The one habit that changed my life

For a few years now, I’ve been noticing stuff. Some of the spiritual among us may call it becoming conscious. Some Buddhists may call it mindfulness. Some may refer to it as awareness.

For me, it’s simply been a process of noticing.

Noticing first, the physical breakdown of my body. Noticing at first what made it feel better on a superficial level – food, environments, movement. Noticing then, what patterns that had led to my physical breakdown. My urge to achieve. My deep fears about not being loveable. My attachment to extraneous validation.

Over time, noticing what made me feel good. Re-learning who I was and grieving the parts of me that I had either lost along the way, or parts of me that I felt ready to move away from. Noticing what people, places, environments gave me energy. What activities allowed me to tap into the eternal wellspring of energy that lies within us when we happen upon elements that align with who we are at our core.

Noticing, and acting on my need to be in nature. Moving to the country, looking after animals – re-discovering the inner child who wanted to be a vet. Noticing my desire to learn, my inexplicable pull toward books and movies and blogs that spoke of the human condition – no, women’s condition – and how we had come to be so very far removed from what truly makes us happy. Noticing my pull to write again – not creatively as I had in my youth (that may reappear some time soon), but a collection of words pulled together from not only my learning intellectually, but married with my very human experience of a woman trying to piece together what it is to live an inspired, fulfilled, well life.

Noticing my judgement of others – and healing not them, but me. The inner child within me wounded by the words of others and pulled to repeat those words not only to myself – but to project my fears onto others as well. Noticing my patterns of language toward my partner, noticing my frustrations and learning to see them not as my failures, but as my greatest opportunities for learning.

Noticing my perfectionism – my need to be seen to be competent. Noticing my deep fears around vulnerability, and learning to lean into it rather than running away from it. Noticing the hidden components of wellbeing – compassion, connection and kindness – and incorporating them into my life. Noticing my stories – and healing the biggest story of all – that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. Learning to witness my urges not as evidence of my self hatred – but as evidence of my deepest, primal self love.

And more recently, noticing consumption. Noticing my tendency to preach sustainability, while acting far from sustainably. Noticing my food waste, my purchasing habits, my money story, my desire for new, my discomfort with discomfort. Not spurred on by any activism from outside, but from a deep realisation that every action I take has an impact that will not only affect me, but my daughter and her daughters too.

And all this noticing has bred enormous change in my day to day life. While I like to think that it’s been a process of learning who I truly have been all along, I do see it as a tremendous evolution.

And yet noticing can be exhausting too. Witnessing all the complexities of a woman’s life – this woman’s life – and realising how very far we have come from our true natures – can breed overwhelm.

You find me today not in a place of being ‘there’, but in an in between place. Where I struggle to balance my conditioning with another reality that my noticing allows me to envision. A place where I feel drawn both to a conscious life, as well as an easy life. A place where I could be blown back into the stream of unconscious consumption and mindless automation so very easily, especially on days when I feel far from my powerful self.

You find me beating myself up for not using cloth nappies, and then telling a client she’s doing a great job as a mum just for getting up in the morning (pants optional). You find me pulled toward doing work that I’m good at – knowing the external validation that I’ll receive will be soothing for the little girl within – rather than work that truly lights me up. You find me aware of my frustration rising and yet still able to speak uncaring words. You find me pulled to have a house with a picket fence (in the forest), as well as the freedom to travel and learn without debt or limitation. You find me building my nest with my veggie patch and my animals – and then resenting that I can’t fly at a whim to be with my husband while he works overseas. You find me simultaneously enthralled and terrified of being my own boss. You find me slowing down and speeding up seemingly all at the same time.

I feel, at times, stuck in between two competing ideologies – the unconventional and the conventional. The conditioned and the authentic. And instead of throwing one out in favour of another, my noticing has allowed me to dance between the two and work out exactly what MY version of an empowered, inspired and well life looks like. At times this dance is excruciating and exhausting – it turns out that hand-making and growing all our food, for example, is just not possible FOR ME while raising a baby and running two businesses.

But it has been in this searching, in this noticing, in this experimentation that I have come to truly know myself, my gifts and my limitations. It is through this dance that I have come to understand that our lives are creations requiring constant refinement. It is through trying to do it all, all at once, that I’ve rediscovered the beautiful art of doing something meaningfully and doing it well.

I have, for the first time in my life, the broad brush strokes of a painting that feels really authentically me. But the filling in of the detail – the repurposing of little mistakes – THAT is where the joy actually is.

My mindfulness coaching clients often get very mad at me after we first start talking – and I totally understand why. Because suddenly, the unconscious becomes seen. All the hidden is now brought out into the light. And at first all the noticing seems to make things move in the opposite direction.

But with patience, noticing becomes our greatest ally. And without even having to take action, it can change our entire reality.

I had a conversation with a friend recently who asked me whether I’d prefer to have never started to notice – whether it would be easier to be unconscious and continue to mindlessly consume and work in a good enough job and have the house and the 4 weeks holidays a year and all the external trappings we believe will lead to fulfilment.

I smiled wryly at her as I sipped a glass of rose overlooking a sparkling, balmy Brisbane city.

‘I wouldn’t have it any other way’.

Do you want to join me on a three month mindfulness coaching program? Doors for Love Yourself Well are now open and I’d love you to join the community of women searching for more fulfilment, wellbeing and energy. With weekly audio lectures, workbooks and meditations as well as group coaching calls, this program brings together heaps of wisdom on stress, fatigue, body image, purpose, mindfulness, compassion, connection and play. It’s your invitation to learn what truly lights up your body, mind and soul, so you can start aligning your outer world with your inner one. Click here to join. 

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