Building my Mindfulness Muscle

Thursday of last week marked the end of Week 8 and I was, again, focusing on my senses. This time around, I found it was a lot easier for me to be aware of my senses throughout the day. Several of the days from the week I even took multiple pictures. I keep learning over and over again that mindfulness is like a muscle. The more you work it, the easier and more natural it gets. Here’s a bit of what my week was like:

Week 8, Day 1: Sight

Driving to work requires a bit of highway time. I mean, Wichita traffic isn’t as bad as some bigger cities, but it still isn’t necessarily my favorite part of the day. This week, however, I really started noticing how much I love to see the skyline of downtown. It reminds me how much I love where I live and something about the buildings just really makes me happy.20171102_115936

Week 8, Day 2: Taste, Smell, and Touch

At our house, I do pretty much all the cooking. Which works great for me because I love to cook and try new recipes and I’ve been told that I’m a bit of a kitchen nazi…probably accurate. But sometimes on Fridays I don’t feel like cooking so on my way home from work I pick up pizza. Last week I picked up Knolla’s ICT pizza then stopped and picked up one of my favorite fall beers. Tasted and smelled DELICIOUS!20171103_183942

I then treated myself to a long, hot bath to end off the work week. I recently discovered Dr. Teals Foaming Bath with Epsom Salt. There are a couple different scents (all of which smell great), but the Relax and Relief is my favorite. Seriously, it is magical. A perfect way to end my day.20171103_192815

Week 8, Day 3: Touch, Sight, Taste

My Saturday morning was full of mindfulness. I started off with an hour and a half long massage at a local Wichita place called The Pushy Goat. Wichita friends, I cannot recommend this place enough. Go try it out!20171104_085247

Then while driving home, I kept noticing all the fall colors that were *finally* showing on all the trees. So far this fall, I feel like I haven’t really noticed that many leaves changing colors. But Saturday morning I kept seeing tree after tree with beautiful, bright leaves.20171104_104954

Once I got home, Rylee, my boyfriend’s daughter, asked if we could make pancakes. As a lover of all breakfast foods, I never say no to pancakes. We also made a blueberry sauce to put over top. And they were delicious! So much so that I almost forgot to take a picture before I ate it all.20171104_115633

Week 8, Day 4: Hearing

My boyfriend, Aaron, just recently finished fixing up his motorcycle. His goal was to ride in the Toy Run that takes place in Wichita every November. The toy run is an event where motorcycles from the Wichita and surrounding areas meet up with a toy or toys to donate to children in need. An entire street is blocked off and the motorcycles ride through Wichita with the toys to donate and end at Hartman Arena where the toys are loaded up into big semis. I went to go watch all the motorcycles drive by and was blown away with how many people came together for such a good cause. There were close to 2,000 motorcycles in the run this year and the sound of the rumbling engines and honking horns made me so happy that there are so many giving people in the world. It filled me with hope.Screenshot_20171113-122738

Week 8, Day 5: Taste and Sight

I was so excited to have my best friend, Amanda, in town for a few days. We lived together for 4 and a half years in college and have stayed very close even after she’s moved halfway across the country to Washington D.C. (I can guarantee this isn’t the only time I’ll talk about her on the blog). But about once a year her work brings her back to Kansas. This time she had a couple extra days to hang out with me! For lunch one of the days she was here, I took her to one of my new favorite restaurants here in Wichita called Lotus Leaf Cafe. This healthy, local restaurant has AMAZING food, a lot of which is vegetarian or vegan focused. We had their Red Pepper “Quezo” which is their cashew “cheese” dip for an appetizer and it was delicious!20171106_143938

She also helped me decorate my house a bit. I had been wanting to put up a gallery wall in my hallway, but I always seem to struggle with the design aspect of things. Amanda is freakishly good at all things decor and so I enlisted in her help to get the frames and things hung. I was so excited with how it turned out. The more I look at it, the more I love the way it turned out.20171106_190152 (1)

Week 8, Day 6: Hearing

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve become a big podcast listener. I do the most listening on my commute to work or when I take the dogs for walks. Two more podcasts I’ve been listening to a lot lately are Being Boss and The Robcast. Being Boss is a podcast for creative entrepreneurs and is filled with advice and interviews with really awesome people. The Robcast is by a man named Rob Bell and he talks about God and life and what it means to be human and also interviews some amazing people with incredible life stories. Both podcasts are incredible, I highly recommend you check them out!

