Tag Archive for: mindfulness
“If there are things that are causing you to suffer, you have to know how to let go of them.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
As many of you know, I love the theme of letting go. Sometimes we hold on a little too tightly to expectations we have for ourselves or thoughts of what we “think” we need to be happy, fulfilled and successful. Old habits die hard and it can be difficult to let go of an idea that you have about yourself or your life that no longer rings true.
For example, I was doing a values assessment recently and the things I thought would come up, like creativity and curiosity, these really core ideals I connect my sense of identity to, didn’t. What surfaced were things I already have in my life, that not everybody has. Things like freedom, safety, and security.
And it reminded me that, while as a culture we are always striving for more, perhaps during this time of uncertainty, we should seek happiness from what we already have. To make time to be grateful for what is right in front of us in this moment. Things that many of us take for granted everyday, like freedom, safety and security can bring us so much peace if we allow them to.
So often we wait for happiness.
We tell ourselves that we’ll be happy when “x” happens. We’ll relax when we reach a certain goal, or breathe a sigh of relief as we accomplish a milestone in life, but the truth is, we have everything we need to be happy and at peace right here in this moment, if only for a moment.
So, repeat after me:
“I have everything I need.”
In times of doubt, stress, you name it, this is a mantra that has brought me calmness, reassurance and gratitude.
I hope it does the same for you.
“All the art of living lies in the fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” -Havelock Ellis
All relationships have a tension or delicate balance between aspects that we like and dislike or things that work well and are a challenge.
So too, do we tend to have multiple feelings or emotions of an event, say, the loss of a loved one. We are sad they are gone, yet relieved they are no longer suffering.
Yes, I love you, And sometimes I find you difficult to be around.
When we limit ourselves to dichotomous thinking, we miss the Rainbow of Options. Getting stuck in black/white, right/wrong, good/bad thinking sets us and others up for failure rather than success.
If we choose “right” then others are “wrong.” When our “right” doesn’t work out, we feel like we have failed.
If instead we look at the whole rainbow of options we could choose, we are limitless.
95% of the options may be things you would never actually do, but at least they are there for you if you need them.
This Rainbow of Options gives you more flexibility rather than keeping you rigid and binary. Much of mental illness can be due to rigidity while mental well-being can lie in the ability for have flexibility of thinking.
Think: Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset!
“Let every Exhale
You are worthy
–Morgan Harper Nichols
What a wonderfully deep and great reminder for letting go! On our Exhale we are letting go of our breath, surrendering and trusting that there will be an inhale to fill up our lungs with the next breath.
The word worthy caught my attention. Perhaps it caught yours too. The idea that we are worthy of surrender speaks to me as “you deserve to let shit go” and even have permission to let shit go.
I’ve been re-reading “Awakening the Buddah Within” by Lama Surya Das and have been reminded of the idea that we suffer (get anxious, angry, annoyed) due to our attachments, especially to ideals and expectations.
Dealing with Difficult People
I have noticed in my own life, when I allow people to be exactly who they are, letting go of who I think they “should” be, I’m not so irritated or frustrated by them. This allows me to be more at peace and less irritated or frustrated with that person because I’m not wasting my energy thinking the person might change or that I could even get them to change.
For years, a practice of mine is to embrace that I only have control over myself. I have no control over anyone else. What I can choose is how I want to show up with others when I experience them as difficult. I choose not to allow myself to react to their current difficult nature even while my heart is racing and I want to scream. I choose not to hand over my power to that person or allow their behavior to control me.
Instead, I imagine as if they just threw me a rope in an effort to play tug-of-war with me. I get to decide if I pick up that rope and play their game or not. My goal is to notice the rope and think, “well, there’s that,” then redirect my attention and the conversation in a different direction.
This has not been easy for me. I have been at this particular practice for 12+ years and still struggle at times. Perhaps you may give it a go?
