The words mindfulness and meditation are thrown left and right everywhere and seem to be the cure-all to all human problems and health issues.
People jump on the bandwagon and try the new flavour of the week as new mindfulness and meditation books and courses are sprouting everywhere, promising that it is the latest panacea.
More often than not, people are left disappointed when they try it out on their own with the help of a book, an app or a podcast. Their lives are not changing, and they are left believing that it does not work.
I commonly hear things like:
I can go on and on on the broken promises that many claim mindfulness and meditation will bring.
SO here is what the problem really is.
There is nothing wrong with mindfulness and meditation, these strategies DO WORK.
The problem does not lie there.
Do you want to know what the REAL problem is?
Before I give you an answer, let’s start with an analogy:
You go to the gym 3- 4 times a week. You do yoga every morning. You eat junk food or skip meals, go to bed at all hours of the night, and barely get six hours of sleep, you have no self-care routine. You are still stressed and overwhelmed, and it’s taking forever to lose weight.
What’s wrong with this picture? Exercise and yoga don’t work? Or is it everything around it that is flawed?
It’s no different with mindfulness and meditation. These are strategies to improve your life, but these tools have a limited effect if they are practiced in isolation.
Just like when you are working out and doing yoga (even if the rest of your lifestyle is a mess), they will still be beneficial while you practice them and maybe moments after.
But you won’t get the full benefits if you don’t transform the other areas of your life. What do I mean by that?
Well, if you momentarily practice meditation and mindfulness, but outside of these practices your mindset is very negative, you make poor choices, hang out with toxic people, don’t stand up for yourself, worry too much about what other people think, put everyone first, are a people pleaser, accommodate everyone, have poor self-care, don’t ask for help, stay in an unhappy marriage or job, ignore your gut feelings, live in fear or guilt…
Need I say more? I think you know where I am going with this. After all, you are all smart people.
Mindfulness and meditation are disciplines to implement within more significant changes in your life.
Let’s use another example.
Research has shown that happy people have a gratitude practice. If you are only grateful for five minutes in the morning as you write in your gratitude journal, but throughout the day, you complain, judge, criticize and are a glass half empty kind of person…. Gratitude’s effects will be limited. Happy people don’t ONLY practice gratitude.
If you live in gratitude from the moment you wake up till your head hits the pillow at night, you will reap the benefits of this practice. That means, when you complain, you will catch yourself and shift it and find gratitude even in a challenging moment. Sincere gratitude is not a five-minute practice, it has to become a way of life to feel its effects.
Now back to meditation and mindfulness.
First, meditation is an exercise of focussed attention for the brain. Every time you sit to meditate, you are creating neuronal connections in your brain. Studies have shown that people who meditate daily are more resilient than those who don’t, and it has a preventative effect on various psychiatric disorders and stress.
Meditation is a workout for your brain. We need to take time out of our busy schedules to go to the brain gym. We can’t do this while we are doing something else.
Now, mindfulness, what is that?
Simply put, mindfulness is the act of being fully present and paying attention, without judgment, to whatever is happening inside you and outside of you. It is the act of noticing in the same way a scientist would observe how an experiment is unfolding without trying to control it.
Usually, our minds are busy wandering to the past or the future. Living there is the source of our suffering.
Mindfulness teaches us that, more often than not, what is happening now is all that exists. Only the present moment is real. The past, the future are just thoughts. They don’t exist. They are memories or fantasies.
The here and now is where we live. And quickly, that moment is in the past to make a place for another moment. All there is, is now. This is what mindfulness teaches us.
Children reach that state naturally. As adults, we need to re-learn how to live there. This is why it is easy to teach mindfulness and meditation to children, as it is their second nature.
When we practice being present on purpose, there is no suffering in the present moment.
Of course, there can be pain, that is without saying. But suffering is optional. Suffering arises when we create stories in our minds to narrate, judge, compare, resist, reject, try to control what is happening now. That is where suffering lies.
Even being present to the pain can be easier than resisting it because, in that space, we are more likely to find a solution that can bring us more peace, moment by moment. Sounds like utopia?
