Mindful or Mind...Full?
What is mindfulness?
Looking it up by definition, mindfulness is "the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something." So, it's a mental state wherein you are aware, but how is it achieved and what does it mean for your day to day life?
This mental state is achieved by focusing one's thoughts and feelings on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This can be used as a self-therapeutic technique.
Maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts though can seem trying at times. Especially as mindfulness so intimately involves acceptance of the thoughts and feelings that you are allowing to occupy so much of your conscious mind. Meaning that we have to pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
A recent study lent this perspective on the topic, saying "though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years, in part through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since that time, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model for schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and beyond." (1)
A Few Things to Know About Mindfulness:
1) Mindfulness is not obscure or exotic. It’s familiar to us because it’s what we already do, how we already are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names.
2) Mindfulness is not a special added thing we do. We already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. But we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, the people we work with, and the institutions and organizations we take part in
3) You don’t need to change. Solutions that ask us to change who we are or become something we’re not have failed us over and over again. Mindfulness recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.
4) Mindfulness has the potential to become a transformative social phenomenon.
Anyone can do it. Mindfulness practice cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn. It’s a way of living. Mindfulness is more than just a practice. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do—and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better. It’s evidence-based. We don’t have to take mindfulness on faith. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships. It sparks innovation. As we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems. (2)
So, to simplify, mindfulness is best thought of as a balancing a healthy self consciousness with a strong sense of the world around you.
-from the Mayo Clinic.
-from Pocket Mindfulness.
Over the last year I have endured so much more than I have shown to my followers, or even let my family in on at times. Things such as the loss of a best friend to a car accident, another good friend just a few days ago, my boyfriend passed away, I was homeless, I helped others and then got thrown out like trash... my point is that there was so much more going on than I ever make known to the public.
Here, my followers keep up with my social media. My friends in real life do the same, and my family, often with a text message or video chat. Everyday, multiple times a day, I hear or read someones complaints about their job, their home, their relationship, their hatred for one political party, their own pity party because nobody showed to whatever event they invited them to, a flowing stream of negativity and complaints. Day in and day out, the amount of negativity I see versus the amount of those who are actively trying to better, correct, or otherwise fix their situation astounds me.
Excuses are mostly what I hear: "But Kay you don't understand, you don't have (insert subjectively more important complaint than anyone else)." Your excuses are invalid, there are people who battle more than you on a daily basis and never lose the smile on their face. There are people who live in rundown homes that are still grateful and never complain, yet you complain about the job you do. The job that you CHOSE to take, to provide you income to survive, the job that you ultimately decided would be your saving grace until something better comes along and yet you bemoan all the stress you bring upon yourself by staying. So many of you have seen me keep a smile on my face no matter what situation I have been in, yet you complain to me how awful your life is. Yet you still do nothing to change these things.
Some things to think about the next time you feel like complaining:
1. Is it really worth it? What you're complaining about, if you complain will it change anything? Will it be worth the time, energy and breath you will use to complain?
2. What is going on around you? Take a step back and look at your situation from a different view. Look at the lives you surround yourself with and really see what your friends, family members, and anyone else you care about is going through. Look at your job, your home life, your nutrition, your mind, your thoughts.... look at all of it.
3. Someone always has it worse than you. That is a fact, someone, somewhere will always be in a worse/more unfortunate situation than you are in.
4. Start a gratitude journal. As corny as that sounds keeping a gratitude journal helped me to see the things I should be focusing on rather than seeing the negative that was happening around me and not to me.
5. Take care of yourself! Listen, I am so tired of saying this but nutrition and exercise are in fact NECESSARY FOR A PROPERLY FUNCTIONING BRAIN, MOOD, MIND, AND BODY. If you have known me for more than two years then you have seen what nutrition and exercise will in fact do to change the mindset and even life of a person.
Your excuses are garbage, but you are not, so you can spend the rest of your life allow the negative things to eat you alive from the inside out until it kills you slowly. Or, you can change the things that you do not enjoy or like about your life. You are not a tree, get up and move. You are not being forced to stay at a job you do not like. That being the case you are not stuck at the job you are currently at, these places are not your final destination. You have kids? So what, you have them for 18 years, your life does not end when they are brought into this world, nor does it end after they reach adulthood. You have the possibility of living to 100 years, and you want to act like your life is going to end in your sixties, like you are nothing if you haven't settled down and had kids, wife, husband, career by your thirties. So you work hard, you complain, you drain yourself of every last ounce of goodness and positive energy in you until you are nothing but the shell of a being that once was.
You can make the choice to change these things, to stop complaining. To see the other routes you can take, to explore every avenue to getting to the destination in your dreams, your thoughts, your goals. Life is meant to be hard, if you were not meant to endure it or handle it you would not be here. Open your mind, open your time to work and focus on yourself, for the betterment of a happier life. Re-wire your brain everyday by finding new things to be positive about.
A Mindful Approach to Fat Loss
I have been a foodie and, predominately, vegetarian since I was a child. Remember in the opening scenes of Ratatouille where he is explaining how the combination of flavors taste and the fire works are going off around him? That is what eating ANYTHING is like for me. Why? Mindful eating my friends.
You see, as a child I was always being told to eat quicker. I remember thinking, "but I don't want to, I like how this tastes," so I was always the last to finish. I was fine with this. I was often sick with strep or an ear infection as a child, I was also very active and just craved fruits and vegetables. My body hardly ever craved meat and when it did, after ingesting any kind of meat outside of certain pork products it would come right back up. But, as I got older, I began forcing myself to suffer through the pain of vomiting every time. I was always sick, I didn't listen to my body anymore and hardly ate anything that was not processed and packed full of chemicals and empty calories. When I got really sick at 23, all that changed, and then again at 26. I began listening to my body and started mindful eating, or meditative eating.
Okay, I know what you're thinking. "I'm not going to sit in silence with my food.... alone.... like a freak." You don't have to, mindful eating is much more than that. Not to mention some of the wonderful benefits that come with it. Let's explore these benefits, starting with mindful eating!
THE BASICS OF MINDFUL EATING:
Okay you may have noticed I stated to chew a minimum of 25 times. Yes, that's quite a bit, but there are massive benefits to doing so!
Note from the Team.
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