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