The Messiness of Mindfulness
How to Embrace an Imperfect Mindful Journey.
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.” ~Pema Chodron
Living a mindful life is beautiful. . .
It’s a life that unchains you from your deepest fears and gives you a steady, reassuring platform to stand on when obstacles are tossed on your path. As wonderful as mindfulness can be, make no mistake. Mindfulness takes work.
It’s easy to be seduced by the bliss and wonder that is part of a living a purposeful life. A life where you find peacefulness and clarity through meditation and quiet contemplation. Who wouldn’t want to have the superpower of mindfulness?
So, why aren’t more people navigating life in a state of joy and contentment?
Because learning to live mindfully is hard.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some people who have a natural proclivity for self-care and seeking joy from within. People who find it easier to reach the freedom that the mindful journey offers.
And, then, there are people like me.
Pushing Past a Cursed Life
Mindfulness has been a journey that has often felt disjointed and sometimes inauthentic because I was raised (like most people) to see the world through pessimistic glasses. To be a victim of circumstance, bad timing, and bad luck. My dad used to insist that everyone in our little family of four was afflicted by the “Punches Curse.” He believed that the world was never on our side and, if something bad was going to happen, it would happen to one of us. Because of this belief, my brother and I were also unintentionally taught to not take responsibility for our situation in life. Our lives were not really our own. So why should we try to fight the “curse?”
My mindful journey started from a place of tiredness and constant negativity. I was exhausted from always feeling like a failure. I was struggling with self-doubt and feeling detached from everyone and everything around me. Maybe it was depression. Perhaps it was the realization that life was moving full speed ahead and I didn’t have a clear direction of where I was headed. Not only didn’t I know where I was headed, but no one seemed willing to provide me with a map or any help to get somewhere. Anywhere. They were either just as lost as I was or busy on a path that wasn’t open to me. That’s when I knew I had to look inward for the answers.
At first it was easy. I began a regular yoga practice. I practiced positive thinking. I stopped blaming others for my bad days. I was rocking this mindful journey and it wasn’t as hard as I imagined it would be.
Then life got real. Real hard.
About six months after I started living more mindfully, my mom experienced a traumatic brain injury. My dad, who relied on my mother for everything, seemed completely unable to manage something as simple as finding stamps to put on a bill. My brother sunk deeper and deeper into his addiction to alcohol and his depression held him prisoner. Instead of taking these challenges in stride, I lost my temper frequently. My body and mind were ill from stress and uncertainty. Almost immediately the world felt heavy, dark, and hopeless once again.
Mindfulness was supposed to be my superpower. It was supposed to make me immune from feeling overwhelmed, angry, bitter, and completely out of control of my life. In these early days, I felt the “curse” laughing in my face. Reminding me that I was at its mercy.
Don’t Buy the Lies
I almost bought it. I came close to walking away from the progress I made because what was the point? Mindful living wasn’t working.
Or, was it?
All of you reading this piece are at different points in your own mindful journey. Some of you are at the beginning where the possibilities are endless and you can’t wait for your superpower to emerge. There are some of you who have pushed past those slippery switchbacks that threatened to knock you off course and toss you back to the place where you started. I suspect, though, that many of you are in the middle of your journeys just like me.
The middle is the messiest part.
You’ve earned your superpowers, but aren’t quite sure how to use them. Some days you feel contentment and confident that the Universe is looking out for you. That you’re looking out for yourself. You’re getting out of your own way and not letting negative thoughts control your choices. Other days, you feel defeated. You feel like an imposter who is just pretending to lead a purposeful, mindful life. You feel like a fraud.
You, my friends, are not frauds. You are beautiful humans who are learning how to live a life that isn’t common because it’s not always easy.
Mindfulness requires constant adjustment. It requires flexibility, patience, and a good deal of self-love.
We are human.
We hurt. We get angry.
We give love. We share kindness.
Sometimes others give us love and kindness in return. Sometimes they take it away.
What can’t be taken away is the connection to our souls and to our minds. Living a mindful life isn’t a perfectly filtered Instagram post. It can be messy. It can feel chaotic as you make modifications to your thought patterns. You’ll have good days and bad days. Whatever you do, please don’t let the messiness deter you from your goal to live a peaceful life. Embrace the messy, rejoice in the triumphs, and most of all remember that a mindful life isn’t a destination. It’s an evolving journey with no true end.
Namaste, my friends! Go forth and live a full, happy life on your terms.
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Piper Punches is an author of fiction and truth, tackling topics on social justice, mindful living, creativity, and the writing life. She is the Amazon bestselling author of The Waiting Room, and the short story, Missing Girl. Her newest book, 60 Days (Missing Girl Series — Book 1) is currently available at Amazon. For a limited time, readers can sign up to get a free copy of Missing Girl here.
Originally published at pursuitofmindfulness.com on May 19, 2017.