Mindfulness: Why You Can Do It Too
For my New Year's resolution, I told myself that I would do better at managing difficult emotions, that I wouldn't be so hot-headed and that I would give into my emotions for a short time, instead of letting them fester. I also vowed that I would give myself more slack and stop trying to be so damn perfect all the time. To hold myself accountable, I want to write about how it's going and share something that I use all the time that seems to be helping.
I am sure by now you have heard about mindfulness, as it seems to be the latest craze. I used to think that mindfulness wasn't something I wouldn’t be any good at because I can literally NEVER get my mind to slow down. You know when you go to yoga and the teacher says to, "take a deep breath and quiet your mind?" Yeah, whenever they say that, my mind seems to ramp up like a defiant teenager and think even more than it did before. I used to get so down on myself and think "whelp, I must suck at yoga too because everyone around me is sitting all zen-like while I’m here stuck with a brain that refuses to get off the hamster wheel!"
Little did I know that I was so wrong about my "ability" to be mindful. It wasn't until I took a ten-week mindfulness class that things started to make sense. My teacher said, mindfulness isn't about making your thoughts go away or making your mind still, it's about noticing that your mind has wandered and gently, without judgment, bringing it back to the here and now again and again. Even if it takes a hundred times.
It was after that class that I started to realize that telling my brain to NOT do what it was designed to do (produce thoughts) was a ludicrous concept. Once I dropped the expectation that my mind had to be still for it to work, it was like I instantly became a million times better at being mindful.
I now practice mindfulness all the time. I have learned some wonderful techniques that you can do to slow down and enjoy the moment (even if it’s three seconds long before you go back to the hustle and bustle of life). I would be happy to share some with you, if you would like?
In the meantime, I recommend that you all download the app called CALM. I use it every night and it's honestly the perfect app to use to get started in learning mindfulness. It even has this cool feature called "sleep stories" where a person tells you a bedtime story, similar perhaps to what your parents did when you were little. I'm not sponsored or anything---it's just a cool app I thought I would share.
Okay, back to how I’m doing managing my emotions. I have noticed that I’m doing much better when I’m driving (did anyone else develop road rage after having a baby? I blame it on sleep deprivation!). I decided that I am no longer going to take minutes off my life from getting stressed out by strangers. I take a lot of deep breaths in the car now and made myself the most epic mix of music that I listen to on my commute home (it's a mix of girl power ballads and calming melodies).
I've also noticed that I don't let co-worker's and client's moods affect me as much either. I’ve been told that I am like an emotional sponge and absorb other people's energy. It probably makes me the world's best and worst psychologist of all time. The best because I am empathetic, and the worst because I let other peoples' issues affect me.
While I seem to be doing better outside of home, it’s hard for me to generalize my newfound carefree mentality when I’m home, especially after a long day of work. But, I know that I will get there and I just have to keep practicing and being patient.
If you have any tips for me on how to live a more mindful, less stressful life, I would love to hear about them in the comments below or on my Instagram account. Thank you in advance!
Yoga pants c/o Flexi Lexi
Photography by Brittany Renee'