What is Mindfulness, Anyway?

Hi friends!

You might have heard about this post’s topic of discussion before. We’re going to talk about mindfulness!

What is mindfulness?

I define mindfulness as: putting an active awareness toward living in the present by not dwelling in the past or obsessing about the future.

I first learned of the concept of mindfulness when I started practicing yoga.

Yoga helped me with my ADHD and anxiety, but increasing mindfulness has also helped me tremendously.  Especially because my anxiety tends to manifest itself physically.

Sometimes, I get overwhelmed at work—because of several deadlines or I keep getting interrupted, stuff like that. I’ve started to just give myself a moment to grab a hold onto those racing thoughts.

I try to tell myself, “Okay – this is a lot.  How do we break this down? What’s going on?”

Typically, if I get too worked up, I’ll end up completely useless and will have to start an entirely new task as a reset.

When I ask myself what is going on, I’m:

1.       Acknowledging that I’m approaching a moment where I will soon feel out of control.

2.       Aware that the current train of thought is still salvageable and has time to be dissected.

3.       Trying to verbalize and untangle the jumble in my brain before I “shut down.”

This method is to make sure that I don’t fly off the deep end into extreme panic mode.

Extreme panic mode can stir up stormy feelings like insecurity, doubt, and hopelessness.

When we’re overwhelmed, we react to things and let those emotions take over our entire brain– but humans are flawed – we do that! It’s okay because there are solutions.

Remember: Mindfulness is the conscious effort to remain in the present.

I have a stack of books (and fics) a mile high—but  I recently read 10% Happier, an anxiety and meditation book by news anchor Dan Harris, who had a panic attack on live television.

In his book— Harris walks through how he discovered meditation and how much it changed his life. The book’s title – is his main pitch. Everyone wants to be 10% happier—and meditation is his suggestion.

Harris mentioned a pattern where people try to live their lives by going from one milestone to the next —

They think:

“I’ll be happy when I graduate.”

“Oh, I’ll be happy when I get a job.”

“Well, I guess I’ll be  happy when I get married.”

But then these people feel underwhelmed and unsatisfied for .. seemingly no reason.

A lack of mindful living can be why this happens. If we are always focusing on the end result without savoring the journey there—is it really that fulfilling?

I don’t think it is.

Try to pay attention to what’s happening around you for a second.

When was the last time you did a task—while ACTIVELY trying to keep 100% focused on it?

I’m sure that you’re reading this blog post while texting someone, making a meal, studying, PROBABLY SOMETHING ELSE—RIGHT?

It’s surprising to realize how often people multitask—involuntarily (and not the kind we like here.) There are many sensations we take for granted because we’re used to them.

Taking a moment to reflect on our level (or lack of) of self-awareness can be uncomfortable.

This is also a reason why people are afraid to be alone. It goes back to not wanting to get to know themselves. Now, I’m not saying you have to LIKE being alone – because some of us are more social than others—but you should be capable of being by yourself.

Just a few years ago, I would CONSTANTLY need people around me. I always had someone to latch on to.

My reasoning was, if they weren’t around, what did that mean?

I would have to be by myself?

And do what?

Think?

*Solutions, what are they?

Here are some ways that you can practice mindfulness in your everyday life!

ASK:

  • Where am I?
  • What do I see right now?
  • How do I feel? Emotionally? Physically?  

Go through your senses and list what you can identify. That’s being mindful! You are paying attention to CURRENT SENSATIONS.

I also have a Meditation 101 exercise for you!

Sit down comfortably. That might mean “criss-cross applesauce” or that might mean with your legs out in front of you.

If needed, set a blanket or pillow under your booty to raise your hips up.

Close your eyes.

WE’RE GOING TO START COUNTING DOWN FROM 50.

With each inhale and exhale, count down a number.

Inhale … 50

Exhale … 49

Inhale … 48

..and so on. Until you reach 20.

When you get to 20, only count on the exhale:

Inhale …

Exhale … 19

Inhale …

Exhale … 18

.. etc.

When you get to 0– stop counting and just focus on inhaling and exhaling.

TIP: I like to imagine a circle expanding on the inhale and constricting on the exhale. Ensure that you can feel your lungs filling and emptying.

Whenever you feel comfortable, you can end the exercise, and continue with your day!

This exercise is difficult, and you may feel like an idiot. I assure you that almost everyone feels that way. If your mind drifts—forgive yourself and try to return to the breath.

It’s totally normal if your brain kicks it into overdrive and you start thinking about  that time you threw up in your friend’s dining room.

It took me an embarrassing amount of times to complete the exercise.

Start with 10 minutes a day!

focus on the breath

“Irene– This sounds stupid, why would I do this?”

HEY FRIEND! YO THAT’S NOT NICE.

But – I get it. Yeah, yeah—if you sit and breathe for 10 minutes, there’s NO WAY it would actually make a difference in your life..

Right?

NOPE. WRONG.

There

Are

So

Many

Studies

Proving

The

Effects

Of

Mindfulness

So, I’m asking nicely.

Try it – I recommend right when you wake up in the morning (unless you’re like me … 97% of the time and get ready for the day in 13 minutes *cough*).

That’s my intro to mindfulness– more about this to come! I was able to chat with Artie Wu from Preside Life Meditation about his career and tips for meditation! I can’t wait to share with you guys!

Try the exercise, did you epically fail? Did it work? Let me know.

Stay sassy,

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