Week 8, Day 7: Touch

I will seriously never get sick of puppy cuddles. Ned is our 10 month old, 80-lbs. German Shepherd and he thinks he is a lap dog. His favorite place to be is wherever you are and I wouldn’t have it any other way. He makes an excellent reading buddy.20171104_123007

I feel like spending the two weeks really breaking down my surroundings and bringing my awareness to my every day life has really helped strengthen my mindfulness muscle. Being on Week 9 now, I’ve moved passed my senses and onto my next task (which I will talk about later this week!), but I still find myself noticing things more. I hear the song playing in the grocery store and recognize that it makes me feel upbeat and happy, I feel the warmth of a hug from a best friend, I go on and on about how delicious the food tastes. And the more I take notice of all these little joys, the more they seem to be popping up every day. If I notice five things that make me happy one day, the next day I notice seven, and after that I notice ten. I’m realizing that there isn’t a shortage of joy or happiness in the world, it’s all about knowing how to find it.

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Week 7: The 5 senses

I’ve spent the last week focusing my mindfulness on my 5 senses. As an added challenge and to help keep myself in the moment, I decided to take at least 1 picture every day of something my senses were being extra mindful of. I figured it would be easy (I’m starting to sense a theme in this whole mindful thing. Note to self: stop assuming it will be easy.) because society has us so exposed to so many things throughout the day, that I thought I’d have tons of things to choose from to be mindful of. Instead I found that I’m exposed to so many things throughout the day that my senses go on overload and just try to shut it all out.

The hard part, I noticed, was stopping myself from “checking out” throughout the day. There were a couple days where I found I hit the end of the day and hadn’t taken a mindful picture yet. So I would think back to my day and I could think of a couple things that my senses picked up on – yummy food or good music. But in the moment I didn’t pay attention and it didn’t even phase me. My brain was in get-through-the-day mode and I simply bypassed an opportunity for a little joy, even just a smile, for a moment. It’s crazy to me how accustomed I have gotten to tuning out and ignoring some of the most beautiful things around me.

As the week went on though, I slowly started to feel it get easier and I started noticing a bit more of my surroundings. So here’s a bit of what my week looked, tasted, smelled, sounded and felt like.

Week 7, Day 1: Touch

Probably not the best quality picture I’ve ever taken, but this describes one of my favorite parts about my morning. After I get up, I let the dogs out of their kennels and we go snuggle on the couch while I drink my coffee. It takes a minute for us to get situated (maneuvering an 80-lbs. dog and a 30-lbs. dog on your lap while trying not to spill coffee is a bit tricky), but once we do I feel so warm and loved and happy. It makes it hard to get back up once my coffee is gone.

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*Side note: Please ignore the shreds of what used to be dog toys on the floor. There is so much of that around our house that it doesn’t even phase me…until I look at a picture I’m about to publish for the world to see.

Week 7, Day 2: Hearing

I’m a *big* music fan. I always joke with people that I wish I could take music and inject it directly into my veins. (I’m dramatic, I know). Lately I’ve been on a big Imagine Dragons kick. My current jam is their song Thunder. It never fails to put me in a good mood.

Week 7, Day 3: Smell

I found this candle at Target. And it literally smells like fall in a jar. I’m obsessed.

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Week 7, Day 4: Taste

Fun fact about my mom: she makes AMAZING food. I went and hung out with my family on Sunday and she made apple cinnamon waffles. They had shredded apples IN the waffle batter. It was delicious.

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Week 7, Day 5: Sight

I previewed this picture in my last post. Ever since the weather finally started to cool down a bit, the sunrises have been BEAUTIFUL! So much color and depth that a picture doesn’t nearly do it justice. Fall sunrises are definitely my favorite.

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Week 7, Day 6: Smell and Hearing

Having a fire in the fireplace is so cozy to me. A wood burning fireplace especially. I can smell it as soon as I get home and I love the crackling noises it makes. It definitely makes the colder weather more bearable.

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Week 7, Day 7: Hearing and SightScreenshot_20171102-073504

 

I’ve become a big podcast listener, especially on my commute to and from work. The Lively Show has quickly become one of my favorite podcasts. It’s all about finding ways to add extra intention and purpose into your life. Plus, it’s been around for a while so I have TONS of old episodes to listen to.

