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Moments of Mindfulness

Have you ever sat down to eat at your lunch break and it seems like five seconds later you look down and realize that your food is gone? I am sure this has happened to everyone before. This is just one example of a moment that is lacking mindfulness. In the age of technology and fast paced life, it is far too easy to lose track of what you are doing in the present moment. In contrast, we could be trying so hard to be present in the moment that we get overwhelmed at the fact that we are concentrating so hard and don't want to lose it; resulting in anxiety.


I have tried so many things in the past two years to focus more on mindfulness and being present through trial and error. At first, I tried going cold turkey. This consisted of deleting all my social media, being strict with my time on electronics, bedtimes, eating slowly, etc etc. Of course this was nice for a bit, but it honestly became an issue when I realized that I was focusing on controlling every little thing and developed anxiety when I didn't follow a rule that I made for myself. I realized this was toxic, so I had to reevaluate how I was going to go about my adventure of gaining mindfulness. Of course no one is perfect when it comes to self improvement and trying to live a better life, but going through trial and error makes you realize what works best for you! I have definitely fallen out of some habits that I had in the past, but hey, we all have work to do. Despite all of this, I have found things that I am able to stick with no matter where life takes me.



So what have I found that works?


1) Journal. Journaling has been one of my habits that has not gone away, and I have been regularly journaling for about a year and a half now. A blank piece of paper or notebook is a place of non-judgement for you and your thoughts. There is nothing more freeing than being able to express your thoughts, worries, hopes, and dreams in a place where only you can see.

You may ask, "but what do I write about?". This is all up to you. Your daily journaling can be two sentences or two pages long. Writing something is better than nothing. Even if you write down one thing you are thankful you, you are still putting positive energy out into the world and into your mind. Statistics show that people who actively express gratitude are are happier and more content with their life. I also recommend journaling either right when you wake up or right before you go to bed. For people who have anxiety before bedtime, journaling right before sleep is a great way to clean the slate of your mind and get all of your thoughts out before you attempt to fall asleep.


2) Go on walks. This is a habit that my mom and one of best friends had brought to my attention in the past few years. Going on a daily walk outside is known for bringing more joy and anxiety relief within even as little as thirty minutes. Humans and plants are very similar living things. We both need sunlight, food, and water to live. But, we can lack on those things sometimes when life gets busy, especially sunlight during our days of virtual meetings and Zoom classes. Overall, I have found that going on a twenty-thirty minute walk a few times a week really grounds me. Afterwards I always see the world in a much softer and gentler light.


3) Notice when you are not being present. Being the observer of our thoughts is an underrated skill to have. Of course, this is a learned skill and does not come naturally in our world of buzzing cellphones, email notifications, and now even watches that let us know when people are trying to contact us. Guided meditations on YouTube have been a lifesaver for me. Even if it's five minutes, giving yourself those few moments to close your eyes and notice your breath brings you back down to earth. There is a simple exercise that I tell my yoga students when they have a hard time focusing on a task at hand because their head is worrying about the past or future. The exercise is as follows.

Notice:

5 Things you can see

4 Things you can hear

3 Things you can touch

2 Things you can smell

1 Thing you can taste

. This simple moment of mindfulness has brought me back to the present moment so many times. We often overlook the simple awareness of our senses that can help ground us. On a closing note, remember that you are not your thoughts. Just because you think something does not mean that you are that thought. Also, there is no such thing as good or bad thoughts. Each thought just is, and does not need to be labeled. Think of your thought as a balloon that you are holding. You're holding the balloon, noticing the color/shape/how it feels in your hand, and then you let it go and watch it drift off. It is so important to not hold on to your thoughts and be able to forgive yourself and others. My mom always says, "holding anger/grief and not forgiving someone is letting them live in your head rent free".


You are loved and held in light.


Love always,

Kare


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