Tag Archive for: mindfulness

optimism

Harnessing the Power of Our Mind Through Mindfulness

Written by Rob Giltner, MAMFT

Mindfulness is a wonderful practice that research has shown to better our mental, emotional, and physical health. But there is new exciting data coming out that tells us mindfulness is a tool that can enhance our performance in athletics, our career, or anywhere we may need to perform at a certain level.

In order to perform at our highest level and reach our potential, we need to achieve a flow state of mind. This flow is proven to enhance performance in learning, athletics, creativity, and leading. A flow state of mind is a mental state where we are completely involved and focused on what we are doing. It’s a type of trance we can get in where barriers and ego fall away. Mindfulness can develop a healthy brain structure to keep us in the flow state of mind.

Our brains have a default mode network that is designed for survival. However, when we stay in this mode during our performance we are vulnerable to pressure, anxiety, and an inability to focus. Mindfulness can get us out of this mode and into a flow.

It is so important to develop resiliency and performance in high-pressure situations. Just like we can train and command the body to be strong and flexible for athletic performance we can train the mind to be calm and confident.

Through repetitions of practices and ways of thinking, the mind can harness optimism. Optimism explores protentional even in times when we may be stressed or anxious. Optimism is much more than thinking the best will happen, it’s a practice that opens doors and helps our minds find our ceiling.

gratitude

Gr-Attitude!

I was reminded recently about how powerful and magical it is to live life from a place of gratitude. Gratitude shifts our focus from negative to positive. This is not to be confused with Toxic Positivity. “Good Vibes Only” is not realistic. We are not robots.  We are humans and humans feel emotion.

Emotions are watery.

What are you feeling right now? How might you feel in 10 minutes? Emotions ebb and flow, come and go, get stuck and unstuck. Allow your emotions to remain in motion. You may find they move along fairly quickly! Experiment with waiting 5 minutes and see where they go.

Feel all the feels.
Notice them.
Name them.
Then, let them go…like clouds in the sky floating by.

Even when you get disappointed, irritated, or upset, perhaps you will start to notice a theme or lesson that’s being presented in that situation. Perhaps you’ll notice feelings of Gratitude for your noticing, for the lesson you’re actively learning, for the movement of emotion (remember, they’re watery like ocean waves) that prevent you from remaining static and stuck

Where have you found Gratitude recently? Not feeling it lately? Perhaps be curious about where it will show up later today, over the weekend, or in the upcoming weeks…
trust yourself

Trust Yourself

“When you look around, feel insecure, and wonder who you can trust, know that you can trust yourself.
We often stand like little children, holding out our hands, waiting for someone to lead us somewhere, anywhere. We hope that someone can show us what we need to do next…Trust and respond to your own heart. Trust the wisdom and guidance within you.” ~Melody Beattie, Journey to the Heart

Did you know that you don’t have to wait to see where/what the Universe/God/Source wants you to go or do?

Nope. You get to say, “Hey! Let’s do this! This really excites me and brings me joy!”
I know, I know, you may not know what it is that you want to do or what brings you joy. Or you’re scared and feeling unsure. We all are! Courage is doing something even though you are scared! We are all making this thing called life up as we go! All of us!
Be curious and prompt yourself often with, “Wouldn’t it be nice…” and see where that takes you. Perhaps you commit to using this prompt daily for a month or multiple times a day for a week!
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all trusted ourselves?
roses

What Roses Can Teach Us About Ourselves

Aaaahhhh roses…. Such a beautiful flower with such wonderful feelings and meaning associated with it.
And yet, with all their natural beauty, vibrant colors, velvety soft texture, and delicious smell, they also come with thorns on the stem should we grab hold of them. We sometimes forget how vicious those thorns can be if we’re not actually growing and cutting them ourselves.
And yet in their natural state, roses have thorns. That is just how they are. With the wonderful, we also have to accept the not-so-wonderful.

What would it be like if we could do this with ourselves?

To honor and celebrate what’s positive, while accepting our challenging areas and holding space for them just as they are? Not needing to be in a rush to change them or make them different.
When given a bouquet of roses, we don’t put them in a vase upside down so we can highlight the thorns. We focus on what is wonderful about the roses and make sure we can see the radiant blooms.
Rather than beating ourselves up for having thorns, let’s experiment with being excited about what’s wonderful about ourselves!
laughing

A Love Letter To Letting Go & Laughing More

Time and time again, I have seen proven, that laughter truly is the best medicine.

