.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter, even on days when you are drawing a blank.