It’s so easy to toss blame around when we aren’t feeling our best.
We snap at those closest to us…we are raw nerves…we are reactionary…
But we don’t have to be!
Want to reduce your suffering and increase your happiness? You can. You have everything you need to bring that into your daily routine right now, right where you are.
We have to do the work in our own life.
It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
3 options you have to work towards peace for yourself and those around you? Mindfulness, meditations and mantras. They can all be used together or you can tackle one at a time. If this is all new to you and it seems a little out there, just hear me out.
I, too, was a skeptic. Was.
We all know March Madness isn’t just on the court this month. The actual madness has infiltrated all areas of our lives! For example, if you don’t have financial struggles, maybe you feel beaten down by all of the negativity in the media or even from your own reflection. We’re affected by everything around us, and we internalize it and make ourselves miserable. I did it for many, many years. I still do it. However, I have more tools in my toolbox these days for when I need to calm the %@&# down!
Throughout this month, I will be addressing the 3 M’s of mindfulness, meditation and mantras. I will share real actions that have worked for me and even let you know when I’m just not feelin’ it. You find what works for you, and I’ll do my best to provide you with options.
By Merriam-Webster’s definition, mindfulness is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” What the what?!?! Being aware on a moment-to-moment basis?!?! Most of our days are spent attempting to tune out or stuff down these thoughts, emotions, or experiences! I spent years of my life living mindlessly simply because facing those feelings and living in the moment were terrifying for me. It just seemed so much easier to live in the past or project to the future because I just didn’t want to be here in the present. In my mind, I wasn’t “where I wanted to be,” and it seemed less stressful to just be somewhere else.
Boy, was I wrong!
After much struggle and a few radical acceptance reality checks, I have started to work daily to embrace mindfulness. It isn’t always the easiest way, but I have so much more peace by addressing these thoughts, emotions, and experiences as they come up. I try to remain present…in the moment. Do I always get it right? Ha! Ummm…no. But, when I am able to be mindful, it can be a beautiful thing.
You can apply mindfulness to everything in your life. I use it riding the elevator at work (when I’m the only one on there, of course). I close my eyes and focus on the movement of the elevator car and all of the sounds and smells around me. If my mind wanders, I just bring it back to the elevator. That short ride up or down is one of the most calming times of my day. Simple actions can generate wonderful results.
Try it. Pick one activity today and just focus on doing that ONE THING while you are doing it. No multitasking. Want to mindfully chew your food and actually taste it for a change? Awesome. Mindfully wash your hands and appreciate the water temperature and scent of the soap? Excellent.
Let me know how it feels to be in the present moment.
Stay with me! I’m not going to tell you to empty your mind and sit completely still for an hour (unless that’s something that you really enjoy doing…). Meditation is hard for me. When I began group therapy with an emphasis on meditation, I really thought I was going to lose it. Meditation made me angry because I just couldn’t do it!!! I felt like I was failing at meditation, and I’m not usually one to stick with something where I don’t immediately excel. Recovering perfectionist here! Anyways…my mind is never clear, so I just decided I obviously couldn’t meditate correctly.
Guess what I learned!
There is no right or wrong way to meditate!!!
Really. I was just as surprised as you are! Accepting the “freedom” of meditation made it much less of a struggle for me. I don’t even have to zone out or go anywhere. Sometimes I just breathe. Admittedly, there are some breathing techniques that bring about a more peaceful and relaxed feeling, but you get to figure it out for yourself. You find what works best for your individual needs and do that. No one is going to judge your meditation style!
So, when things are feeling out of control, inhale deeply. Pause. Exhale. Take your time and repeat it as often as needed until you start to feel something positive going on. I use meditative breathing for just about anything that is triggering for me. Agitated? Breathe. Irrational? Breathe. Excited? Breathe. And, you know, oxygen is kinda good for you, too…
Mantras can be a meditation of their own. Do you have a phrase that you repeat over and over to yourself when you’re having a hard time? That’s a mantra/slogan/motto/catchphrase/buzzword.
Whatever you call it, that word or phrase is a reminder or meditation or prayer. If you have trouble with your mind flying off in all directions, a mantra can help you focus on what you’re doing in the moment. I change my mantras to suit my situations, but the one that has really resonated with me most recently is the tagline for this site:
Stay engaged. Have hope.
Those 4 words keep me [relatively] sane on a daily basis. It is part of my growth to stay engaged regularly and actually PARTICIPATE. I spent my first 40 years feeling like a member of the audience at the show that was my life! When I learned how to show up and be a part of the world around me, it felt as if I had hopped up on stage and took over that show!!! You know…MY LIFE!!!
Do you ever feel that disconnected? You aren’t alone.
When I struggle, I am reminded by this mantra to have hope. No matter what comes my way, I have hope that I can get through it. It isn’t always easy, but nothing worth having rarely is.
Last week, my mantra was influenced by a bar of soap (Click here to read that post).
Be sweet. Stand tall. Wear a crown.
And some days — like today — my mantra is the colorful title to this post. We could all stand to hear that advice from ourselves on occasion, right?
What’s your mantra today?
In the coming weeks, I will cover some of my favorite ways to incorporate mindfulness, meditation, and mantras into my daily routine. Join me as we work together to tame our personal March Madness!
Calm the %@&# down!