 

 

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And seriously though, these fall sunrises are stellar!

Yesterday marked the beginning of week 8. Initially, I thought I might just spend one week on the senses and move on from there, but I’ve decided that week 8 is going to still be focusing on the senses. I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of zooming in on my senses and I think having another week to focus on that is a good thing. I’ll be back with more pictures next week! Stay tuned!

The Power of Gratitude

Sometimes, life gets a bit overwhelming and you just need to hit pause for a second and take that time to really shift your focus. In my last post I talked about how usually when I feel stressed, my perfection complex kicks and I try to combat the stress by making everything perfect, which does nothing but actually make things worse. As a way to mindfully resolve that, I took the past week to pause and get back into my meditation practice and gratitude journaling.

The meditation practice is still a bit hit or miss, but I took at least 5 minutes on several days this past week, so I think this will be a practice that I will slowly build up over time. The gratitude journaling has really stuck though. And I am amazed at how much of a difference that makes. I’m finding that I write in my gratitude journal every morning and evening, but that gratitude mindset has started to carry over into things during the day.

22cfd92498e72b0684fc81ef926fb2acFor example, we had a couple of really chilly nights last week, and I’m really not a fan of the cold. Usually I’m whining about being cold, but I found that this time, the very first thought that popped into my head was “I’m so glad we have a fireplace that makes the house cozy when it’s so cold.” Instead of being cranky about the cold, I was happy about the fire and it kept my mood in a good place for the rest of the evening.

I can’t help but think how much better my outlook on life would be if I took more of those icky/complaining thoughts and focused on what made me happy instead. I think, really, that’s the whole point of focusing on gratitude. A grateful heart has the power to transform the way you see the world.

Now that I feel like I have a good grip on gratitude, or at least enough to continue in the practice, I’m ready to move on in “my year”. Last Thursday marked the start of Week 7. For weeks 7 and 8 I will focus on the five senses.

I have been blessed with a healthy life and the ability to use all of my senses without having to put too much, if any, thought into it. I take advantage of what I can see, smell, taste, hear and feel. I think that a lot of hidden day-to-day joy can be found by taking a minute to slow down and really pay attention to these senses – yummy food, beautiful scenes of Wichita, the smell of a fireplace, amazing music, a hug from a loved one.

I think a lot of the time, I look for joy in the big things. Something showy and extravagant that screams “This is SO GREAT!” But sometimes, happiness doesn’t always show up that way. And sometimes, when life is hard, it gets harder to find happiness. When it feels like nothing will go right and only bad things are happening and you just can’t win, it can be hard to find those little joys. But if I can work to find those joys now, when I’m in a good place, I hope that it will become second nature. That way, when life does get me down, my default mode is to find the good. Mindfulness is like a muscle – you have to work at it and slowly build it up, so that way it’s strong when you need it the most.

As an added bonus for weeks 7 and 8, I’ve been taking pictures. At least 1 picture every day (let’s be real, usually I take more than one) of something that is bringing joy to my senses. Then on Thursday at the end of week 7 I will post my pictures from the week. I’ll do the same thing for week 8 as well. This has actually been a fun way to physically stop myself in the moment of joy and take notice. And I’ve taken some beautiful pictures in the process. I can’t wait to share with you!

Here’s a sneak preview: The sunrise yesterday morning was GORGEOUS!! It was so distractingly beautiful, it almost made driving to work dangerous.20171031_095640

The Perfection Complex

Being mindful is hard.

I guess I knew that when I got started, but I didn’t know it would be so difficult so early on in “my year”. I figured as I moved on to the tougher topics and things that required more thinking and awareness, it would get more difficult to stay mindful and feel easier to just quit. I didn’t think it would be so easy to be thrown off track.

But last Thursday marked the beginning of Week 6, and the past couple weeks have felt more like steps back on the personal development scale. It’s been hectic. Projects at my job have picked up keeping me busy and stressed during the work day, and my evenings have been filled with different activities or things I planned with friends or various other things I promised to do. And I heard myself saying “I don’t have time to be mindful” and “I don’t feel like it right now”.

