Yes, it’s everywhere now, isn't it? Mindfulness. But it is much more than just a fad to those who have been developing a practice for years, and for others, like me, for whom it presents an opportunity.
It presents an opportunity to crystallise the lessons of a life time. My hope is that it will support me in my desire to continue to grow and develop as a mother, wife, friend, professional worker.
I see it as an extension to the self- improvement project which has also become my work. As a coach and consultant – just as it was when I worked as an educator-it is the quality of relationships you develop that determine the value that you can add to other people’s lives.
This is where I find purpose and meaning in life. If I want to be useful to others I also need to be useful to myself. Be self-nurturing, not self-limiting. This requires self-awareness and the ability to manage my moods and internal states.
I will be sharing this stage of my life journey throughout the year in my blog alongside the workshops I will be running at Charnwood House, Nottingham. My sharing will take the form of a number of life lessons based on my work and life experience.
Life lesson number one
The lesson I learnt in 2015, which will carry over for me into 2016 as the foundation of my practice in mindfulness, is importance of the power of listening, noticing, paying attention. Truly being present in the moment with another person or indeed with myself.
I have trained myself to listen attentively to a client. I notice whenever any intrusive thoughts or responses distract me from what is being said and let them go. I have consciously trained myself to let go of my own habitual judgements, automatic responses in order to really tune in.
As a result I can therefore trust the responses that are truly a reflection of what has been said to me and use them in service of the client. My clients appreciate this about me and often comment on how uncanny my summary is of what I have heard. They sometimes say it feels like I am a mind reader. I have become conscious though, that while I do this very well with clients, the faculty fails to kick in when talking or listening to my husband.
In fact quite the opposite- my judgemental voice kicks in, on auto pilot. Generally saying helpful things like:
Why does he always assume that he’s right?
Why does he never listen to me but always expects me to listen to him!
Why is he always making me feel got at by asking- “have you turned off the lights?”, “locked the door”, “turned on the alarm”, it’s not as if he always remembers to do…
It can get very noisy inside my head when we are talking and that can very often lead to a noisy exchange between us. He always ends up explaining, in deep emotion because he hates to see me upset, that he never meant to get at me. He never meant to suggest that he always gets it right. It does not help that we also work together – it can be very disruptive in both areas of life. Its become a vicious cycle.
So… in pursuit of better work-life balance I am going to try applying some of my professional techniques to my relationship with my spouse.
My guide will be the book, ‘Mindfulness, a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world’, by Mark Williams and Danny Penny.
In my next blog I will let you know how it’s going!