Mindfulness Matters

GPS has become part of our lives. We find it in our cars, our phones, and even in watches (I got one as a gift over the holidays). In any moment, we can know where we are and also communicate that information to others. GPS can be helpful for getting to a destination and lends itself as a metaphor for guiding a journey.

G. P. S. is also an acronym for a series of steps that you can take to help insure the success of your journey. These are: “Get some rest; Persist in what you are doing; Start again tomorrow (or in the next moment).”

Get some rest refers to the obvious need for adequate sleep. It also refers to resting from our ceaseless to do lists to enjoy this moment or to play. It means getting out of our heads from time to time to appreciate life as it is unfolding within and without. Resting may also require unplugging from our technologies (even the GPS!).

Relative to other cultures, I think we do a poor job at recognizing the need for rest. We put in longer hours at work, we work on vacation, and we eat on the run. Our weekends are spent catching up on laundry and fighting crowds at the super market. We are collectively drained by this lack of repose.

Persist in what you are doing is an antidote to the discouragement that can arise when you don’t get enough rest. The entirety of that to-do list can feel daunting when you look at it through tired eyes. At these times, it is best to keep your focus on the narrow band in front of  you and leave off considerations of the big picture. Don’t worry how much you haven’t accomplished, with some rest, you will begin again tomorrow (or in the next moment after the rest).

Start again tomorrow (or in the next moment) is the rhythm of our lives. Starting again is both metaphor and actual. We are always starting again in the next moment when we breathe. We have to let go of the past (the CO2) in our lungs to greet the new (the O2). With sufficient rest and a commitment to persist, we can always start again tomorrow. We give ourselves a vote of confidence that our energy will renew and that the time spent “doing nothing” (aka not grinding on your to-do list) will pay dividends.

I recently moved after being in one place for over sixteen years. Moving is always a stressful event no matter how organized you are. There is always too much stuff even after two dumpster’s full of junk and several trips to Good Will (our relationship to material may be a topic for another entry). Moving in winter in Northern Vermont adds to that stress.

All went well with the move and much energy went into setting up the new home. Sleep was elusive and I had a few nights of early morning awakening. It’s cold and very quiet at 3, 4, and 5 AM, times of the morning that I became well acquainted with. By Sunday, I was just done. I didn’t have the energy to power through my to do list and I decided to cut myself some slack. I watched some football and cooked dinner (an activity that is rest for me because it feels like play).

My energy was restored on Monday morning and I resumed work on my to-do list or as I prefer to call it, my GOIL (get-on-it-list). The acronym of GPS came to me just after my morning meditation, which is also key to restfulness. Mindfulness meditation practice is a practice of resting into this moment with little in the way of an agenda and a relinquishment of the internal dialogues generated by the default mode network of our brains.

Think about your GPS and where you can introduce rest into your life and how this may help you to persist and refresh your energies in all that you want to do in your life.