Here’s the promised post about mindfulness. Hey now, don’t stop reading because it sounds sooooo boring. Stay with me for a minute!!
You see, in today’s world we are all looking for a quick fix to our problems. We want a pill to keep us from feeling hard things (not to say that medication is bad- I definitely need mine to function), we want a 30 day diet to help us lose the pounds and keep it off. I’m afraid that our culture of “life hacks” has made us forget this truth-
Anything worth having takes hard work.
I believe that’s Gods plan. If things always can easily to use we’d never grow. And it is no different with improving our mental health.
If you follow my social media pages I’ve been talking a bit about what mindfulness is. If you’re not following, go do it! I like to think it’s pretty fun over there.
There are hundreds of great resources on what mindfulness is. A quick Google search and give you many great definitions. But my intention today is to tell you about the practices that have actually helped me as I work to develop mindfulness as a core value and way of life.
• Meditation, meditation, meditation. Before my mission I would have told you that you have to be a hippie in the mountains, with your hands in the ok sign on your knees going “ummmm, ummm.” You know the image I’m talking about right??
But the reality of meditation is so much more than that. It is a daily practice that is VITAL to your emotional and physical health. We need to stop and pause and be mindful every single day. It’s that simple.
And it’s so easy to do. I use the 10 free meditations on the Headspace app over and over, you can pay for the Calm app (apparently educators get it free), or there’s like a million YouTube videos. Experiment with several until you find the ones that don’t make you giggle or roll your eyes and leave you feeling centered and mindful. There is any length down to 5 min.
Please don’t tell me you don’t have time. If you don’t have 5 min a day to spend on yourself, make it. Just do it.
• I love yoga. I know it’s not for everyone but it just helps me be so mindful and centered while giving me a killer workout. If you can’t afford a class I’ve found some great videos on YouTube that are a great substitute.
• A mindfulness timer. I had an app that went off every hour reminding me to check my breath, do a body scan, and notice what I saw, heard, smelled, and felt. Now it’s a habit I’ve gained so I do it on my own. Practice makes perfect.
• Gratitude! I just saw the perfect quote: “The real gift of gratitude is the more grateful you are, the more present you become.” -Robert Holden
Practicing gratitude (gratitude meditations, gratitude journal, listing blessings to help you fall asleep, etc) have dramatically increased my mindfulness and ability to be present in the moment. When you’re grateful for a moment it’s easier to want to acknowledge and appreciate it!
An story about how mindfulness changed my life:
I absolutely love Disneyland. Obsessively. I was cursed with the addiction by my mother, and I don’t even mind.
John and I planned to go for a day at Christmas time as a present to ourselves. We knew it was going to be so crowded because it’s the holidays, but we decided to brave it.
I spent the weeks leading up to the day anticipating it like a child. I’d think about it several times a day and feel so excited. I was very mindful of the feeling of joy that bubbles up inside me when I’m excited, and it was almost like I got to enjoy the day for weeks in advance.
On the day of, I went with only the expectation to enjoy the joyful atmosphere. My practice with mindfulness allowed me to notice everything: the smells, the music, the details of the rides and shows, the look on kids faces, the joy of being at my favorite place with my favorite person. The whole experience was just like a dream, even though the park hit capacity and lots of other people there looked miserable.
Mindfulness allowed me to enjoy that experience to the fullest capacity, where as before I might have been left feeling disappointed with all we didn’t get to do, anxious because of the crowds and the ridiculous admission prices and sad because the day went by too fast.
I feel so strongly about this you guys. When you find something that truly changes your life you want to share it with anyone and everyone who will listen. (Haha I sound like a missionary again)
How are you going to start practicing mindfulness? Please let me know how it’s going and if you find any new ideas!