So in all my busyness and the craziness of life I stopped meditating in the morning. And then I forgot to write in my gratitude journal one day, and then two days and then just stopped for the rest of the week. It felt too hard to start it back up. Suddenly the things I had started to use to learn more about myself and tap into a deeper part of my world became a hassle. At a time when I was stressed and disconnected and mindfulness would have probably been significantly more beneficial than doing nothing, I quit.

And the thing is, I didn’t write a blog post for the last weeks, because I was embarrassed. I didn’t follow through with what I said I would.  I had this vision of this year being perfectly planned out, and everything would go according to plan, I would stay on top of all my mindfulness tasks and the blogging and I would create this crazy awesome new awareness of myself and the world around me and it would be…

perfect.

And there it is. That seven letter word always seems to pop up when I am feeling insecure and overwhelmed. Perfectionism is something I’ve always struggled with. And most of the time, perfectionism comes hand in hand with shame or judgement. Whenever something goes wrong and I’m feeling embarrassed or defensive, the first thing I try to do to combat that is make everything perfect. I tell myself that if I can act perfect, talk perfect, be perfect then I won’t feel shame and other people won’t see my flaws or mistakes.

b4277f641357a03220a96c31ce53c7c6The thing is, if I spend all my time focusing on what other people think, it makes it a lot harder for me to stay authentic to myself. The flaws, the mistakes, all those things are human. By trying to hold myself to a perfect standard, I’m setting myself up for disappointment. Living authentically might bring more mistakes and more hurt, but it can be so much richer along the way. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in following the plan for this year of mindfulness perfectly, exactly as it’s written. Sometimes I forget. It’s MY plan, I wrote it. I can change it if I want to.

Part of the reason I think it feels easy to give up when I try to make a positive life change is that I feel like my subconscious is trying to reject the change. It’s much easier to just stay “stuck” and have a pity party. Or to avoid tough conversations. Or just try to ignore the hard stuff. I feel like my subconscious is sometimes trying to tell me “Why do you want to be so mindful? It’s easier to stick with how things are and then complain when things go wrong. Why choose the tougher route?”

I guess I had envisioned after week 1 feeling this incredible and mind-blowing change and everything else in life would just follow. And that’s not to say that still won’t happen. But big life changes usually take more than a week…or even a couple weeks. I got caught up in that want for a “quick fix” that would have instantaneous results and I wouldn’t have to put in the work. But I think I want the change bad enough that’s worth the work. I want to be living my best life.

So for the rest of Week 6, I’m hitting the pause button. Rather than overwhelm myself with trying to pick back up meditation and gratitude journaling AND add a whole new thing on top of that, I’m spending this week focusing on the meditation and gratitude journaling to really help me ingrain those habits. Because those habits are important to me and I truly do believe that they can help lay the groundwork for all other mindfulness tasks. And the original new task I had planned for weeks 5 and 6…will still be there when I get to week 7 and I can start it then.

Things come up. Weeks get busy and crazy and stressful. This isn’t the only time throughout this year I’ll feel overwhelmed. I can be so hard on myself, telling myself I failed and I can’t do anything right. But I think the more important part about this whole thing is that I can acknowledge that I had a rough couple weeks and then forgive myself. Shit happens. If I continue to hold myself to that standard of perfection, I’m only going to feel more like a failure. Instead I want to focus on what I CAN do and let that be what pushes me forward to dig deeper and do better. If I’m coming from a place of positivity and acceptance I’ll be a lot happier along the way…and that’s the whole point.

An Attitude of Gratitude – Weeks 3 and 4

Yesterday marked the end of Week 3 for My Year of Mindfulness. My focus for Weeks 3 and 4 is gratitude. I’ve mentioned before that while planning out my year, I wanted to find a way to make stepping stones into some of the harder stuff. Starting the year with meditation was a great way to ground myself and set an intention for the year. For me, the next stepping stone, is to focus on what I already have and all the things that are going right in my life. The best way to do that is to practice gratitude.

19e97cb0b66fe5672961b0853bb52ab7Part of the point of this year, is to learn to focus more on being present. I’m a planner – I like to know what I’m doing, where I’m going, what I need to bring, where I’ll be 5 years from now, you know, that sort of thing. And I think that there is nothing wrong with planning ahead. It’s a good way to stay on top of things and stay organized and be a responsible adult. However, I also struggle with focusing *only* on the future and where I’m going next and what I need to do to get there. Again, nothing wrong with that, except that if I’m directing all my energy toward the future, I can’t enjoy where I am right now. What’s happening right now is meant to be lived and loved and enjoyed. If I don’t enjoy myself along the way, then I’m always just waiting for the next thing. I find myself limiting my own joy because I haven’t reached a certain milestone or goal yet.

