My experience of listening to self has changed a lot in the last four weeks. It’s gone from something I was actively ignoring, to something I’m taking a few seconds to listen to every so often. Just checking in to make sure that I’m doing things because I want to do them, and not because I’m trying to block out some other experience or emotion. Sometimes it feels a bit like I’m listening to a crying baby, in that there are a hundred different things that could be wrong and I have to go through all of them to work out exactly what needs to change so that the crying stops.
I still haven’t worked out a routine that involves setting regular time aside specifically to check in with myself, and I’m not sure that I’ll ever fit something like that in on a daily basis. Even half an hour feels like a precious amount of time that I could be using differently. I think that’s a big part of it though; recognising that I want to fill my time with things I am actively enjoying and making space specifically for those things.
Mindfulness has affected the way I exercise as well. I’ve been working out regularly for about six years now, and there was an infamous incident a while ago where I went to the gym to lift heavy weights whilst boasting a forty-degree fever I dismissed as ‘just a cold’ (something I would absolutely never do post-pandemic). But over the last two weeks I’ve recognised when a form of exercise isn’t working for me. I’ve taken weight off of a barbell because I felt sluggish that morning, gone for a walk instead of a run, or just said no to a work out all together because I didn’t feel like it that day. That was totally unthinkable to me even a few months ago. There’s still a little pang of guilt every time I don’t exercise for a day, but I remind myself that it’s not laziness, I’m trying my best to listen to what my body wants.
I think working with The Heart Movement has clarified that mindfulness isn’t just about setting aside time to tune into your body.
As much as I enjoy meditation in the early morning, I think working with The Heart Movement has clarified that mindfulness isn’t just about setting aside time to tune into your body. To me, it’s been more about listening to my instinct when it says ‘that’s too much’ or ‘you’re hungry’ or ‘you’re not enjoying this’ and honouring those signals when I hear them.
This is part 9 of a series entitled ‘A Sceptic’s guide to entering the World of Mindfulness’.