In the end, just three things matter: How well we have lived. How well we have loved. How well we have learned to let go” ~Jack Kornfield
We all have stress — whether it’s physical, emotional or chemical stress. We’re human and it’s part of our nature as we try to keep up with the constant demands of the modern world. Many of us start and end our day, struggling to cope with the anxiety, stress, exhaustion, and sometimes depression. But there’s a better way. It’s free and it exists within each and every one of us. Today’s blog is very much inspired by the beautiful event I led at the Soho House Barcelona just a few days ago called “Guide to Mindfulness”.
At the end of the day we really don’t have control over what happens outside of us and how other people behave. But what we do have control over is how we behave, how we react and the meaning we give to our experiences. When you become more aware of this truth and accept that change is inevitable, rather than get lost in worry and pain, you can access your inherent capacity to come back to balance and ease. When you stop living in the past or future and start living in the present moment you can become a participant not a spectator in your life.
As an expat, city dweller, mother and previous corporate in the entertainment industry, I know all too well how chaotic life can get. For nearly a decade working with the top international healers, teachers and coaches, from my own search for balance, my personal experience and working with my clients, I’m here to tell you it is possible to move through this frantic world with more grace. And it’s possible with a practice of mindfulness.
How was it that when I experienced the most painful time in my life that I also experienced the most peace in my life?
Last year when my father was dying and I travelled eight months back and forth from London to Los Angeles to be with him, I thank my practice of mindfulness that kept me fully present and still in gratitude during this difficult time. From my own personal and powerful experience I whole-heartedly believe practices such as meditation and yoga can profoundly help manage stress and pain with grace and composure. Instead of staying (yes I’m human and I had fleeting moments) angry, scared, or regretful I was able to accept that which I could not control and commit to being present without letting this crucial transition pass me by. And now it’s my passion to help you not let your life pass you by and learn how to live with more grace and ease amongst the chaos.
Mindfulness is a purposeful choice and way of living, of being engaged and being deeply connected. It’s choosing to be awake in each moment of being alive with an open curiosity. It’s an open-hearted way of being aware of the flow of moment-to-moment experience as it’s happening. It’s essentially about being more attuned to what’s going on around you and inside of you.
It’s said that 80–90% of illnesses are life-style related, meaning they are related to behaviour. But through a practice of mindfulness we can reduce stress, anxiety, break negative thought patterns and sharpen focus. In becoming more aware and present we can naturally start to do away with numbing and coping strategies such as alcohol, cigarettes, watching TV and the Internet. Research shows that slowing down and deep conscious breathing has real effects on our health and well-being, such as it can control blood pressure, improve heart rate and oxygenate the brain — to name a few.
Just as we exercise our body for better performance the mind can be trained and sharpened too. We all know from experience that to learn how to play a sport, an instrument, speak another language, or any complex skill, that practice is essential. It takes time, patience, practice, practice and more practice to be proficient and master something in the body and mind.
We can actually rewire our brain (aka neuroplasticity) treating it as a mental muscle, whereby things that used to stress us out start to less and less, until eventually, hopefully might not anymore. How amazing that we can change the course of our life towards a more positive and happy experience! I don’t know about you, but I’m all in for anything that’ll bring more joy, peace and love in my, sometimes chaotic, life.
If you feel yourself becoming stressed or anxious I invite you to try this simple acronym, these four ways, to help you become more present:
Take a deep breath
Observe what’s happening before you
Allow yourself to S-T-O-P, to shift, to go outside, to look at the sky, to be in nature and to connect back into yourself. I encourage you to try it for one week and see if you feel any difference in your experience of life.
As always, I’d love connecting with you and hear how your practice of mindfulness helped you during a stressful or painful time in your life. Head over to the comments section below to share.
With love and gratitude,
Originally published at lesliesaglio.com on January 12, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com