Meditation trains our minds on how to be more mindful. Just like lifting weights (an artificial gesture) will train your body to lift heavy boxes, develop a stronger core and back. And yoga might help you generate more flexibility, range of movement and even cope with physical and psychological pain. The skills learned through yoga and exercise improve the quality of our lives.
Meditation and mindfulness improve the quality of our lives by teaching us how to be more present and to declutter our minds. The result is increased awareness, which leads to making better choices, and THAT is where the magic lies.
Meditation and mindfulness without self-awareness and presence outside of these activities cannot transform our lives. But they sure are the first step to total transformation.
We cannot change what we don’t see or acknowledge. Meditation and mindfulness train our minds to make better choices, slow down and not lose our way.
If we apply the principles of meditation and mindfulness, we are closer to transforming our lives by noticing where the changes need to be made in the first place. Allowing us to pay attention to our intuition, or gut feelings, which are trying to tell us something. We need to listen.
It helps us develop the ability to not lose our cool with our kids, our spouse, or the people around us. It teaches us to slow down so we can think before we react and act instead in ways that are in line with what matters most to us- our values.
Meditation and mindfulness is the door you want to open to total transformation. It is not the end; it is the means to an end.
Learning mindfulness and meditation on your own can be easy. Putting them into application in your day-to-day or troubleshooting is the tricky part.
Don’t knock down these practices because they truly work. They will transform your life for the better. My clients can attest to this!
You just need the assistance of an experienced teacher to put it all together. I can help.
You can leave me a short voicemail for comments or questions. Connect here. Directly from your browser!
Those who know me, know that I aim to serve, so please submit any suggestions of content you would love to see in there or in my newsletter. Wishing you all ✨A Mindful Day ✨! With gratitude, 🌿
🌿P.S.: If you are curious about mediation and mindfulness, I am putting together a meditation course for beginners that you can do in the comfort of your home. Stay tuned! In the meantime. I am a teacher on the FREE App Insight Timer. I have guided meditations for kids and adults and a podcast episodes that might be of interest to you.
🌿ANNOUNCEMENT.: I’ve been working diligently on my membership site. It will be chock-full of resources of all kinds (online courses, audios, videos, PDFs, book recommendations, resources, helpful lessons AND an online community where we can connect and ask questions, Q & A calls).
This mindfulness practice is to train your brain to pay attention to something, whether it’s your breath, a sound, something you see, or anything else perceived by one of your five senses. Its goal is to help you notice when your attention drifts off from the object of your attention, be able to let go of those thoughts and bring back your attention to the present moment.
Source: Turrell & Bell (2016). ACT for Adolescents.
This guided meditation is an exercise in mindfulness. It allows you to notice your thoughts and be the observer. You are not your thoughts. It teaches you how to let go of those thoughts without resistance.
Source: Turrell & Bell (2016). ACT for Adolescents.
This visualization is narrated by my daughter (11 years old). It will help your child settle down so they can fall asleep peacefully. Have them become quiet and you may do a whole-body relaxation beforehand. Source: The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook for Kids (Shapiro & Sprague, 2009)
I get it. In this day and age of instant gratification, everything moving at the speed of light and the pressure from peers and society to be highly productive, you might be wondering…
”Where does the time go?”
For me, I get caught up in the busy-ness of being a mom and my career. I can easily get distracted with a pile of chores and obligations and an endless to-do list.
We compare ourselves to others and feel we need to keep up, leaving us energetically drained, overwhelmed and possibly feeling as though life is passing you by.
Am I striking a chord?
If I am, I want you to know there IS a better way! Let me explain…
The first step is to stop the spin cycle and start making YOU the priority in your life again.
Admittedly, life was simpler 100 years ago. With no technology, things moved much slower. Not that people didn’t work hard, it was more about fewer things distracting us and filling our mind on a 24/ 7 basis.
For example, what’s the first thing you do when you lay down to rest after work?
Maybe close your eyes for a minute – and most likely pick up your phone/ tablet to check messages and surf the net…am I right?
Here’s the thing…just like a hundred years ago, we still only have 24 hours in a day. Yet we try to cram in more than is humanly healthy or even possible.
We spend more time up in our heads than we do in our hearts – no wonder you might be spinning all the time.
If you haven’t unplugged and taken the time to just BE present, there’s no way to access what’s truly in your heart.
