Elli Weisbaum

Mindfulness for Life

When I decided to pursue a PhD I was told over and over again that it would be overwhelming, isolating and painful. My response? No thanks! First of all, there isn't anything I choose to do in my life that I would describe in those ways. Secondly, the topic of my thesis is mindfulness - so pursuing a PhD on this topic with this framing just didn't make sense to me. But the more I was told this, the more it made me wonder what a mindful PhD might look like. Mindfulness is not only the focus of my research, but an integral part of my life. The practice is woven into the fabric of everything I do. For me, integrating mindfulness into the meta approach of pursuing my PhD seemed not only natural, but also ethical and imperative for my mental health. The aspiration behind this blog is to bring awareness for myself to this journey and to share the experience of attempting to navigate a PhD on mindfulness with mindfulness. This isn't to claim that I will never suffer or experience being overwhelmed, isolated and in pain during this process - but it is to set an intention to meet these feelings with kindness and care and to transform them so that I can also experience joy and happiness as part of this 5 year adventure.

Getting started: A reflection on perfection

The internal narratives that almost stopped me from starting this blog

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I’ve been thinking about starting a blog about my adventure through graduate studies, but never knew when to start.

Some of the thoughts getting in my way included: I should have started a week before my first class. What if I had thought of starting a blog when I first applied? I should at least have started when I went to orientation...

It's amazing how the narratives we run in our mind get in our way. Anyway, someone pointed out that if I waited for the perfect moment, I would probably never start.

 
This doesn’t mean being so kind that I never get anything done. It also means not ruminating forever on what could have been, endeavoring to smile to the mistakes I make, and continuing on without the extra weight of guilt or regret.
 

The other major obstacle has been finding the time. Luckily, I have a mindfulness practice that reminds me to be kind to myself and understand my own capacity. This doesn't mean being so kind that I never get anything done. It also means not ruminating forever on what could have been, endeavoring to smile to the mistakes I make, and continuing on without the extra weight of guilt or regret.

Even as I write this and think about how much more I could tweak these words to make them even better, I am letting go by knowing that if I edit every blog entry to perfection, I will never post anything or be able to keep it up.

So today is the day to start! Although now that I'm actually writing, I realize it is kind of the perfect day because yesterday was the first meeting with my program advisory committee (PAC)... So perhaps the perfect day to start a task is really just whenever you start. 

 
...so perhaps the perfect day to start a task is really just whenever you start.
 

I've decided to break this piece of writing up into three sections, so it doesn't get too long. If you want to hear about my program and thesis focus—along with what the first meeting with my committee was like—read the next two posts!

Full Disclosure [added November 26, 2017]: I wrote the blog entry above on January 19, 2017, but didn't formally create this blog until November 28, 2017. All the entries included between these two dates were written offline and saved. They patiently waited on my computer until I had the time and space to create a blog page on my website and do some formatting. 

TAGS: Narratives, Perfection, Letting go, Self-Compassion


Suggested practice

Random on the spot meditation based on this blog post: (sometimes I like to make up meditations that support whatever I'm currently thinking about, feel free to try this one or your own!) 

Exercise

Breathing in, I smile to all my aspirations. Breathing out, I release the possibility of perfection.

In breath focus on the phrase: smile to aspirations.

Out breath focus on the phrase: release perfection.

Breath focusing on these phrases for a few minutes, then open your eyes. 


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