Mindfulness in the City
We hear about the concept of mindfulness everywhere nowadays, though it might still seem foreign.
Mindfulness isn’t a concept reserved for monks on a mountain, nor for California dreamers. It’s not something you have to practice a certain number hours of yoga or meditation to obtain. It’s a practice that involves shifting out of the usual headspace of life, putting your problems to the side for a few minutes, and just taking a second to appreciate what we have and what’s around you.
Many people can confuse mindfulness with meditation, the practice of emptying the mind in search of inner peace. While aspects of each can overlap in practice, mindfulness differs in that its practice asks us to keep our mind full to find peace. This requires us to, really, stop and smell the roses, to appreciate the beauty of what is around us, as well as the blessings in our lives. It also requires us to be conscientious of others and their wants and needs.
Rockford is a city of around 147,000 people spread across just 64 square miles. 147,000 people who all have valid hopes, dreams, fears, and loves. Though this may seem like a daunting amount of minds to be conscious of, mindfulness starts just one interaction at a time.
Mindfulness is something I see all the time here working at FitMe Wellness; it seems to come relatively effortlessly amongst the members because we all have a common goal, to better ourselves and be healthier. Whether it’s people taking the time out of their routine to ensure the machine or weight they are using is not needed by another member hovering in the area, or individuals just taking the time to clean up after themselves when they take something out (so that we, the staff, don’t have to), mindfulness is often on full display at FitMe.
But what about outside of our group of like-minded individuals, and into the real world’s real problems? How can being mindful help in our day-to-day life? To take an example from my own life, I was born with a rare degenerative hip disease called Legg-Calvé-Perthes. Because of this, simply put, my right hip became deformed and I have developed advanced arthritis in my hip before age 30. Relative to an average, functional human, my situation may seem tough, or even downright bleak. For a while in my early life, it was overwhelming to contemplate what the future held for me. Over time, however, I’ve learned that I’m truly blessed.
I played wheelchair basketball for over a decade of my life. In that time, I got an inside look into the lives of the families who have to go through seeing their children go through surgery after surgery, hoping that this next one will allow Johnny’s brain to drain properly, or get Mary out of the hospital and back in class and learning with her friends. While others with disabilities were going through things of that nature, I got to see the country, win multiple national championships, and compete on the highest level in the country for my sport while just in high school. I also met some of the coolest and most accepting people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and even was invited a couple of times to participate on Paralympic teams. Until I started playing wheelchair basketball, I only had one perspective: I can’t do everything my friends can do. Because of that perspective, I allowed myself to be depressed and miserable for years after my surgery at age 9. After playing basketball for just a couple of years, and seeing what some of the kids and their families had to go through on a daily basis, I realized how lucky I was to be in the situation that I am.
When I was younger and had less experience, and therefore less to fill my mind with, my disability was a daunting shadow lurking behind my every thought and action. But as I filled my mind with new information, my perspective changed, and my mind followed. We all have days, heck, even weeks, where we feel as though what we’re going through must be the single worst thing that has ever happened to anyone ever, throughout the history of time. Sometimes we could just use a boost to the spirit, something to remind us that life is beautiful, and that we are fortunate to be who and where we are. •
By Matt Bralick | FitMe Wellness