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re familiar with the benefits of mindfulness and prioritizing self-care in day-to-day life. For the most part, we understand how mindfulness can bring awareness to harmful and intrusive thoughts and patterns, help us become less reactive, and is an adaptive, accessible way to deal with stress. We hear over and over again to “love ourselves” and put ourselves first, but as soon as we feel triggered or overwhelmed, our self-care practices are the first to go, if we even implement them at all.
What is getting in the way of our self-care?
What is contributing to our self-neglect, and how can we “fix” it? One obstacle to prioritizing our self-care may be self-sabotage. Now I know this phrase may sound quite dramatic, and your initial thought might be, “I’m not sabotaging myself!” But in fact, all of us can exhibit self-sabotaging behaviors to protect ourselves. That’s right; sometimes we self-sabotage to offer ourselves protection from painful feelings or realities. This becomes problematic when we aren’t aware of how we’re doing this or that we’re doing this, and we over-protect ourselves.
For example, if one has a deep fear of intimacy or commitment, one may continue to pick fights with a partner or even choose partners that are not compatible. Or I may have a project that I need to work on that typically gets put on the backburner as I prioritize running errands or hanging out with friends because I’m afraid to fail or put myself out there. An even more subtle way we can self-sabotage is by experiencing a lot of anxiety or cyclical thoughts to avoid dropping into the physical sensation of grief, which can be a very intense emotion.
What do we do about our self-sabotage?
Let’s go back to the word “fix,” because I think this is an important point: We don’t need to fix ourselves or even work on ourselves. I know this may sound like it’s conflicting with my overall message or point of this article, but let’s go deeper. There isn’t anything about you that needs “work” or “fixing.” In fact, all of the behaviors, patterns and thoughts that you’ve experienced and exhibited are ways that you’ve learned to survive throughout your lifetime to get your underlying needs met. The bottom line is, even if you’re self-sabotaging, you’re doing the best you can!
We all have needs; to feel safe, to feel seen, to have others notice us, and take delight in who we are. However, because we are imperfect humans and thus our parents or caregivers are imperfect, throughout our lives we will experience times when our needs are not met, or we are faced with something that floods our system that we just can’t integrate or make sense of at the time. These things can become “stuck” in us, or become part of our programming.
Understanding is Key
Maybe our parents got divorced when we were little, so we feel fear around close relationships. Maybe we saw a family member pursue a creative dream, and we heard our parents discuss how that person “will never make any money as a ____,” so we push down our own creative aspirations. Whatever the cause, once we bring awareness to our self-sabotage, that’s really all we need to do! Because that awareness and understanding are key. We learn what the underlying need is, and then we can determine how to meet that need in an adaptive way, instead of setting ourselves up for failure. We may also see that we don’t need protection from our worries at all!
How to Increase our Awareness of Self-Sabotaging Behaviors:
Here are 3 simple strategies to increase awareness of self-sabotaging behaviors so that we are in greater alignment with our worth and value:
Identify Core Beliefs
Let me ask you this. If I told you by next year, you would have a dream come true, such as a loving relationship, or double the amount of money in your savings account, what negative thoughts or obstacles come up for you? “Oh that would never happen, I’m too needy” or “I’m terrible with money; I’ll never have a cushion to fall back on.” Write them all down. Now, instead of spending time obsessing over what is getting in the way of you reaching this dream, use these thoughts as guides for what you want to work on and what needs you have.
For example, feeling insecure and desperate in relationships may be an indicator that I need to work on building self-trust and keeping small promises that I make to myself. Poor money habits can lead me to make a plan and keep boundaries around my spending. This awareness is key because once we understand our negative core beliefs and thoughts, we can be awakened to how we are holding ourselves back. When we see that these beliefs are optional, we can then be intentional about our worth.
Develop a Journaling Practice
Type or write from your stream of thoughts without editing, trying to write “well,” or judging your thoughts. This is how you meet yourself! You’ll notice themes that continue to re-emerge, identify triggers much more readily, and even solve your own struggles by being introduced to them more and more over time. When you feel triggered, ask yourself “Does this feeling remind me of an earlier time in my life?” By looking back, we may recall painful memories or experiences where this feeling originates and our needs were not met, or we were not authentic to ourselves. Then, direct your attention to what you need to stay in your worth in the present moment.
