At Accountability Works we often speak of accountability as an act of mindfulness. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen mindfulness defined but I particularly like this definition from Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine. If you aren’t familiar with this publication, we highly recommend it.
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.
Once I asked a client how he would describe accountability and he said it was an act of forced mindfulness. That made me laugh at the time but as I thought about it more and more, it started to sink in how astute his observation was.
I was reminded of this when I came home from my recent vacation. I was sharing with my accountability group that while I was on vacation I would wake up early and be so excited to grab my yoga mat and start my practice. However, when I got home I found myself sleeping in later and not wanting to get out of bed.
After answering my coach’s questions, I realized that it was because on vacation I could walk from my room to my practice space without thinking of all the other things that needed to be done. I didn’t have to wake the kids, or get ready for the day or think of any chores that had been left undone. I could be completely present in my practice. At home that is not the case. I leave my room and I’m immediately hit by all the to-do’s and un-done’s and then it is difficult to make room for myself or my practice without feeling that I’m taking time from something or someone else.
I really appreciated this coaching because it made me conscious of my resistance. I never cease to be amazed at how we will resist things that we know are so good for us. An hour on my mat makes me a better person, a better parent, a better leader and so why in the world would I ever resist that? But I do, just like you resist things that bring you joy, connection, energy.
Understanding the why is enough. There is nothing to “do” with that information. I will not be waking up the majority of my days with no to-do’s, no undones, and at least for quite some time no little people to care for or a business to run.
Instead, it’s being aware that this resistance exists. That regardless of the resistance, I am committed to my practice. The power of being held accountable –gently and through a nurturing lens – to that commitment cannot be overstated. Because this is what I want for myself.
Which brings me back to accountability as an act of mindfulness.
Sometimes we don’t know why we feel the way we do. We don’t know why we make the choices we are making even as we have the awareness that they aren’t the best ones. We can be aware of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and still not be able to make sense of it. I would never know explicitly why I didn’t want to get out of bed until I had to explain it to someone else. And as soon as I put it into words, I understood that that resistance would no longer be in my way. Not that it wouldn’t go away but that it wouldn’t be in my way.
I may not be my vacation self, jumping out of bed and grabbing my mat, but I have resumed doing yoga at home. I even discovered that in this warm summer weather, I can do yoga on my balcony, a previously unused space, free of reminders of any kind. And when I step off the mat, I have the same feeling of gratitude for having taken the time to practice.
Is there anything that brings you joy, connection, energy that you are resisting? Is it time to change that?
We have new accountability groups forming in September. You can learn more here.