So, it has been 2 weeks since I have started on this 1-year journey of mindfulness. The 2nd week was much better than the first week. In the first week update, I went through the different areas where I am trying to cultivate the habit of mindfulness. This week, I want to change the format a little bit to look at it from another perspective: the perspective of time as the days provide us a beautiful constant rhythm to take a look at whether there is a rhythm to the habits that we are trying to build into the day.
Here we go, starting last Friday (the day I posted the last week update):
Friday: I kicked off Friday by writing the progress update post for the first week and it took way longer than I expected. Even before I finished, I felt the stress level inside me rising high. I realized that it was the voice of the Judge that is causing this feeling and I tried to do PQ reps. However, the discomfort in the heart was there for the rest of the day as I was trying to catch up on items to finish during the day.
Now that I am trying to be mindful of the various emotions, I realize that this feeling of guilt is quite common in my life – I tend to set tight timelines and ambitious goals for myself and that requires machine-like discipline. The moment I slip on anything, whether it is due to my fault or due to factors beyond my control, I feel bad inside. If a planned task takes longer than expected, even if the longer time on the task was well-justified, I feel the stress inside.
If there is an enemy No.1 that affects my equanimity and tranquility, it is this self-critical voice that we now a convenient label for – Judge. As Shirzad Chamine says in his book, the Judge voice is very strong for most high-performers as they think that without that voice, they won’t reach their potential and would just slip up. He was spot-on. However, thanks to my sessions with my Acupuncture teacher, I realized that there is a Sage way to handle everything – a calm and composed way to handle anything, even if it is a crisis.
In effect, Friday was tough and I had to keep reminding myself to do PQ reps and to consciously calm down. But the PQ reps were hard to do, especially when there was a lot of emotion inside me.
Saturday: There is a saying that there is calmness after the storm. Whenever life throws at you any difficulty, often there is respite and even joy following it. Saturday was the best day in the week for me. From the morning, my mood was upbeat and I spent quite a bit of time in mindfulness and peace.
I want to share one specific routine that brings so much joy to me and to my kids whenever we do it – When we were living in Geneva, during the weekends, we used to go the lake in the city center to see swans. One day, we saw some people feeding them breads. We liked the idea and we started it casually one day. But it was so joyful for all of us that we kept up the routine even in freezy winters.
Now that we have come back to India, there is no lake and there is no swan 🙂 – However, a few weeks back, I saw someone feeding biscuits to the crows near the beach and the light bulb went on in my head. So, I bought some biscuits and took my kids to feed the crows – what a joy! I never thought that crows were such an active and intelligent creation. They were trying to catch the biscuits in air before they landed on the ground and it is such a joy to see hundreds of them around you, waiting for the little biscuits. Sometimes, we even had some dogs join the party. I am filled with such a sense of peace and joy whenever we do this. I was and am still reminded of how wonderful every creation is, even the crow that I have never paid much attention to.
Sunday: My acupuncture teacher invited me to join the class for the next batch and to interact with the new batch of students. I don’t know how – but somehow some persons are gifted with so much mindfulness that you feel calmness in their presence – my teacher is one such person. May God preserve and increase the calmness and goodness in him and help him to use his gifts to benefit people around him. My teacher spent sometime with us privately reflecting on some of the key principles of living – each time I listen to these principles, I feel as if I am listening to them for the first time.
There is a great principle called the 2 percentage rule – It is one of the 10 daily habits that I am keeping track of. It bring me so much peace each time I reflect on this great principle – when anything heats me up and makes me lose my calmness, it is because I forget this principle. I want to write a separate post on this when I find time.
Monday – Friday: One of my other teacher often says this – when you are given knowledge, expect to be tested and don’t expect the test to be easy. Monday was the starting of the week in terms of this testing to see how much mindful I can be and the week ended with me experiencing a non-stop 24+ hours day after a very long time.
Normally, I have a routine to my day – there are days that I work from my office and there are days that I visit my clients and the routines are a little bit different. If I am visiting client, I tend to go early so that I could avoid the traffic. But on Monday, I had to do a few things before I started for visiting my clients and that took way longer than expected. And I hit the road at its peak traffic and it was almost mid-day when I reached the client office. But the good thing that I was aware of the Judge in my head (as I was feeling the frustration of getting locked up in traffic and feeling very tired as I was standing in the heat in my 2-wheeler). So, this mindfulness habit was helpful definitely acting as the umbrella between the external heat and the internal heat (or the external events and the internal interpretation of those events) 🙂
I had a hard deadline to meet on Friday – whenever such deadlines come up, they also bring a few other friends. I had 2 other events which also had hard deadlines in the coming weeks. So, I need to take care of them so that they do not become urgencies in the coming weeks. That took away most of the time in the week. So, on Thursday, when I started on the task that I need to finish my Friday, I was in so much stress that it was paralyzing me from action. This feeling is quite rare for me. I tried to do PQ reps to calm me and focus on the action. On Thursday, I found the PQ gym resource on the PositiveIntelligence.com site and it was quite helpful.
One of the things that I have learnt is this: When you have many things to do and the heart is racing under the pressure, it is best to do the ones that you want to avoid first- this is what author Brian Tracy calls ‘Eat the Frog’ and what Stephen Covey calls the ‘First things First’. On Friday, the power of routines and focusing on the First Things First along with remembering the 2 percent rule helped me to make a lot of progress in a very stressful situation. As I finished my day at 330 AM on Saturday morning, there was not even one bit of stress in my mind or no fatigue in my body – Thank God for giving me a tough test and equipping me with all the resources/support to help me get through it.
It has been 3 years, if my memory is right, since I have worked late night like this – there was a time in my life (2005-2010) when it was a normal occurrence to work late nights (and sometimes well into the next day morning) to meet the so-called deadlines. Since I did it after a long time, I could see the effects of messing up with sleep so clearly. On Saturday morning, I could feel a few things:
- I could feel the heat in my body was very high – I could catch up only about 1 – 2 hours of sleep. Sleep disturbance leads to increased heat in the body which leads to a lot of issues, the primary one being its effect on the digestive system. I took a very long and very mindful bath but just after an hour of the bath, I could see the body heat build up again.
- I could see that my mind was a lot more negative with no apparent reason and I could be very easily provoked to anger. It was almost as if I was waiting for some event to burst out. I told my kids the feeling I observed in myself so that they were aware of the ill-effects of a losing sleep. Now, I understand why kids misbehave when they don’t sleep properly.
- I tried to eat very lightly, but I still felt the acidity in my stomache. For a very long time, I had trouble with acidity which used to drive me to so many doctors and so much medicine for many years – but never did I relate it to late-night-working habit then and no one even told me. Now, that this feeling is coming after many years, I realized that this was a very familiar feeling that I have not had in years – I am so grateful that I have been guided to change my routines to sleep early and wake up early and to feel calm, fresh and positive. I pray to God that this wisdom is given to my friends and family who do not realize the havoc they are causing on their body and mind with late night sleeping, which is considered cool these days:).
In summary, a great week. I did not find the time to even touch the book. But I was doing PQ reps throughout the week, sometimes, even beyond the 100 reps. I am starting to see the effect on my prayer as I had some of the most mindful prayers this week, despite the storm outside.
This update is 2 days late as I had to catch up on sleep and I wanted to return to a positive mindset and a sense of calmness when I write this. See you again next week and all the best with practising mindfulness!