A new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the beginning of another. Although technically my last monthly challenge is still going.
I set it to be my challenge last month to track all spending including cash. This is something that I’m doing for the 12 week journey for The Prosperous Heart. I had already started the tracking before the beginning of June, but I wanted to work really hard at it during the month. We are about halfway through the book’s plan so even though my monthly challenge has ended for it I’m still going to be tracking for another 6 weeks. It’s usually pretty easy for me to do my tracking since I do that for all credit card spending. But to remember to track cash was a bit tougher.
Most of the time with cash spending, I’m just keeping my receipts in my wallet and then writing them down later. But I’ve realized that I don’t always get receipts or I throw them out because of habit. I’ve been making a big effort to remember every time I get my wallet out to spend money. If I don’t get a receipt, I text what I spent to myself so I have it in my phone for when I get home to write it down. It took about a week to get used to it, but I’m now remembering to track everything including putting quarters in a meter or giving a friend money to pay for parking. I don’t know if I’ll keep up this cash tracking after I’m done with The Prosperous Heart, but it is good now for me to be hyperaware of all my spending.
When it came to my challenge for July, I was stumped for a while on what I wanted it to be. It’s not that I’m feeling unmotivated, it’s just that I don’t know what else I want to change in my life. The things I want to change are all big things and not right for a monthly challenge just yet. But as it seems each time, I got inspired just before the month started on what I wanted my challenge to be.
When I saw my therapist, a lot of what we discussed was me becoming even more mindful in life. I can be on autopilot at times and that is not a safe place for me to be. I need to stay aware and it’s not easy to remember that if I’m daydreaming or off thinking about something. I have that problem with a lot of things in my life, and what keeps me on track is to set alarms and reminders on my phone. I have so many reminders on my phone throughout the day that sometimes it’s laughable. But it really has helped me stay on track.
One of the ways my therapist has told me I can work on being more mindful is to work on my breathing. I was telling him that at times I can almost zone out while running and he said that it’s because of the rhythmic breathing. That’s the basis of meditation. So by working on more mindful breathing, I can get into that meditative state and hopefully be more mindful while doing it.
This challenge is very similar to the mindfulness one that I did last year. But it is good to repeat monthly challenges especially when I have new tools or ideas that can make that challenge better. I did pick up some ideas from my therapist that might work to make this mindfulness thing stick for me. I also have a new motivation because I have experienced this mindfulness/meditative state in other times in my day and just didn’t have the words to connect that that’s what I was doing. Now that I’m more aware of what it feels like when I get into that state, I think it will be easier to get into it when I try.
I’m doing a similar thing to my other challenges by setting a reminder for myself for this. This time, I picked a few times that I know can be tough for me and set a reminder to take a breathing break. My goal is to take that time and take about 10 rhythmic breaths to recenter myself and hopefully get myself more focused and aware of what I’m doing and what I want to do. I’m aware that this won’t stop me from binging, but that’s not the goal my therapist has for me. He wants me to be aware of when I am binging and accept that is what I am doing. If I’m going to do it, it has to be because I chose to do so and not that I’m unaware that I’m doing so.
I don’t know if this awareness will come within this month. It’s actually probably pretty unlikely that it will happen that quickly. But even if it makes some of my binges aware instead of feeling like I’m in a trance, I will consider that a huge step in the right direction for me. And I know that this challenge isn’t really just for this month. This challenge starts this month but it will likely be something that I will have to try to do for years if not the rest of my life. I want to work on mindfulness and I’ve tried to do it before, but this time feels different and I hope that the results are different too.