Do you have a hobby, or an activity in which you can be completely yourself? Something that just makes you feel alive and happy and totally you? Are you aware of not having to put on any front or pretense when you're in that zone? How does that feel?
My "hobby" is swimming laps at the pool at our local university. Since I'm no spring chicken, I need some "aids" to help me, one of which includes a full-face mask with a snorkel sticking out of the forehead that makes me look like an interplanetary alien unicorn. The other is a pair of hand paddles, which” resemble dinner plates strapped to my hands! My third “accessory is an underwater Mp3 player clipped to the back of my (long sleeve!) swimsuit, and a pair of earbuds placed under my stylish swim cap.
No one, and I mean NO ONE at the pool looks like this but me. But you know what? I love that gear and how it allows me to comfortably swim and swim and swim. I love the pool. I love the patterns of light waves in the water on sunny days. I love the feeling of sliding into the water, taking off, exercising my body to some of my favorite music, and feeling free.
I remember years ago when I first decided to attend training as a mindfulness meditation and stress reduction teacher. My main goal then was to just feel comfortable in my own skin. It seemed so far off. Meditation has taught me how to let go of striving to make the moment other than what it is. To release my grip on that constant drive to “better” myself, to be something other than simply me, as I am. It took a while to gradually shed the different skins of my false selves, but over the years, I think I’ve made real progress. It feels good, and I really attribute this to meditation training and practice. It’s helped me to just be me, and that’s where happiness really resides.
Life is funny. I never imagined that an experience of true happiness would be found in swimming laps in my crazy aquatic get up. Maybe it’s the feeling of not having to worry about what other people think, and just being myself that feels so good.
Madeline Ebelini is a former stressed-out lawyer turned certified mindfulness instructor with a mission of helping people reduce stress through teaching them practical and effective mindfulness techniques. She teaches the 5-star reviewed online course Mindfulness For Stress Relief, and leads a weekly live online meditation group Remember to Breathe. Register for her free webinar Learn 3 Quick Mindfulness Practices for Stress Relief.
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