Definition of Mindfulness: According to the Oxford Dictionary – a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used a therapeutic technique.
Per the Mayo Clinic being mindful can help with conditions such as fibromyalgia, asthma, stress, anxiety, pain, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure. It is also said to help with improving attention, decreasing burnout, improving sleep and improving diabetes control.
Things you can do everyday to be mindful:
- Pay attention – take time to experience your environment with all of your senses
- Live in the moment and find joy in the simple pleasures
- Accept yourself and treat yourself the way you would a friend
- Focus on your breathing – Take a minute to sit down and focus on how your breath moves in and out of your body.
Today, we are going to be doing a little mindful balancing.
- To begin, please stand
- Ground yourself with a few deep breaths and bring yourself to the present moment
- If you have any thoughts rushing through your mind, that is ok, acknowledge that they are there and then bring your attention back to the hear and now.
- Now, I am going to ask you to raise one foot and balance on the other.
- You may or may not be struggling at the moment, and that is ok.
- Pay attention to the muscles in your grounded ankle and leg
- How is your body feeling in general?
- What does it feel like to want to put your raised foot on the floor.
- Now, take just a few deep breaths and only focus on your breath
Some other mindful exercises that you can do on your own are
Walking Meditation – Take a nice short walk outside, preferably somewhere where you won’t come across vehicles or near anything that could cause harm to you. As you walk, pay attention to how your foot hits the ground, look around at your surroundings and take in the colors and the environment in general, you may even notice something that you never noticed before, listen to your surroundings, are there birds chirping, water flowing, is there a breeze blowing. How does that sound. Smell the air, what does it smell like.
Mindful Eating – Take the time and sit down for a meal or a snack alone. Before taking a bite, look at what you are about to put in your mouth, pay attention to what it looks like, the color, the texture, notice all of the details of it. Smell it, what does it smell like, is it a pleasant smell? Once you put it in your mouth, feel the texture, notice the taste, slowly chew it and allow yourself to truly taste it.
Coloring – Go raid your kids stash and pull out a coloring book, if you don’t have kids, invest in a coloring book, either a kid one or one of the adult ones…or go online and print out a coloring page. And sit down and color a picture. Be mindful of the colors you choose and why you chose each color. How does it feel to move from an empty picture to a completed picture?
Journaling – Spend a few minutes each morning thinking about your day ahead and the things you would like to accomplish….or…..a few minutes each evening recapping your day and how you feel about how the day went. You don’t need to write pages or spend hours…even if it’s only a paragraph or so…something to get your emotions out.
These are just a few other recommendations to try. Something you can do to take a time out in your day…even if it is just for a couple of minutes and recenter yourself.
During my off time, I have been watching quite a few webinars to help me progress in my knowledge and education. Yesterday, I watched a video with Ashley Turner, a renowned yoga instructor, psychotherapist and the founder of Yoga, Psyche, Soul. The topic of yesterday’s session was about journaling. I mentioned journaling last week when we were discussing mindfulness, but after watching Ashley today, I wanted to expand on this subject a little bit.
With the world going through this global pandemic right now, many are feeling emotions that they do not know how to control, both on the conscious and unconscious level; fear, anxiety, insecurity, anger, frustration, sadness, so many emotions.
In the yoga practice, the Self is thought of in 5 different layers called the Koshas:
- Physical Body – annamaya kosha – bones, tissues, organs
- Energetic or Pranic Body – pranamaya kosha – chakras, nadi’s, meridians
- Mental-Emotional Body – manomaya kosha – mental health
- Wisdom Body – vijanamaya kosha – don’t have an equivalent in western world
- Spiritual Core – anandamaya kosha – essence of who we are
For a great many of people, the Mental-Emotional Body has kicked into overdrive as we are facing challenges on many fronts all at once. And we are looking at weeks and even months of dealing with this. Therefore, we need to learn how to release our emotions.
If we don’t learn to express and clear our emotions we run the risk of:
- Getting trapped in overwhelm
- Spiraling in fear and projecting it outwards (anyone finding themselves snapping at a spouse or child out of nowhere?)
- Staying stuck in procrastination
This is why journaling can be helpful. Pull out a notebook and bring pen to paper, don’t use the computer, because writing activates the right brain, which is the creative part of the brain. This will help to bring up some of the unconscious emotion coming up at the root.
So many emotions get compounded or lumped together and we end up saying we are stressed. This will help you detangle the emotions that create the stress and overwhelming feeling. Choose one emotion that you are feeling today and write it down in your journal and follow it with the following:
- When I look at you I feel – being flooded and being taken over by a tidal wave
- When I look at you I see – myself shaking
- You act like – overthinking, playing the what if game
- You remind me of – . It helps you bring up memories that allow you to unpack the underlying bubble of emotion. – the time I got stuck at the top of a ferris wheel when it broke down
- This emotion (Anxiety) means – My anxiety is going to mean something different from yours. This is how you relate to the issue this emotion is different for each person, how are you making meaning of this emotion. Any emotion in our life is related to a past experience, especially unresolved traumatic experiences. This is how you are choosing to interpret the experience or make meaning of the experience.
Give yourself a paragraph or 2 of each prompt.
This will help to personify the emotion, it becomes a character in your story. This helps get everything out of your body and let it live somewhere else, so it is not being held in your head and heart.
This is also a great to do with kids who are also experiencing so many changes and are not sure how to process everything. We are not the only ones who’s world has been upside down from this pandemic. Your kids are not allowed to go to school and many are starting to do online schooling now, they aren’t able to leave their house, they aren’t able to spend time with friends, they aren’t able to play sports. Some of them may be holding emotions in them, that they do not know or understand how to process.
I journal every night before going to sleep. I started this a few years ago when I had issues with insomnia and it helped me get everything out and allowed me to find an easier time going to sleep. I hope that this will be a helpful start for you it will help you.
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