Writer: Erin Lee
"Take it easy, okay?" says people in a bid to offer some comfort and solace when they come to know of our struggles.
These words are well-intended. They genuinely hope we can slow down from the rush, step back from the craziness and not get too involved, perhaps even disengage completely so we get some much-needed rest.
But what if we can't take it easy, especially when things are coming at us in a fast and furious way?
What if we are just not able to remove ourselves from situations, and we need to be there taking care of things?
When we think about how much we need to get done, we easily get overwhelmed by just the thought of what lies ahead of us, and we feel anxious about not being able to handle everything well.
Mindful living is not always about slowing down and letting go; it is also about learning to navigate busy, stressful moments in a healthier and wiser way.
Mindfulness is not about escaping, nor is it about bulldozing our way through.
The key to navigating difficult times we cannot avoid is to practice approaching our experience one moment at a time.
And this is what being present is really about. As each moment arrives in our awareness, we turn our attention inwards and notice with gentle alertness what is happening.
We observe how the experience unfolds, and how we may be reacting to what comes our way in each moment.
We become more attuned to the thoughts and emotions that are arising and changing, and how the body is feeling from moment to moment.
We are aware of any tendencies of engaging in unhelpful thought patterns, as well as impulses to behave in a certain way.
This present-moment awareness is not the same as disconnecting from our experience. It allows us to step back a little, and still be in the know of what is happening.
With this practice, we keep a gentle watch over ourselves as we continue doing what we need to do and navigating the difficult moments.
Even though we may not be able to stop, we prioritise doing "one thing at a time" when we can, and choose to be fully engaged with the activity, rather than multi-tasking and allowing the attention get more fragmented.
With such mindful awareness, we have the capacity to decide in each moment whether there is a need to engage with the experience, and if there is, how we would like to respond.
Sometimes we may catch ourselves spiralling and in need of a pause, and we are able to identify the exact moments we should take that pause.
We pause and breathe when we can, and calmly move forward again, welcoming the next moment with a more balanced state of mind.
Most importantly, we remind ourselves that no matter how difficult it may feel for us right now, we know that this experience will not last forever, and will soon change.
And so for now, all we need to take care of is each moment as it comes.