One of the nicest things I have learned from mindfulness is that sometimes you have to just let things be. It’s an absurdly simple lesson to learn, of course, but somehow, in one way or another, I never actually did “just let things be.” If I found myself in a situation or feeling an emotion that I did not like, I fought against it. My standard reaction was always: Analyze and solve the issue. Scared of feeling alone, I would book my weekends solid with appointments. When I was sad, I gave myself a pep talk along the lines of: “Come on now, look on the bright side.” If I was tired and lethargic, I gave myself a kick up the backside, and scolded myself because I believed I had no reason to feel that way. I had that “gee up” mentality, basically.
But that approach stopped working. I began to hyperventilate more frequently and my mind was never calm. And, with perfect timing, that’s exactly when mindfulness entered my life. The realization that I did not have to fight everything, but that sometimes things could just be and that they will simply go away again, was a huge eye-opener for me. Now it feels perfectly logical, but it didn’t before. When I recently had to do some homework for my mindfulness-trainer course, I came across it again. My reference book explained how it actually is. That, in the western world, we are so inclined to fix everything; to think everything over and to analyze what’s going on. In some cases, it is in fact necessary and convenient to do so. But there are also many cases in which it is not. Sometimes, the solution is to just leave things alone. Simply noticing what is happening is enough. Isn’t that a serene notion: that sometimes life is a lot easier than you think?
Irene, together with Astrid, is the founder and creative director of Flow Magazine. She lives with her children (10 and 13, co-parenting) in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Each Friday, she writes about how various Mindfulness lessons apply in her daily life.