“All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien
These are two lines from my favourite poem, by J.R.R. Tolkien. They remind me of the fact that not everything is always as it seems – gold is still gold, even if it does not glitter, and one can wander without being lost. I sometimes catch myself wanting to have my whole life planned out: what house am I going to live in, what job will I have, what and how many dogs would I want, husband, kids, retirement… Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but planning every single aspect of my life does not leave much room for spontaneity. Apart from reading books about happiness, the soul-searching and my monthly resolutions, maybe I should wander a little more. Not everything needs a purpose. Walking around aimlessly without knowing the direction in which you are heading, can be very freeing. Letting random thoughts pass by without trying to figure out every single on of them, is useful without having a clear purpose. It broadens your imagination and widens your perspective, and it can be just that, without having to act on those thoughts immediately. Similarly, merely writing on a blog in order to get my thoughts on paper is enough: I have to remind myself that I created this blog, not with the purpose of having readers, but for myself. Ideas and opinions written down solely to practise my writing and to make sense of my thoughts, to wander through my own mind and write about it, without having to comply to a certain ideal. I find myself focussing more and more on why, when and how many people read my posts (not that many at all, but still), when I should be focussing on the why, when and how of my mind.
On that note, yesterday I went to my first mindfulness class. It was an introductory lesson, just to see whether it is something that I would like to do it on a more regular basis. It was only a 10-minute bike ride away, and I was expected at 20.40 o’clock. The building was beautiful. It used to be a school, with red bricks, tall windows and folding doors with the school’s name still above it. Upon arrival I looked around to see whether I was in the right place, but then the doors opened and a guy, who turned out to be the teacher, smiled at me. He looked like he was somewhere in his twenties, with brown hair that touched his shoulders, a beard and big glasses. His jumper said “Meditation”, and he wore what appeared to be pyjama bottoms (they were, as he later told me). He talked some more to the people leaving, made me some tea and then we went into the, for lack of a better term, class room. It was big, with a high white ceiling, a dark wooden floor and again, high windows. Spread through the room were about eight purple yoga mats, all with a big cushion to lean against, another one to sit on, and a black blanket. He started by explaining what, in his opinion, mindfulness was, and how he benefits from it. He also told me that, because he always thought he was so good at meditation, he went to a monestary for a week to meditate for nine hours a day – nine hours a day. Needless to say, I was flabbergasted, but also curious and inspired. If I would be able to do even ten minutes or half an hour of meditation by the end of the course, I would be happy. I try to meditate every day, with an App, but I find that I start worrying at some point and forget to listen to the woman’s voice. Yesterday was different. The teacher talked me through a body scan (left leg only, because he was no fan of body scans – which left me feeling a bit strange, since I like things to be symmetrical and now I had only one very relaxed leg). Then he explained some more concepts of meditation and did a couple more exercises. One more advanced form (that would be taught in more detail in the actual classes) and one form where I had to worry about one single topic for about three to four minutes, while still focussing on the senses in my body and surrounding sounds. This last exercise was more difficult than I expected – I always thought of myself as a champion in worrying, but when I was forced to, all I could think was: “Why can I only worry about one topic when there is so much to worry about?” and “I do not have enough to worry about for four minutes straight.” That thought was a relief, actually. During the meditation exercises, I felt myself relaxing a bit more and my body getting heavier, something that I rarely experience when I try to meditate myself. In about half a month, I will be going to another mindfulness class, to compare and see which works out better for me (different people have different views on mindfulness and meditation and thus have different ways of teaching), but I have decided that I do definitely want to join a course. I have nothing to lose, except money maybe, and only more knowledge and experience to gain.
Beside the resolutions that I already created for September, I want to wander a little more. So far, the rest of my resolutions are going well: making my bed every morning makes a significant difference in how messy my room feels. Although “wandering” does not directly have much to do with Habits and Rituals, I feel as though I should leave a little room for spontaneity in my life. After all, as Robert Frost said:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”