Mindfulness – it seems like the latest buzz topic but truly incorporating it more into my life has been the most transformational, life-giving tool for managing the mama & mental-load and staying steady in this frenzied, modern world we’re trying to keep pace with. So, I’m beyond ecstatic to see the “hustle til’ it hurts” culture fizz out, and living/working mindfully catch momentum as we enter a new decade. Burnout is not a virtue and a mindfulness practice a catalyst for keeping it at bay.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the intentional accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts, and sensations occurring in the present moment.
I know what many are thinking – life’s busy, I got things to plan, goals to crush and no time for this get quiet business…but just as mindfulness guru Gabby Bernstein affirms “When you live in the moment, when you take life one day at a time, something wild happens. Not only do you feel calmer, grounded and mentally clear… but you actually accomplish more.”
Yep, mindfulness can actually make you more productive by bringing clarity & calm, essentially bringing more flow & less frenzy to your daily living. Future-tripping and hustling til’ it hurts, she highlights, are counterproductive. The key is acting/working from a pIace of spiritual alignment, and taking time to get still is how we begin the process of operating from this grounded space. I can personally vouch for this notion and only have to depart a few days from my mindfulness practice to notice why I need it in my life.
“When you master your mind, you master your life…” Dianne Collins
Wellness is so much more than achieving peak physical fitness via a killer workout and controlled diet. Wellness embodies nourishing the mind, body & spirit. Mindfulness targets the mind & spirit pillars in the wellness trifecta, and when mental fitness is the focus, benefits flourish to all other facets of our lives.
Mindfulness doesn’t rid our lives of stress, but it certainly helps with managing it. These last two years have been some of the most stress-filled of my life – job transition, tremendous loss, fixed salary to self-employment, ill loved ones, treading difficult parenting waters we’ve never had to navigate before. I choose not to dwell on the heavy, but it has often left me weighed down & weary and why I’ve leaned into activities that focus on mindfulness even more. Mindfulness practice helps me from feeling stuck and where I find clarity on my next steps to move through the muddiness of life.
“True meditation is about being fully present with everything that is – including discomfort & challenges. It is not an escape from life.” ~ Craig Hamilton
Those who’ve followed the blog and our social channels have heard/seen me incorporate my favourite mindfulness practices in my day, but with a new decade upon us, and many thinking about incorporating new habits/practices that can positively impact their life, I wanted to dish them out here, hoping they may encourage you to try something new & life-changing. Here are my favourite ways & resources to incorporate mindfulness a very full life:
I never considered myself the meditating “type” before. I couldn’t get my head around the hype of just sitting with your eyes closed doing nothing. I’m going to say that if I knew how transformational this practice is I would have started long, long ago. I could be having the most stressful, overwhelming day, and the aches and racing mind and heart to prove it, and when I make time to get still and get into a mindfulness meditation I feel completely relaxed and achieve a level of mental clarity I would not have otherwise. That’s why I love this book.
Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers
It’s for beginners (still me!) skeptics (once me!) and people who feel they’re too busy for it (um, most of us!) and gives simple, practical ways to introduce this life-changing practice into our lives.
It’s called a “practice” for a reason. The more you do it the easier and more transformational it becomes. You know that saying “Be still and know”? This is what meditation does for you. Our minds fill up with all kinds of clutter and can leave us feeling scattered. I’m telling you, when you cultivate silence and get still through mediation, you may get the answers to the things that are causing you unease. I know I have. It’s really unbelievable…until you try it! This book is a good warm up to it…but if you’re ready to practice, I love this…
The Calm App
One thing I love about meditation is its mobility – no need for excessive amounts of time or specific conditions to incorporate it in our days. You can practice anywhere, anytime, and why I love having access to the Calm app on my phone.
