Last week I spoke about the emotional aspects of mindfulness. I shared ways to manage your emotions in a way that allows you to stay in control of your energy.
This week I want to talk about the physical aspects of mindfulness.
To keep it simple, I am breaking it down to 3 major areas of our physical health and well-being, as I see it:
In my experience, the quality of foods we eat and beverages we drink impact our physical health more than anything. Again, I speak of this in more detail on page 16 of my book Reclaiming Joy. Meantime, as it relates to mindfulness, we really are what we eat. The quality of food we put into our body directly impacts everything from our thoughts and our ability to think clearly to the energy we have to enjoy life.
Nutrition Mindfulness Tip: Have at least one meal per day slowly and in silence. Pay attention to how you feel during & after you eat. What was the experience like? Did you enjoy the food more? Taste it more? Is the food "right" for you? How much is "enough"?
Most of us are sleep deprived. We are turned on, and unable to sleep even when we are exhausted. Did you know it takes energy to get restful sleep? What I will say about sleep, as with food, is that it is the foundation to all aspects of our well-being. Without consistent adequate rest we are causing harm to our physical body. When we sleep, our body recovers from the day. Think about when you are sick-- your body naturally wants to rest. Same is true on a daily basis as our body undergoes the stress of living...we need to give it time to recover.
How much sleep do you need? For me, 8 hours per night, sometimes 9 is what I need.
Sleep Mindfulness Tip: How much sleep do you require? Be honest... Work toward it if you aren't there already, and notice what improves? Are you making better food choices because you don't feel so tired? Having more fun? More energy to exercise?
PS: One of my intentions after the Tulum Retreat is to create a deep sleep retreat :)
Think about it. One of the best ways to "move" stress/anxious energy, relax our mind, and keep our body strong is movement. There is no way around this so it's best to find what works for you. Over the years I went from a gym rat to someone who does almost everything I can outside: bike, run, swim, walk, yoga, hula hoop, whatever. If it's way too cold, I do yoga or dance indoors. Move your body 5 times per week!!!
Movement Mindfulness Tip: Notice how you manage stress when you commit to consistent movement. Do you feel happier and more energized? Maybe more positive? Find ways to have fun with movement.
New Workshops & Programs Next Month!!!
Stay tuned for my new upcoming workshops & programs that integrate body, mind, and spirit. They will include nutrition for body, mind, and spirit to help you prepare to bring in 2018 ready to THRIVE!!! If you want to be informed, email me here.
Last week I spoke about how to create a diet of mindfulness in your life and focused on the mental aspects.
This week I will focus on the emotional aspects of mindfulness.
Why? In my experience, inability to regulate our emotions is the number one reason we don't achieve success (however we define success) in our life.
Quite simply, our emotions are far too powerful and will usually win out. I speak about this in more detail on pages 56-58 of my book, Reclaiming Joy.
So, what are the emotional aspects of mindfulness?
They are our feelings and how we relate to the world around us!!
Examples: happy, sad, peaceful, anxious, patient, frustrated, etc.
How can I practice a diet of emotional mindfulness?
Know your triggers. Meaning, what people/situations cause you to lose yourself in your emotions? By lose yourself I mean your emotions take over. There is no rational thought. It's as if you have been possessed!!
Note: this isn't only "unpleasant" emotions. I am also talking about those exhilarating emotions that at times seem addicting.
How do I manage/balance my emotions in order to live mindfully?
Meditation of course! And also by learning about your triggers. As with the mental aspects, once you have awareness/knowledge, you will be able to take the second step which is to find ways to manage your emotions in a way that allows you to stay in control of your energy.
A formula I use and have found very helpful for this is what I call D4:
Disengage- When you find yourself caught up in the emotion, take a few steps back. Give mental and sometimes physical space to whatever is going on. Take as much time as you need to return to balance.
Discern- The gift of taking space reveals wisdom to us about "what is really going on". This helps us return to a clearer perspective.
Decide- With a clearer perspective, you will be better able to make decisions.
Do- Take action steps in support of your decision.
Trigger- Feeling taken advantage of. You are a generous person. Someone in your life who you love often makes you feel like they are always taking from you and not giving back!!
Here's how the formula works:
Disengage- Take space from thinking about how you are feeling. Often we continue to run the mental tape of thinking which then keeps us on the emotional roller coaster.
Discern- In the space taken, you realize you "over-give" and some people come to expect this. As well, you often expect something in return when you give. Meaning, you are attached to the outcome of your giving. You realize this attachment keeps you on the roller coaster!
Decide- You realize you have to pull back on giving so much of yourself in general. You decide you will set firmer boundaries, and do a better job of managing the energy you give out.
Do- Based on the above decisions, next time you engage with this person, try something different/opposite of what you would usually do. Be compassionate with yourself.
Try it and tell me what are you noticing?
A final thought by one of my favorites, Mark Nepo, "The emotional patterns of our lives are very strong. They often come into being because we've needed them to survive, but sooner or later, we all arrive at moments where the very thing that has saved us is killing us, keeping us from truly living...and... there is, after all, a difference between helping someone because if you don't you will lose their love or some sense of your own image as a caring person, and helping someone because your impulse of heart moves you to their aid."
Last week I spoke about the gift of frustration and how in the process of leaning into the root of our frustrations, we open to one of its gifts: our freedom.
