This will be my last post for a while. This blog has always been an experiment for me – what does it do to my brain to capture a new idea every single day? Can I say one thing every day I’m willing to stand behind? I wanted to find out the effect that could have.
My original thought was to continue this until October, for one year. However, through this experience I’ve realized the mental bandwidth used each day to create this post could be better applied in other ways. More specifically, it’s become clear that time spent looking for new ideas or converting thoughts to paper takes away from being present with my kids and my loved ones. They’re asking for help with homework, and I’m not fully engaged because a piece of me is still in my head, thinking of what to write. The deadline for tomorrow’s blog post has gotten in the way of paying attention to today’s experience.
This is a challenge I’ve struggled with my whole life – living in my head instead of in the world. Turns out the blog writing increases the time spent in my head, when what I want is more time with my head plugged into the world. Ironically, I believe I needed the experience of this blog to expose this understanding. So perhaps the blog has served it’s purpose.
For now though, I am shifting. I plan to use the non-blog time to re-calibrate and to practice. Practice staying tuned in to what’s happening here and now. This doesn’t sound difficult, and it isn’t difficult for many people, but it is for me. For me, the act of staying present requires practice and there are specific repetitions I can do to improve in this area. For example, when I get lost in thought, the first step is to notice this has happened. Meditation has helped profoundly. I am still a novice and more meditation will continue to help. I’m also learning I can ‘come back’ by simply paying attention to the inhale and exhale of my breath. Once that happens I find I’m able to open my awareness to sounds and sensations like heat or cold and emotions like frustration or contentment. After that, my awareness shifts and I can practice more listening, less thinking; more empathizing, more paying attention to the needs of others, less pondering in my head.
It is a two-step process that takes me out of my head and back into the present moment: 1) pay attention to Breath; 2) pay attention to Sensations/Emotions. This is the process I will be practicing with the extra mental bandwidth. With practice, I hope over time it will become automatic.
To those readers who have followed this blog the past several months, I thank you. You have been in my mind every day, and while I made an intention to write these blogs for my own benefit, I hope you found some ideas here that have been valuable to you. Pass them along! Ideas are like birthday cake – they are better when they are shared.
One last comment before I sign off. I started reading Man’s Search for Meaning, which I mentioned in a post about The Rule of Three. I’m about a third of the way through, and no conclusions yet, but I did find this striking quote:
“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
-Victor E. Frankl