In the past, I had never been that good at balancing when standing still. Give me a race from one meeting to another or a dance party and I was as steady as a rock on my feet. I juggled life half hearing conversations along the way, the street sounds in my city or the flight of ruby red cardinals in early spring. From one place to another, with too much reliance on a GPS, I didn’t have to be aware of where I was going and how I was going to get there. I just followed a distant voice.
Then, about 10 years ago, in the midst of my usual pace, I rediscovered the quiet…the peace of mindfulness. I was knocked on the ground, flat on my face from a serious accident. My nose was gone, my cheekbone broken and the stress was full blown due to an allergy to pain medicine. I was forced to make peace with my body and quiet my mind. There was no choice so I surrendered to the experience.
Within the first week, an unexpected calmness came over me…a familiar confidence that everything that was happening around me, moment-by-moment was significant and available as a gift to deepen me—to pull me into balance. It felt like an ancient knowing, one I had experienced before when I made different pace choices, like a returning friend.
My face was unrecognizable for weeks. As I looked in the mirror with initial horror, the realization that I relied much more on my outer self, meeting, interacting, going from one project to another, being too busy to stop and savor the ones I loved as often as I deeply desired screamed at me. Now, I had to look long and hard beyond the obvious into the unseen.
Over the next 30 days, I listened with wild curiosity to my body, to the pain, to my thoughts, fears, and danced with the loss of time. The world went on quite nicely without my frenzy. It was a sobering lesson in what was important and what could easily be let go….well, maybe not so easily, but with forced choice and weakened resistance, I finally got it and decided I would change whatever was necessary to never lose it again.
Every friend and family member who came to see me had my complete focus. Outside of a periodic escape into a few hours of watching Law & Order, I was truly present and grateful for each moment of life. I not only received a reconstructed nose and healed cheekbone, but a reconstructed life of mindful presence.
Since that experience, the journey to live mindfully has had its ups and downs, successes accompanied by a list of distractions. Some days moving forward, others slipping a bit, but never going backwards for too long. I’ve made some tough, bold decisions and changed many aspects of my life and how I spend my time. I’ve learned to say “no” and move on when needed. I’ve made plenty of mistakes…. I’ve learned the power of being present.
This new way of being is sweet and has rewarded me over and over again in ways I could not have imagined. It has given me a new view of the choices before me. Sometimes I ignore what I see and have to backtrack…Other times, I dive right in and relish the deep joy.
How satisfied are you with your life and work?
Do you know what keeps you in balance and what pulls you off your mark?