What is mindfulness? It’s not quicksand…

what is mindfulnessFacebook memes can be incredibly cliché; however, one that seemed to speak to me, and make me laugh out loud was the meme that quotes comedian John Mulaney:

“When I was growing up, I always thought quicksand would be a much bigger problem than it actually is”.

1970s TV was obsessed with quicksand being the ultimate danger moment! And I would be a lying if I said that my 6 year old self did not believe that quicksand was not only possible, but a very probable way to die.

So, where’s all the quicksand?

Well for me, quicksand still exists, only it looks a bit different. Mostly, it looks like fear: fear of uncertainty, fear of believing in myself, fear of thinking outside of the box, fear of taking leaps into futures that hold possibility and growth, fear of my own ability to be and do anything that I set my mind to. I mean, after all, one small step off the trail of safety and I COULD end up in QUICKSAND….

A few weeks ago, my colleague Vin Harris was delivering a membership teaching based on his course Enlightened Enterprise. This course is inspired by Stephen Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. Vin gave a teaching and guided a practice around Covey’s two circles: the circle of concern and the circle of influence. Basically, the circle of concern holds all of those worries that we can’t do anything about. The circle of influence holds those worries that we can do something about. For me, my quicksand lies in what Stephen Covey calls the ‘circle of concern’.

Vin’s teaching was like the penny dropping. I have been living out of my circle of concern! My quicksand was sucking me under. During the teaching, he guided a reflection practice that brought us back into the here and the now, touching in with our present moment reality, before dropping in the question of ‘what is within my control?’

It was not difficult to find some small action that I could take in that moment as a first step to actually addressing a concern that was real- and not quicksand. This was incredibly empowering!

This past weekend, I was reminded of this teaching when I finally saw an actual warning for quicksand. I was on a beach walk and right there on the what is mindfulnessmap, in front of my eyes, were the words ‘ Danger Quicksand’. I smiled and laughed.

Quicksand? Pfffft…. I can handle it!

So this week’s challenge is to notice the quicksand of our lives. Are there any worries or concerns that are plaguing the mind that, in all actuality, we can do nothing about?

Then, taking a few breaths and slowing down, coming back into the body, coming back into the present moment: what present moment problems are existing that we actually have some control over? What’s a first step in addressing them?

Or as Vin asks, what might it be like to live out of our circle of influence?

To me, this sounds like the only logical option!


For those members who missed Vin’s teaching, make sure to log on to the membership site and watch the recording under ‘Recorded Sessions’. Not a member? Sign up here!


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