Thursday, June 16, 2016

Slowing Down and Yielding to the Beauty


I noticed the daylilies were in bloom this morning.  While googling "daylilies" because it is highlighted as misspelled in this post, I realized that they are edible.  That means that all three of these yellow flowers in my gardens are edible.  Kinda cool.

The Elizabeth Gilbert quote I included in the graphic I just found, and I love it!  It seemed to fit perfectly with my thoughts, as I yielded to absorb the beauty of the blooming yellows I found.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Mindfulness and the Baby Bird

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

One of the most influential thoughts I have come across to describe Mindfulness came from the book titled Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh.  Though he is referring to anger when he writes, I have experienced how I can apply it to any unwanted feeling.  If you practice being mindful of your thoughts and feelings, you will most definitely encounter thoughts and feelings that you would rather not.  Instead of ignoring them or pushing them away, which would be considered "non-mindful", Hahn suggests the following:
First he writes, "'My dear anger, I know you are there, I am taking good care of you.'" 
Then, he goes on to compare caring for your anger like a good mother cares for her fussy baby. 
"The mother holds her baby with mindfulness, fully concentrated on him.  The baby feels some relief because he is being held tenderly by his mother...  She holds the baby not only for the sake of holding the baby, but also to find out what is wrong with him." 
"We hold our baby of anger in mindfulness so that we get relief.  We continue the practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking, as a lullaby to our anger."
When I was trying to come up with some easy steps to take to begin practicing Mindfulness, I thought about how holding a baby bird might also describe the gentleness Hahn describes above.

As Jon Kabat-Zinn--well know author and speaker on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction--says "Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally." (cite)

Applying the idea of holding thoughts and feeling as you would a baby bird, seems to describe that action for me.  How can you be judgmental of a baby bird?  When we hold a baby bird we also need to be gentle and attentive.  We don't want to hold so tightly we squish the little bird, yet we do not want to hold so loosely that it falls.  (I should note that the baby bird has not learned to fly yet.)


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Favorite Online Mindfulness Resource


Like and follow Mindful.org on Facebook


Mindful.org website

Mindfulness and the Present Moment


One of the key aspects of Mindfulness is being in the present moment.  But what does that mean?  One of the signs for me that I am there, or at least, getting there is when I hear a bird sing.  This does not mean remembering hearing the bird sing or waiting to hear the bird sing.  However, listening for the bird's song and remembering I heard it can be reminders to me to "just be there."

Going through therapy for panic attacks, one of the phrases that stood out to me was "Just let it be there."  Just letting it--the racing heart, shortness of breath, spinning thoughts--be there is really a challenge.  When I am having a panic attack, my body and mind seem to instinctively do the exact opposite of what I know will help.

As I have a wonderful imagination, the "What if?" question can come up with many not so wonderful answers when I am having a panic attack.  Granted, there are times when my great imagination is a positive thing, but when I am having a panic attack, it is not helpful.

But, not everyone has panic attacks, so how is being in the present moment even something to pursue for "normal" people?

I think that the most beneficial answer to that question is awareness.  This type of awareness is when you see how your response to a situation is really based on preconceived ideas influenced by your own experiences.  If we are in the present moment, not the past or the future, we let go of our preconceived ideas and judgements.

From a Christian perspective, I have seen how this can be so beneficial in my prayer life.  Instead of coming to God with my own agenda, I am able to let go and simply sit awhile in the presence of God.   Spiritual practices like prayer are called "practices" for a reason.  Like Mindfulness, they are something intentional that you need to practice in order to learn.

There is so much good information out there on Mindfulness, that I hesitate trying to express all my own struggling thoughts on the matter.  Yet, I have also seen how certain words find resonance with me, and help me understand it better.  Maybe the present moment is not so much a destination to something or somewhere as it is a journey with something.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mindfulness and Breathing


Some of you who practice Mindfulness might wonder why I did not say "Take a deep, cleansing breath" instead of simply "Take a Breath."  The reason is that I have a tendency to hyperventilate.  When one hyperventilates they do not expel enough carbon dioxide.

It used to go somewhat like this for me when I am experiencing a panic attack.  This is an example of my mind talking.  "Take a deep breath. No. I am feeling like that was not deep enough.  I feel like I am not getting enough air.  Take another one.  Try to make it deeper this time.  That's it, just keep taking deep, deep breaths.  Uh oh.  I am starting to feel tingly all over.  I feel light headed, like I might pass out.  Take more deep breaths.  This is not helping!"

So, I suppose I could have said "Take a deep breath.  Just one, and make sure you exhale."  But, I decided to just make it simple.  Just breathe normally.  Pay attention to your breath, but do not hyperventilate.

A few years ago I ran across an article about breathing in yoga.  I cannot remember the numbers to count to while breathing, but it said that you need to actually exhale for a longer count than you inhale.  I wonder how many of us actually hyperventilate a bit on a daily basis without even knowing it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mindfulness and Slowing Down


Creating this new venture--CenterRings--I wanted to include a few words that might help explain the intended purpose of these necklaces.  As I am no expert on Mindfulness, I decided the best thing to do was somehow describe how I try to practice Mindfulness.

The following is what I came up with, along with a bit of further explanation from my own experiences.  In this post I will describe a bit about what I mean by "Slow down."

My introduction to Mindfulness was quite a few years ago.  I was forced, you might say, to deal with my thoughts and feelings because of recurrent panic attacks.  If I did not get some help, I felt I was going to end up institutionalized or confined to my bed.

For most people, learning to practice Mindfulness is not as critical as it has been for me, but over the years I have seen how the practice can be beneficial for all of us.  Even when I am not in the midst of an overwhelming panic attack, I have seen how becoming more aware of my thoughts and feelings can affect the way I function day to day in a positive way.

So, slow down.  What does that mean for me?  One of the things my mind does when I am having a panic attack can be described as "spinning."  Yet, I have become aware of how my mind has a tendency to do that even when I am not having an acute panic attack.  When I notice this spinning, it is a little red flag that I need to slow down.  Being aware of my thoughts and feelings might be the first step, but slowing down helps me do that.  Awareness and slowing down tend to go hand-in-hand for me.