Being Mindful Like a Solider

A mindfulness lesson.

I write about mindfulness. I practice mindfulness meditation. I run programs about developing mindfulness. I help people to create more peace and calm in their lives and away from the stress and chaos that they live in everyday. Surprisingly, one of my biggest examples of mindful living is my own husband. My husband who thinks logically, strategically, and black/white taught me how to be mindful. My husband is a solider.

My counselor once told me that our brains are like a filing cabinet. Men get one file out at a time and work on it and put it back before getting out another one. Women will take out multiple files and have them all open and spread out. Then put one file back and bring out more and more repeating the process over and over again. The way my brain works makes it difficult to be mindful and present in my life. I complain about being stressed and it’s my own messy file cabinet. Guess who hardly complains about stress? My husband. He has been deployed 5 times. And he doesn’t complain about stress even though he has lived in it for months at a time. He would say that he has a higher tolerance. That may be true, but I think he lives in the present and creates a mindful stillness for himself.

My husband is a good example of being a mindful person, he is really good at being present and knows what he needs and wants. And he takes it. He takes what he needs or what he wants for himself without question and without guilt. Simply put, he is just taking care of himself. I don’t even think that he realizes that he does this. This is harder for me. I have to plan that time for myself or I just happened to come upon that time as a fluke and then later realize how long it’s been since I have taken that time for myself. I also realize that I waste my mindful downtime. I waste it by “doing things”.

My husband is more tuned in to his needs then I am. And because of this, he has a heightened awareness for himself, his surroundings, and he is even more aware of my needs. I often don’t take the time to meet my needs through unstructured downtime because of guilt, worry, or stress. I have to deal with all those “files” that I have taken out of my “brain cabinet”.

I recognized that I needed to take a mindfulness lesson from my husband, when he took off a day from work. I found myself upset at him for taking that day off. I was upset because he was staying home and simply just taking care of himself all day instead of multitasking the to do list at the house. I was literally was mad at him for 3 days. Of course, he didn’t understand why I was mad and he just told me to take a day off if I needed one. I came up with a litany of reasons why I couldn’t…and then I realized he was right. I can’t be mad at him for being mindful of his needs. He just did what he knew he needed to do for himself. And he didn’t apologize for it either. So once I figured that out, and apologized to him, I decided that I was going to start doing the same.

Over the next month I started to pay attention more to my emotional wellness, daily tasks, and my physical well-being. And since then I have taken off two personal days of work. Yes it has felt uncomfortable. And it is been hard to be still in my own silence. It was strange to not be working on five things at once. It was difficult to avoid my to do list. But if I pretended to be like my husband, I found myself being more mindful of my downtime. I recognized in my downtime that I rarely take, that I don’t use it wisely. I noticed that it is in the silence that I find my voice. The stillness that soothes me. This is the time I use to help ground me again. And now I don’t feel like I have to escape somewhere, I can just return to the stillness.

I know that my husband has to be ultra focused at times and with a heightened sense of awareness. Some may call that being mindful. But somehow he’s managed the balancing act of focusing and awareness at the same time. Maybe I need a little military training myself.

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