I am a full-fledged recovering serious person. I am a firstborn, people-pleasing, recovering-perfectionist. In the past, I’ve known myself to be very anxious and not a stranger to panic attacks.
Today, thanks to years of therapy, a library full of self-help books, mindfulness, meditation, reiki, my dear friend Zoloft, and an easy-going husband with a wonderful sense of humor (who happens to have a professional comedian on his resume) I have slowly, and at times painfully, learned to “lighten up.”
One major reason why I decided to live lighter was that it was too damn exhausting to be so damn serious all the time. Many would have called me rigid. Things had to be a certain way…MY way. My anxiety caused me to be controlling and perfectionistic.

Does this ring a bell for anyone?

I began to recognize that what may have worked for me at one time (anxiety=control=protection), was causing more problems than it was helping. I didn’t need to protect myself as much as I once did and therefore I didn’t need to be as controlling or anxious. As a result, I slowly and cautiously started allowing myself to have fun.

But I had to learn how to have fun.

It was not something that came naturally to me. And I had to accept that my version of “fun” (read books for fun, have deep conversations, go to bed early, wake up early, contemplate the meaning of life…) was not always the same as others.
I began to get to know myself and what I needed at any given moment. I had a better understanding of my anxiety when it did come to visit, but it was no longer a constant companion.
Now I balance my high-achieving nature with a “good enough” mentality. I don’t need to give 110% to everything I do. I honor myself and what I need and want at any given moment.  And I look for every appropriate opportunity to find humor and laugh.
silly

Embracing the Silly Things in Life

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

Be silly.
Be honest.
Be kind.

This is my Mantra!

The last two come very easily to me. That first one though…being silly…has taken a lot of intentional practice.

I am by nature a deep thinker, a firstborn, highly sensitive, highly empathic, and intuitive person. I can naturally see the seriousness, depth, and intensity of any issue. So much so that it can paralyze me. Or at least in the past, it has.

I love the depths to which I can go and those who can join me there. I also know I feel better when I don’t live in that space. It can make me very anxious and depressed. I’ve learned to live in the “Both, And” space of being deep (which can have a heaviness to it) and being light, fun, playful, and yes, even silly.

I used to fear being silly because I equated it with looking foolish.

In the past, I was pretty mortified with the idea of looking foolish. I think it was fueled by my anxiety and need for control. Now that my anxiety is pretty non-existent and I have embraced the ebb and flow of life, releasing the need for control, I don’t fear looking foolish. I have embraced silliness with a sense of confidence.

When I am silly, I am playful, laughing, and light.

And that feels wonderful!

I got a wonderful compliment from my 8-year-old daughter last night after a big event with lots of kids and parents. She said, “I’m so glad I have a CHILL mom!” My eyes just about popped out of my head! I looked at my husband and asked, “Did she just call ME chill?!” He nodded, knowingly.

All my intention and perseverance are paying off! Not only do I feel so much better, but those who mean the most to me are also benefitting too!!

overthinking

Free Time: Overthinking It?

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

When thinking about Free Time and “being” rather than “doing,” I am reminded that I am not only a “do-er,” I am also a “thinker.” A pretty deep thinker at that. My mind can go to places that are seemingly quite unnecessary. I’ve learned over time that this is one of my greatest strengths and one of my greatest challenges.

Now don’t get me wrong, thinking is wonderful.

Over-thinking is what is the issue for me. It’s the thoughts that I can’t stop thinking. The what-ifs and the should-haves and the panic and fear that I’ve done or said the “wrong” thing. This was a prison I felt I was in for a very long time. The prison of anxiety kept me from fully and completely expressing myself in the fullest capacity possible.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that fearlessness is a theme for me. If you watched my Creative Mornings Louisville talk on Silencing Fear you know about my stint with improv comedy and how it brought me to tears.

What I realized about fear and anxiety was that it was a prison that I was putting and keeping myself in. What was the key that would unlock the door to the prison?

The phrase, “Fearlessness resides in the softness of the heart,” was my key. I thought this was what a yoga instructor said in class once. When I asked her after class who wrote that saying, she responded, “That’s not what I read, but maybe that’s what you needed to hear.”