This week I want to return to one of my favorite topics: mindfulness. In particular, over the next few weeks I will be writing to you about how to create a diet of mindfulness in your life.
First, what does mindfulness mean?
For me it means being aware, awake, alive in our choices. When we live mindfully, we make conscious choices and therefore live with a purpose. Examples are many and range from choices such as eating more greens to increase energy & fiber to turning off the TV to connect with a loved one and everything in between.
Why a diet of mindfulness?
In my experience of practicing and teaching meditation, one of the best gifts the practice gives us is the ability to take what we learn on the meditation cushion and apply it to everyday life...therefore living mindfully.
A diet of mindfulness includes mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our life. Today I will focus on the mental aspects.
What are the mental aspects of mindfulness?
Examples: Your own self talk, who you are surrounding yourself with and listening to, and everything you read and listen to. Pretty much all things that you think about are the mental aspects.
How can I practice a mental diet of mindfulness?
From the examples above, notice what you are feeding yourself and being fed mentally, and how this "food" impacts your thoughts. Also pay attention to how it makes you feel. Mental and emotional body are connected! So, if you are watching TV and it provokes anxiety, shut it off and find another outlet that makes you feel good. Simple, right?
Another great way to become aware of your thoughts is during meditation. Maybe during meditation you realize how much negativity you've been absorbing at work or home and you are now having negative thoughts. Maybe you have always been a positive person and now it's becoming a challenge. Or perhaps you tend to be more on the negative side, and now it's costing you peace of mind and relationships...
How do I implement the mental aspects of a diet of mindfulness in order to live mindfully?
Start by noticing the mental diet you are currently on. Armed with this awareness (be kind to yourself in the process), you then have a choice to make. If you answer "yes" to living mindfully then as you notice the mental food that doesn't serve you, act to minimize/eliminate it.
Remember, thoughts are energy/matter and eventually become things. Especially these days our power to manifest (make happen) our thoughts is incredibly strong. That's great news so long as we are being mindful about that which we think...cause that which we think, will happen. Pay attention.
Is the battle in here...or out there...?
Last week I encouraged you to stay true to what matters to you, especially when faced with challenges. I invited you to lean in to these challenges in order to reclaim your power.
I am fascinated by power. I love playing with power and studying it. In my shamanic practice I have learned to respect power immensely. Power is neutral. It becomes "charged" when we decide how to use it. Meaning, we are either using our power to help/heal or harm/hurt.
The interesting thing about power: some of us don't even know how powerful we are; others of us feel so powerful (ego) that we are oblivious... and still others think we are using our power to help, when in fact we are actually causing harm.
One example of being unaware of our power is when we get stuck for long periods of time in the frustration of how things "are". Perhaps we are frustrated with the outer world...or maybe it's our inner world...or some combination. Whatever the case, when we use our power for prolonged periods of time at the energetic of "frustration", we are doing harm.
Instead of focusing on why we are frustrated, we lose/leak energy to the lower vibrations that come with frustration: sadness, depression, anger, hopelessness, etc. Over time, these emotions cause harm to us and to those we touch.
When we focus on the frustration itself rather than the "root" of the frustration, we miss the gifts our frustration has to teach us.
What to do?
Get to the root!! Dig deeper by using reflection practices such as writing and meditation and/or get support by engaging in shamanic practices . When we commit to getting to the root, in the process we usually notice we are stuck/slowed down for a reason. And that reason is our teacher to help move us forward. In essence, the frustration is an invitation to lean in.
To be clear: I am not saying it's bad/wrong to have emotions. Quite the contrary. What I am saying is to live for prolonged periods of time in the lower/negative emotions is a misuse of our power as human beings.
If we want to use our power to help, we must first help our self (think airplane oxygen mask). By helping our self, we learn how to come into Ayni (right relationship) with power and we free up energy to help others. Isn't that the point?
In the process we learn one of the greatest gifts of our frustration is our freedom.
We begin to realize we are powerful human beings who are free to act in the direction of that which brings peace, love, joy and expansion...or not.
"Of this I am certain: something happens every time I stop fighting with the way things are." -- Geneen Roth
Last week I spoke about rising up and how our perspective influences our life by telling you the story of the 2 wolves.
This week I want to continue encouraging you to stay true to what matters to you especially when faced with challenges. More specifically, I invite you to lean in to these challenges or that which seems to have "power" over you.
My shamanic practice has taught me to respect power. We all have it- power that is. How we use power (to harm or heal) results in our experience of life. And-- so often, we unknowingly give away our power and therefore the direction of our life.
One way is by avoiding/minimizing the sometimes chaotic/highly emotional energy that comes from the uncertainty that arises when faced with big life choices/changes. And blaming others is also a form of avoidance/minimizing :)
Avoiding/minimizing happens because we are afraid to engage honestly with the feelings that arise from uncertainty: confusion, fear, anger, sadness, etc.
What to do instead?
Lean In and become masterful at managing your emotional energy!!!
1. Accept what you are feeling with compassion (you don't have to like it)
2. Ask yourself what is at the root of the feeling (i.e. anger from feeling taken advantage of)
3. Action- do something about it!! (i.e. speak up, say no, set boundaries, get support)
Life is short. What we can't be with, won't allow us to be. The path to peace comes from owning our power and leaning into that which is trying to get our attention so it can be "healed". And yes, often it comes in the form of a "challenge" we are facing.
Try it! Let me know what you notice.