Many people ask me what mindfulness is. With the rise in popularity, I have made it my passion to try and explain what it is and why we should practice it. Using some examples of my own life experiences, I plan to dive in and share what mindfulness is and how you can incorporate into your daily life. Mindfulness is a way of looking at things differently and allows a way for you to relate to all of the experiences in your life which may be causing you to suffer.  This, in turn, will allow you to personally transform yourself. When journeying through the highs and lows of life, I have had time to think back and reflect what has got me through, it has been mindfulness.  

We as humans are constantly looking for ways to solve the causes of our suffering and then discover how we can alleviate it. I’ve started introducing mindfulness as a way of finding clarity in moments of chaos. Chaos can be something minor (ie. a traffic jam) or major (ie. the sudden loss of a loved one). 

Sooner or later you end up asking yourself questions such as:  “Why don’t I feel better?”  or “Is there something I can do or something that is prescribed so it makes the pain go away.” No one wants to be on pills for the rest of their life. Though I believe that medication does have a time and place in some cases. As we age (and sometimes throughout your whole life) you can suffer from illness.  Sickness, old age and death usually expose us to pain. Through my research, I have found that pain is the surface tension for the body to alarm our whole self that something is off balance. I have suffered from back pain every year due to softball, yet I know these issues are from the deep subconscious. Even this past week I had a minor spasm, as the week unfolded I knew this was quilt related grief that was surfacing in a weak spot of the body. I hit my own “reset” button which includes deep breathing, meditation, stretching etc. Mindfulness is about hitting the ‘re-set” button. You can hit it as many times as you need in order for you to see the clarity through whatever chaos is unfolding along your path. 

Throughout your life, you can struggle emotionally when you are confronted with adverse circumstances.  When you don’t get what you want in life, if you suffer from great loss or have to deal with things you don’t want to deal with you are constantly seeking ways to feel better. Mindfulness is a 2500-year-old tradition of Buddhist psychology.  Mindfulness has to be experienced directly. Especially if you are teaching or sharing content to others (like myself). I try my best to practice it as part of my daily routine. My partner has even helped me when I suffer in low mental moments on how to begin my day with gratitude. I’m not perfect by any means, I’m human just like everyone else. Sometimes I’m mindful of when I’m the teacher, and when I am a student myself.   Mindfulness comes from within because it is intuitive and pre-conceptual. This is why I always say, mindfulness doesn’t prevent you from facing trials and tribulations in life. Mindfulness is about finding clarity in the midst of chaos. 

With practice over time, you can figure out how to become more and more mindful in your everyday life.  Mindfulness can help even if you are in the middle of significant suffering.  Mindfulness has been compared to a deeply personal journey of discovery. What I love is creating different ways we can be mindful. Yoga or meditation may not be for everyone. That is okay. 

Mindfulness is meant to bring about awareness, attention, and remembering.  Awareness means becoming aware and fully enjoying and appreciating the things around you no matter how small it is.  From enjoy a lovely cup of coffee (one of my favourite things to do) or a wonderful drive along a dirt road. You can find your ways to become mindful at the moment. 

When you are attentive, it means that you are participating in focused awareness.  That means that you are aware of what is occurring within and around you.  When you participate in this “awareness” you can begin to free yourself from mental preoccupation and difficult emotions. Being aware that this may or may not be positive is okay. 

The true purpose of mindfulness is to rid yourself of needless suffering. It’s unfortunately how our minds, sometimes, are our own worst enemies. How do you do this?  You do this by becoming aware and cultivating insights into how your mind works and the meaning of everything in the material world we live in.  You are looking for ways to calm your mind and bring peace to your world. 

Through Mindfulness you are re-training your mind in order to manage it.  Mindfulness allows you to develop other mental qualities including concentration, loving/kindness, effort and becoming more alert. It took me years of practice so that I may understand how I could step back away from the hospital bed, and understand the greater perspective. In that moment of “chaos”, I was able to remember my breathing techniques while waiting for the doctors to come in. I was then able to listen to my intuition and know that my husband was needed in other places other than this realm. 

