ZEN TIP TUESDAY #13
I’m so happy to welcome and introduce Bronwyn Mandile as our guest poster for ZTT #13. Bron is well known within the Aussie blogosphere. I’ve been aware of and known Bron (online) since shortly after I began blogging in September 2012, so probably around 6-7 years! We haven’t met in person but I’m sure one day that our paths will cross at some blogging event or other! I initially knew Bron from her blog Maxabella Loves and used to link up with a weekend link-up she co-hosted with a few other bloggers called ‘Weekend Rewind’. Bron is well known for her writing in the parenting space. These days she’s the founder of MumLyfe – a community for mums of older kids. Bron shares with us today how she found mindfulness in the mundane, something she thought would always elude her! You can read more about Bron and how you can connect with her at her Bio at the end of this post.
If you’re joining us for ZTT Link-Up #011 – welcome and I look forward to reading your post!
I searched for my ‘zen’ for a very long time. From more traditional paths like meditation, yoga and aromatherapy massage, to less obvious paths like reiki and kinesiology. My brain just would not let go and let me be in the moment.
Thoughts that were meant to float in and gently be let go, came thundering in, loudly demanding attention. Let me tell you, it’s really hard to hold a yoga pose when your mind is having a rowdy knees up.
Zen is not self-conscious and awkward
Often, my attempts to be zen merely made me feel self-conscious and awkward. The very opposite of their intended purpose. Am I doing this right? Is it weird that someone I hardly know is touching me? What will we have for dinner Tuesday a week from now? Why doesn’t my leg bend like that? Am I forcing this? I’m forcing this.
I refused to give up. My rowdy brain had read far too much about the importance of meditation for a healthy life. I knew that if a person lived a ‘busy life’ (any person, anywhere), they had to balance it with lots of quiet, meditative, reflective time. Meditative experiences was the only way to soothe all the niggles that modern life delivered to us.
So, for the sake of a good life, this was something I had to conquer, I had to get it right.
Open enough to hide
Well, you can see my problem right there. You can’t ‘force’ your zen moments and there is no right way to find them. You just need to be open enough to let them find you.
But it seemed I was very good at hiding.
One day, about five years ago, I was bemoaning all the extra-curricular activities that my kids take part in each week to a friend. “It’s ridiculous,” I wailed. “Why does everything need to be a ‘thing’ these days? When I was a kid, you didn’t join a running club, you just ran.”
The lights went on at the brain party. Why was I searching for zen in all the wrong places? Why didn’t I just be more zen-like.
It turned out, it was that easy.
Mundanity becomes mindful
From that time on, I found myself being more mindful of life’s ‘niggly bits’ (as I’ve always called life’s boring old admin). Instead of fighting my way through the mundanity of life, I learned to treat them as my opportunity to be more mindful and present.
In the past, housework was a burden that I groaned my way through daily. Now, it was an opportunity to simply make the beds, sweep the floors and tidy the rooms to the best of my ability. I learned to take true pleasure in restoring my home to neatness and order. A quiet, contemplative time of service that for the most part, I no longer resented.
From there, I learned to find zen moments throughout my day. What used to be ‘wasted time’ or downright shitty times, somehow became something I looked forward to. Waiting for the water to boil for a cup of tea. Washing my face and hands in the mornings. Cleaning the kitchen. Data entry. Driving my children to their (still too many) activities. Doing my invoicing. Hanging out the washing. Making my bed. Sorting the socks.
Pleasure in the unpleasant
It feels strange to say that housework and other mundane tasks is how I found my zen. But in this strange way, I have discovered that the key to a more present life is in deciding to do the things that give us the least amount of pleasure as well as we possibly can. I feel now that the mundane parts of life are there to slow us down. If we fully embrace their simplicity and familiarity, we can give them the attention they deserve. They are the ballast to our sails, and their importance ignored at our peril.
Since embracing this new approach, my mind has been significantly quieter. I’m not fighting the ‘boring bits’ of life all the time. Instead, I’ve turned them into the gentle moments in my days. In doing so, I’ve given my brain permission to end the party and embrace the hangover. Turns out, the hangover is actually pretty awesome. And so is the yoga, as it turns out.
