While I am away from my blog, I am honored to showcase a group of talented writers who have stepped forward with their unique voices in support. Every guest writer who is featured here is one that I strongly suggest you follow. Today, I am pleased to share with you this guest post from Kelly at Becoming Crunchy. I would greatly appreciate it if you would stop by her blog and leave some comment love.
It’s a huge honor to be posting over here at TouchstoneZ – Zoie is hands down one of my favorite bloggers and I definitely consider her to be one of the greatest ‘friends I’ve never met’ – so very happy to be here today.
My name is Kelly – I blog at Becoming Crunchy, where I talk about the changes my family has been making toward living more sustainably and healthfully as inspired by the birth of our daughter.
Inspired by many of the posts I’ve read here at TouchstoneZ, I’ve been thinking a lot more about ‘mindfulness’ over the past few months – and what exactly it means to me as I make attempts to become more mindful.
I believe there are many definitions and it may even mean something different to everyone, but one way that I’ve been framing mindfulness in my own experience lately has been the idea of awareness – becoming more aware of things both inside and outside my sphere or frame of reference.
I’ve had very definite tunnel vision for most of my life – in many ways still do – and I don’t like it.
I get caught up in my own misery. I focus too much on the future, rather than what’s going on right now. I react to new ideas with disdain. I judge too quickly. I take offense too easily.
In an ideal (to me) state of mindfulness, I would be able to break out of all of that through awareness.
Awareness that I am not alone – that many others experience both misery and triumph along with me. Awareness of what is happening around me right now – living life over constantly looking forward. Awareness that new ideas (or new to me ideas) are not automatically bad or wrong. Awareness that there is always more to someone else’s story than I know. Awareness that people’s words don’t always perfectly convey their meaning – which is quite often benevolent, rather than harmful.
There are many ways to begin bringing this awareness into one’s life – most of them involve experiencing something new – something totally outside our frame that causes us to think, ‘Hmmm…maybe I don’t know it all, after all…” (It can, of course, also cause people to become only more entrenched within their own prejudices as well, because not knowing it all after all can be a very, very scary thing).
At any rate, I’ve been able to experience this type of more mindful awareness through things like travel, living in 3 different countries, education, getting married, having a child…but one of the greatest and most constant ways I’ve found to maintain it is through story – reading, hearing, seeing the stories of others, whether fiction or non – opens my mind to a new world of consideration that I probably never would have even thought about on my own.
Cultures and religions throughout the ages have relied on the power of story to convey understanding. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed – they all taught through story (or parables, as some would call them). And these 3 are not the exception to the rule – pretty much every group of people out there in the world that you can find are just about bursting at the seams with story.
We share stories orally, in writing, through art, song, dance, poetry…
For me, reading is the most powerful way I begin to open my mind to that awareness – for you it might be art or song or something else altogether.
There are authors I value in particular who encourage me almost every day in being more mindful about things like social justice, environmental concerns, mindfulness itself and a lot more – Madeleine L’Engle, Barbara Kingsolver, Wally Lamb, C.S. Lewis, Margaret Atwood, John Steinbeck, and many more – too many to list.
But I’ve learned to truly value anyone who assists me on this path of mindful awareness – even when I don’t like it (which is, admittedly, quite often).
Among the values I wish to pass on to my daughter, this is one of the highest. It might also be defined as empathy or keeping an open mind, but I think it’s one of the greatest ways to be in this world, and it’s something I aspire to every day.
It’s been a long path for me from being an extremely judgmental, narrow-minded, scared person to moving towards the mindfulness of awareness, and I believe it’s one I’ll be on my entire life.
I’m thankful for the power of story, in particular, for helping me so much along the way. I’m also continually thankful to bloggers like Zoie and so many others who are willing to present their story to the world – and in many ways it is also why I do what I do – I just don’t think there can be enough of learning from one another in this way…
What are some of the things that have brought about the mindfulness of awareness in your life? I’d love to hear from you.