7 Steps to Mindfulness

IMG_0458A few months ago, I embarked on a quest to be more mindful. I know – sounds like a bunch of hooey, but in truth my journey of self-discovery has been transformative. It’s not for the faint of heart to sit down and dissect every fiber of your being. It’s not easy to admit ones’ flaws but it’s a cake walk in comparison to actually working on improving upon those flaws.

So why am I doing it?

I want to live my life with intention. I want to have meaningful conversations with friends and not feel the compulsion to look at my phone. I want to read books. Real ones – with pages. I want to exercise to strengthen my body and be healthy not to do 100 burpees in 45 minutes and nurse my aching knee afterward. I want to live in the moment and not be so worried about what’s going to happen, what has to happen and what hasn’t happened yet.

But it’s hard. It’s really so very hard.

Especially living in a culture where being “busy” is seen as a sign of importance. Where people proclaim to be Type-A like a badge of honour (because gasp what if you were just you?) and if you’re not juggling more balls than your neighbour: you’re lazy, a slouch, a slacker.

I like to think that I don’t care what other people think of me; I am sure at one time that I did. And maybe subconsciously I still do. With the return of the school year and familiar routines, at times I find myself slipping, disoriented by the rush of it all, losing sight of what is really important to me. And for me.

Breaking this pattern of behaviour doesn’t happen over night but I am slowly implementing ways to be more mindful.

A Pathway to Mindfulness

There are no easy routes. Everything takes time and practice. Practice. Practice. Here are some tips recommended by various experts in the field (a reading list to follow on Friday).

  • Get over yourself and your ego. No one really cares. Everyone is too busy caring about himself or herself.
  • Learn to say no. When you say “no”, you are actually saying “yes” to something/someone else.
  • Let go of judgment. Stop judging others and more importantly stop judging yourself.
  • Carve out “protected time” for yourself. Whether it be a bath, yoga, reading with a cup of tea, exercising, – it doesn’t matter what you’re doing so long as it nourishes you. Do it alone and commit to it. Savour each page. Linger over each stretch. Feel the water.
  • Be honest about your experiences and feelings. Perhaps if we were all more honest and revealed our vulnerability these exceedingly high expectations we’re striving for would be recognized as unattainable.
  • Ask for help and accept it without judgment.
  • Set boundaries and respect other people’s boundaries. “Setting boundaries is a lot more work than shaming and blaming” – Dr. Brene Brown

None of this has been easy and most days I feel like I am failing miserably but then I remind myself I can begin again- right now.

And on the days that I am practicing mindful living, I am happier because I am busy being and not busy doing.

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Best of the Blogosphere

home-office-336378_640Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy these goodies!

Did you read Charlotte’s Web as a kid?  It was one of my favourites.  Last year, Letters of Note featured a letter written by E.B. White explaining why he wrote the book.  It’s a delightful letter and made me yearn for the days of typewriters and when the word “dandy” was used with more frequency.

If you’re a child of the 70’s or 80’s you may have been a latch-key kid or if you weren’t a latch-key kid, you were probably a child of the “laid back” parenting generation. Translation: your parents let you play with lawn darts, eat microwavable meals and watch pretty much anything on television. In today’s world people gasp and call child protective services if your toddler has a complete collection of Happy Meal toys, but in the olden days our parents were teaching us basic survival skills, like how to pour your own cereal.  Lady Goo Goo Gaga reminds us that those days are long gone in her blog post Pottery Barn Lunches.   If you are a mom that makes tic-tac-toe sandwiches or cheese into the shape of a daisy, you may be slightly offended.  If you’re like me and think that you’ve packed a killer lunch for the kids if it covers two of the food groups, then read on . . .read on!

This post by comedienne Kelly MacLean about Surviving Whole Foods made the rounds a few months ago but I recently re-read it and I can honestly say that after a good belly laugh about the craziness that is Whole Foods (even though I have only been to Whole Foods once), the gloomy, winter day was a bit brighter.  Best lines:

“Whole Foods is like Vegas.  You go there to feel good but you leave broke, disoriented, and with the newfound knowledge that you have a vaginal disease.”

“You know you’ve really made it in the world when you get Candida.”

And my favourite laugh-out-loud, snort your coffee line:

“I went on a cleanse once; it was a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, I detoxified, I purified, I lost weight.  On the other hand, I fell asleep on the highway, fantasized about eating a pigeon, and crapped my pants.  I think I’ll stick with the whole eating thing.”

In the age of post-baby bikini bodies gracing the cover of every tabloid that line the grocery store check-out stand, it’s refreshing to see what a post-baby body really looks like for the majority of women.  Photographer, Ashlee Wells Jackson, documents several women in their 4th trimester for her intimate and evocative 4th Trimester Bodies Project.

The Truth about the Rainbow Loom by Kim Bongiorno for In the Powder Room had me thinking one thing: F’ing right!

I have spent years and years and years and spilled countless tears trying to get my husband to understand how to be there for me.  When I saw this video by Katy Davis and Dr. Brene Brown, I emailed it to him and do you want to know what he said?  Thank you, I get it now.

He said that he get’s it!

And the Heavens rejoiced.

And if you live somewhere that hasn’t experienced this ghastly winter, watch this video by Rick Mercer for a taste of what we’ve experienced.  I would like to say that it’s an exaggeration, but honestly he’s not that far off the truth.  Hang in there East Coasters!