Mindfulness is not an end-all or doorway to happiness but it can provide you with the foundation you need to build those skills. Which is why I said, it’s not about eliminating the trials and tribulations but finding clarity. I’m not here to pretend, things happen in life. 

By allowing yourself to get rid of habits in your mind that can cause you unhappiness the result will be letting go of anger, envy, greed or other harmful behaviours that serve no purpose. It may take some time. But a constant practice of mindfulness will help you along your path. 

Mindfulness brings about self-acceptance and self-understanding.  We bring upon ourselves unwanted emotional and behavioural problems simply by trying to avoid discomfort and throwing ourselves into some other sort of change-seeking activity. I always consider this kind of training as a guide in helping people find their centre or compassion and self-healing. 

 

I am rooted in the stillness of the deep soul…

This past weekend I allowed myself to embark on a nature retreat opportunity. While co-facilitating this experience, I was also able to work on my own self-healing. From fairy lights and candlelit labyrinth walk to a sweat sauna experience, my deep soul was nourished in self-recognition. The trees around helped me see my own roots.

These past two years I have spent time creating my new normal. I have walked the path of grief, accepted it with open arms, and moved slowly to heal my broken heart. This weekend helped me realize that I am now stepping into ‘BEING” my new normal; my new self. I have cracked open the egg and emerging as my new being. I have spent many hours working on myself and I am ready, with an open heart and open arms, to see what the future will bring. As someone just reminded me, we are not human doings, we are human beings!

Being rooted with the trees helped me unplug from the day to day busy-ness of life and to go deep within my own being. How can this happen? How can I feel my deep soul for self reflection and an opportunity for growth?

I encourage you to do the following meditation exercise:

  • Schedule a light walk along the path (leaving the cell phone home or in the car).
  • Allow yourself to focus on your breath, inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 4 counts, Each time picture your breath touching your deep soul. Allow yourself to feel the nourishment. 
  • Find a tree. Allow yourself to stand up against it, lean into the tree, feel it’s bark, or (as another option) casually sit up against the tree with your back against its trunk. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Feel that energy coming from the tree and picture your own roots projecting down deep into mother earth. 

This is one exercise you can do as a mindfulness technique. Spending time with yourself can help you nourish your deep soul, which will allow you the opportunity for self-reflection. These moments are important as they help strengthen your inner core so you can be your best self moving forward. 

Blessings along your path. 

There is no easy way to say this. I still see you. I still see the sheer look of terror on your face after the harsh sounds of vomiting in the bathroom. I hear the female 911 dispatcher on the other end of the phone in her calm, present manner. The sound of dogs scratching from behind a closed door in confusion. What was once a regular Wednesday we woke up to, drastically turned to a horrible black and white darkened moment of harsh reality! A tragic nightmare that I replay in my head.

Yes PTSD relating to grief are puzzling moments to wrap your head around. Mental health is a constant self-check in balancing act of mindfulness attention. You feel like you are doing well, then one day – BOOM! – You feel like you are right back to where you once were. Visions, sights, sounds, even smells are horrible in those moments where you think you can’t escape. You think you’ve got this… but you lay awake late at night replaying those moments wondering if this is your fault. 

And all this time, two years, 730 days later; each day it’s like putting one puzzle pieces back together in which you thought it looked like. I’ve done a lot of work on building this puzzle back together. I’m not saying it’s been easy. There are days where I think “I’ve got this…look how far I’ve come… wow, look at my progress… (and again) I’ve got this!” and there are days where all I want to do is crawl back in bed and wish this puzzle wouldn’t even exist.

Yes PTSD grief is puzzling to work through.

Even two years later, I wake up on this Wednesday hearing what I heard … How do I get through this darken moments of horrific imaging? Fundamental elements are necessary to work through these situations… 

  • I allow myself to share this thoughts, visions, and feelings… it’s hard yes, but it’s okay! (words to live by: I’m not broken… and neither are you)
  • I go back to basic fundamental training today: rest, water, Netflix helps a bit too. I’ve scheduled to watch a movie later on. 
  • I write it out… I write… and I write everything down to move the energy through me.

Two years later…. It still hurts…. but I allow myself to be open, honest with myself, and believing that I can continue to move forward, one puzzle piece at a time.