The Truth in Quarters

“It’s better to have four quarters than a hundred pennies” -  Mrs. Smith, eight grade math teacher

“It’s better to have four quarters than a hundred pennies” - Mrs. Smith, eight grade math teacher

What is all this mindfulness stuff? Is it the next new Acai Bowl, Silly Band, or Vera Bradley trend? Does it work? Could it work? Why, all of a sudden, am I seeing it everywhere?

These are the questions I hear and, more importantly, feel from others who have some skepticism about the mindfulness craze. People are practicing it everywhere from Anderson Cooper’s influential work, NFL teams pre-game routines, corporate sites, and classrooms. It’s here and it’s not going anywhere because it DOES work and it’s needed. And it’s long past due that we as a culture begin to take the time and pay attention to our sensory and feeling self. We are a society whose heads are down having virtual conversations that supposedly make us feel close to one another. But if we are honest enough with ourselves, we are an inch deep and a mile wide. Mindfulness can play a part not only in repairing our disintegrating relationships and our interactions with our children, but mostly in how willing we are to tap into what’s really going on.

Every morning I wake up at 4:15am to go to my Crossfit Gym. It’s my hour, the only part of the day I can claim as my own. The rest of the day is devoted to my kids and the constant flow of events that takes place. But my hour is MY hour and lately I’m finding that my mind is 80% of what goes on in that hour. For those of you unfamiliar with this style of training, it is high-intensity benchmark-style training where over time you can celebrate mini achievements. And those achievements feel good, so good. It feeds any competitive edge you have left over from the dust that settled from a super competitive college athlete. And it dawned on me this morning as I set up my weights in the back corner of the room that me and my head are the only ones in charge. The simple connection between the physical self and the mental self. Mindfulness is what I teach! And as I struggled with the ever-present voices in my head that tempt me to fail before I even began, I understood that mindfulness is recognizing these thoughts and then doing something with them. Way to practice what you preach, Sarah! And when you take time to pause and feel it, you also allow yourself to look beyond where those thoughts are stemming from. Without going into a spider-web of my own personal self analyzation, I ask you instead to trust that the process works. And it does work when you allow it to. You can choose to get caught up in external circumstances or you can choose to go inward and trust yourself, your whole self. The self of doubt, fear, anticipation, and all the other ugly stuff floating around. I’ve learned in one tiny moment at 5:32 this morning to trust my strength, capabilities, power, never-give-up attitude. And even as I write this to whomever is reading it, I notice I’m sitting up a little straighter after that last sentence. Such is the power of the internal cheerleader, the voice that has the ability to press you forward or keep you in one spot.

And here’s the thing: there are hundreds of ways to practice mindfulness, tons of books and articles to read, and entire meditation classes devoted to these valuable principals. But it really just boils down to how you choose to value and speak your own truth, which ultimately translates to living it! What do I mean by “living your truth?”. It means to dig deep in the trenches of your soul to see what feels real and raw, maybe even untouchable. It means to live authentically and not be ashamed of being human in a world that has perfected what the screen-play of life should look like. And I’ve noticed when I unveil the layers of self to others and myself, there’s a willingness in the other person to do the same. Don’t waste your time on relationships who don’t see the value in this. My sixth grade math teacher who noticed this shy, head-down kinda kid, said to me “it’s better to have four quarters than a 100 pennies.” I held onto that and still reference it. The older I get, the more I understand that by living my truth and allowing myself to be mindful in accordance with it, will I continue to meet the “quarters" who are willing to do the same.

Life is hard. And anyone who pretends it isn’t just hasn’t found the time or space to surrender to the lessons that are meant through all of it. Or perhaps they’ve created exit plans (aka addictions or space-holders) in order to keep things status quo. Maybe things would change if we all just recognized that we’re soldiers together, a large group of people all fighting our own parallel battles. Treat each other with compassion, speak your truth and live it. Understand that when you pull back the curtains of the self, light shines through and others see it. And that’s all you can do. Live with integrity, encourage one another, and find the quarters who are willing do the same.