We all experience this on a daily basis. For some it can be a motivator. For others it is debilitating. Our brains are programed to use fear as a method of survival. At the beginning of it all, as cavemen this was an essential skill. You had to react to the noises around you and get ready to defend yourself or you might not live to see tomorrow.
However, today we fear approval, our inbox, our child’s wellbeing, finances, weight gain or loneliness. These are all valid fears. But reacting to them defensively and feeding them with anxiety can leave us feeling exhausted and like we have not moved forward.
Meditation can help us decipher fear. It can help us see clearly.
Today when you are experiencing fear and anxiety take five minutes to stabilize. First, name your fear. Say I am afraid of…. I am scared of….
Then take 5 – 12 deep breaths. Put your hand on your heart. Chances are it is beating a mile a minute. When you start taking these deep breaths you will notice your body calm and your heart slow down.
Say a few positive phrases. But remember these phrases shouldn’t just be about you. Fear often includes others.
May we be safe from fear.
May we see the source of our fear.
Feel free to include names if that feels natural.
After this mindful exercise you may still feel fear. Don’t treat fear like a threat. Don’t run away from your fears. Approach them with friendliness. Console yourself as you would a friend experiencing fear.
How will you approach your fears today?
We all feel alone sometimes. Feeling alone can be terrifying and uncomfortable.
We can feel alone anywhere. Sometimes we feel alone at a party or even with our loved ones.
But how often are we really alone? We have created so much noise and stimulation. How often do we just sit and look at the world around us? I went to lunch the other day and noticed some of the other lone diners. During their break they busily worked on their phones. They looked up to acknowledge the waitress, but they missed the random happenings around them.
Being alone is difficult.
This is also why meditating can be difficult. When we meditate whether we are in a room full of people or by ourselves we have to sit with our feelings – alone.
Surrounding ourselves with noise and people is not connection.
Sometimes the only way to get reconnected is to be alone.
On this Mindful Monday, try being alone. Go to lunch without your cell phone. Go dancing at a club where no one knows you. Go to a movie by yourself.
It doesn’t matter what you do. Just do it alone. You may be nervous. But you may also be surprised what you learn about yourself.
How will you be alone today?
Self-acceptance isn’t always easy.
We all have days where we feel like we could be taller, smarter, skinnier, stronger or wealthier. We have days where we feel like we could be better friends, mothers, fathers, sons, sisters, husbands or wives. Judgement is something we try to avoid, but somehow we constantly entertain it.
Judgement brings extreme feelings. Judgment prevents us from self-knowledge, sincere relationships and living our most meaningful lives. Judgement is the ultimate barrier.
Mindfulness is our path to radical self-acceptance.
The most powerful way to undo judgement is forgiveness. Forgiveness restores our awareness.
Today forgive yourself. While you are meditating or just throughout the day when you notice judgements coming into your mind. Acknowledge them and let them pass. Say, “I forgive myself for my judgments.”
Trust in your personal power. Be open to miracles. And when you make a mistake again – forgive yourself quickly.
It has been a long day. You woke up late and didn’t have time for breakfast. There is a lot going on at the office. There are many deadlines to meet. At around 2:00 p.m. you realized you missed lunch. You didn’t have much time so you grabbed a sandwich from the coffee shop around the corner. You ate your lunch quickly while driving and checking your emails.
Now, at 3:30 p.m. all you can think about is cookies. There is a vending machine down the hall. So you grab a small bag of cookies and snarf them down at your desk.
Does this sound familiar?
For many of us eating is something we do quickly on-the-go. We eat food that is accessible. And sometimes we eat food that makes us feel good. Food becomes our treat in the middle of over-planned days. Whether it is a treat or speedy lunch, we don’t really taste it. We just consume it. We don’t consume it until we are full. We consume it until it is gone.
Mindful eating isn’t about diets. Or giving up cookies. Mindful eating is about being present when performing one of our most important self-care tasks — nourishment.
Today or sometime this week, try eating one meal mindfully, alone and in silence. You can eat in your car. Or in your office with the door closed. But if you think you will get on the computer or be interrupted go some where else.
Pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, flavors, and temperatures of your food. Notice your body. Where in the body do we feel hunger? What does half-full feel like? What does it feel like to eat fruit? Is it sweeter than you remember?
Feel free to share your experiences! We would love to hear from you.
Happy Mindful Monday!
Meditation helps us be present. And there are many ways to meditate.
Walking meditation is a meditation in action.
It is different from sitting meditations for many reasons. Your eyes are open. You must stay aware so you don’t trip and fall. Walking meditations also help us see the world around us. We become more aware of the sun, the wind and the birds singing just above.
One of the main reasons people like walking meditation is because it is easy to include into everyday life.
