After a reputed 49 days of stillness and meditation, Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment. After 147 days, I think I have him beat.
That's the length of time two unexpected spinal surgeries in the past year-and-a-half forced my bedridden body still. I spent that time upright, in a hard brace, at a ninety-degree angle. My mind and my body were locked from wander. I became a master at what is now a trend that seems to have taken the world by storm - mindfulness: the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are, what we're doing and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what's going on around us. For me, the cultivation of focus was a way to transport my mind from pain. But the reflections from my time of stillness used as a conscious, daily practice can help you overcome distractions like worry, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed and stuck in vicious cycles of your every day. More importantly, they can help you live life absorbed by what you love by pursuing it with devoted attention.
Here are a few reflections from my recovery that helped to mobilize me and master the moment. May they inspire a simple practice in your home or office and in your every day to do the same.
- In all things, give yourself more time than you think you'll need. The goal is to live more deeply. Not more quickly.
- You have enough time. You're just distracted.
- Being still doesn't mean you've stopped. Your mind creates more mobility than your body ever will.
- There is most to learn in the hardest work. Do what you've been avoiding first, and the rest becomes easy.
- When you feel like quitting, don't. There is nothing more beautiful than when you prove to yourself just how strong you are.
- Be proud of your scars. Life isn't about avoiding the bruises. It's about collecting the marks to prove we showed up.
- No matter where you are in your journey, stop and look around. Reflect. This time next year, nothing will be the same.
- Big things often have small beginnings. Celebrate tiny victories.
- The universe really does listen. Pay attention to the nudges.
- No matter what you experienced, the person you are today is infinitely better than the person you were yesterday. Learn from every moment.
- Try to find beauty in what's broken. The cracks are where the light gets in.
- No matter how much it hurts, smile. Laugh. They really are contagious.
- Change your speed and go with the slow. Slowing down isn't about losing time. It's about gaining time for the things that matter most.
- Being your toughest critic is the same as being your worst enemy. Be kind to yourself.
- Look up. Watch a sunset. It will amaze you every time.
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