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

Talkin’ to You, Talkin’ to Me

I’m a sucker for cliches that can blanket statement a situation. I find that cliches have the same function as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, except a bit more practical. For instance, something’s happened and you don’t know what to say, just give a sympathetic shrug and throw in, “All that glitters isn’t gold,” “What goes around, comes around,” or “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” But while I dig a good cliche, I also fully acknowledge that some are trash.

Like hold the phone, sticks and stones… I’m sorry, what?

If you ever think about saying “Sticks and stones…” to someone, of any age, just stop. Don’t even think of finishing the sentence. All this stupid sentence does is dismiss the feelings of the person you’re speaking to. I’ll say it right now, words hurt, and they can hurt bad.

Imagine you’re in a situation getting bullied, maybe it’s about something like the size of your nose or ears, your skin color, or maybe even the clothes on your back. Imagine getting bullied relentlessly by shit kids, imagine experiencing this, and the only thing you’re told on how to deal is either, “Oh, they’re just mean because they have a crush on you!” or the god awful cliche mentioned above about stupid sticks and stones.

It’s just wrong, it’s so wrong. Words have power, we should stop gaslighting people into believing otherwise. I wish I was taught at a younger age to call people out when they said hurtful things instead of being taught to just ignore them. Can you imagine what kind of place the world could be if we started calling out the haters earlier on in life?

Oof, gives me chills just thinking about a society that beholds fruitful communication.

Everyone and their brother has said this, but I’ll say it again – communication is so important. It’s vital to understand that when someone tells you that something you said hurt them, don’t fight them on this, just don’t. You cannot control the feelings and emotions of others. All you can do is accept their feelings at face value and try to earnestly understand where they’re coming from.

I’m over this whole, “They’re just words, we were only kidding!” thing, it’s not cute. Dismissing the feelings of others, essentially calling their emotions invalid… it’s not a good look.

When someone confides in you, opens up and tells you that your words hurt… embrace that dialogue. Ask them what exactly was said that hurt, and if after finding out you still don’t understand why it hurt them – be honest and ask them how you can do better. This is good communication, and trust me I get it, deep communication is hard and a lot of people suck at it – myself included!! But when you have the conversation and acknowledge the feelings of others as valid, you’re on a higher path, a higher frequency, of basic human decency.

It can be so groundbreaking once you fully acknowledge that words hold power, they can hurt, and you’re not being too sensitive. In fact, stop putting the word “too” in front of “sensitive”, your feelings are not too much, nor are they too little – they just simply are. What can also be groundbreaking is to not only accept the negative and toxic power of word, but to simultaneously embrace the positive uplifting power it has too. It’s clear that other people’s words can hurt you and that their love and compliments can lift you… but what about your own words? Do you realize that how you talk to yourself also has a great impact your mental health?

In a book I’m currently reading*, the author writes on self-talk and the importance of acknowledging your “inner-child.” This term, inner-child, is rooted deep into psychology and associated with a person’s potential, creativity, and expression – all of which are aspects influenced from their childhood. It’s also the idea that the child version of yourself lives on in your psyche and still has influence over your day to day life within your emotions and where you find your common comforts.

That above passage from the book really hit home, it had me thinking not only how I would talk to my younger self, but in a more tangible sense I thought, “Would I say the things I tell myself to my kid sister?” and before I could even complete that thought, I already knew the answer. The way I talk to myself sometimes can be so intense and so hurtful, not only would I never talk to my little sister that way… I wouldn’t even talk to burnt popcorn that way.

Food for thought: If we wouldn’t talk to others a certain way, why in the world should we talk to ourselves in such a manner?

Just like we need to wear a mask, just like we need to vote… we need to be kind to ourselves. There is only one person we are with at all hours of the day and night, there is only one person we can’t escape from, there is only one person we can’t ever shut out… and that’s ourselves.

So guys, this is a friendly reminder to treat yourself with the love and respect you deserve, it’s your birthright.

*SOURCE: The Witch’s Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit by Arin Murphy-Hiscock