Saturday 25 May 2019

Liz Kearney: 'I've discovered a new route to my best life - unmindful mindfulness. Something tells me it won't get the Oprah endorsement'


'Who the hell has time to be mindful for two-and-a-half hours on a Tuesday?' Stock Image
'Who the hell has time to be mindful for two-and-a-half hours on a Tuesday?' Stock Image
Liz Kearney

Liz Kearney

Lately, because I have been feeling very busy, I have been trying to be more mindful. Yes, I realise I'm not exactly at the cutting edge here; everyone from Madonna to Oprah Winfrey has embraced mindfulness and meditation with the kind of enthusiasm celebs usually reserve for kale smoothies.

Winfrey, in particular, sold it to me when I read how much she loved "the constancy of stillness. Only from that space can you create your best work and your best life."

Yes, Oprah! I too want a bit of constant stillness out of which to create my best work and my best life. The only problem was, where would I find constant stillness in a day stuffed with toddler-wrangling, deadline-meeting and all the usual chaos of a working family? So I went along to the local meditation centre and asked if there was a class I could join.

"I'm very busy, so I need to learn how to meditate," I explained to the almost preternaturally calm man at reception. "Can you help?" Of course, he said kindly. The introduction to meditation course is at 7pm on Tuesday evenings. Would you like to sign up? Oh, and by the way, it's two-and-a-half hours long.

What? Who the hell has time to be mindful for two-and-a-half hours on a Tuesday? People who have that kind of time on their hands couldn't possibly be busy enough to need time to do nothing. If anything, they need more stuff going on in their lives.

Come to think of it, I could loan them two small children who take precisely the same amount of time to put to bed of an evening. Sensing my shock, the nice man said: "Don't worry, it sounds long but the time simply flies."

But it was no use, I couldn't commit. Wasn't there an easier, less time-consuming route to living my best life?

So instead I downloaded the Headspace app, which offers a more manageable, bite-size meditation experience. When I say more manageable, I mean like one minute long, which seemed doable. And at the start, it was. I enjoyed it and even felt briefly calmer. But as the sessions lengthened, I found myself getting bored, then opening one eye to see what was going on around me, then the other, before caving in and scrolling through Twitter instead.

"I can't meditate," I complained to my husband. "I just can't sit still for long enough." He pointed out I'd just spent two hours inert on the sofa watching Netflix, so sitting still was not the problem. And you know what - he's right. It's actually very easy to do nothing when you're not actively trying to do nothing.

Maybe I've discovered a new route to my best life - unmindful mindfulness. Something tells me this version won't get the Oprah endorsement.

Bawling baby beats a drunk every time

Yet another story of a mother winning the admiration of the internet for doling out earplugs and a goodie bag to fellow passengers on a flight from Seoul to San Francisco in case her four-month-old baby started screaming.

These stories pop up every few months and inevitably lead to an outpouring of praise for the considerate and thoughtful parenting involved, and it's true that it's a sweet gesture, of sorts. But the unspoken bit of these fairytale flight stories is that mothers who don't do things like this - ie. most of us - are by definition not considerate and thoughtful.

Personally, I see no reason to apologise in advance for the mere existence of my children, on an aeroplane or otherwise. And it's not as though your fellow passengers are guaranteed to be model citizens themselves; having variously sat next to extremely drunk, extremely talkative and extremely obnoxious passengers on assorted flights, I would take a bawling baby any day of the week.

Irish Independent

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