Mindfulness Practices for Living: How to Untangle Expectations & Embrace the "As-Is" by Amy-Noelle Shih
“I feel responsible for making sure that everything goes right.”
“I am afraid of disappointing people.”
“They are counting on me.”
We all have felt the pressure to meet our responsibilities. When our everyday roles feel as though they are encoded with a litany of expectations, we will often default to worrying and resisting what is, not realizing that this can cause us to expend our finite amount of energy in unproductive ways. If we don’t take the time to see the moment for what it is, we may continue to traverse a “mind-field’ of “shoulds,” which can drain our time and productivity.
When we become fixated on a particular outcome, we are essentially telling ourselves that it must go this way – or else. We are signaling alarms before even starting the day, so, then, is it surprising that when things don’t go the way that we hoped, we unravel? Here’s the thing: every day we are presented with new challenges. Today, for instance, we may be fighting a cold or we may have spent the whole night awake looking after a sick pet. It’s this “as-is” that we must learn to hold with loving acceptance.
Tomorrow, we could, and will likely, wake up to a different “as-is” or set of challenges. The degree to which we are able to accept the ever-changing 𝒊𝒔𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔 of the moment is the degree to which we will flow with what life throws at us.
What can we do when the proverbial wrecking ball begins to break apart our way of functioning in the world? The first thing that we should do is take a mini sabbatical from “doing.” This may sound counter-intuitive if we tend to approach life with a hustle mentality and are eagerly checking boxes. But I assure you that when we are able to bring breath and 𝒃𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒈 into our actions, we can enter difficult moments with a lot less stress. Here is one of my own mindfulness techniques that I use with my clients I call “cradling the as-is”:
- On index cards, write down each thing you have to get done, that is, all your to-do items of the day.
- Next, write down your immediate fears. Then place your cards with what you’ve written in the palm of your hand.
- Visualize holding every task and every fear that you’ve identified with a loving positive energy. Also, take a few minutes to scan your body for any discomforts. Then spend a minute thinking about any other current stresses.
- Now, see yourself holding 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈, all the internal/external factors that you are carrying in this present moment (e.g., work- and family-related stress and health). When you are able to accept this moment that comprises everything that you are holding you can free up more mental energy.
When you let go of “needing it to be” and fully be in this moment, you can experience greater clarity and be more creative in finding solutions.
Having a mindfulness practice can help us to cultivate a 𝒔𝒑𝒂𝒄𝒊𝒐𝒖𝒔 mind, allowing a more expansive perspective, so that we are able to align with our well-being. This is how to establish “your best” every day.