Bron is the founder of Mumlyfe, a community for mums of older kids. Bron has been writing in the Australian parenting space as Maxabella for more than seven years and is mum to three mostly happy kids and wife to one mostly happy husband. Mostly happy is a win, right? Find her on Facebook or Pinterest.
ZTT LINK-UP #011
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Onya Bron! That IS mindfulness at work and play. Loved reading this and thanks Min for your guest posts. Much appreciated.
Hi Denyse – Bron explains it so well doesn’t she … how simple it can be to be mindful and how we don’t even have to make dedicated time to do it! xo
HI Bron, I agree totally with you on so many levels of our post. Sometimes I think we try to make things just too hard. Like the time I did a Mindfulness in May course and ended up more stressed! I will never win a competition for housekeeping but there is satisfaction and pleasure in a clean home. Plus the benefit of being able to practise being mindful when doing the mundane, even brushing out teeth! Lovely to meet you and thanks Min for another enjoyable guest. #ztt
I’ve been getting the MiM emails for this year Sue. Wondered if you’d be signing up again! lol Glad you’ve enjoyed Bron’s post. I have too! xo
Hi Min, No, I won’t be signing up this year as I just have too much on my plate! Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and I really did enjoy Bron’s post as well as your other #ZTT contributions. Have a great week. x
Hi Sue, I hope you know I was joking about signing up with MiM again. I knew you wouldn’t want to. I haven’t either. Too much on my plate also. Thanks so much for your support of #ZTT even when you’re super busy! xo
I can relate to this so much Bron and Min! Thanks for the reminder that it doesn’t have to be something big and fancy, we can find zen in all the everyday mundane tasks 🙂 . Thanks so much!
So glad you’ve enjoyed Bron’s post Deb. It’s a good reminder for us all. More often than not … our minds take over and we’re not actually consciously in the now! I’m going to make a point of being mindful while doing all the mundane housework tasks ahead of me today! 🙂
Thanks for the reminder, Bron and Min. It’s how we choose to look at things, isn’t it? Have a great week! #MLSTL
Sure is Natalie! You have a great week too! 🙂
Hi Bronwyn – lovely to see you guest posting on ZTT and I really liked the idea of finding your zen in the little mundane moments. It changes your perspective if you see them as a moment to pause and breathe, rather than something to be endured. I’m going to put it into practice and see if it makes waiting for the kettle to boil more “zen” for me too.
Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂
It makes those boring day to day household chores a lot more attractive if you look at them as opportunities to be mindful and zen. Good luck with it Leanne! 🙂
I would love to meditate but I like you can’t seem to turn my mind off. Maybe I can find my zen in my everyday chores it is worth a try.
No mind completely turns off Victoria. The thoughts still come. It’s just a matter of acknowledging them and putting them aside to deal with later. It’s more about being conscious of the NOW – being present. Focussing on your breathing, noticing what you’re feeling (phsyically, emotionally, mentally), noticing what you can hear & smell etc etc. That actually helps slow the mind and thoughts and can be so relaxing! And of course you can do that while you’re washing up or mopping or ironing or in many other situations. Well worth having a try! 🙂
Hi Min and Bron,
I find that I do have to actively look for ways to destress, even now that I am retired. I thought all that stress was related to work, but I guess it’s just a part of who I am, yet I know it is not good for me.
So this is practical in so many ways for me…it doesn’t have to be a dramatic shift. I am actually using an Aussie app called Smiling Mind to do my daily meditation. I need to be walked through it otherwise I don’t focus. I am certainly a work in progress.
I think as mid-life women we can become more anxious and stressed as part of the menopause/hormone shift process, so we need to find ways to help deal with that. Taking a little time each day to focus on the breath and be aware of ourselves and our surroundings is well worth a try and can be done at home while doing our everyday tasks. Meditation apps are great too. I love the guided ones also. All the best Nancy! 🙂