It is always of uttermost joy to see how confident people can get when they discover different parts of themselves, the growth of it all gives off the feeling of unwrapping a gift from your favourite aunt or uncle on your 10th birthday. The excitement, fascination, intrigue and most importantly the deliberate act of trusting your intuition.
Mindful.com describes mindfulness as ‘the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.’, while a growing body of research shows that it reduces stress and anxiety, improves attention and memory, and promotes self-regulation and empathy. Now, all these can be buzzwords if we do not know the practical steps to enable us to be mindful in our daily living.
As a black woman living in Nigeria prone to societal constraints filled with low expecatations of output, we must reposition our mindset towards outgrowing these boundaries in order to achieve our goals in its entirety. The ability to no longer think as the subdued, othered or victim by being aware of the surrounding circumstances and making a conscious effort to learn to navigate these hurdles while protecting our mental health and wellbeing.
Here are some ways to incorporate and practice mindfulness in our daily living:
Stop! Drop everything you’re doing: Spend at least thirty minutes daily doing nothing at all. No thoughts or processing the triggering events of the day that you now regret not responding to. Forget all the random men who called you ‘ashawo’ when you failed to respond to their catcalls or the lady who refused who move away from your way even after you politely asked her to. Keep your phone within an unreachable distance, wear your most comfortable clothes and sit or lay still.
Do something with your hands. Participate in a labour of love and creativity either through expressions such as cooking, painting, drawing, journaling in a book, composing a song, pottery, taking a photo, editing a video, anything that requires concentration and focus.
Give. Dedicate yourself to carrying out one act of charity daily, no matter how unrecognizable it may seem. The effect of this is the relief and joy in the hearts of the persons you have helped ease their burden. Encourage people when they are exhibiting their fifteen seconds of joy. An example of this could be an itinerant trader who bursts out in a dance when they hear a song that sparks joy or a kid who starts humming out of excitement after getting the ice cream they requested for. Share in their happiness.
Listen. What is your heart trying to say? What is the universe communicating to you in this time and how will you react accordingly? All emotions are valid; anger, frustration, disbelief, shock, disappointment, joy, happiness, peace, anxious. Be aware and honest with yourself about what you are feeling at every point in time in order to control your actions.
I hope this teaches you to learn to trust yourself better and take charge of every moment.