This year, I’ve shared a little bit of my mindful journey with you. I’ve written about how often this journey has been less blissful, more uncomfortable. I’ve shared how the process has felt inauthentic when I’ve slid back into old habits: getting into my head, giving in to melancholy, and hanging on to longing. Those are three things I must hold at arm’s length because they’re not good for me. Today, though, I don’t want to talk about these little bumps in this mindful trek. Instead, I want to talk about how others play a role in our mindfulness.
Wait. What? Isn’t mindful living about connecting with oneself and tapping into our own superpower?
That’s what I thought, too, except when I realized this: Finding peace and intention in yourself doesn’t mean that the rest of the world is ready to recognize their superpower. . . or yours. In fact, mindfulness is so far from a solo journey that if we hold tightly to that idea we may be doing ourselves more harm than good.
Let me explain.
I love and adore all my people. I’m sure you feel the same. The people who are closest to you raise you up and go to the mat for you. Those are your people. Oh, did I mention your people are also humans? Yep, lovely, complicated beings who are products of their choices and other people’s assumptions, which means your people are flawed.
You are too.
Here’s the thing, though. If you’ve started living intentionally, you have some tools in your mindful tool belt to help you navigate our equally beautiful and ugly world. Your people may not have bought into the idea of wearing this belt. They may not think it’s not stylish, the wrong color. They may think it’s not available in their size. Heck, they might not even know such a thing exists.
Where does this leave you? Well, let’s talk about that.
Inside the Cocoon of Mindfulness
When I’m wrapped up tight in my little cocoon of mindful living, everything feels wonderful. I feel connected to a constant energy that makes sparks my creativity, keeps me in the moment, and pours compassion into my heart.
It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
Now let’s compare that cocoon to a warm blanket you curl up under on the coldest night of the year. What happens when the alarm goes off and you unwrap yourself from the warmth? Chances are you’re shocked by the chill; you need some time to adjust to your new reality. You could stay wrapped in the blanket all day, but how would you work, eat, or interact with others?
It would be difficult, right?
That’s kind of how the mindfulness cocoon works. We can’t live in our cocoon of mindfulness all day long. We are drawn out of it because as humans we must interact with each other, and that’s when our solo journey becomes a communal experience. This is when living a mindful life can be the most hurtful and confusing.
During this past year, I’ve spent a lot of time considering how my thoughts shape my experience. Although I haven’t always been successful, I’ve worked hard to react less, consider more, and think kinder thoughts about myself and others. Simultaneously, my people have unconsciously chosen to challenge me. At times, it’s felt like the Universe was laughing at me like I didn’t get the joke.
Oh, you think you have it figured out? Think again my tiny, imperfect humanoid.
This is where the struggle gets real and, if you’re new in your mindful journey, you’ll get what I’m putting down. How many times have you seen your people react to a situation in a way that doesn’t support intentional living? How many times has this left you feeling frustrated? You know the way and now it’s your turn to force your people to live this way to.
Wait. Not so fast. Chances are, if you start telling everyone how wrong they’re living, your people are going to kick you to curb. You’re going to come across as pretentious, self-absorbed, and a general pain-in-the-you-know what. I say this from experience because I’ve tried to impart my so-called wisdom on my parents, my husband, and a few friends here and there. It didn’t turn out well. And, you know what? All my well-intentioned guidance achieved was pushing me back into the arms of unintentional living because I became frustrated and angry.
How dare my people not live like me?
This my friends, is a caveat of mindful living. It’s a mindset that puts you at odds with your people and kryptonite to your superpower.
The Low Down
Unless you’re a hermit, you’re going to move to the same undulating beat of humanness as everyone else – good, bad, and indifferent – through any given day. You’ll be presented with other people’s reactions that don’t make sense to your new way of living. The point of this article is to say, it’s okay. It’s not your job to change another person. Your people have to discover their superpowers for themselves, otherwise their power isn’t as strong. It’s watered-down and meaningless.
So, what is your job? It’s so easy if you let it be. Your job is to walk alongside your people, acknowledging our journeys are personal even when intersection occurs. Our job is to be mindful that we are all motivated by different things. We are flawed humans and the only person we can “fix” is ourselves.
No one person can live in the cocoon of mindfulness. Even the caterpillar emerges eventually from her cocoon, and we know what happens next. When you’re drawn out of your cocoon, embrace your new form, fly among your people, and be patient as they find their way in their own time.
Namaste, my thought warriors!