Starting a Mindful practice is not as out of reach as some may believe. There are many roads to mindful living, and you can start right where you are today.
Spiritual work has always been of interest to me. I picked up Deepak Chopra’s “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” when I was only 24 and had very little understanding as to why I was drawn to it at the time.
That was a start. It was the journey through my divorce that really changed me. I wanted to re-invent my life and had to think differently to do that. I had to slow down and become very thoughtful about my choices and decisions. I also had to learn to take care of myself, meditate and quiet my mind. I needed to build my self-awareness and internal strength and faith in myself. I had to become Mindful of the life I was living.
The rewards of this are never ending. I did not realize it at the time, but I was practicing mindfulness and changing the way my brain was wired to better meet the needs of who I wanted to be. This is the power of Mindful living and there is a way to get there without all the drama and struggle that I went through.
Mindfulness is simply the awareness that arises by paying attention to the present moment. Staying in the Now, slowing down to allow for space between thoughts, a focus on what is happening to us in this moment; not the past or the future. It is taking the mind off auto-pilot, giving all the chatter in the mind a back seat of focus, and tuning into life, as it is, without judgement. You become the observer of your life and this gives you the power to make new choices or to follow the ones that feel good, eventually creating the life you want to live.
Mindfulness is not new. Jon Kabat-Zinn developed a ground-breaking program using meditation practices learned from Buddists. Basically he stripped the religious parts and used the proven techniques to develop a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. This program has continued to grow and the results have been scientifically proven to help people with many areas of their lives; Weight-loss, relationships, conflict, success, stress, focus, and much more.
Anyone can learn and there are many ways to practice. It’s low cost and you can do it anywhere, anytime. Sounds too easy right? Well, it is simple, but it takes practice. We also have a lot of programming and belief systems we are taught that can interfere with our internal voice. The pace we run at in our daily lives fights with this calm, quiet approach. And that is exactly why we need it!
To get started, I recommend these steps:
- Observe: Pay attention to your thoughts. What type of mental chatter is going on in your mind? As women we tend to have plenty to say, even to ourselves! Sit quietly and pay attention to what comes to your mind. You can write the thoughts down if that helps you pay attention.
- Ask: What is the chatter all about? Is it repetitive? Is it nice? Are there a lot of shoulds, or reprimands? Do you find yourself thinking about the future with fear, the past with regret? Or are they fun, joyful, positive and full of optimism? Do you find yourself dreaming of new ideas or places to visit?
- Practice Breathing: As you begin to watch the thoughts go by, practice bringing your attention back to your breath. Begin to focus on your breath for 2 minutes each day. Again, simple, but not an easy practice. Sit, close your eyes, and the thoughts begin to flow. Try not to respond to them for the 2 minutes and focus on breathing in and breathing out. Try to do that as long as you can.
You will begin to see that there is an observer as well as the one who brings the chatter–the more you identify with the observer in you, the more you can decide what thoughts you want to pay attention to. It is the most powerful training of the mind. You have more choice and power than you may realize.
This is the start. If you begin with these simple steps and you like the feeling, you might be ready to enlist in mindfulness training. Building your practice is best done over an 8-week period. For more information and connections to find a program, check out mindfulnation.org.
Keeping you in mind.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
I accept that I can only do my best, and have to work on letting go of the outcomes.
What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I appreciate my interest in bringing new ideas to people who might otherwise not realize they have choices or the ability to have the life they want. I am working on appreciating that my limitations are the very thing that direct me to my strengths.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
I am proud of the peaceful home I create for my daughter. And, I still dream that I will have 6-pack abs for a summer.
We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
I know at times I show up a little too disorganized and this can create the impression that I don’t know what I am doing! A work in progress always!
“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)
Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?
I love my life and all the wonderful people who show up to give me support, love and laughter.