Updated: Jan 27
I have a mantra that is ” be of use.” It has been alive in me through my yoga background of selfless service and led me to India to work on a mobile hospital bus in 1981. Being of use attracted me to OT in 1973. It’s gotten me through this rough year and winter. I feel often overwhelmed and sad and share all our hopes.
Being of use cooking, cleaning, caring for our dog, building my coaching practice and helping friends and clients has also included mindful awareness. The pandemic closed down my meditation group in March and our breakfast at a café that was filled with laughter and conversation. We were all devastated. I immediately offered my conference call line so we could call in each day at 8:15 AM and connect.
When I doubt how I can be of use, I remember this quote from a book called Silence and Solitude by Eileen Campbell.
You do not need to leave your room….Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you and be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet. Franz Kafka
Living from an intuitive mindfulness space, might open to empty hours. I resist the urge to fill them meaninglessly. It’s a harder choice to live this way and listen to the still small voice. Yet, I know there is a deeper richer experience to live unafraid of the unscheduled hour.
Since September I have become a grandmother to a beautiful Czech Shephard puppy named Zeyan and care for him while my daughter works her 10-hour shift. I feed and walk him starting at 6:00 AM. When he chews his leash, I redirect and give a treat. This has shifted my day’s activities considerably. I love him despite the challenges of puppyhood.
Some mornings, my daughter the puppy and I take a walk through a bird sanctuary to an open field with sky and mountains in the background. It brings me solace to feel so alive in the wide-open space and watch Zey run freely to catch a ball. I’m so grateful for this puppy; a mush ball who communicates constantly, loving us in his way. Oops, he just jumped on the bed and is licking my toes. I think I’m not supposed to let him do that.
Recently I was having a rough day, unable to get in gear. I was low emotionally, and grumpy. I decided to walk the puppy and met a neighbor who also has a puppy. As the dogs played, she opened up to me. In that moment, I shifted and saw I could be of use, listening and holding a space to receive her painful experience. She asked for a meal train since she would be in the hospital the next day. I then realized what grace looks like when you are open to it. I was transformed from my grumpy state. I had left myself open that day rather than busying myself, and let my intuition guide me to my friend. It uplifted me deeply, and presented a way to be of use, co- creating with a neighbor a meal train and cooking for her family.
Here are ways to do mindfulness in action:
· Share with others what you’ve got when the opportunity arises naturally- recipes, good reads, songs and movies. We all need change from our routines. Send a card, or call a friend.
· Bundle up and take a walk and enjoy the outdoors. Watch the sunset and sunrise and really take it in. Make sure your kids are getting adequate outside time despite the cold. It will balance the remote learning.
· Make eye contact and listen when others are speaking. Put down the phone, take a moment and give a “best friend response “ when people share their frustration, or disappointment. Instead of dismissing the feelings, mirror the person’s affect with “that stinks, what a drag” and let their feelings have space.
· Take deep breaths, listen to your body, and watch your mental and emotional state go up and down in a day. Be kind to your nuances of emotion. Lie on the floor and do nothing. Look at books.
· Go the extra mile, empathetically not begrudgingly. De-clutter so the space feels brighter.
· Join a climate Action group, a group that helps with food insecurity or any opportunity to be of service in your community that you feel called to join. If you don’t have time to volunteer, look for simple ways to help others within your own circle that fit your schedule.
· When you wake up in the morning, or while having coffee, and feel the host of feelings that accompany a new day, you might try meditating for a few minutes, watching your breath. Make this offering, “Help me to be of use today and be open to hear the intuitive call.“ Watch as the opportunities come gently before you, as you patiently wait for them to reveal themselves to you. Take refuge there in being of use.
Barbara Neiman is an OT productivity coach, Mindfulness author and trainer. She specializes with women who are struggling to meet goals and deadlines and with families with special needs or adoption. Contact Barbara for Productivity coaching on the contact tab of www.barbaraneiman.com and learn more about her course Frazzled to Focused here: https://www.barbaraneiman.com/from-frazzled-to-focused
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