I particularly believe walking meditation is helpful, because many of us spend hours a day glued to a desk in front of a computer. We come home and sit in front a TV or computer and zone out. This is how we decompress. The truth is sometimes what we really need is exercise or some sort of movement. Mindful walking can help to increase your energy level if you are tired or restless.
This movement keeps us mindful. And this movement allows our brain time to truly connect to our environment.
Beautiful fall weather is here. Take a five-minute walk in your neighborhood or a park near you. What do you see? What do you hear?
Why do we learn to be mindful?
Because, If you are going to be present with someone else you must start by being present with yourself.
And nature is just the teacher.
A body scan is another mindful exercise to help you reach full body awareness.
You can start a body scan from downloading a guided meditation from Insight Timer. Or you can do a body scan on your own. All you will need is to set a timer for 15 minutes. Once the timer is set make sure to set it away from you. That way you aren’t tempted to check it during your meditation.
You can begin the practice by lying on the floor, or a mat, or your bed. Breath slowly and deeply through your nostrils. Start by directing your attention to the tips of your toes and your feet. Feel your feet. Are you tired from wearing heels all week? Have you been standing all day? Curl your toes to bring attention to them.
As you breathe slowly scan up your ankle, foot, knee and thigh. How do you feel? Accept any tension or discomfort. Feel the sensations in your legs.
If thoughts appear, that’s fine. Gently come back to your breath. Don’t judge your thoughts, they come and go, just like the clouds.
Continue this process until you reach the top of your head.
Can you feel how everything is connected? As you finish this exercise take a few minutes to breath and process the scan. Then sit up slowly. If anything came up during your scan that you feel is important write it down. This is a personal choice. Some people think this takes away from their practice. Others find this is a good way to note where they are on their spiritual journey.
Remember, these exercises aren’t always relaxing. Sometimes they bring up real emotions. Through increasing awareness, curiosity and the willingness to be with the incomprehensible, we expand our capacity to show up for life.
How will you show up today?
It is 10:54 p.m. on Sunday evening. And there are 381 people around the world meditating with Insight Timer.
Insight Timer is an app you can get on your iPhone or Android. This app is an incredible meditation tool. It offers a meditation timer, guided meditation, local meditation groups and a map documenting meditation activity across the globe.
What I find most fascinating about this app is the map cataloging all the people meditating across the world. On the map there are small yellow points representing meditators. If you click on the yellow point you can see how long the meditator has been practicing. What is really unreal – I could be meditating in Kansas City while Josef from Austria is meditating. To me, this reinforces that you and me are never alone in our journey for mindfulness.
The Insight Timer has found a way to map what you cannot see.
The Insight Timer can also connect you with local meditation resources. There is a tab to help you locate groups in your city. You can even see who is meditating in your city and how many hours ago they meditated!
The Mindful Monday exercise of the day – Download the app. (https://insighttimer.com) Try one of the guided mediations. (The five-minute meditations are great to do during your busy workday. It is a good way to restart.)
Today, let technology be more than a distraction. Let it connect you with the mindful tribe around you. Let it bring peace to your day. And remember you are never alone.
Meditation is a powerful way to get to know yourself. For many of us, this can be very uncomfortable.
Meditation is where we are first introduced to ourselves. During this introduction, not everything we see is pleasant. Insecurities arise, the past resurfaces and we often feel overwhelmed. But, if you carry on through these moments and commit to mediating, you eventually learn how to be friends with yourself.
You learn how to look at yourself in a nonjudgmental way.
Today for Mindful Monday, I ask that you begin a friendship with yourself. Sit down and meditate for 10 minutes. Kristoffer Carter, an instructor for The Self Mastery Project, lights a candle to start his practice. Create your own ritual for your personal practice. Mediate at the time same time everyday. Create a space of peace where you feel comfortable. Or if you are just getting started and need a little more assistance visit calm.com.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I always love hearing from you! Happy Mindful Monday/Labor Day!
This poem is by Heidi Bourne. I felt it was perfect for today’s mindfulness practice. Enjoy!
“The thought manifests as the word
The word manifests as the deed
The deed develops into habit
And the habit hardens into character
So watch the thought and its ways with care
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings.”
– Heidi Bourne
What thoughts are you manifesting?
Got Stress? Feeling overwhelmed by your to do list? Are stuck in a cycle?
Sometimes we are stressed because of circumstances beyond our control. Other times we are stressed because we have become rigid with habit and are struggling to change our routine. But you have the power to change.
So today, for our Mindful Monday exercise, try something new. Reboot yourself. It doesn’t have to be a huge change. Even the smallest change can alter your perspective.
Drink your tea without sugar if you’re used to sugar in your tea. If you’re used to no sugar, just this once put in sugar. Works with coffee too obviously. The point is to become aware of patterns. The point is NOT to change the pattern, but to create a new one. And ultimately to create a bit more flexibility. Freedom can be found in this flexibility.
I love to hear from you! Share with us the pattern you have changed today. How has it helped your stress?