Wednesday 13 April 2016

It's All In The Process

In The Process - Mindful Thinking

So, here's the story. Recently I was knitting a hat following a pattern which was a little more complex than those I usually reach for, and this naturally took a lot more concentration (and patience!) than I'm used to. I actually surprised myself with how much I enjoyed stretching my skills, and how instead of dreading working a tangled mess, I actually came to enjoy the level of concentration that this project required. The reason? Concentrating on this knitting project kept me in the moment, because I was so absorbed in the process.  I really slowed down towards the end of that project, because I didn't want the absorption to end, and I liked that after a busy day I could sit so consumed by my knitting that nothing else other than wrapping wool around needles entered my train of thought.

Now, because I'm an overthinker who likes to find some deeper meaning in everything, I've been thinking a lot about 'the process' lately. I'm someone who always has an eye on the horizon, on what's coming next. Part of this is my nature, but I think it's also because of the way society works. You go to primary school, finish, and move on to secondary school. You do your GCSE's, finish secondary school, and then move on to further education. More exams. Perhaps university. Then a job. But always thinking about finishing one thing and moving on to another.

I catch myself thinking like this sometimes, even though I don't particularly like thinking this way. Don't get me wrong, it's good to have an idea about things you want to do in the future (career or leisure based!), but you shouldn't let it detract from enjoying the process. At the moment I've become preoccupied with what I want to do after completing my degree, and I'm really excited about what lies on the horizon, but I've noticed that it's definitely had a negative effect on enjoying what I'm doing now. I feel like I'm wishing another two years of studying away because I want to move on to the next stage in my life, when actually I should be enjoying the present moment. I'm studying something I love, and at the start of my studies had little thought as to the future, but had more enjoyment in what I was doing instead as viewing it as something I have to complete in order to do the next thing.

This is what mindfulness is to me. Being present, being absorbed in the moment. Enjoying the process.

I think it's harder than ever to be fully absorbed in the moment when social media is more easily accessible than ever, but I'm making an effort to switch off every now and then and to just concentrate on what's happening around me. Here are a few things I'm doing in order to remember to enjoy the process:

Breathing Exercises 
If I'm in the middle of a busy working day and feel the need for a quick refresh, then I'll do a couple of minutes of breathing exercises just to focus myself in the present moment. It's something you can do at a desk, or on your feet, and it only takes as long as you need it to. I tend to just breathe regularly for 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out, and remember to focus on my breath. It's a really quick way of refreshing my mind in the middle of the day, and I also find it really calming if I'm a bit stressed out. Win-win!

Make Memories not Photographs
This is something that I struggle with, because I really love taking photographs! However, there's a balance between taking photographs as a reminder and letting taking photographs take over from creating memories. A case in point was this past weekend, when I went to see Muse in Manchester, I made a conscious effort to not take too many photos and just enjoy the moment. Whilst I naturally took some photos, not taking too many allowed me to just enjoy the moment and have a great time, without living through a lense.

Remember that Life's a Balance
Naturally it's hard to find enjoyment in absolutely everything I do each day, particularly menial tasks that just simply have to be done. But enjoying the process is about trying to find something beneficial from each situation. Doing the laundry means having clean sheets, and doing that bit of overtime means having an extra bit of spending money. At the moment I feel like as long as I balance out things that I have to do with things that are mindful, it's a healthy balance.

What about you? I'd love to hear your thoughts on living in the moment, and any techniques you have for enjoying the process!

-On another note, photos of said hat will be coming soon (just as spring is arriving, haha!). I'm also planning to write up a post about studying with the Open University soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that!- 

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