Remember that “self-sabotage,” while it may sound scary, is really just a way we’ve protected ourselves when something is no longer working. Sometimes, we get tired of our own stuff or tired of feeling the way that we do. It’s important to remember in those moments that we’re doing the best we can, and we aren’t “wrong” for feeling how we feel. But in order to implement self-care practices that we know will be helpful for us long term, we have to identify ways in which we are holding ourselves back, and how to meet those needs and feel security while attempting to branch out and put ourselves first.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you’d like to go deeper, next time I will be writing about what to do to implement changes in your life and work toward your goals/leave self-sabotage in the dust!
Anyone else DONE?! Over it? Fried? Frazzled?! We sure are! The holidays have come and are almost gone, leaving many of us reeling from too much “stuff,” too many “people,” and too many “things” to do. This is especially true if you are a Highly Sensitive Person or an Empath…
How can we best take care of ourselves when we’re in this space?
Perhaps getting grounded and centered in the present moment!
Here are a few physical activities we can do to direct our mind back to the here and now:
1. Savor a food or drink
While most of us rush through our meals to get back to a task or event, try to savor your next bite to eat. You can do this by taking small bites or sips. Pretend you are trying your food or beverage for the first time, letting yourself fully taste every flavor. Think about the temperature, texture, smell, and presentation of your food as well.
2. Take a short walk
What do you see? Focus on the texture, movement, and color of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colors, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo, or turquoise, instead of simply red or blue. How fast is that squirrel darting from the tree? Can you see your reflection in the puddle of water on the sidewalk? Are the trees bare or still full of leaves, do they move with the wind or simply stay still?
3. Hold a Piece of Ice
What does it feel like at first? How long does it take to start melting? How does the sensation change when the ice begins to melt?
4. Savor a Scent?
What are some of your favorite smells? Maybe you enjoy the wafts of a baked good rising in the oven, coffee brewing, onion or garlic cooking on the stove, laundry fresh from the dryer, or a candle. Whatever it is, inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply. What are its qualities?
5. Listen to your surroundings
Take a few moments to listen to the noises around you. Do you hear birds? Dogs barking? The hum of your computer, or the dryer running? If you hear people talking, what are they saying? Put on some music. Let the sounds wash over you and remind you where you are.
6. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method
You can rely on your 5 senses to bring you back to reality anytime you are starting to “spin out.” Counting backward from 5, use your senses to list the things you notice around you. 5 things you hear, four things you see, three things you can touch nearby, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Make an effort to notice the little things you might not always pay attention to, and remember which of them brings you joy. Then you can incorporate these little rituals into your day to help keep you centered.
Why Mindfulness? Why is it so important? This quote sums it up wonderfully:
Mindfulness is the Gateway to Peace.
So many of us feel chaotic and worried, pulled in many directions…feeling like a hamster on a hamster wheel, spinning and stuck, wasting away our energy without purpose or direction. I’ve been there. I know what that feels like. And then I was done with feeling that way. I wanted to feel grounded, centered, and at peace.
Peace felt weird at first. The first time I felt it I really didn’t know what it was.. it felt very odd, and different. Finally, it dawned on me and I said to myself, “So this is what it feels like to feel content.” I was used to mood swings… highs and lows. I was always irritable, frustrated with myself or others and I felt constantly overwhelmed. My body went into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode daily.
Now, my body and mind are used to feeling grounded, centered, and at peace.
I practice practical mindfulness constantly throughout the day by noticing my 5 senses when doing tasks. This means I allow myself to become aware of what I’m doing, thinking, and feeling and check in with myself to see if there is a better option for me at that moment.
I stopped asking, “Why?”
I realized the “Why” is a bottomless pit. We don’t really need to know “why.” “Why” focuses on the past. I’m not going in that direction. I’m moving forward. Instead, I ask, “How?” “What?” Or “Where?”
As in: How do I want to feel differently? How can I get there? What do I need at this moment to best take care of myself? What do I want out of life and what is meaningful to me? Where do I want my life to go?
