Being mindful still does not come naturally. While we can all recite the reasons why we should treat ourselves more as though they were nursery rhymes, it still feels like a strange practice. We need our regular reminders to force it into a habit; into a way of life.
For me, embarking on a grand worldwide trip to go “find myself” was a huge step in putting mindfulness first. Rather than staying complacent in the comfort of the ordinary, I threw myself off the deep end to try and pursue a life I designed. But it wasn’t easy.
I was confronted with the sudden responsibility of having ownership of my own life. I had so much free time during the day to finally focus on me but I couldn’t help but feel guilty for being so self-serving. It felt like I was just another millennial taking the easy way out; unable to hack it in full-time work and wanting to live carefreely but foolishly.
It’s taken me a while to accept this as my new reality. With a little help, I’m slowly adjusting to this new way of making decisions based on what I really want and not what I think I should want. I’m starting to put mindfulness into practice – from what I decide to do each day to what I decide to eat – and be ok with the decisions I make.
It was all starting to feel like a new normal… until my mother came to visit.
Don’t get me wrong – it was very exciting to be able to see my mother after so long and go on this mini adventure in Europe with her. I wanted her to see this life that I was building in the hope that she might worry less and maybe even come to understand it.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the anxiety that came rushing back to me. All the choices I had to make had to take into account not only myself but another person, with needs and wants quite different to mine. I could no longer be going with the flow. I had to plan, take control. The crippling fear of the responsibility left me shellshock.
Moreover, I couldn’t help but feel the creeping guilt return. Did I really just take this time to be selfish and travel the world on a whim? In considering my mother’s daily tiredness or hunger, I was also aware of the constant worry and concern she held over my entire trip.
As much as I wanted to believe I was doing this whole trip for me, I realised none of my actions ever exist in a vacuum.
Leaving my home in Australia, I also left my community of friends and family. More immediately, my actions also had an impact on the people, cultures, and environments that I was visiting. Yes, I was taking responsibility for my own life and happiness, but this did not come at the expense of the happiness of others.
And yet, that’s the crux of mindfulness. Mindfulness isn’t just about putting oneself at the centre of the universe with absolute disregard of the factors around us.
Rather, being mindful is just a way of understanding oneself and our place amongst others.
It’s gaining the understanding that external factors – the amount we rest, our working environment, the food we eat – has a real effect on us. It’s about learning the tools to mitigate these impacts and ensure that they do not limit our potential.
We take the time to be introspective so that we may know ourselves better and what that means to the people around us. It’s how we become more empathetic, more compassionate, able to make someone else feel a little less alone in this tumultuous journey of being mindful
We are mindful so that we may know and love ourselves so that we can better know and love others.
I’m Tiff and I’m passionate about empowering people to tell their stories in meaningful and creative ways. Nine months ago, I quit my corporate job in Sydney, Australia to travel and pursue my own projects. Now, slow-travelling through Europe, I can’t imagine going back. As a writer, I love being able to share my stories and struggles with the emerging digital nomad community. I haven’t got it all figured out and constantly feel like I’m flying blind, but I’m excited to be giving myself the space to do so. You can find out more here.
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