I have to say that Tyson Cole's cartoon made me chuckle. However, once the amusement dissipated I felt an uneasy feeling come over me. Is this where we're heading? Are we outsourcing our mental wellness and, if so, what will the repercussions be?
I get it . If we want to get things done and focus on what we do best as opposed to getting caught up in time consuming tasks, then outsourcing is a great idea! Who wouldn't want an au pair to help out with lifting kids and managing stressful homework? Using Checkers Sixty60 to do the shopping or a virtual assistant to get the admin done? If one is in a position to support outsourcing it's an amazing way to make room for the important stuff like spending quality time with those we love, doing things that make our soul sing and very importantly making space for 'me' time. 'Me' time doesn't mean reading, getting lost in social media, going shopping or meeting a friend for coffee. It's way more special than that.
It's the time we spend within ourselves, with no external distractions. Time to just 'be' as opposed to 'do'. Using our senses to bring ourselves to the now and not get caught up in a web of non-stop ruminating, planning, worrying, judging. To purposefully be in the magical and blissful present moment. It's called Mindfulness and millions of people around the world are using this practice to improve their quality of life, manage stress, promote physical and mind wellness and improve their ability to manage their emotions.
However, when we start to outsource this precious 'me time', we can risk becoming so disconnected from ourselves that we start to rely on outside things to make us feel good inside. You see, mind wellness, resilience, flexibility & equanimity are like muscles that need to be exercised and strengthened. Just like we would never expect a personal trainer to do 100 bicep curls on our behalf in order to have well toned arms, we can't expect things outside of ourselves to give us sustained peace and joy - it's an inside job.
The problem is we don't know how to be with ourselves. To listen to our inner wisdom, to sit with discomfort and sometimes face painful truths. We 'outsource'. If we don't feel good we pop a pill. If our emotions get too 'big' we unconsciously distract ourselves by going to the fridge, helping ourselves to another glass of wine, binge on Netflix, get lost in social media or go mindless shopping. We look for things outside of ourselves to make us feel better instead of learning to manage ourselves from the inside-out.
I had been meditating on and off for years but the day I took on Mindfulness as a daily practice was the day I stopped 'outsourcing' and began 'insourcing'. For the past 7 years I have developed a healthy relationship with my thoughts. I am no longer attached to them, getting sucked into wave after wave of story and emotion. I have become the one watching and noticing the fears, anxieties, sadness as opposed to identifying as a fearful, anxious or sad person. I have come to see I am not my thoughts and this epiphany is what has set me free. Free from the stories of who I thought I was into a person operating in a space of pure possibility.
I've heard all the excuses as to why some people don't want to meditate:
"I don't have the time."
"It's too spiritual."
"I can't do it, my mind is way too busy."
"It's too difficult."
Just to put your mind at rest - mindfulness meditation is a secular, scientifically backed, mind strengthening exercise. It doesn't have to take up more than 20 minutes of your day and yet the physical and psychological benefits are incredible.
Another 'insourcing' tool I use to destress and connect with myself is slow breathing. When you consciously slow your breathing down by inhaling through your nose, pause and then exhale slowly through your mouth (as if blowing through a straw) you automatically calm your nervous system down. You shift from operating in fight or flight to rest and digest where you are more able to respond calmly & appropriately. It's good for regulating your digestive system and immune system and can help you with managing your emotions.
So yes, while we are living in a time where we can buy convenience with a simple 'tap', just remember mind wellness is something that's cultivated from within.
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