Day after day, as I randomly and repeatedly continued to alter small personal habits, two benefits emerged. The first was intentional: I did, in fact, make friends with change and the feelings/thoughts surrounding it. It was a bit of a game, a touch of whimsy, an element of playfulness I had long lost with life. In short, it was fun.
The second benefit was unexpected. I didn’t even know it existed. I didn’t have a name for it and had to search the web. It was there I met two concepts that somewhat matched or described my experience: ‘mindfulness’ and ‘present moment awareness’. You, yourself, may be already quite familiar with and practiced at living this way. So, I’ll be brief and try not to bore you.
From childhood I knew what ‘mind your manners’, ‘mind their feelings’, ‘mind their own business’ and ‘never mind’ all sort of meant. From these phrases and others, I had the idea that being mindful was directed towards and always involved interactions with other people. In private, in my own personal space, I didn’t need to mind anything really. I didn’t mind if I didn’t clean the sheets for weeks, or shower for days, or if I picked at my nose or bum, or left dirty dishes forever. I only minded any of that stuff if I had to go out or if someone was coming over.
So, when I began to ‘mind’ myself, notice my routines and my habits and, with a conscious choice, began to alter them slightly and randomly, I found my true ‘mindfulness’ expanding. I couldn’t ‘zone out’ and change at the same time. I couldn’t time travel mentally and still focus on the matter at hand. I couldn’t be asleep and awake in the same moment.
Without knowing it, I was choosing to wake up. I thought I had merely wanted to not be so predictable, so stale, so very boring in my own opinion of myself. Small, intentional variations were the opening to profound possibilities. By being ‘mindfully present’, I wasn’t directing or orchestrating my growth. I was allowing it. When I washed the dishes and noticed the warmth of the water, the smell of the soap, the sound of the glass the instant it became squeaky clean and so on, my appreciation for my hands, my health, my dexterity and my life subtly expanded. And I would reflexively smile. And I noticed that too.
Whatever it was that I had intentionally changed, I noticed particularly.
When I noticed particularly, I was being mindful and in the present moment.
When I was mindfully in the present, I was never bored. I was able to notice far more aspects of the present than simply the one thing I had altered. My awareness was expanding. It wasn’t expanding because of the force of my will. It was expanding because I had opened myself to it.
For this, I am and always will be grateful.
I was no longer living on autopilot.
I was owning myself.