Being available to life's special moments
In my latest book Your Middle Years: Love them. Live them. Own them. written with dietitian Paula Mee, we offer advice to help readers feel strong and more in control of their lives, both physically and mentally, so they can embrace these middle years and be their best selves.
Yoga and mindfulness teacher Mari Kennedy equates wellbeing with the capacity to thrive, to stay open and available to life, regardless of what is going on. "In our endless strive for excellence, many of us have confused well-being with perfection.," she explains. "This is particularly true for women. We believe we will be well when things go to plan and when life is within our control. Mostly our sense of well-being lies somewhere in the future, relying on external circumstances going right, be it the state of our finances, our physical health or the quality of our relationships being exactly as we want them."
To this end, we are living in what clinical psychologist and Buddhist teacher Tara Brach calls the ‘if only’ mind – a mind that is never satisfied with the present moment and is constantly thinking if only we were healthier, thinner, richer, more successful, more appreciated, if only we had the perfect partner, a better job, a bigger kitchen - we would be happy and well.
We have this idea that then we would be happy. We have this idea about what we want and we have this idea about what will bring happiness. But how wrong we are. Brach says that "If we reflect we will notice that we have these externals that we think are going to do it for us. The point is that our true happiness is never ever dependant on something outside us. And as long as it is, we are actually kept a distance from the one place where love is possible, creativity, freedom because in any moment of wanting, there is a leaning forward. In other words, you cant be fully here if you are wanting things [to be] different.”
This idea of living in the moment can be terrifying for most of us who have been over-functioning for years. But this is what mindfulness is all about and it is possible. Neuroscience is showing that through mindfulness we can consciously repattern our brain and transform negative habits. And science also tells us that the more we practise the more presence we create in our ives.
So for starters, why don't we just stop more, even for a few moments and ask ourselves: 'What would it be like if I could accept life--accept this moment--exactly as it is?
We might be pleasantly surprised.