In the thick of it…….
We are three weeks into our U.S. adventures. It’s 5am and I find myself on the sofa with my nephew Jay-Jay lying on my chest with his head on my windpipe and his arms gripping my neck. As I listen to his gentle snoring while he drifts blissfully back to sleep, I come to the realization that in this current position there is no way I will get back to sleep. Bugger. Not good news, considering I only drifted to sleep at 2am. Not good news at all. Let me shed some light on the reasons behind why I went to bed so late. Jay-Jay woke up at 11pm on the sofa, where he had collapsed at 7pm after our successful attempts at tiring him out with activities (also tiring ourselves out in the process). We decided to transfer him from the sofa to his bed. And after giving him milk and putting him back to sleep, I spent the next hour doing a very bad impression of Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible, trying to stealthily extricate myself from his room without making a sound.
After my 5th failed attempt, I decided to throw in the towel and perched myself on the end of Jay-Jay’s bed. He somehow has Jedi senses to detect exactly when I reach the door and gets up and stands up on the edge of his bed, inquiring where I think I’m going. I ponder how I ended up here, as I imagine my partner in crime downstairs fast asleep. We had both volunteered to babysit, as we thought it would be good practice before the imminent arrival of our own bundle of joy, and my wife has been reading a book called The Baby Whisperer and couldn’t wait to put it into practice. However, after Jay-Jay woke up and she took him upstairs to put him to bed, ten minutes later she called out to say that Jay-Jay is not letting her put him to bed. Hmmm, so much for the baby whispering book.
So with time to kill, I decide to do some reflective practice, which is an activity I do a lot with my athletes/performers. I reflect on the last 3 weeks and link this back to the intentions I had set back in the UK before we embarked on our U.S. adventure. I had created a mindset training logbook, where I set my intentions: Being present for this new journey, changing my default mindset of worrying about what could go wrong and playing it safe and defensive to one that is more adventurous and expansive in thinking, and focusing on what could go right and being more expressive. My motto is to say ‘yes!’ to opportunities and adopt a ‘why not?’ approach. I am now reviewing my stream of consciousness on how things have gone relative to these intentions. I find this practice helps to tune the mind into how you want it to react in different situations, and guide the mind in the way you would like. It helps with developing my observing self and letting the automatic mind take over (what I like to call ‘instinctive thinking’).
As I sit on Jay-Jay’s bed, it dawns on me that in less than 3 months, I will be a dad. This reflection helps me appreciate the blessings I am about to receive. Another intention I had set was to learn to accept my mind in all its glory, even the fears, and the bad, scary stories it tells me. My intention from my practice is to learn to let my mind unfold in all its glory--good or bad—whereas in the past I would try to fight it if I didn’t like the narrative and to change it to a positive one, something which I found very draining and not the best use of my mental and emotional energy. Instead, I’m now allowing my mind to unfold without interfering and learning to merely observe the stories and not engage with them. I now focus my intentions on learning to skillfully engage with what is useful and in my control. I hope by doing this, I can learn to become best friends with my mind and to understand and develop my mindset in different situations. Well, that’s the plan. Let’s see how things unfold with the imminent arrival of baby Nwabueze. Hmmm, I wonder what he or she has planned for my wife and I. I’m sure it will be messy.