I also have a flexible morning and evening mindfulness meditation routine. Every day I focus on what I’m grateful for. I also visualize where I’m headed, what I am intending for my day, my year, my life. And I spend time wondering and listening. I’m not formal or rigid with my practice. Rigidity hurts me more than it helps. Instead, I am gentle, kind, and forgiving with myself and subsequently others. I am at peace. And that feels wonderful!
Did you know your subconscious believes whatever you tell it?
When we have a story that we tell ourselves that limits us or our abilities our subconscious believes that.
When we have a story that is hopeful and empowering, our subconscious believes that.
Often we take from the past, which has already been experienced and written, to write our story of the future. And, of course, we feel like imposters! We are making this all up as we go. None of us have ever lived this day, this way before.
What if instead, we IMAGINE the story we want, that hasn’t been lived or written yet. When we DREAM about it, over and over and over again, as if we have already lived it THEN our subconscious believes that!
Don’t like your current story? Start writing and imagining a new one. Skip the chapter you’re on and see what’s in the chapters ahead. Or better yet, perhaps put this book down and try out another book. See if you like that story better.
What story are you feeding your subconscious? Remember: What we feed, grows.
“Be willing to trust your instincts, especially if you cannot find answers elsewhere.”~Brian Koslow
This means listening to your gut and your heart. You are the expert on yourself. No one knows you or your situation better than you. So trust yourself.
Many of us have a hard time trusting ourselves. This is to be expected when we are surrounded by others placing their expectations for us on us. Our loved ones love us AND they manage(d) their anxieties of being a parent by “parenting” us in ways that sometimes didn’t feel great for us when we were young (and perhaps even today as adults!).
Were they wrong or bad for doing this? Not necessarily. They likely didn’t know better and saw others doing the same.
What we can do now is offer ourselves new options.
Pretend we’re re-parenting ourselves. We all still have the little 7 year old in us who is still needing something they haven’t gotten. Ask them what it is they are needing. I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you. And likely you already have a good idea.
Then allow your adult self to help get your 7-year-old self’s needs met. You likely do this easily and willingly for others. Now do it for yourself. You deserve it, even if you’ve felt perhaps you didn’t.
Perhaps you also allow this to have an impact on your own parenting?
Notice when you’re managing your anxiety by expecting certain things of your children rather than just allowing them to show up exactly as they are. Don’t get me wrong, there is a fine balance between guiding/teaching/parenting children and allowing them to be themselves. However, perhaps this is a reminder that we all just want to be loved and accepted for exactly who we are.
We all deserve that.
If you’ve answered yes to any of the questions, then this 4 Week Guided Meditation Course is for you!
While utilizing affirmations and attempting to re-structure negative thoughts can be a great practice, sometimes we may feel that we need more to truly manifest what we want in our lives and get more space from negative and harmful thought patterns.
This course uses the power of meditation to help rewire our brain and create new neural pathways so that we can more readily access joy and peace and break out of patterns no longer serving us!
Meditation with others can also help you give and receive the energy from the collective if you’re feeling especially isolated during this time! This course may also be a great practice to help build resilience, peace, and strength before the holiday season is quickly upon us.
All 4 classes are $40 and each session lasts 45 minutes. These sessions will be virtual and held over Zoom Thursday, October 14th & 28th and Thursday, November 4th & 11th from 7-7:45 pm.
Class is structured such that there is an introduction to the mediation. Then I will facilitate a guided mediation for participants. Afterward, the group will process the mediation as a whole and share any insights, feelings, or experiences if they choose! This will also be an opportunity to add additional skills or use the accountability of the group environment to problem solve barriers to consistent mediation practice.
I will be utilizing practices from Eriksonian hypnosis, self-compassion, re-parenting the self, increasing resilience and nervous system regulation. Meditations will be focused on retraining our nervous system. This is to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression that are a result of developmental trauma, or complex PTSD. This course is meant to help clients re-parent themselves. Participants will experience less emotional deregulation, and access positive, self-affirming, and self-compassionate thoughts more readily.