I recently came across this simple yet profound saying written in the front flap of my book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. Since it was my handwriting and all, I must have liked this quote enough to place it predominantly on the first blank page of the text. Yet, as insightful I must have found these words to be, I can say with certainty I have not necessarily adhered to this straightforward declaration. I mean, c’mon. You’ve read my posts! They are anything but “less” right? Okay-- I am working on that…. you’ll see.
Since I am knee deep in thinking about mindfulness, mothering, finding our true selves, etc…, when I reread this one-liner, I couldn’t help but relate it to the topics in our blog. I initially thought that doing less to achieve more was not at possible when it came to mothering. I don’t have to tell you-- there is always way more to do than the time we have to do it. But then on second thought, in terms of mindfulness and mothering, perhaps this quippy quote is rather profound.
As it pertains to mindfulness (paying attention in a particular way-- on purpose and nonjudgmentally), I think that “do less and accomplish more” directly relates to mindful mothering by doing less “thinking” to accomplish more peace, calm, and contentment. Yes. Ahhh… this I can do-- or attempt to do.
The way I am thinking about thinking is in reference to those uninvited thoughts that enter your stream of consciousness daily. You know the ones-- the “shoulds,” the judgmental ones, the criticizing ones, the ones that worry. Seeking clarity in thinking about my thinking, I recently discovered this great site, SuccessConsciousness.com. They used a great metaphor for these types of thoughts I am speaking of. Imagine your true essence (like the one I talked about as the TRUE you being the watcher, not the thinker) as being the clear blue sky. Now, these uninvited thoughts are like clouds floating through your sky. Like clouds, they drift, they cover-up your true essence, and they float away. I guess as we think about “doing less thinking” to “achieve more clarity and calm,” I ask-- how cloudy is your day today? How cloudy is it every day? Is it continually overcast in your mind? Do you have patchy cloud coverage today? Or is your sky as clear as the eye can see?
Do less…. indulging in uninvited thoughts that keep you from finding happiness and calm. But how?
“We enjoy freedom only when we are able to still the mind and choose our thoughts” (SuccessConsciousness.com). Okay. Sounds easy enough, right? Then why is this so hard? Well, it’s hard because as mothers, we have so many uninvited thoughts streaming through our consciousness, or clouding up our sky, that we don’t know when one ends and other one begins. Why is this the case?
Well, because our mind is like a filter. Think about that one. Your filter, your mind, was created, shaped, and built over time by what people have said to you, your daily experiences, and societal expecations. As SuccessConsciousness.com points out, every event in our lives has shaped our filter (the way we perceive the world and how we think about it). Now, before you start to freak out (like I did) and feel like your life, your perspective on life, and your thoughts are all out of your control and indirectly controlled by forces beyond you, it turns out that you have the power refine your filtration system.
Essentially, your mind’s filter serves to either accept or reject certain thoughts. This makes sense. For instance, why do some mothers feel obsessed about keeping their house looking like it’s about to be photographed for Architectural Digest, while other mothers could really care less if magazines are strewn about, dust is about an inch thick, and loads of laundry are sitting waiting to be folded in laundry baskets? Why do some moms, myself included, feel this pressure to always engage their children in organized, structured, educational play throughout the day while other moms recognize the value of letting kids play on their own and use their imaginations?
The point is we all have different filter settings. I love metaphors--so here is one more. Did you know that Gmail has a function where you can literally create a filter for your incoming messages? You can create a fancy-dancy filter that will allow you to automatically label, archive, delete, star or forward a message to your inbox. Imagine if you implemented this type of filtration system on your mind-- your inbox. Why not create a filter that deletes uninvited message of worry and criticism? Why not create a filter that forwards to the junk mail file, thoughts of negativity doubt? Why not create a filter that “stars” or highlights thoughts of appreciation and acceptance of the present moment-- and replays these over and over? You have the power to do this! This power lies in what we have talked about-- watching your emotions and watching your thinking. The power to reshape, refashion, and recreate your filtration system resides in present moment awareness.
As my new favorite website, SuccessConsciousness.com (no, I’m not getting paid to mention them this much) says, “Stopping the flow of thoughts may look infeasible, but constant training and exercising with concentration exercises and meditation, eventually lead to this condition. The mind is like an untamed animal. It can be taught self-discipline and obedience to a higher power.”
So, the spirit of “do less, accomplish more,” I’ll stop.