How a slip and fall brought me back to mindfulness
I was pretty clumsy as a child. I've broken more toes than I can remember, spilled countless glasses, and tripped on many a stick. One would think that I'd be more intentional with my daily movements, and I am... kind of. So when I slipped and fell last weekend, it wasn't a total surprise. And it was also a really good reminder to be in the moment.
Having finished painting my entire bedroom and moving furniture back in, I was hard at work piecing together the sturdy plastic platform that supports my bed. Because my bed is big and my room is small, floor space is pretty limited, with less than two feet between the platform and the bookshelf near the foot of my bed. While stepping off of the bed platform, it didn't register that I'd be stepping directly onto my bedding that was on the floor. The combination of a wooden floor and high thread count sheets were too much for me, and with the helping hand of gravity down I went. Hard.
It was one of those slow-motion events, the kind you see in the movies where the character (in this case me) slips, causing her legs to go up as the rest of her body plummets to the ground. It was a harsh jolt back to reality when my right shoulder and head hit the bookshelf and my left sitting bone area slammed into the plastic platform. Brought to near tears, I propped myself back up and did an assessment of my body. Shaken but not stirred, I was fine and went back to creating my bedroom haven. I quickly forgot about the fall and became blissfully immersed in decorating.
The following night I noticed my back was crankier than usual but thought it was just from doing too much that day. But while still in bed the next morning, I noticed how pissed my back, hip, and neck were, and the memory of me doing a slow-mo fall emerged. But rather than get upset with myself about not moving mindfully, I took it as a lesson.
Mindfulness as a practice
A definition of mindfulness is "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique." Clearly this is a technique that I need to practice more frequently.
Because I love a good TED Talk, I opened up YouTube and searched up Mindfulness. I watched several really good talks (like this and this) and learned about a Harvard study showing the human mind wanders 47% of the time. That's a lot more than I would have expected. But given how much I've been distracted while writing this post, maybe I shouldn't be all that surprised. (Look, a shiny object!)
I also discovered that practicing mindfulness reduces stress, which made complete sense to me. Much of my stress is worrying about things that have yet to happen or things that have already happened -- neither of which are actually part of my present moment. Mindfulness also decreases cortisol levels in the body, strengthens the immune system, and aids in sleeping. I think it's safe to say that we can all benefit from being mindful in our daily lives, especially during a pandemic.
Ready to get started? It's really pretty simple and yet not necessarily easy. Whatever you're doing -- be it sitting down and breathing, washing your dishes, or typing an email -- be in that moment. When your mind wanders to something else, and it will, come back to the present moment. And the next time you almost trip on your dog or jam your toe into furniture or drive home and don't remember part of your trip, use the experience as a reminder to bring yourself back to your surroundings, back into your body and the moment you're actually in.