We passed the one year mark of pandemic life here in the US. All over social media, the news, and in conversations with loved ones people are reviewing the events of the last 12 months. Anniversaries are natural times to pause and reflect on the past. 

I’d like to share with you some of my insights on this crazy year, as March marked a milestone with Sabbatical Vibrations Bakery.

A Whirlwind of Self-Doubt

On March 15, 2020, I had a sample party scheduled for family and friends to check out Sabbatical Vibrations Bakery offerings and give me feedback before the business launched. You all know what happened in March of 2020 – COVID-19 struck the US and the world literally came to a halt.

In the matter of three days, the sample party changed from a 75 person event in a rented space, to a drive-thru pick-up for a dozen people. Just as I was preparing my largest bake ever, I had to contact volunteers and guests to let them know the changed plans. Understandably so, many people did not come. However, more than a handful of amazing supporters stopped in for a bakery pick up. The pandemic delayed opening by two months, but it didn’t stop my dream from becoming a reality!

Those first few months of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and “the new normal” were tough, weren’t they? I have to admit, I was embarrassed at how difficult it was to be present and practice mindfulness through it all. In the midst of launching a business founded on the principle of mindful living, I felt like an imposter. 

Our house did a little bit of food hoarding, and certainly ate more than our share of comfort food for a few months. My inner-critic was loud! How was I expecting to help others be present and practice mindful eating, if I wasn’t doing it myself? 

Acknowledgment and Resilience

It took me a while at the beginning of the pandemic to catch my bearings. Once I acknowledged I was struggling, and let go of the expectation to launch my new business “perfectly”, I was able to recalculate my options, make a new plan, and proceed. It seems like we were all in the middle of a resilience lesson sponsored by the universe. 

Resilience is all about flexibility; it’s the ability to adapt and persevere when obstacles arise. However, it’s difficult to practice resilience without acknowledging there’s a current struggle. So, there I was, along with most other people in the world, facing my struggle with the pandemic and my altered life plans. Once I was able to connect to the facts of the situation, as well as some of my feelings, I was able to be present.

If you want to read about ways to boost resilience, check out these articles from TIME, Psychology Today, or Mental Health First Aid.

Returning to the Moment

As a recovering perfectionist and Enneagram Type 3, I could list dozens of ways I wasn’t present during the last 12 months. So that you may feel like you are in good company, let me share more. The top escape-from-reality routes were binge eating Oreos and ice cream, watching more Netflix and Amazon Prime in one year than my entire 20’s combined, and getting lost in house projects rather than spending more time in meditation. Sound familiar? I think I’m with a majority of the population! 

One of the things I’ve learned about mindful living, is that I can return to it any time. It doesn’t have to be a formal practice, like meditation; it can be mindful breathing or appreciation for a moment in nature. Moments of mindfulness are what carried me through the last year of the unknown. 

Practicing Mindfulness

I love these eight steps for mindfulness, cited by DevelopGoodHabits.com:

  • Dedicate time and space for your mindfulness practice.
  • Make a conscious effort to focus on the present moment, without judgment.
  • Allow yourself to do nothing and just be.
  • Don’t think about the past. Don’t plan the future. Don’t look at the time.
  • Pay attention to your thoughts, words, actions, and motivations.
  • Notice your judgments and let them pass.
  • Return to the present moment.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself when your mind wanders off during practice. Gently bring your attention back to the present.

Throughout the last year, I’ve used each of these steps at various times to be present during the unknown of the pandemic. I’m sure you used at least one of these steps, too! Let’s take a few minutes to reflect on that instance. 

  1. Recall a time when you did, and think about the experience. What was the situation? Did you have a physical response to this situation? What feelings were present?
  2. How did you know you needed a mindful break? What was the turning point that caused you to implement the mindful step?
  3. What happened? How did being mindful in the moment change your reaction to the situation? Did you have a different physical response? What new feelings were present?
  4. What do you take away from this reflection?
  5. Thank yourself for taking time to reflect and learn from your experience. 

Maybe you can’t think of a time when you practiced one of these mindful actions. That’s okay! Choose one or two to focus on in the next week, and try to implement it. Then return to these questions to reflect on your experience at a later time. Reach out and let me know how it goes for you! 

Remember, you can return to the moment at any time. It may be difficult to be present in the unknown, but it is possible. May you have more present moments than not.