I love reading about mindfulness, probably more than I love practicing mindfulness. Even though mindfulness is intended to emphasize noticing without judgment, I often just judge my lack of noticing. Or even judge what I’m noticing. This is not mindfulness. So, I decided to spend today noticing all I could and intentionally attempting to enjoy mindfulness inspired by even awkward encounters. Here we go…
8:30 am – In a moment of indecisive driving, I ended up horizontal in some vertically-oriented traffic. This brought some impassioned gestures my way. Traffic wasn’t moving so I had a good 45 seconds of eye contact with two of these drivers (who did not seem to be practicing mindfulness). I noticed their faces, their hands (and fingers), and their horns. I am pretty sure they had come to some judgments about me. I waved and mouthed some words explaining my day’s goal of embracing uncomfortable moments. I’m not sure if I won them over, but one did seem interested.
11:15 am - When in a professional meeting with a lovely human, we got to a moment where a difficult and unfair conversation was being vulnerably shared. I, in response, compared the situation to a certain kind of fart. As I was saying the words, regret almost an appearance. However, I notice her reaction (over my own embarrassment) and now see that she is laughing. I then start to laugh. Metaphors (even digestive ones) just work.
2 pm – I’m in a hurry, but I needed to pick up my glasses. When running into the office, I quickly opened the bathroom door outside the eye doctor so that I can get rid of my gum. Aiming at the trash can, I missed by quite a lot. The gum sticks to the floor between the toilet and the wall. I freak out a bit. While trying to solve the problem creatively, someone walks in (because there had been no need to lock the door as spitting out gum takes an average adult 3 seconds). So I explain to the startled man that I had a gum incident that I needed to rectify, but it’s ok because I’m practicing mindfulness. He decided he didn’t need to use the bathroom. I understand his instinct and move forward with my plan.
It’s nice to try and catch moments of mindfulness in sweet or tender or heartfelt situations. However, mindfulness allows for any moment to be treated as important. My awkwardness has something to offer me. Today, I feel entertained by parts of me that usually lead to mild self-loathing. Some of self-acceptance led to immediate relational payoff. Some did not. Still, I notice.
Reflections on lessons learned from being a therapist and adoptive dad.