The best way I know to break the thought cycle of obsessing over the future and what I don’t have or haven’t accomplished yet is to shift my thinking and concentrate on what I do have and what I am grateful for. There is so much research out now linking gratitude to joy. And I’m all about incorporating more joy into my life.

Over the past week I have been experimenting with gratitude journaling. In the past when I have done gratitude journaling, I listed out 3 things at the end of each day that I was grateful for. This was a really great starting point for me, but as I kept up the practice, it was very easy to just repeat some of the same things on days I was feeling less inspired and soon I became lazy and just wrote things down without really even thinking about them.

This past week, I’ve changed the timing my gratitude journaling to both morning and evening. Each day takes a full page and looks like this:

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This method has me start the day already grateful and set an intention for how I want to feel that day. Then I end the day on a good note by listing positive things that happened. So far this has helped me really put thought into what I’m grateful for and why and I feel like I am being a lot more intentional with how I want this to impact how I feel.

Going into Week 4, here’s the game plan:

Goals:

  1. To continue to use gratitude to stay in the present moment and find joy
  2. To start to build an abundance mindset – where what I have is enough

Mindfulness in Action:

  1. Start a gratitude jar for the year
  2. Continue gratitude journal
  3. Send thank you notes to people who have made an impact on my life

What I’m reading:

I’m currently still working on Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, but I’ve almost got it finished. Next on the list, and super appropriate for these two weeks, is The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan.

Tune in next week for an update on Week 4! Do you have a gratitude practice? How do you stay present?

Practice Makes Progress – My Week 2 Meditation Recap

The second week of my year is complete. I started this second week with a little more of a plan than week 1. I guess the first week I thought, “Oh, breathing and meditation? That’s easy, I’ll remember to take time every day.” Turns out, if you’re not intentional with your time, it’s easy to make excuses.

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During week 2 I focused more on meditation than the breath and used this as a tool to ground myself for the day. I took time to meditate every day for a full week! And I feel…about the same. Honestly, I guess thought I would have had some sort of a magical moment of inspiration at some point during the week. But I’m not discouraged, if anything I’m more determined to keep up the practice. Here’s how the week went down:

I chose to take 5 minutes first thing every morning and either sit in silence, listen to nature sounds on my phone (sadly, the sounds around the house in the morning are usually traffic and school buses. Not exactly inspirational) or play a guided meditation on the Stop, Breathe, Think app. Instead of trying to meditate in bed, where I would inevitably fall back asleep, I moved my meditation spot across the hallway to the home office where I have a comfy arm chair. This works perfect because the physical act of getting out of bed wakes me up a bit more, but I’m still in a nice relaxed state from being asleep.

I gave myself the first minute of my time to really get situated. When you tell yourself that you’re going to sit still for 5 minutes, what’s the first thing your body wants to do? Move. I found that if I get all my wiggling out of my system first, I’m much more focused. So I start by stretching my arms above my head, tilting my head from side to side, shrugging my shoulders a few times, popping my knuckles, finding a comfortable seat and planting my feet on the ground. This works a bit like a body scan – starting at the top of my head and scanning all the way down to my feet, I’m prepping my whole body for a few minutes of stillness.

After meditating for a week, physically and mentally I feel about the same, but I have been surprised with the effect it has on my day as a whole. Initially, I thought that sitting quietly first thing in the morning would just make me want to fall back asleep, but actually I found the opposite to be true. Once my 5 minutes are up, I feel a bit more focused and energized. I’m ready to get up, make a cup of coffee and start my day. By the time I get to work, I’m feeling alert and motivated.

I’m also pretty sure you can’t expect that have amazing results after doing only one week of anything, which is why I plan on keeping up the practice as this year progresses. I’m hoping to slowly increase the amount of time as I get better at quieting my mind.

