Mindfulness Magic

Stop what you’re doing for a second. Stop reading this and do these five things:

  1. Look around the room and name five things that you can see.
  2. Focus on four things that you can feel.
  3. Name three things that you can hear.
  4. Notice two things that you can smell. 
  5. Focus on one thing that you can taste.

Congrats! You’ve just completed your first grounding technique that is taught many times in practicing mindfulness. It’s supposed to help bring you back into the present moment, which is a main component of mindfulness.

Mindfulness, noun: the state of being conscious or aware of something.

Headspace.com describes mindfulness as, “…the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.”

A lot of us are always going, always moving, thinking “okay when I get off work I have to do ____.”, “I can’t wait until the weekend so I can go ____.”, “I’m so worried about ____ because I can’t control ____.”

Does that sound familiar? It’s because we’re not present. We’re not living the beautiful moment that is right now. Everything before this moment is unchangeable, and everything after this moment is unpredictable. Sure, it’s okay to get excited about something happening in your future, but think about the times when that thought of excitement turns into anxious thoughts, worrying, etc. It sucks and it causes a lot of issues — I’m speaking from lots of experience. Even as I write this I’m experiencing it. LOL.

Have you ever thought about how mindful you’re being at any given moment? Researchers on mindfulness put together this quick little questionnaire to help you out!

You might be wondering why this matters — what are the benefits to being more mindful? Lucky for you, Headspace is back at it again with the wonderful information you need:

  • You’ll have lower glucose levels.
    • Researchers at Brown University found that those who scored higher in mindfulness were more likely to have healthier glucose levels than those who scored lower.
    • Mindful people are more inclined to believe they can change important things in their life as well, found in a study from the University of Pennsylvania. Mindfulness helps people feel less ashamed when presented with advice; making them more motivated to change.
  • Develop better eating habits.
    • Think about it! (Pun intended). Being more thoughtful about your food choices would obviously help you identify when you’re hungry, satiated, or too full.
  • Less anxiety and stress.
    • Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center found that patients with anxiety disorder (omg meeeeeeee) had reduced stress hormone and inflammatory responses to stressful situations after taking a mindfulness meditation course.
  • Better ability to focus and improved memory.
    • Again, researchers published papers in the Journal of Management finding mindfulness stabilizes attention to the present moment. Those who studied mindfulness meditation were more likely to remain vigilant longer during tasks.
    • UC Santa Barbara researchers found that simply two weeks of mindfulness training can improve reading comprehension, working memory capacity, and ability to focus.
  • An increase in pain relief.
    • Wake Forest Baptist researchers conducted a double-blinded study including 78 healthy volunteers, and found that pain was reduced by over 20% after meditation.
  • Better sleep! Yay!
    • According to an article published by JAMA Internal Medicine, sleep from meditation improved in older adults that had trouble sleeping.

So like… where’s the negative? I’ve had some pushback from people when I express my love for mindfulness meditation and I don’t get it. What’s the worst that could happen? Even if you tried meditating for 10 minutes and didn’t feel you were “doing it right”, you were still able to get 10 minutes to yourself, right? You time is the most important time.

You deserve to live in the moment. You deserve to be present. You deserve not to worry or feel anxiety about the past or the future, because it’s unchangeable. What already happened, happened. And what’s going to happen, is going to happen, whether you like it or not.

I’ll leave you with a quote by boss babe meditation teacher and author, Megan Monahan:

“There is no good or bad meditation. The only bad meditation is the one you don’t do.”

“Don’t Hate, Meditate” – Episode 312 of Highest Self Podcast

Déjà Vu

Those moments, you know the ones, where you’re doing something as simple as laughing in the car with friends or reaching for the same can of soup as someone else in the grocery – and you’re hit with a feeling of, “Woah this has happened before, I’ve lived this precise moment once before.

This is déjà vu, the already seen moments.

I always had believed these moments to be striking and perhaps that I’d simply dreamed them before, but it was a friend in college that enlightened me with a different idea. They told me that these moments are actually when the universe is reinforcing that you are exactly where you’re meant to be right then and there. It’s reaffirming that all of the choices you’ve made, up until that moment, have been the correct moves and you’re still heading the ‘right way,’ or the way the universe has intended for you.

If anyone else’s friend had told them this, I could imagine most folks would blow them off with a “Pft, yeah right, okay.” But I’m not most people. I’ve always had a striking intuition, a curiosity of the unknown, and I’ve always believed the earth is constantly speaking to you – and you could hear it if only you’re listening close enough. Also, to put it simply, I thought my friend’s take on déjà vu was so beautiful I didn’t even want to question it!

But here I am, a few years later, just now wondering if my friend was truly onto something or full of shit.

And after a very brief round of research, the worlds of science and psychology are divided.

Power of Positivity, which solely based on the name, you’d think would embrace my friend’s take on déjà vu – but nope. Their article actually references a study completed by Akira O’Connor and his team at the University of St. Andrews, UK; this study had shown that déjà vu is actually just a ‘healthy memory checking system’. It’s your brain basically trying to trick you by telling you, “Bro you’ve been here before, doing this exact thing…”

You hesitate before thinking, “No, no I haven’t? I totally haven’t but you’d know better than me… right??

To which your brain laughs, “Totally got you man, you’ve deffo not been here before – just trying to keep you on your toes!

This is also why people most frequently have déjà vu between the ages of 15 – 25, it’s when memory is the sharpest and your brain is constantly checking for memory gaps or errors.

On another note, an article by Judith Orloff M.D. in Psychology Today, aligns incredibly close to what my friend described déjà vu to be – yay!

“[Déjà vu is] a memory of a dream, a precognition, a coincidental overlapping of events or even a past life experience in which we rekindle ancient alliances. What matters is that it draws us closer to the mystical. It is an offering, an opportunity for additional knowledge about ourselves and others.”

Judith Orloff M.D.

Now this is the fun meaning behind déjà vu that I signed up for – a mystical connection with deep significance. It’s something to be paid attention to and not brushed off as a simple brain-self-check mechanism. This is not only the earth communicating with you, it’s your higher self reaching out and guiding you.

Déjà vu moments are meant to be questioned and observed: Where are you? Who are you with? What are you feeling?

This all being said:

You can essentially interpret déjà vu to mean whatever makes the most sense in your world. I know what I choose to believe – but how about you?