The miracle of mindfulness touches us in different ways at different times, and it naturally catches us off guard, usually in a moment of complete awareness and spontaneity.
This week I was touched by such a miracle when I just let go, thought what the heck and did something I should have done years ago.
This week I rediscovered my childhood passion of swimming. It might not sound like much, but for me this is a massive deal. I swam loads as a kid.
Every Saturday, at 8am, my Dad would take me to the pool for lessons. And then, twice a year on holiday, I would venture out into the sea and the hotel pool for hours with my brother, messing around, swimming, diving, jumping and splashing each other until it all ended in tears, as childhood games usually do, especially with an elder brother.
In my teens I swapped swimming for cooler activities, like skating and pool halls, and I didn't swim much on holidays because of a skin condition that means I have to limit my exposure to the sun.
When opportunities for swimming in the evening came up, I would turn them down, making excuses that I was too busy. In reality I had become body conscious too, and decided to forfeit the passion rather than face my insecurity.
Gradually, I entirely neglected my love of open water, even making out I didn't like public pools because they weren't clean enough. I have been in a pool a handful of times since with a t-shirt on, but it just wasn't the same vibe. I had convinced myself I'd outgrown the passion, and if I couldn't go in without a top on, what was the point!
Basically, as my mum would say, I was “cutting of my nose to spite my face.” I had mentally blocked swimming as an option, which was madness because at one time it was a huge part of me; deep down I knew it still was.
And then the miracle of mindfulness occurred…
Last month we moved into an apartment that has a gym and pool option in the complex. Naturally I signed up for the gym with no intention of using the pool. I didn't consider swimming at all, until one evening, around 7pm, I ventured pool-side to look at the view.
It had just gotten dark outside and the vibe up on the roof was amazing. I could see right across the city; all the skyscrapers and flashing lights, traffic circling the freeway and people bustling about. And here I was, by the pool, surrounded by beautiful flowers, trees, dim lights and a gentle evening breeze. Right in that moment, I had to swim…
I jumped in the lift, went down to my apartment and grabbed my shorts and towel.
Within a few minutes I was alone in the pool, swimming length to length; no sun and no excuses, just me and the elements reunited.
I felt amazing. So much so I have swum every night this week.
And this, dear reader, is the miracle of mindfulness. The miracle of just letting go of negative past experiences, hang ups, insecurities and fears. I just did what my heart was truly yearning for. I let my mind and heart work in tandem, rather than letting a stubborn head influenced by unhelpful thoughts rule my life.
This week, try reuniting yourself with a passion, something you left behind unwillingly, something that is innately part of you that you have neglected. Something you know will bring you great joy in the present moment.
Yes, mindfulness teaches us not to hold onto things, not to be attached, not to live in the past. But mindfulness doesn't want us to neglect our true self, it wants us to embrace that person and enjoy life in the ways that consume us with a feeling that can only be described as, LIFE.