Big moments in life throw up big questions, there’s no doubt about it. But what if you didn’t try to find solutions? What if you stopped looking for answers? What if there was another way?
Here on the Southern Hemisphere we’re in the depths of Winter. It is possibly my favourite time of the year in South-East Queensland, Australia.
Blue-sky sunny days with daytime temperatures in the early twenties create the perfect conditions for lunchtime walks and weekend picnics and adventures. Night times dip to single figures and call for cosying under multiple covers.
As I’ve experienced in other parts of the world, wintertime also seems to lend itself to some inward focus and reflection.
Dane and I have certainly been reflecting on a few things, from changes in our personal lives through to professional identity and direction.
Our son just turned nine months old and it feels as though we’re finally emerging out of some deep dreamlike state into a new world and reality. By the time spring arrives, maybe we too will arrive more fully back into some semblance of our former selves.
Or maybe we won’t. Maybe we are forever changed.
Reflecting on the impact of significant life events
This last year has been an incredible reminder of how significant life events — be they babies, moves, marriage, divorce, illness or otherwise — offer fertile ground for reflection and bring what’s important into focus.
And reflections make way for questions. Some big questions, some more trivial.
Some of the questions that have been swirling through my mind include:
- How can I stay healthy when I am giving close to all of myself to a little person?
- How can I spend more time with my nearest and dearest when they mostly live far away from me?
- How can I find time to meditate every day? To practise yoga every day? To walk? To dance? To read and write?
- What things can I let go of?
- What work can I do that matters? Should I keep doing the work that I’ve always done? Is the fact I’m managing to do any work enough of itself? Should I even be working when I want to be fully present for my son?
- What can I say no to so I have space to say yes to things that light me up? What lights me up? Is there actually space in my life to pursue things that light me up?
- What’s my relationship like with technology and devices? With work? What do I want to model to my son with regards to technology and work?
- Will I ever get a decent night’s sleep again?!
Maybe at least some of these questions are swirling around in the background of your mind too.
Do you really need answers to life’s big questions?
I don’t think the point here is to seek out actual answers.
I think more likely the point is not to be in thinking mode, and instead let those questions do what they need to do, swirling around in the semi-conscious and unconscious mind until the answers – actionable or not – eventually emerge.
Mindfulness as a tool to deal with life’s big questions
One of the most common mindfulness exercises out there asks you observe your thoughts and let them be without trying to control them.
In this case, it can be applied to questioning.
It’s not easy, but if you give it a go you might be surprised to discover how rapidly new questions pop up, how the mind might not differentiate between important questions and ones that hardly matter, and how exhausting it would be to try to deal with them all.
So experiment with letting those questions swirl around, with watching them non-critically, and let the important ones surface of their own accord.
And the mind — or possibly some deeper, inner wisdom — may also surprise you by providing the answers you need to move forward.
That’s at least what I’m aiming for.