Mindful with Irene (8)

“Mindful, me? Haha!” Irene (46), together with Astrid, is the founder of Flow Magazine. She lives with her children (9 and 13, co-parenting) in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Each Friday, she writes about how various Mindfulness lessons apply in daily life. This week, she has a confession to make.

I have to confess something. I’ve completed all kinds of training and followed all sorts of courses in the field of mindfulness and self-compassion, read a great deal of books about it, written articles on it, made specials about it (we’re currently working on a third Mindfulness special), and yet I am so very very not Zen. People who know me are already fully aware of that, of course, but new people I meet are often surprised by this fact. They think I have integrated all that wisdom and all those life lessons from Flow into my life, and that I am now a hugely-balanced-quiet-relaxed person. But the truth of the matter is that I am incredibly jealous of those who have found their purpose in life much more than I have. People who don’t struggle and doubt every day; who aren’t constantly as rigorous and demanding of themselves; whose emotional lives aren’t such a rollercoaster; who don’t panic when they feel low and cry for no reason; who don’t think that every twinge and ache is the beginning of their physical ruin and that it’s all downhill from here… Well, you get the gist. Here’s a recent SMS from a friend of mine: “Haha, when I read your foreword in Flow, you sound like you know what you’re talking about. But I actually know better!” I sat there for a while, taking those words in and while doing so, another message came through: “But then again, everyone thinks I’m always eating healthily and that I’m super slim because I am a nutritionist, which is also not exactly true!” That made me laugh, and led me to make a mental list of the perceptions I have of people, which made me realize I’m in good company. For example: I thought the comedienne Ruby Wax was always cheerful and funny, but it turns out she suffers from huge dips and bouts of depression. Then there’s a friend of mine who has a high position in a bank, yet on a personal level, her finances are not quite in order. And going further back in time: I truly believed that Princess Diana was incredibly happy because she was princess, and royalty are simply always happy in their beautiful palaces, aren’t they?

The moral of this story: You aren’t always what you seem. And I am not a mindful person. What mindfulness has given me, however, is the ability to understand this. And the ability to laugh at myself, despite all those struggles and the hassles in my head. And that is a big plus.