california [ change ]

Mindfulness, Minus Expectations [By Rachel W Sweater]

When Albert Einstein said “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new,” he touched upon one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my life so far – that sometimes the best thing you can do is fail. Over the years, it’s been easy to keep doing what works – because if you’re like me, it took a while to get there in the first place. You don’t fix what ain’t broken. Sticking with the status quo increased my confidence. And with increased confidence came a more powerful ego. So, a few months ago when I had the idea to use sweat sessions as a tool for meditation, I thought it was a great idea that would help me reach new levels of mindfulness.

I had been to Shape House a handful of times, but I was ready to commit to a series of consecutive sweats – 14 days in a row. My interest in meditation was burgeoning, and after a particularly inspiring conversation with Sophie, I was ready to try sweating as a means of clearing my mind, and turning my focus inward.

And then Amy Schumer came along. Her show was too funny to resist, and when I arrived for the first day of my challenge, I spent the first thirty minutes watching TV. I knew I was procrastinating, so I planned to start meditating when the first episode finished. But then I just watched another one. I kept my mind distracted by television to get through the session. Afterward, while sipping tea in the relax room, I vowed to try again the next day. And the same thing happened all over again.

Still, strange things started to happen. I started craving foods I don’t normally like. I skipped my customary evening glass of wine without realizing it. My skin broke out and then cleared up to reveal skin that looked brighter, younger. I no longer needed sleeping pills, or deodorant – because my sweat didn’t stink anymore. I had lost three pounds and my skin looked great.

And I realized, mindfulness is not something you achieve. It’s something you practice. In order to experience ego loss, you have to let go of the idea that you can will it to happen. Now when I sweat, I don’t go in with any expectations. I don’t judge myself if I want to watch TV, and I don’t give myself accolades for how much water I drink, or how much time I spend in quiet contemplation. I didn’t learn the lesson I had intended to, instead I gleaned an even greater gift – that letting go of expectation can bring me closer to living in the moment. And if I miss it, if I lose the moment because I’m watching TV or thinking about something else, it’s okay. There’s another moment up ahead. And another, and another…