AND I found the perfect thing to help really make this new habit stick. I recently came across an e-course by a woman named Suzanne Heyn. The course is called The Magic of Meditation. The 30-day course is centered around meditation and using it as a tool to connect with deeper with yourself and transform negative emotions into a feeling of freedom and peace. Unfortunately the e-course was not free, but I decided that this was an investment in myself I was willing to make. And for the amount you get in the course, I thought the price was fair. I’m excited to see how this course helps and transforms my new meditation practice and I hope it ends up being a great opportunity for growth.

One final resource I wanted to share was another new app I found. Pacifica is an app that contains daily tools to help manage stress, anxiety, and depression. The app prompts you at a chosen time of day to answer the question “How are you doing/feeling?” You can choose  between “great” and “awful” then pinpoint specific emotions that you are experiencing. Based on your answer, the app then gives you a couple of actions you can take to help with those feelings. For example, sometimes it offers a meditation, or another action like taking a walk. You can also set goals or track your thought cycles that you feel stuck in. I like this app a lot because it gives a lot of helpful options and it prompts me to take a minute to really think about how I’m feeling each day. If I’m not feeling awesome, it allows me to acknowledge that and then try to let go of the negative and find a more constructive route.

And there you have it! Tune in next week for an intro on what Weeks 3 and 4 will be all about!

Side note: Since this post was a bit word heavy, here’s a couple pictures of my dogs. They like to come and sit with me whenever I take my laptop out to work on a blog post. 20170921_19325420170928_195600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it’s adorable.

 

 

 

 

Weeks 1 and 2 – Breathing and Meditation

I told myself when I decided to start my Year of Mindfulness, that I would set myself up for success. If I’m going to stick to it this year, I want to be all in and really do the work. I figured the best way to do that is to set some groundwork and some stepping stones into mindfulness. If I started right away with really deep questions and harder topics, I knew I’d get discouraged and probably not follow through. So it’s important to me to build up to the bigger more meaningful topics.

My focus for weeks 1 and 2 is going straight to the basics with breathing and meditation.

Goals:meditation

  1. To use these two weeks as a grounding point for the rest of the year and to discover (rediscover) this as a tool to come back to when I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious
  2. To develop a meditation practice – focusing less on what meditation is “supposed to” look like and more on what feels good for me in that moment

Mindfulness in Action:

  1. To meditate every day for the next 2 weeks
  2. To experiment with different types of meditation (guided, silent, walking, sitting) and different resources (apps, other listening devices, nature sounds, books)
  3. To set up a meditation space and time, experimenting with different times of day in different spots to find what feels good
  4. To use breathing as a way of grounding and resetting when I’m upset, anxious, or stressed

(Side note: Week 1 is already over. In the future, I plan on writing a separate post to set up the 2 week period with goals and actions, then “check-in” posts for each of the two weeks. Turns out, I need to have a more strict blogging schedule, or I’ll never get anything written. Live and learn, right?)

inhalecourage_exhalefear_2Week 1 Recap: During this first week, I set aside time for meditating 4 out of the 7 days. Not an awesome record, but I’m working on being gentle with myself as I learn new things. I did, however, focus on my breath A LOT. I found myself using different deep breathing techniques like Ujjayi breathing (yoga breathing, in and out through the nose, making an audible sound in the back of your throat) and the 4-7-8 technique (inhale through the nose to a count of 4, hold the breath to a count of 7, then exhale slowly and audibly through the mouth to a count of 8) when I felt myself getting upset, while driving in the car, or even when I was lying in bed before falling asleep.

What I’ve learned:

  1. Meditating is hard…and sometimes boring. In theory, meditation is easy, just sit still and quiet and let go of your thoughts. Except letting go of your thoughts is sometimes like trying to play Whack-A-Mole – get rid of one and a new one just keeps popping up.
  2. Focusing on the breath is SUPER helpful. It could be that this one is easier for me because of Yoga Teacher Training. In yoga, the breath is crucial to the practice. It’s even one of the 8 limbs of Yoga – Pranayama. Since starting Teacher Training, I find that I’m much more aware of my breath and my ability to use it as a tool. To read more about why the breath is so crucial in yoga, check out this article from MindBodyGreen.
  3. I’m learning that I’m the type of person who needs to step away from intense situations before reacting. If I’m feeling angry or upset about something, I do better if I take a step back and look at the situation from a distance before coming back and talking about it. This helps me to take the emotion of the moment out of it, so I don’t say something I regret or take things the other person is saying personally.

