The other day I had the privilege of creating and delivering a professional development presentation to my entire school staff on mindfulness and how trauma effects the brain. I was blown away with how well it was received and I am hopeful that my staff will not only begin to use it themselves, but use it with their students as well.
I have so many photos from our time in Paia, Hawaii. I think that this post will be more of a visual depiction of the depth that I felt while I was there in lei of my words. But to set up this post, I have to write a little bit about my experience, because lets be real...I ALWAYS have something to say.
After completing a 10 week course in mindfulness last fall, I have been trying out different apps to make sure I keep up with my practice. Mindfulness is just like working out: If you don't use it, you lose it so to speak. It's important to make a concerted effort to practice on a daily basis to reap the benefits. It doesn't have to be a huge chunk of time. I typically aim for at least 10 minutes a day and can tell a difference when I don't get it in.
In December 2016, I decided to take Love & LaRock on with full steam. I post to Instagram at least six days per week, put a blog post up twice per week, and shoot content every Friday. I have noticed that while Insta-Blogging brings so much joy and has connected me to many wonderful people and brands from all over the world, it’s also had some negative ramifications on my mental state.
I have always been quite the worrywart. It’s probably my least favorite personality trait of mine. I have always heard that worrying can become even more in the forefront of your life once you have kids and that has undoubtedly been proved to be my experience thus far. I have been working very hard to squash the worry bug because I while I think some fear serves purpose, letting it dictate your daily thoughts is not a way that I want to live.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how and what I eat. I think we all have moments in our lives when our relationship with food becomes somewhat detached and we forget to stop and really think about where our food is coming from and what it tastes like. Do you remember your last meal? What did it smell like, taste like, look like? As I am typing this, I realized that I just inhaled a cold bagel with cream cheese while simultaneously petting my dog with my foot and pausing to check the ding on my phone. Ugh, that was definitely not a satisfying experience. It makes me think of the many times I have been at work and I have just shoved food in my mouth while walking from one meeting to the next or while typing up reports and answering emails. I think in a culture that views multitasking as efficient and busy as good, we are perpetually living in a state of doing and chaos, which leaves us feeling run down, exhausted and always feeling like we should be accomplishing more.
Perry and I have had our fair share of stressors when it comes to raising Winter. She has breath-holding spells (read more about our experience, here), she has already entered into the tantruming phase of her life, and recently, we ended up completely stuck and lost on a bus in the middle of the redwood forest with a very car sick,puking child without cell reception. I know when difficult parenting situations arise, the panic, pressure and chaos can easily take over, and it’s hard to keep your cool whether you are alone or with your partner.
I get asked about my mindfulness practice on a daily basis. I think one of the biggest misconceptions about living a mindful life is that you have to set aside 30 minutes a day or longer to do it. This is simply not true. In fact, I practice being mindful several times throughout the day. I have noticed that by doing even these simple techniques, I am less reactive, more attentive, feel more grounded and am able to manage stress with more ease.
The following is a list of my favorite ways to take one minute to be mindful. Note: You don’t have to do them all in a day to reap the benefits. Just pick one or two from each category and mix them up.
When I am having a bad day, I feel consumed by negativity. Unfortunately, this makes a lot of sense from a psychological perspective. Our brains respond to negative information three to five times more than they do to positive input. In the old days, this was crucial to survival. It wouldn’t have been wise for our brains to notice the beautiful scenery when we had to be attuned to natural threats such as predators. Even though we aren’t faced with the same threats today, our brain is still wired the same, which is a major bummer if you ask me.
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.
Before I had Winter, my New Year’s resolutions leaned on the side of being cliché’. I wanted to gain more muscle, become more flexible, be better about what I ate, etc. It wasn’t that I didn’t have depth to my intentions before kids, it’s just that my intentions run deeper now than they did before because I know that my goals affect her too. I want Winter to grow up in a household where her parents are happy, healthy and well-balanced. So even though I still want to workout more and eat better foods, my real resolution lies in the depths of my heart.