I have to admit that when I first tried the practice of mindfulness, I wasn’t a fan. I couldn’t keep my mind focused. I couldn’t see the purpose of it. I mean why was I sitting there pretending that I could focus on the feeling of my feet on the ground, when I had to go to the grocery store, get gas, make dinner, pay bills, and then work on my novel? Not to mention that the sessions were taking place at work when it was already 4 o’clock. So, I avoided mindfulness for years.
And I would have continued to avoid it if not for the email reminder about a mindfulness course that I received about two weeks before class was to begin. I sat with it for a few minutes grumbling that I had committed to something that I didn’t really want to do. I had signed up for this class months ago. Maybe February. And three months later, I still wasn’t overjoyed about taking the class.
The plus side? The class was virtual and I could keep my camera off. The downside? Everything else.
I must be honest. I did not sign up for the mindfulness course because I was looking for a way to be more present in the moment. I may have said that, but it wasn’t the truth. I never live in the moment. I rehash the past and fret about the future constantly because I am a thinker, a chronic overthinker. The truth is, I signed up for this mindfulness class because it was a way for me to earn some additional credits for work. I had signed up for this course strategically, but not purposefully.
I tried to psych myself up for this class and in preparation, I listened to a favorite podcast of mine. The mindfulness expert mentioned that it is impossible to stop your mind from wandering and jumping from topic to topic. Exactly. I knew this all along. So what’s the point then I wondered aloud? She answered as if she heard me and said, “the goal is to use your senses to bring you back to the moment and focus on things you can sense.” What?
So, all this time, I had been frustrated with mindfulness, and it really was just about focusing and not emptying my mind of thoughts?
Things were starting to make sense. I strategically signed up for a professional boost and then I purposefully listened to a podcast on mindfulness to change my thought process. I strategically chose this course kind of hoping it would fill up and I would be waitlisted, but I purposely was enrolled in a session that aligned with my schedule. I strategically chose a Thursday for a class date as I don’t watch too much television that day, but I purposefully selected the class a day before my scheduled therapy sessions so I can be purposefully in the moment. I strategically signed up months ago so I would be less busy, but I was purposefully enrolled during the time when murdered Black bodies and a push for justice would play in a loop on my screen.
Mindfulness in the midst of tragedy and uprisings though?
Is it fair for me to practice mindfulness in the midst of state sanctioned murder? In the midst of protest and righteous indignation, is it okay to stop and take respite in the sights, the sounds, the touches, the tastes, and the smells of the moment when I know what I know? In the midst of denial of systemic racism by those who hoard power? In the midst of strong anti-Blackness? Is it the right thing to do right now in the midst of tragedy? Is it the right thing to do during this movement?
The answer to that is yes. Mindfulness is strategy and to strategize is purposeful. Movement work is strategy and purpose.
And to stay movement focused, mindfulness is key.