What do I mean when I say Mindful Living? Well, by breaking an old rule of defining words, it is as simple as saying “It is living, mindfully.”
Living: In the sense of our linear existence, proceeding from one moment to the next as we all must do, unable to go back to our “past” or proceeding forward beyond into our “future.” It is the constant state of existing.
Mindful: Being conscious of each moment, absorbing the information, the sensations, the feelings, sights, sounds, and smells of every snapshot that is our life. To consider these moments, to reflect on these moments, and to move forward on the lessons learned from each moment.
Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “Why am I here?” “Why am I, I?”
Easily some of the simplest yet most profound questions any human being has ever thought up. There is no right or wrong answer, and any answer you could conceive can only be subjective to you the individual.
This leads us to a quick hop over to Homer’s Odyssey, in which Odysseus enters for a moment into Hades and witnesses several iconic legends of Greek myth exercising futile tasks in death as penance for actions in life.
One of my favorites, Sisyphus (I actually named my stair running routine after Sisyphus!) was a deceitful king who’s punishment was to forever push a boulder up a hill, only to have it tumble back down to the bottom before reaching the top.
When I consider living my life, or any adventure, or task I may undertake, If I do not do it with purpose, If I do not understand it, If I draw no life lessons from it and find myself repeating past mistakes, I equate it to a Sisyphean endeavor in the sense of, I am accomplishing nothing other than repeating, just like a skipping record.
I try to apply this philosophy to every aspect of my life.
In the gym: Why am I pushing my body to these limits? What is the response my body will have to this stimulus? What can I learn from each motion? Could my form be better? Am I centered? Am I focused?
There are no wrong or right answers here, just my own interpretation. However, with my own consideration and interpretation, I assign meaning to this activity that some may see as nothing more than the repetition of a task. Like observing the tip of the iceberg poking up above the water’s surface, unless you understand what’s underneath, all you’ll see is a small portion.
While eating: How does this food taste? Do I enjoy it? What could make it better? How much do I need? Am I actually hungry? What is the nutrition factor of my meal?
Perhaps you never even imagined that food could draw such insight and inward thinking. But I tell you friends, mindless eating can be detrimental to weight loss goals and nutritious fulfillment. I used to be a huge (pun intended) offender of mindless eating. Grabbing a bag of chips or a plate with 3 – 4 portions on it, sitting down in front of the TV, or video game, and just going to town without considering it at all. Before I knew it, the bag of chips I just opened was gone, the plate of food, annihilated, and in its place a continuing hunger that my brain had not registered.
Upon waking up: What can today bring? What am I going to accomplish today? How can I bring meaning to today that will be significant to myself?
Day to day life can be very monotonous for many of us. We get up, we go to work, we come home, we unwind, we go to sleep, and then we do it all over again typically 5 days a week. To me, this machine like behavior makes me feel confined and trapped, like a cog in a machine that can only turn one direction and perform its duty until one day it breaks and is replaced by a newer cog. Yet, it is not always conceivable or probable to abandon this “way of life” that has become the status quo for our society and us as evolving human beings. Society to function needs all of us to perform our “jobs” and to play by the rules. This can seem kind of depressing if it consumes your very being, at least to me!
So what if … the cog found meaning and purpose in its function? What if the cog discovered it wasn’t really a cog, but a spring, and needed to move somewhere else in the machine to fulfill its own life and purpose?
Here, we enter into some of the fabric of living mindfully and creating our own meaning rather than finding meaning and living vicariously through others in a simulated life.
I hope this topic has done something for you, even if it is just to get you thinking about yourself.
Take the wheel, captain your ship. Face the storms, make port where you choose, not where the winds may take you!
To finish up, I want to share a personal story with all of you. It is about a Tattoo that I have and one that constantly reminds me to continue living my life with purpose.
A long time ago, during the time of adolescence when we all bumble around in the dark trying to find our way and meaning, I felt like a lost soul (as I’m sure a lot of us did during those awkward years.) I watched a movie that was very inspirational at the lost moment in time, and a Latin phrase that has withstood the test of time was uttered in it that I latched onto like an overboard sailor in a storm to a piece of flotsam.
The movie was “Dead Poet’s Society” (Rest in peace Robin Williams you brilliant bastard.)
And the phrase was, “Carpe Diem.”
To put it simple, “Carpe Diem” means, Seize the Day, which I took to be the very core of my life philosophy; living each and every moment with purpose.
Uttering those words always brought me back to that feeling, to that sense of confidence.
Later in life, I had that phrase tattooed across the top of my back.
To me, it holds the same meaning, but now with a twist making its location just as significant as the ink itself.
Should I ever lose my way, I need only look over my shoulder at where I’ve come from and behind me are the words that pushed me forward, “Carpe Diem.”
Friends … I urge you, live with purpose!