As I began trying new things like improv comedy in my “free time” I chose to place myself outside of my comfort zone. It wasn’t about succeeding at improv comedy. It was about doing something that scared the shit out of me and sticking with it. After 9 months of classes every week, it became less scary. I still didn’t enjoy it, the actual performing that is. What I did enjoy and was “in joy” with were the friendships I had made, following through with a challenge and commitment I made to myself. and proving to myself that I could “do hard things” (“Untamed” reference!).

So while you may choose to do an actual activity with your free time, perhaps something other than improv comedy, I wonder if you are also avoiding free time like I can find myself doing.

For those of us who have a tendency to run a bit anxious or are constant do-ers, sometimes it is the quiet of free time that scares us.

This week, I challenge you to embrace the solitude of your free time, to sit with yourself, and remember that, “Fearlessness resides in the softness of the heart.”

free time

Free Time: Ever Heard of It?

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“You will accomplish great things in your free time this week.”

-Fortune Cookie

I was having lunch with a dear friend and her family recently and received this message in my fortune cookie. It was quite fortuitous as I was out-of-town and in “vacation mode” so there was lots of “free time.” You know what I’m talking about, right? That feeling of unstructured playtime you can do whatever you want with. Yes, even as adults we get playtime! Most of us only feel it when we’re on vacation…sometimes. Sometimes “vacation” is more of a “relocation” when we feel like we need to entertain and cook and clean and plan. We don’t often get that sense of freedom that comes with “free time.”

Free time. What a wonderful concept.

I’m wondering if you feel like you have free time on a weekly or daily basis – time that is unstructured and open for you to do whatever you want. Maybe you choose to just be in the moment and do nothing. Maybe you choose to treat yourself to a coffee or trip to your favorite store. Whatever it is, it is time that you are free to do what you want to do, not necessarily need to do.

I’ve been thinking a lot about things we THINK we need to do and things we actually need to get done. On this recent trip I noticed that while I was away, I was not needed (by work, family, life, etc.) as much as I had felt the weeks and months leading up to the trip. I started wondering if I was putting the pressure on myself to be DOING all the time and therefore “needing to do” stuff that perhaps didn’t really NEED to be done. Are you feeling me here?!

So I decided to start an experiment.

Those who know me, know I love a good experiment! I decided to see if I could go home after this vacation and bring with me the same feeling of “not NEEDING to DO” that I felt on vacation.

This is quite fascinating to me as I have spent the last several months really challenging myself with this concept. Before vacation, I was paying attention to whether or not I was forcing things to happen or allowing them. This is a tricky concept because I get caught up in the “doing” of MAKING (forcing) things to happen. I busy myself with a lot of things I think I NEED to DO to make something happen. What I’ve seen over the years is that while there is a fair amount of doing that needs to take place in order to make things happen, there is also a fair amount of being that is also needed.

Just Being.

What I am reflecting on lately is that some of the most wonderful things happen when I am just being. Wonderful things also happen from the culmination of my doing as well. So there’s a tension between the two. In this tension and in most moments of tension I ask myself, “What is it I really want to do?” and “What feels best to me right now?” I have also noticed that the more I ask myself these searching-types of questions, I stay away from judging myself, being hard on myself, and “Shoulding” all over myself. I’m not telling myself what to do, I’m asking myself respectfully, what will be best for me at this moment. And that feels wonderful!

So when I think of accomplishing great things with my free time, I am reminded that in my free time I feel FREE. In that freedom comes openness, creativity, imagination, dreaming, excitement, wonder, options. This is the type of thinking I’m aiming to cultivate in the monthly class I offer (beginning in January) AND the rejuvenating women’s retreat happening in Napa Valley in January 2022. To find out more, visit my website!

worry

Worry Too Much?

Anxiety, we all have it from time to time. Though rarely welcomed, it can be a healthy response to life’s challenges and is a natural human response. In fact, anxiety acts as our body’s alarm system, allowing us to anticipate when we are in danger or in harm’s way. But if left unchecked, anxiety can be an overwhelming, never-ending cycle of worry that keeps us from understanding important parts of ourselves.

