A Progress Report on My New Year’s Intention to Simply Be
Every few months, I stop and check in on what’s working in my life and what’s not. It’s a personal wellness ritual that’s served me well in the years I’ve been living with ALS.
Today, I’m evaluating how well I’ve been following my intention for 2022 to “simply be.” By this, I mean I want to be in the present moment and be aware of myself and the people and things around me.
How does ‘being’ differ from mindfulness?
For me, these two concepts can merge into one. Mindfulness includes paying attention to my actions. I practice mindfulness to avoid falling, choking on food, and other near disasters that might happen when I’m distracted or lost in my thoughts. But “being” goes a little further to include an awareness of people and my environment.
In other words, I’m mindful of what I’m doing while aware of how people around me and the places I’m in make me feel.
How’s it going so far?
Actually, pretty well. I’ve been able to drop into the state of being many times during each day on a fairly regular basis. Of course, I’m realistic about life’s distractions — they’re everywhere and can’t be controlled. Plus, this wasn’t a make-or-break resolution, just an added nuance to my current practice of mindfulness.
For example, I find it’s easy to drop into an awareness of being when I wake up in the morning and before falling asleep at night. I’ve also managed to feel it during the times I’m being extra careful, such as when I’m walking, getting dressed, and eating. During those times, my sense of total awareness is fully functioning, but it doesn’t last as long as I wish it would.
Like an ocean wave enveloping a sandcastle, suddenly I’m sucked into conversations and events, my mind glued to the day’s mini-dramas. But when I finally recognize the highjacking that happened, I’m eager to experience being once again, because it feels so good.
What does simply being feel like?
It feels like a pause, a breather, a timeout. It reminds me of when I was a kid and playing with friends at the local swimming pool. Every once in a while, I’d swim over to the ladder, grab hold, and spend a few minutes catching my breath while taking in the whole pool scene.
When I drop into being now, my body and mind sigh, “Ahh.”
I’ve been noticing that it’s far easier to drop into this state of awareness whenever I’m alone. It’s tough to do when people are around.
So, I’ll keep going and challenge myself to practice awareness in social situations, too.
Mindfulness and simply being are helping me, and I encourage you to give them a try as well. Whether you are living with ALS or providing care, this is another valuable strategy that is vital to maintaining resilience and having a positive mindset.
Let’s continue to help one another learn to live well while living with ALS.
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