Week #1– Mindfulness… I’ve been doing this all wrong!

I’ve practiced mindful living before… how hard could this be?

Boy, could I not have been more wrong! In the beginning, I had imagined this week’s challenge panning out so differently than it did in reality– but I guess reality has a habit of doing that to our visions now doesn’t it?

For this week’s challenge, I attempted to cultivate inspiration through mindful living. Attempt would be a good word to describe it! Not to be hard on myself but really… what ended up happening was anything but what I had planned. What I had expected was mornings eased into through yoga and meditation, getting outside and getting in touch with and my inner dialogue while trying to make it more… eh… should I say, forgiving? (There’s a special word to describe how she usually talks to me, but I’ll save your eyes this time.)

What I did realize– however backwards and unorthodox the journey it took– really did open my mind to how I can nurture a more mindful practice in my day to to life from this point forward.

Try leaning into the discomfort instead of denying it the validity it holds in your life

“Try leaning into the discomfort instead of denying it the validity it holds in your life” my grandmother suggested from across the diner booth table. I took a moment to munch on my hash-browns and paused to truly process what she had said. It was simple, just like she had mentioned… something we all latently knew inside, we just need to hear it phrased the right way or be reminded of every now and again for it to hit us. But man did it hit me then.

Every day I was waking up trying to find a schedule that would distract me from my worries and anxieties. When I was stressed, I would leave the house and go for a walk or do a short meditation where I stopped thoughts if I heard them coming to me or go to the gym to exercise my body so I stopped focusing on my mind. And yet, whenever those activities were finished, there were my anxieties… sitting there– waiting for me. Never once did it occur to me to listen to them… to give them the time of day and acknowledge that they did hold some validity. (Even my insecurities and insecure… sheesh talk about needy!)

But really! Our anxieties, even when blown out of proportion, usually do hold a grain of truth and reasoning behind them. Take mine for example:

  1. Continuing my education– “You’ll have to go back for at least four years… and that means dealing with four years worth of American college bills and debt” (valid) “You’ve already spent three years pursuing art and now you’re switching to a different field of study? Takes a lot of time. (valid) “Oh my GOD! I’m gonna be poor and overworked until I’m forty and it’ll probably take that long to even enter my field of study! (… ok now, slow down there mind… not really valid)
  2. Getting a new job– “I have these dates I requested off at my old job… but now I have to tell my new boss I can’t be there all these days after just starting!? (valid… though my future boss is a human being who understands having a life)
  3. Balancing art commissions– (no wait… all invalid. Completely invalid. Nothing but over-perfectionism and unnecessary worry)

So really… how much is there to worry about? Way less than our minds trick us into thinking there is! And doing mindful practices the way I did this week is like having all the right shiny new tools but not having a clue in the world how to use them.

From now on, I want to live walking hand in hand with my emotions.

From now on, I want to live walking hand in hand with my emotions… to take little moments to identify what I’m feeling, acknowledge the good and the bad, and allow them to take the space they deserve– not the space my previous ways have allowed them to hold.

Although finding inner peace was a bust, I’d say this “failure” has taught me more than I could’ve asked for. With my eyes opened I’ll walk toward a brand new week.

See you next time

~Fioza

 

Expand your World

My teacher once told me…

“you can never judge a piece of art without first participating in it.”

At first I must admit, I was confused. To participate in art? What does she mean? I’ve heard of some pretty crazy “participation art” pieces in my art school days but I hardly believed that was what she was encouraging for class… (look it up, crazy stuff! I won’t even mention the details here)

She went on to show us this piece

picasso-guernica-full

(Guernica by Pablo Picasso)

Being a student of art, I do love myself some modern pieces and have a more than slight obsession with the Vienna Secession… so I loved it immediately. Though the majority of my classmates said they’d never want this on their wall.

The participation process she described to us can be applied not only to art… but to life in general

It goes: Participation- Analysis- Perception- Appreciation (Papa!)

  1. First, we instinctively judge the piece– With anything in life we do this… people, places, cultures etc. And it is killing our creativity and the wholesomeness of our lives.
  2. We must CHALLENGE our subjective opinion. Research whatever it is you’re judging. If we stay uncultured to things unfamiliar to us… we can never learn the perspective they have to offer. 

As human beings we naturally crave comfort, but for growth and opening to happen we must step outside of our comfort zones. It is only there that we will broaden our perspective.

3. Once we’ve done a little research into where that person is coming from, we will add our own perception. Just like a piece of art, every one of us will judge an experience differently due to their our past experiences.

4. Now that we have sat with that experience we can revisit it and truly know how we feel. We can find comfort in the fact that we tried. It’s ok if you don’t like that piece of art, don’t agree with parts of that religion, or don’t enjoy that individual’s personality. You’ve honestly looked at the inside of that experience and not judged it for lack of better words…by its cover.

Keeping an open mind is important to anyone, but I as a writer find it extremely important to my trade.

How can I write about a woman who lives in Turkey, if I don’t know what daily life in Turkey is like?

Jumping out of our comfort zones can help enrich ourselves and our stories, bringing a new substantive feeling we can no longer return from once we’ve triggered it. So here’s my challenge to you…

If you’re writing the story of someone struggling with depression… open yourself up to your own sadness and feel it with them. If you’re writing about someone leading a revolution… research revolutions of the past and understand the struggles they will face in their everyday lives.

Go out and live life… grip it in your hands… feel it! As one of my favorite writers once said:

 

“…I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…”

~Henry David Thoreau