How do you do that? Well, let me tell you how.
Take time to “smell the roses”. Stop and actually notice what is right in front of you and take it in. I mean it, truly take it in!
Savour that coffee and taste it. Sip it slowly. Smell its aroma. Pause. Close your eyes and really taste and smell it. Don’t multitask.
Take a moment to notice your beautiful space, that smile on your child’s face, your partner lying next to you. Be in that moment fully. Be truly present.
This simple daily ritual will make you feel more grounded and connected to the people around you. If you do this throughout your day, your stress levels will go down.
The next step is to carve out 15-30 minutes just for you first thing in the morning. If you have to, get up before everyone else. Don’t grab your phone as soon as you open your eyes.
Before you dial into production mode, create a morning ritual as a gift to yourself. Doing things just for you. Be in the receiving mode.
You’ll notice the benefits add up over time. It will set the tone for the day. You will feel energized and you will take better care of yourself.
As the last step, a few times a day, start noticing what you are thinking about and how you are feeling.
Half the time we are not present and we are lost in our thoughts. Worrying, planning, ruminating, replaying. You name it.
Stop the time travelling and bring yourself back to this moment in time. Just immerse yourself fully into what you are doing without allowing your mind to wander elsewhere.
The easiest way to do that is to place your focus on the information inputted by your five senses. Right now.
Stay there a while. You’ll see. In that place, there is no struggle or resistance.
See your relationships improve. Life has more meaning. You will be happier.
Try these steps out and keep me posted on the results you notice.
P.S.: Don’t miss my bi-weekly podcast episodes and submit questions or topics of interest
With gratitude 🌿
🌿 You barely woke up and you’re overwhelmed before the day even started.
What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you wake up in the morning? You can be guaranteed that it will set the mood for the day ahead.
Mindset is everything!
Our mindset impacts our mood, our behaviours and the choices we make.
When we consciously make an effort in the morning to keep our mindset in check, it will start your day on the right foot. And it makes all the difference.
Our mind in an incessant chatterbox. It never stops and it’s wired to pay attention to the negative.
Did you ever notice that?
Did you know that we have between 60 to 80 thousand thoughts a day? Imagine if most of your thoughts are negative. It can weight down on your mood and your energy pretty quickly.
You’ll hear me say this over and over… pay attention to the present moment. It’s the only moment that really exists.
I want you to focus on what happens in your inner world and your outer world, at this precise moment. Yes, right now, as you read this.
You might not realize it but one harsh thought can lead to a storm of more negative harsh thoughts. Next thing you know you are sad, angry, resentful, frustrated because of the ongoing monologue going on in your head.
Remember that you hold the key to changing what happens in the privacy of your own mind. You can’t control people or external events but you can control how you choose to react to them.
On the path to a better life, we need two things: self-awareness and being kinder to ourselves.
How do I do that? You wonder.
The first thing I recommend is to live, as best you can, in the present moment.
When we are truly present, we pay more attention to what happens inside of us and outside. We are not lost in our minds. The by-product will be increased self-awareness.
The sooner you can incorporate living mindfully, the sooner you will calm the monkey brain. The less stress you will experience.
Mindfulness is not another fad technique, it is a way of living. You can’t change your mindset if you are not self-aware.
The second thing you need to do is to let go of judgment of yourself and others. Positive AND negative.
Judgment is a mind trap. Replace those judgments with self-compassion or just let them go. Try to resist the urge to judge.
Then shift your attention back to the present moment. Even if it is a difficult moment.
Just see and feel things as they are. Right now. Don’t resist, don’t label. Just observe what IS.
When you start doing that your mood will improve, your overall mindset will be more positive and you will be more productive. Overwhelm will be reduced drastically!
So, try this out for the next week. Combining noticing your mindset in the present moment and dropping all judgments.
Use certain cues to remind you to do this several times a day.
Until it becomes a habit, you can set an alarm on your phone a few times a day to start, or you can use walking through doorways as a reminder.
Pay attention to how you feel after a while. Chances are, the struggle will have gone.
P.S.: Don’t miss my bi-weekly podcast episodes and episode 3 is about letting go of judgment!
With gratitude, 🌿