If you experience anxiety, ask yourself this:

If your mind wasn’t full of these current ANXIOUS thoughts, what would you think about? Although not necessarily pleasant, anxiety can serve as a distraction from dealing with what really needs to be addressed at the core.

Here are some signs that worry might be problematic in your life:

  • Chronically on alert and thinking about potential future dangers or threats.

  • Consistently making negative predictions about the future.

  • Tend to overestimate the likelihood that something bad will happen.

  • Repeat worried thoughts over and over again in your head.​

How can I tell if my anxiety is normal?

Anxiety is problematic when it is constant and goes unresolved, interfering with your lifestyle and relationships. An anxiety disorder can keep a person from coping with life’s ups and downs and make a person feel anxious most of the time, sometimes without any identifiable cause.

If this sounds like your current experience with anxiety, perhaps it’s time to change your relationship with anxiety by altering your perspective on it.

You don’t have to go it alone. Seeking professional care for your anxiety can provide hope and clarity on how to best navigate it.

untamed

Untamed Joy

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“Somewhere along my journey it happened.

Quietly, imperceptibly, almost without my having knowing it.

I relaxed.

Got comfortable with myself.

I began enjoying myself, accepting myself, accepting life.

Liking life.

I found joy.

Somewhere along your journey, it will happen to you…

Don’t worry about finding joy.

Because somewhere along your journey, joy will find you.”

-Melody Beattie “Journey to the Heart”

Are we there yet?

(I write this thinking of the laughing/crying emoji I’d love to post right after it!)

Have you arrived at this destination of joy? Is it an actual location, or rather a state of mind? Do we take residence in it or are we just here for a quick visit, perhaps a vacation from reality? Are these questions making you feel anxious or stressed, perhaps with the pressure of needing to accomplish this? Or perhaps you think and feel, “AMEN! Done!”

I am right here with you!

I’m riding the rollercoaster of life, just like you. I still wrestle with the “shoulds” that still reside in me from my family of origin and societal pressures. We are not perfect. We will never be perfect. Frankly, I’m done with trying to be perfect. I don’t have the energy for that anymore. And yet it still creeps in, in moments of stress, illness, quiet, like a little leak of air through a window. Just enough to catch my attention.

I allow myself to give it a touch of attention. I notice a frank conversation happening inside my head starting, “Ok, I’m feeling pressure to do the ‘right’ thing here.” And I tell myself gently, yet firmly, “There is no ‘right’ thing here.” And I respond gratefully, “Oh right, thanks for that reminder, I needed that.”

Then I ask myself, “How long do I want to give this attention? How much energy do I have to give this?”

The second answer gets me and I say, “Zero.” I refocus my attention away from the pressure of perfection and follow up with, “What is it you really need and/or want (to do, think, feel) right now?” Sensing that the best thing for me in this moment is some quiet, some reflection, some “me time.” I know I have options because I’ve been here before and I know what helps. I could read, take a bath, make some tea, get a glass of water, reflect, write, go for a walk, watch Netflix. I think, “Wow! Those are a lot of options!” And I wait a moment to see which one feels like the best option in this moment. I know I can always change my mind and try something else.

One place I find Joy is in the quiet whispers of my heart asking to be cared for, nurtured, and nourished. I know that no one knows me as well as I know myself and that I can nourish and nurture myself in many wonderful ways. This feels freeing to me. I’m not relying on someone else to notice I need something and come to my rescue and give me what I’m needing. I rely on my own strength to go ahead and give it to myself.

Oftentimes mid-life is about reevaluation.

We look back on the last forty (or fifty!) years and assess if we want to continue doing life the same way for the next forty-plus years.

The first forty-plus years have offered us a wonderful foundation of life lessons full of newness and loss. These first forty years have primed us for this moment of reevaluation. We may not have known that we had a choice in how we did those first forty years. Now we are old enough and have been adulting long enough to know what works for us and what doesn’t work for us. We know who we are and what feels best to us. And we’re beginning to not be afraid to speak our truth.  This is exactly where you find Joy. In the speaking of your Truth. The freedom to own your wants and needs. The embracing of “Not giving a Shit” what people think of me. And it feels wonderful.

Our free book giveaway this month is Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It addresses this very theme of speaking one’s Truth and taking all the responsibility and ownership of what comes with that. It speaks for bravery and freedom. And reminds us, “We can do hard things!”