I recently realized that as much as I talk about the importance of being mindful, I haven't been so mindful of explaining what the heck mindfulness actually is. And how to do it. Thus, I committed the cardinal sin of mindfulness. Assuming. I figured because "mindfulness" is so hot these days that everyone already knows what it is. But come to find out, not so much.
There’s a reason we have an opioid epidemic. Humans don’t like to feel pain and our society has told us we shouldn’t feel pain. Physical or emotional. Emotional is usually what I focus on, but since physical pain is inextricably linked to emotional pain, it’s important to understand how mindfulness can help ease physical pain too.
I’ve been a bit tense this week. Maybe a lot tense. I think many of us have been. There’s been a lot going on. More than I’m currently prepared to tackle in one little written article. Which can lead to also feeling helpless.
There’s some truth to the song lyrics “nobody walks in LA,” but I actually love to walk in this city. And everywhere else I travel. It’s a fantastic way to fully experience your surroundings while getting you to wherever it is you’re going. I wrote awhile ago about how much I love running as a way to explore areas, but I wanted to touch on walking today because I think that’s a less intimidating form of movement for many.
Mindful confession: I’m writing this as I watch the NCAA men’s basketball final. Or more accurately, I’m trying to write and finish this during halftime. I don’t have high hopes I can do that in 15 minutes, but I’m willing to give it a shot.
Starting to write while watching basketball got me thinking about the irony. One of the keys to practicing mindfulness is to do one thing at a time.
I don’t know about y’all, but my Monday started with a bang!
I woke before sunrise and am booked straight up until well past sunset tonight with work stuff. When I’m this busy with little space in between activities, I don’t always function at my highest level. Knowing this, I decided I needed some intentional breathing during each transition today and I wanted to share one in particular with you.
What mindfulness does is it allows you to see the experience for what it truly is. Without all the extras I was initially throwing on it. Mindfulness in this particular instance was an opportunity for me.
This morning I went to the gym. Not entirely unusual as I’m making it a habit to do so. Even though I despise gyms! Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. I can think of worse places to spend my time. Jail. Nuclear reactors. Office meetings. But since I don’t own a bunch of weight equipment and I’ve realized the importance of body building (Or simply to build stronger muscles to avoid injury from other more fun physical activities.), I got a gym membership.
A body scan meditation is a mindfulness practice that brings awareness to the body in the present moment. It focuses on the physical sensations we feel in every part of our body. It can be done in a short amount of time if needed to reduce intense emotions. Or it can be practiced for a lengthier amount of time (30-40 minutes) to delve deeper into mindfulness practice and create more peace and awareness overall.
Mindful Monday. On a Tuesday. Yep.
Yesterday I had zero time to write a blog post. Between a heavily booked day and some unforeseen, urgent matters, I wasn’t left with a spare moment. And I hadn’t prepared for that by writing one in advance. Someday I’ll be better about that.
It’s been raining a lot lately here in Los Angeles. I know folks in other parts of the country and world have been experiencing far more extreme weather, but this rain is our only winter weather. And I love it.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about thinking. Which might not be the best idea since thinking can get us into a lot of trouble.
I just can’t help it. I work a lot with thoughts. That’s a major part of being a therapist (Besides the emotions, which I know y’all can’t get enough of.). “Tell me what you think about that,” “Are there any other ways to look at that,” “How can you reframe that?” The more I work with thoughts (Mine and those shared with me.), the more I question our relationship with them.
Here’s a special Tuesday mindfulness edition in honor of the midterm elections. Also, I didn’t have time to write a blog post on Monday so that may have also played a role in this.
As I prepared to vote, I thought about how important it is to make mindful decisions. And how difficult that can be. Many people only listen to their emotions when making decisions or refuse to pay attention to information that doesn’t fit their beliefs. Many also don’t do the research to see if the “facts” actually have any evidence to support them.
Since Halloween is sneaking up quickly, let’s discuss something really scary today. Meditation.
I say scary because often when I utter the word “meditation,” eyes grow large and there’s an audible gasp, followed by some of those nervous giggles. “I can’t sit still.” “That makes my anxiety worse.” “The silence would drive me crazy.” “I’ll never be able to do that.” Some don’t say anything and simply stare at me like I’ve grown a second head.
Meditation can be super intimidating. And seem like something only for hippies or more enlightened beings. There are so many preconceived ideas that many are unwilling to even give it a bit of a try.
I’ve practiced mindfulness a long time. Which has greatly improved my ability to be present in the moment. I don’t experience as much attachment. I’m more quick to catch myself not being mindful and then bam, I’m back in the present. I’m even able to do this during more uncomfortable or painful experiences.
Last night I went out. On a school night. To watch Bey and Jay tear it up on the OTR II tour. I have zero regrets. It was a life experience beyond words but since that isn’t what this post is about I’ll keep it to myself for now.
Regardless, chores are an awesome way to practice mindfulness. They’re something you have to do so you might as well get something out of them other than cleanliness. They also involve repetitive actions that make it easier to bring your mind back to the present moment over and over, as many times as you need to.
Mindfulness and meditation can seem really overwhelming to some. Oh the irony, since they're supposed to help us feel the opposite of overwhelm.