I am so excited to be participating in Freshii’s #mindFULLmonday campaign! Today I am sharing my journey with mindfulness and some tips on how to embrace a more mindful life.
The idea of mindfulness used to scare me. Being alone with my thoughts is something I truly struggled with. Anxiety, lists, worries, and negativity would creep in. I didn’t see the use of mindfulness because my only experiences with it had created even more anxiety. The utility of the practice was not apparent to me and above all else, I told myself I didn’t have time.
I remember being on my honeymoon in Bali and going to a mindfulness meditation class. I wasn’t thrilled, but I wanted to humor my husband. I was in the most blissful place in the world, and I couldn’t tune into my mind. I distinctly remember getting that antsy feeling all over my body. I could not sit still for the life of me and literally built up physical aggression from the aggravation. I developed an internal dialogue that this whole mindfulness thing wasn’t for me – not then, not ever.
Now, almost two years later, I can see how close minded I was being. One uncomfortable experience was enough to close my mind and keep it closed for quite some time. Throughout all of the stressful transitions of moving to Detroit, I struggled. A lot. More than I ever had before.
Anxiety has always been present in my life (as it is for many), but it didn’t feel problematic. I honored my way through college and grad school. I landed my first advertising job in Toronto at the top agency. All those experiences were fluid and part of steady growth in my young adult life. It wasn’t until I reached a point of serious discomfort in my life, that anxiety reared its ugly head. Instead of fueling my motivation and productivity, as it had in the past, it put me in a place where I felt paralyzed and stuck. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone, but in retrospect, it was the fork in the road that changed my life. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didn’t experience being completely out of my comfort zone. It forced me to actively make a change and embrace a more mindful life.
Deciding to make that change took work. It wasn’t one thing, one person or one event. It was a series of things over time that started to open my mind. First thing’s first: YOGA. I found a community and love for this practice that allowed me to be present with my body. My only prior experience with exercise was intense cardio – punishment style. My motivation for working out was a response to the food I ate. Yoga allowed me to experience movement and strength mindfully. The second: THERAPY. I found an incredible individual who truly helped me out of a hard time. Sometimes it takes someone completely objective and outside of your direct circle to help you see the situation through a new lens. And last but not least: FOOD. This is the most important aspect. Once I started to study food and holistic nutrition, I started to actively tune into my body and engage with how it was feeling. I learned that what made me feel nourished, energized and happy was an abundance of real, whole, healthy food and everything in moderation. Mindful eating is something I work on every single day.
My practice of mindfulness is not perfect today by any means and still has a long way to go, but I have learned a few things along the way that I want to share.
- Have no judgment. We cannot all be Kundalini yogis that can meditate for hours on end. There is no scale when it comes to mindfulness. We have to accept what we can do for ourselves at any given moment. I like to see mindfulness is a muscle that gets stronger over time. Whether that is committing to one yoga class a week or 2 minutes of morning meditation each day. One is not better than the other. There is no one taking score.
- Create a mindful mantra. A short, directed, personalized mantra that you can say to yourself when you find yourself shifting into an anxious state of mind and losing presence. Something like: “I am strong and capable” or “It will work out the way it is supposed to” or “My thoughts do not define me”. Mantras help to ground us in stressful situations.
- Eat with intention. So often we eat mindlessly. On the way to work, in the car, standing answering an email, on the phone etc. Relish in the short moments you have with your meal. Think about what the food is doing for you physically and mentally. Whether it be a super nourishing dinner with an indulgent serving of ice cream – give it the attention it deserves. The act of appreciating and consciously experiencing our food opens the door to creating a mindful experience with food. I have learned when embracing this perspective that I can enjoy my food even more.
- Find movement that is therapeutic for you. If the thought of a yoga class makes you want to rip your hair out – then do not do it. Mindful movement prompts physical focus, mental ease, and most importantly mind-body connection. For me, that has become Barre, Yoga and nature walks. It used to be spinning and jogging for me, but things have changed. Your mindful movement can be a series of things and change every week! Do what feels good for you.
- Schedule ‘me time’ on your calendar. I take that hour in the morning to enjoy my coffee and settle into my day. We are constantly go go go and doing everything for everyone else. We need to prioritize our self-care time.
That’s it for now! I so appreciate you reading this post! Means a lot to me that you took the time to learn my story. I hope I inspired you to take on more mindful habits in your life.
Thank you to Freshii for sponsoring this post. I love working with brands that are aligned with my values and share my passion for wellness 🙂