Captain Do-Good – Why I’m Trying to be More Mindful
Captain Do-Good – Why I’m Trying to be More Mindful
So, I have a new favourite book (Mindfulness for Busy People, by Dr Michael Sinclair and Josie Seydel). And I thought I would share with you something valuable I have learned already, even though I am only a quarter of the way in.
I am a Captain Do-Good. This is, what Sinclair and Seydel call, my ‘busy superhero’. There are 5 altogether and while I fit into all of them in some way, Captain Do-Good describes me the most accurately.
What this means is that I am very good at occupying my time by trying to please others. I often fill my days with tasks that are designed to relieve others of the burdens of their lives – whether it be running errands, or even just offering an ear to listen to their troubles. Captain Do-Good is always busy trying to rid others of their unhappiness and pain.
This isn’t exactly a bad thing – it is nice to help others, and to be there when someone needs you. However the issue is that this is a hopeless mission. No matter how hard you try, you are never going to take away ALL the unhappiness in the world. It’s also a never ending mission; you will keep trying to help others, but will only make yourself more busy and tired in the process.
I’m definitely not telling you to give up – I am simply saying, slow down.
I spend an awful lot of my time trying to help others. I teach at Sunday School, and Champion (ushering and greeting at Church services), and I’m on the worship team. I am an intern at a Child’s therapy centre (which you will know all about if you are a regular reader) and often make tasks harder for myself by trying to make things easier for the other members of staff. I am helping a good family friend with his new business, taking on admin tasks and media related tasks for camps that he runs. I am also working alongside another friend to help make educational services available to refugee children in Hong Kong, by running education days and summer schools. I even helped a friend plan and run two weddings before Christmas.
But that’s not all. I like to think I am very good at being the shoulder to cry on among my friends. I have never considered this to be a burden, I want my friends to ALWAYS feel comfortable being open and honest with me. I know what it’s like to have to pretend everything is okay when you’re falling apart inside, and I love that my friends can come to me even if it is just to vent.
However, it is also important to take care of yourself first.
Being this busy means that I don’t often live in the present moment. I live in the past, worried about that thing I said, or whether I’ve forgotten something important. I also live in the future, worrying whether the person I said that thing to is going to hate me forever, or if I have enough time to complete the task I have forgotten to do. By being busy we miss all the opportunities to embrace life. To ‘stop and smell the flowers’. We simply live life on autopilot. We ‘go through the motions’.
The truth is that there is so much out there to experience, and one way to start doing that is to become more mindful. It’s not easy – I haven’t got very far with trying to master it. But what I do know is that the moments I have managed it have been fantastic.
Mindfulness helps you step out of the emotions you feel, especially when you are busy. You see them more objectively and can wave them goodbye before carrying on. Being busy is overwhelming. Mindfulness will NOT rid you of all your stress, it’s not like a magic wand. But being more mindful can make you realise that you don’t need to rid your life of stress altogether.
So how do I do it?
As I have already mentioned, I am far from mastering mindfulness. I also don’t want to give away all the goodness of the book. So I will give you my favourite task, and let you find the rest out for yourselves.
A huge part of my day, and my life basically, is my morning cup of tea in bed, followed by my morning coffee in work. It is literally the only thing that gets me up in the morning. So, I try and use this to kick start my day with a mindful attitude.
Here’s what I do:
– I hold my cup of tea in both hands, and close my eyes. I focus on the heat of the cup in my hands, how my breathing slows down and the anticipation of what I am about to drink.
– I think about the smell, as I breath in and out, and how the hot steam feels as it moves through my airways.
– As I take a sip I focus on the heat, and the sensation on my tongue and in my mouth, before I notice the taste. I hold it in my mouth for a second before swallowing, feeling it move through my body.
– I leave time between sips, focusing on my breathing, and how long I leave in between sips. I may even open my eyes, and look outside, appreciating the light of a new morning (only on sunny days).
This task doesn’t take long, I usually only manage it for the first couple of sips, but it is a really positive way to start my day.
When you are a busy person it is difficult to clear your head of any extraneous thoughts or emotions. And that is perfectly alright. You simply acknowledge the thoughts as they wander through your brain, for example ‘yes I know I have a long to do list at the office, but I will get through it’ and then re-focus your mind on the cup of tea. Start again with your breathing, and go through the list again.
Mindfulness for Busy People is such an amazing book, and I recommend it highly. I won’t spoil any more of it for you, but will provide an Amazon link for it here.
Written by: Philippa Berry
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