Day 132- Micro and Macro Mindfulness

Our financial planner has invited in an adventurer to talk to us about how life is like a mountain climbing adventure. Frankly, I’m not much of an adventurer. I never seek thrills, but I have to say this guy is really good. He’s climbed the highest peaks on several continents, summited Mt. Everest twice but he’s not a total loon. I like the way he has structured his talk. There are five essential elements to a (fulfilling) adventure. I don’t recall the five elements because, as I said, I’m not much of an adventurer.  What sticks with me is one of the sub-points- mindfulness. He talks about macro mindfulness and micro mindfulness and how we have to master these two mindsets.

Micro mindfulness is necessary when you need to be focused on what is right in front of you.  If you’re making a difficult climb and you need to make that next hold, you have to be solely focused in on that moment and the task at hand, you can’t think about what happened the night before and you can’t think about the summit.  If you don’t make the next hold, nothing else matters. So, it’s time to be right there in that moment.

Macro mindfulness is big picture thinking. When the pain is intense, when you feel you can’t go on. When you have to plan your route up the mountain, you need to pull back and think of the big picture. You have to keep in mind how far you’ve come. You have to focus on the reward ahead.  You can’t focus in on the pain or the difficulty of the moment or you’ll get stuck.

Neither point of view is better than the other.  To be successful, we have to be able to do both.  And, more importantly, we have to be able to shift back and forth and know when it’s necessary to make that shift.  Wow.  This really resonated with me and going through this grieving process.  There are times when I look too far out, it could be a decade or a month or sometimes even a day.  The big picture is overwhelming.  There is no way I can make it. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The goal is just to get through the day.  The goal is just to get up off of the meditation cushion and deal with two more things before I call it a day. Those are the times I need to flip to the micro mindfulness mindset. But, there are also those times when I think if it’s going to be like this, I can’t keep going. There are times when I wonder if the climb is worth it. There are times I wonder if I have what it takes. That’s when I have to pull back and look at how far I’ve come. That’s when I have to look forward and see there is a summit and I will reach it.  That gives me the strength to keep going.

Another thing for me though is the middle focus is rarely helpful.  If I look out to the day when I’ll see Shayna again. If I look to the day when my eyes will be opened and this will all make sense it gives me hope.  If I focus on the small tasks, I can power through them. But, that middle picture- wow. That isn’t helpful at all right now. 

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