We tend to focus on extremes. Life is either good or bad; sad or happy. We are productive or lazy; succeeding or failing. Our brains naturally gravitate towards this way of simplifying things. Putting things, people, and experiences into buckets may be efficient, but it does not allow for the in-between. And the in-between is where we spend most of our time. Life is a mixture of “good” and “hard,” culminating in an overall experience of . . . well, life.
At some point in our lives, most of us have experienced real lows. It may be grief that breaks the heart or a deep low that seems as unending as the winter in February. Because of our human habit of operating in the extremes of good or bad, our instinct is to wish for the high when we feel low. We just want life to be “good” again.
The problem is that it is at these moments we are the most uncomfortable. So, it is at these painful moments we are most likely to lose our mindfulness practice. The sorrow is hard to sit with and the temptation to wish time away can feel irresistible. The mind goes to wishing for the past or fearing the unknown future. This place is one of the most challenging times to be mindful.
Shifting your focus to simply being “okay” is a way to move out of the extreme all-or-nothing thinking and make room for the simplicity of making it through the moment. Let go of working at 100%, feeling “great,” or being “on top of things.” See if you can shift towards being enough or feeling “okay.” Maybe “okay” is simply being, breathing, and facing each moment as it presents itself.
There are many moments in which we can be grateful for the simple fact that we are breathing. Jon Kabat-Zinn has said, “as long as you are breathing, there is more right than wrong with you, no matter how ill or how despairing you may be feeling in a given moment.”
This week, whatever is going on for you, see if you can rest in being “okay” or simply breathing and being enough.
Mindful moments are short practices to be used throughout your week to relax, integrate and center yourself. Inspired by the wisdom traditions and science, mindful moments are meant to be accessible and simple enough for anyone to practice. Many teachers and leaders in integrative medicine have influenced our approach to mindful moments. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Pema Chodron would say it is “practicing in the gaps.” Look for the weekly mindful moment every Monday. May it support you in finding your center to live life to the fullest.