At the start of April I committed to working on my “greenness”. I promised myself that for 21 consecutive days I would spend 50 minutes on a renewal activity. On the first day of my commitment I woke up excited – I was embarking on a journey to a better, calmer me!
I left the house early to go to our office in Cheltenham Spa. On the train I took time to look through the window and admire the beauty of the nature and prettiness of cottages as we were approaching Stroud. I felt a sense of gratitude as I appreciated the views. The journey back however proved to be a real challenge.
As I was heading back to London, the train came to a halt outside the Slough station. I paid little attention to it, thinking we were probably just waiting for another train to vacate the platform. I blissfully returned to reading my book (which was my renewal for the day). A while later however I heard the dreaded announcement – there was a problem on the tracks and all trains were being held at Slough until further notice.
I left the train together with an angry mob. The only alternative route to London was to travel to Windsor and then change for London Waterloo. On an already delayed journey this was just too much! I felt the survival state in me increase. “So much for the start to my 21 days of green” I thought bitterly. Suddenly it dawned on me however – this IS a perfect opportunity to practice my mindful approach! I decided contrary to my travel companions I would remain calm. Without anger clouding my judgement I quickly figured out that the best solution is to get a cab to the nearest tube station and commute home from there. “I need 6 people who want to share a cab with me to get to London” – I heard myself announce loudly to the crowd desperately gathered around the departure board. A few minutes later we were all sitting in a cab heading towards Uxbridge, joking about the situation we found ourselves in.
I was beaming with pride! Not only did I prove to myself that I can think on my feet when the situation requires a quick decision, but I met some lovely people and managed to get home earlier than expected. All this thanks to remaining in a mindful state!
I continued my commitment for the next 21 days. Some days were easier, some more challenging. On the days I worked from home I was starting my day with meditation and yoga, when the weather was nice I would go for a walk to the park, in the evenings I would spend a few minutes before sleeping, reading. On the days when I was travelling to the office or to see the clients, I had to use my creativity to get my 50 minutes of renewal. I would often split that time into two parts and try to eat a healthy lunch in a nice atmosphere followed by reading and meditation on the train while coming home. Despite the challenges, I discovered with joy that finding 50 minutes a day was completely doable. I just had to want to do it and actively think of my renewal instead of taking it for granted.
These few days proved very insightful. The renewal time allowed me to listen to my body more, and to let myself feel compassion towards myself. I have been battling an illness for over a month and commitment to renewal was like a permission I gave myself to slow down and look after my health. I also came to realise how much my body and mind needed that me-time, and how prioritising my renewal was a step in the direction of a higher self-regard.
At first, I didn’t know how to get renewed. The only activity coming to mind at the start was reading. As I started experimenting however, I developed a wide range of forms of renewal. I started enjoying walks, meditation (I’m now a massive fan of the Calm app and the accompanying book), mindfulness journals and colouring books! I also reconnected with the therapeutic value of journaling. Most importantly however, I started noticing that sometimes it’s about just slowing down and being present. Taking a lunch break, sitting on a bench to read when you missed your train. We’ve got one life, one body, one mind. Let’s celebrate them and treat them with respect.
The 21-day commitment was just the start to my mindful odyssey. I started to get to know myself better and learnt how slowing down, incorporating renewal into life and practicing gratitude can bring inner peace. With the renewal now being a habit, I will continue to develop it further, while adding new tools to my mindful toolkit.