A simple learning I have is that without action, without practice, without trying to apply something, we don't learn. This is obvious. It is something which I have applied in many contexts. It is also something I have not applied in many contexts, especially in uncomfortable ones.
Being mindful, in today's day and age with short attention spans and distractions seems important to me. Over the past few years, I've tried to chip away at this and have succeeded in a few places, and I truly realised the obvious only in the past few months - I can apply those methods to other aspects where I am uncomfortable.
So, how have I gone about trying to be in the moment? Sounds like a simple thing to do but honestly, this fitness thing was easier.
I started by trying to see where I was successful in doing these, and seeing if I could learn from there.
Places where I am successful in being mindful, and both of them are related to fitness (obviously).
- when I train. I realised this is a strength of mine. I've always been rather focused and mindful when training. I like being analytical and breaking things down. It gives me something to focus on, and some days, I hit a higher plane where I am in a flow-state too i.e. I do all the things I want to do but without thinking about it. Most days though, I am just focused. It helps me stay in the moment and not think about what I am doing next, or what the work is for the day.
- when I work on my OS resets. This is my favourite place because I hit the flow-state more often than not. The mind is relaxed, the body is relaxed and I learn to listen to my body better and better.
And places where I am trying to do it.
- when I practice pranayama. By having the focus on the breath, it is built for mindfulness but funnily, I find it rather hard. There are good days and bad days, but the good days are glorious.
- when I am in-between things. Instead of picking up my phone - whether it is scouring football news sites or answering emails, I am trying to just sit and spend a few minutes doing nothing. Honestly, this is the hardest thing to do.
- when I am writing on my blog.
- when I am listening.
What I've realised is that it is not about being relaxed in the body but being relaxed in the mind. When I am strength training, I cannot be relaxed in the body. But I need to find a balance between thinking and not-thinking. Too much thinking has been my curse and I have gotten better at thinking just enough when my mind wanders and getting out of the way as well. Breathing drills are the simplest focus tool, if you think about it, because you focus on just one thing - the breath.
Previously, I thought I needed to be completely relaxed. But understanding concentration vs relaxation, tension vs relaxation, thought vs non-thought - it is confusing. So, I just pick up from places where I have gotten it reasonably right and I am trying to explore and extrapolate in new contexts.
Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.
- Bruce Lee
I am still unsure but it is easier to learn by action, than by reading other people's experiences and asking 100s of questions. I am still unpacking what a seemingly simple statement one of my students made about washing the dishes. I have a long way to go but the fun part is, I am on the journey and making forward progress.
I think this post reflects my confusion in this as well. But hopefully, I will have a lot more clarity in a few months as I understand by doing.