I believe that the key to successful dreaming, having a successful soul-fulfilling business, creating a wonderful venture, and becoming what you crave with all of your being is directly influenced by how much you give of yourself.
And you cannot properly give of yourself without being mindful of your life in each moment.
Mindfulness is described as, “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment…” (Source: Mindfulness Definition)
One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned from 8 Women Dream and my work with some of the up-and-coming thought leaders is that you must come from a place of serving others to create a meaningful, dream-filled life.
In order to be able to serve others and experience real success you must know who you truly are — your strengths, your weaknesses, your selfishness, your insecurities, and your self-sabotaging habits. You must be able to sit back from yourself and hear when you are playing the victim, see when you are offering less-than your best, and recognize when you are shoving your dream under the carpet while creating a diversion in the hopes that no one will notice — not even you.
You must cultivate the practice of witnessing your day from the moment your eyes open to the sunlight to the moment you drift off to sleep.
Practice observing everything from washing the dishes to returning emails, to clicking on that publish button to how it feels to wash your hair.
When you spend the day as an observer focusing on being mindful, you will begin to recognize the moments when you are “taking from the well without replenishing the water.”
Being mindful causes you focus on the real reason why you want the dream you’ve chosen and when you are moving away from creating it. You can easily drift off course by looking only for the money, or only for the prestige, or doing it because you want your friends and family to think differently about who you pretend to be when you are around them.
Your real dream is about sharing your gift with the world — not how you will impress your family and friends pretending to be something else. Your gift should call you to get up in the middle of the night because you worry so much about the people it will help.
You can’t go back to sleep. You can’t ignore it. It’s too important.
Think about if you went hiking on a mountain and upon reaching the top you notice someone fall off the edge. You race forward to look over the side to see that this person has landed on a ledge below– too far to climb back up. At this moment would you stop and think, “Wow. If I save this person I’ll make a lot of money from the press this will receive.” or “My mom will now be proud of me when she sees me on the news.”?
You’d try to find a rope, or a way to save them. Your heart would race, your energy would become elevated and you’d be living in the moment until you saved this stranger.
You wouldn’t let your fear stop you from getting help – even if you silently told yourself you were scared. The bigger you would simply ignore the little scared voice in your head and carry on. You certainly wouldn’t sit down on the ledge to share your story of how the exact same thing almost happened to you once, what you had for lunch that morning and why your shoes match your jacket.
You would be mindful of how important you are in that very moment to do what you are being called to do.
All too often I see people do this exact thing with their dream. They make their dream about something other than changing the life of a stranger, then wonder why their dream makes them so unhappy. They’re busy sharing what they had for breakfast rather than throwing down a rope for others to climb up with.
You’ve seen it with stars like John Belushi, Lindsay Lohen and Danny Bonaduce who get caught up in the fame and forget that acting is a gift they are called to share with the world to make the world a better place. It’s not about them.
When you practice living a mindful life, you are able to look at how your moment-to-moment decisions shape your reality.
You will see where you are placing your focus in the wrong place.
Earlier this year my mother suddenly became very ill. I thought my grief over her condition was going to take me out of the game, then I realized my teenage son needed me and I had to find a new way to navigate what I was being handed.
I stopped looking at how the situation was affecting me and began to ask myself how I could help my son through it.
I began to be grateful from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning to the moment I’d drift off to sleep at night. At first, the only thing I could find to be grateful for was my tears. I acknowledged that they helped me deal with my grief. Then a funny thing happened, my mother started to get better. Although her prognosis is grim, she began to fight back at her diagnosis.
I continued practicing mindfulness and gratitude. Even for the so-called “bad stuff” because there’s a lesson in everything if you are willing to remain open.
I found time to begin a work out regimen. It wasn’t much at the beginning, but it has morphed into a 6-day-a-week twice-a-day yoga and aerobic practice. And if you’d asked me at the beginning of this year if it was possible to do all that I do during the week plus care for my mother while incorporating physical activity, I would have laughed you out of the room.
But how could I light the way for you to live your dream, be there for my mom and be an example to my son if I didn’t have the energy and the vitality to show up and give this my all?
Because when you feel like crap – you write like crap and your life is rather… crappy.
I’ve learned to end of each Yoga practice with a bow and ask how I can help the world while being more grateful.
One day, I was picking some fruit for my mother in a crowded produce section at a local grocery store. I was shopping in the town I grew up where I had a lot of left-over negative feelings about what I had experienced there in my youth. I stopped to be mindful of my thoughts and how my body was feeling. I thanked the world for showing me where I was still stuck.
Then someone tapped me on the shoulder.
“You’re Catherine. I went to school behind you.” I had no idea who she was, but then she said something so profound.
“I love your blog. It helps me get through my day. My mom has been really sick this year. I read it after I’ve had a good cry, or if I am sad. It inspires me. I just wanted to say hi and thank you.”
I breathed in how my life resembled hers and how we happened to be at this particular grocery store at the same time. I smiled. We hugged.
I savored the moment as it was my dream-come-true. That little moment was a big moment. I was mindful about that.
And it was a type of online success no one can take from me.