Calm is an award-winning app for sleep, meditation and relaxation, available in both the App Store and Google Play store. I like spending the 10 minutes while my morning coffee is brewing doing the “Daily Meditation” which has a theme with accompanying wisdom at the end. I’ve tried other apps (like Headspace), and have to say being led with the calming voice of Tamara is one of my reasons for sticking with this one.
The Calm app is free to download but a paid subscription to Calm Premium gives access to over 100 hours of premium content, including an ever-growing library of advanced meditations, soothing Sleep Stories, calming nature scenes, a breathing tool and Calm Masterclasses. I enjoy it so much I renewed my subscription this year.
“Silence isn’t empty…it’s full of answers…”
Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools for Less Stress, More Flow and Finding Your True Purpose
I adore Gabby Bernstein and everything she’s put out, including the Universe Has Your Back. I also love Miracles Now because she gives quick and effective tools (108 of them) to combat things all of us experience daily or at some point in our lives, like stress, resentment, burnout, frustration and jealousy. Not everyone has time each day to devote chunks of time to other spiritual practices like yoga or deep meditation. Gabby’s tools offer ways to achieve peace and calm inside us immediately. I think I’ve folded down almost half the pages in the book. This one’s too good! I also love her blog where she dishes out wisdom on mindfulness and offers videos to guide your meditation practice.
Guided Meditations on YouTube
Keeping at your practices is as simple as a search on YouTube for “guided meditations”. I like going this route if there’s something specific I want to work on – meditation “for clarity”, “for anxiety”, “for positive energy”, “for healing” for example. Like mobile apps, this way is easily accessible and you can choose from a variety of options that suit your time and narrator voice preference.
I’m sure this is no surprise, but the feeling of warmth ignites a feel-good, relaxed response in our bodies and has the power to bring you into the present moment. Having a warm bath with lavender Epsom salts or essential oils & participating in a hot yoga class are two of my favourite mindfulness activities. Both get you in touch with breath & body awareness – keys to a mindful, grounded state.
Go where there’s water. More & more research is revealing the therapeutic benefits of being near natural aquatic “blue space” & the positive impact on mental wellness. Watch & listen to how it moves. While being near an ocean & waterfall is my fave, it’s also as simple as finding a river/stream in your own neighbourhood. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/minding-the-body/201903/can-blue-space-provide-therapeutic-benefits.
SOCIAL MEDIA TIME-OUTS
I earn a part-time income on social media and won’t bite the apps that feed me but there’s a difference between using social mindfully (for tips, insights, recommendations, marketing, connecting) and letting it completely distract us from being present in our own lives. There’s also a likeliness where using it for inspiration can become an unhealthy infatuation and lead to unrealistic comparison. Giving myself a designated chunk of time to complete my social media work & connect with people I want to engage with and then tapping out helps keep me from wasting away precious time. Regular “scroll free” weekends help tremendously too. What you may find after practicing a bit of digital discipline is that your greatest source of inspiration doesn’t come from a feed but from engaging fully and enjoying your own life & not admiring or trying to imitate someone else’s.
We’re so busy keeping up with routines and schedules it’s easy to forget to just slow down, pause, look around and appreciate the beauty around us. Operating on auto pilot, we’re depriving ourselves of the gift of noticing. Getting out in nature, being mindful of our surroundings and stopping for just 5 minutes each day to notice the simple things (the way the snow sits and glistens on the trees, the colour of the sky and clouds, the smells in our surroundings, the brightness of a flower, the fullness of the moon) improves our mindset. And the more I practice this Pause.Breathe.Appreciate way of life, I see how my kids, especially our daughter, have begun to notice more of the simple things in their day too.
One of my favourite things to do on a blah day is go for a drive, look for scenery that uplifts me and get out to take photos. Photography has become one of my favourite mindful endeavours too. Finding the beauty in and gratitude for life’s simple pleasures has truly been a catalyst for many of my positive mental shifts, even during heavy times.
How have you incorporated mindfulness into your life and how has it helped you live more intentionally?