Goals for the next week:inhale

  1. Meditate every day (the first two days of this week have already been a success!)
  2. Set up a meditation space
  3. Experiment more with different types of meditation

What I’m reading/ Resources I’m using:

“Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone”  by Brené Brown – Not necessarily a book on meditation, but it’s her newest release and this seems like the perfect book to kick this year off as I learn more about myself and how to speak my truth.

Stop, Breathe, Think – This is the main meditation app I have used so far. I like it because it has lots of different guided meditations to follow along with based on how you are feeling or what direction you are wanting to take with the meditation.

Wish me luck on Week 2 of My Year of Mindfulness!

My Year of Mindfulness

20170722_224045Today I turn 27. The halfway point between 25 and 30. And I’m excited! For once I’m not worried about the whole “getting old” thing. (Now ask me when I’m 29 turning 30 and it might be a different story). But In my current life state, I’m excited about what this next year has in store.

I haven’t always been this chill about “getting old”. I remember when I was 22 and 23, I would freak out about being close to 25 and would always say “I’m so old!!” and I would worry that I haven’t done enough things in my twenties and if I don’t do x,y, and z by the time I’m 25 then I’ve basically wasted my life away.

Somewhere along the way as I’ve matured (I’d at least like to think I’m more mature than I was at 22) my mindset changed. Two years ago I joined a group called Real Life Book Club, which despite the name, is so much more than a book club, though we did read some awesome personal development books. I learned about what it means to love myself for exactly where I am and how to stay curious about my life and accept things about myself that I couldn’t change. I did so much growing as a person and I surrounded myself with women who supported me and held me accountable and taught me so much about myself.

IMG_20170904_122422_285Earlier this year I started a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program. This has turned into another unexpected opportunity for personal growth. Yoga challenges me both physically and mentally. Over the past 6 months of teacher training, I have learned new ways of looking at the twists and turns life throws at me. By digging into old, yogic philosophy I have been given a whole new viewpoint on what it means to be a human on this earth, in this life. I feel like I have gotten a peek at who my true self is, buried deep inside and I don’t want to lose her again. She deserves to shine and find her place in this world.

The past couple of years have changed the way I looked at so many different aspects of my life and it has changed how I have shaped my adulthood – the people I surround myself with, the way I treat myself and others, the very way I want to live my life. This doesn’t mean life is always sunshine and roses and it definitely doesn’t mean I don’t fall back to old habits and mindsets. Living a joyful and authentic life takes a little work every day.

quoteA few months ago I found a quote that said “Honor the space between no longer and not yet”. This has really stuck with me ever since I read it. Growth and change aren’t always easy to maneuver. And sometimes it’s really hard to let go of the way things used to be or how you expected things to be. Especially when you don’t know what the future will bring. The fear of uncertainty can dictate the present moment and make it so that all you focus on is what isn’t here yet. But the space between these two things is where you are right now, in this moment. This space in between is your life.

So going into year 27 of my life, I’ve decided to give myself a new challenge. I’m calling this year: My Year of Mindfulness. Throughout this next year, I will tackle different aspects of my life and approach them in a mindful and curious way. These aspects range from physical aspects to mental aspects to emotional aspects – the whole shebang. I want to turn my life upside down and really figure out what helps me live my own, authentic life. I want to experiment with different ways of thinking and speaking my truth. I want to learn even more about myself, about how I think, about what motivates me, about what outside factors have a positive or negative effect on me. I want to take these things and then learn how to live a joyful life. I want to learn what makes me truly happy and how to let go of the things that I don’t need and aren’t serving me anymore.

As a way to document this year and to try something new, I have started this blog! Go big or go home, right? I know the best way for me to stick with something for the whole year is to have a game plan, so I’ve mapped out this “Year of Mindfulness” with a list of 26 things to focus on throughout the year. With each of the 26 things I’ve jotted down some resources and experiment ideas to try out. I will dedicate 2 weeks to each thing on the list. I plan on journaling throughout the year and using the journal to dig a bit deeper when I feel like I’m stuck. Then I’ll post here throughout each of the two week periods and document what I’ve learned. I think this is the best way for me to really notate a change and keep myself accountable.

So bring it on 27! I’m so excited and ready to dive in and float around in this new adventure in mindfulness…this inspired adventure. This beautiful and messy adventure called life.20170802_201010.jpg