Delegating is a big part of my letting go of perfectionism—and learning how to flourish. I have hired an administrative assistant to take care of a lot of the paperwork involved in running two businesses. She does a lot of typing and data entry, so I can focus on my students and clients.
There also are times when others help me create more room in my schedule. Monday was a good example:
I teach a private yoga lesson to a 60-plus guy on Friday afternoons. There was confusion about last week’s appointment, so we rescheduled for Monday. When he walked out his front door to meet me, he noticed how slippery the sidewalks and roads still were from Saturday evening’s storm. He headed right back inside to cancel our lesson.
I was thrilled. We had missed the previous lesson as well, and I was trying to squeeze him in to an already booked Monday afternoon. His lesson would have been my second of four classes in five hours. I was grateful for the extra space.
Instead of grabbing a quick bite to go on my way to his lesson, I could stop by my local Busboys for lunch. I ordered an Oaxaca omelet with vegan cheese—and relaxed enjoying a few minutes of serenity before my next yoga class.
After the bill was paid, I checked to see when the next G8 bus would arrive to take me to Serenity Place DC, your neighborhood yoga studio. The NextBus app told me I had about 15 minutes to wait, and I decided to use them perusing FB and checking in with friends.
I began to read a Huff Post piece about a homeless couple living on the New York City streets. Suddenly, I felt something hard hit the back of my head. My eyes reflexively closed as a strong sensation moved to the front right side of my brain. I wondered, “What was that?”
I peeled open my eyes a bit to get a clue. The ladies with whom I had enjoyed lunch at a communal table were looking at me, speechless. Just as I was about to ask what happened, a female voice broke in. “I’m sorry.”
I asked, “What hit me?”
She replied, “My bag. I was trying to swing it onto my shoulder, and I didn’t see you. Are you okay?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer. I wasn’t in pain. There was no blood, cuts, or scrapes. But my eyes didn’t want to remain open, so I left them mostly closed.
“Are you okay? Do you need anything?”
“I’m not sure.”
“I don’t see a cut or anything.”
“I don’t know. I think I’m going to be okay.”
With a final, “I’m sorry,” she turned and hurried out the door. She wasn’t interested in staying longer to ensure I was okay after the initial shock wore off, to make sure I didn’t have a concussion or headache. I touched the back of my head and felt a slight bump. I wondered if it would grow more pronounced over time.
I went to the ladies room, and bundled up for the 20-degree weather outside. As I waited for my bus, I thought about mindfulness. Clearly, the woman who had knocked me upside the head with her tote bag wasn’t being mindful. She didn’t even see me. She was in a hurry to leave the restaurant, perhaps late for her next appointment. She wasn’t hurt by her lack of mindfulness and focus. I was.
That’s when the lesson became crystal clear (pun intended). We practice mindfulness for others as much as ourselves. When we aren’t mindful, when we aren’t in the present, when we aren’t paying attention,
Hurtful words are said.
Punches are thrown.
Damage is caused.
Years ago in a sermon, my pastor at the time said, “When you poke a hole in a wall, it’s possible to patch it up. But the hole won’t ever go away. It will always be there underneath the plaster and new paint.” He used this metaphor to encourage us to speak kind and loving words. When something hurtful is said, apologies can be given and amends made. But the words can never be retracted. They always will be there.
Who is harmed by your lack of mindfulness?
Who is hurt when you aren’t paying attention?
If not for yourself, can you practice mindfulness for the benefit of others?
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.