Welcome back to Mindstruck! Meditation & Awareness Studio Podcast
This week it’s all about the what and the how of Mindful Awareness, the pillars of mindfulness, the difference between a formal and informal practice and then I’ll show you what chocolate can teach us about Mindful Awareness. Stay tuned to the end for two short meditations where chocolate (50:54) and raisins (41:39) become relevant to meditation.
Some of you might be well versed in Mindfulness and Awareness. For others, you may have heard that it’s good to do, but aren’t exactly sure what it is, how to go about it, and why. It is indeed one of my favorite things primarily because of the impact it can have in your life.
It doesn’t matter if you are approaching Mindfulness, Meditation and Awareness to reduce stress, improve focus & concentration, to increase your intuition, figuring out how to be a functional empathy with good boundaries. All of these seemingly unrelated categories are profoundly effected by improving your Mindful Awareness.
Those of you who know me and have followed me for a while, know that I talk energy, but I also talk nervous system, physiology, and being present and grounded in your body, and earthing! No matter why you are approaching Mindful Awareness, regardless of the inspiration or curiosity, getting into your body is always a great place to start and a great place to stay, in a very grounded and present state of existence.
Many, many of my clients struggle to stay in their bodies. In order to participate fully and engage in life, we must be present in our bodies while eating, digesting, walking, engaging, working, and sleeping. In order to be a healthy happy human being, your best self, you must stay in your body and consciously connect in the present moment. The alternative is at the very least episodes of anxiety, depression, illness, discontentedness, and living in a life that feels completely chaotic.
My mission is to teach and guide. Not only have I been helping Oh my goodness do I know from personal experience what it’s like to NOT be grounded, healthy and happy. And while yes, we are individuals and a happy whole, healthy life will look unique for each of us there are some ingredients that are crucial and essential to get and stay on that “best self, best life” track. This too I know form not only shifting and transforming on a personal level but also form helping hundreds if not thousands of people from children to adults over a 25-year career how to move the needle towards a healthy, happy, content and peaceful life.
Let’s start here, with the nuts and bolts. It is the foundation of all, so let’s break it down.
Remember last week’s blogcast episode #10 was about The Spirit In Which We Do Things. That is actually a perfect segway to this week’s topic of mindful awareness with an invitation to meditate as a hobby, not as a career.
Many times we approach everything from hiking and kayaking to our golf swing as an obligation or a duty overanalyzing and critiquing it from a performance goal-oriented perspective. Meditating, mindfulness, and awareness are no different. Many times it is approached as if it’s a job or a duty, over-analyzed or approached through “ I have to because somebody told me I would be healthier, less stressed, eat less, stop smoking and have better relationships”.
What if we could approach kayaking and golf as a hobby without expectations, and just do it because it’s fun or otherwise adds to the enjoyment of life. Likewise what if we could approach meditation as a hobby, to taking it out of the category of obligation. The idea of a hobby is to let go and experience something just for itself, for the satisfaction or enjoyment you find in just doing it. Just appreciation it for what it is not for how you perform through it.
Meditation and Mindful Awareness 101… pillars of mindfulness:
- Thoughts come and go on their own accord.
- Allow them to do so.
- You are not your thoughts.
- You are not your feelings.
- Observe thoughts, feelings, and emotions without criticism.
Allowing your thoughts and feelings to BE, gives way to allowing yourself to BE, just as you are. This is the freedom we have the capacity to experience when we choose to pause in the moment and simply observe.
A formal meditation practice is when you carve out space and time to meditate in what I like to think of as a petri dish. In this way, we are taking out as many variables, as many distractions, as possible. We are creating a cozy, lovely space at a time where we will not be interrupted by phones, doorbells, an inquiry from other humans or animals in your life. In this space all your basic needs have been met: you are warm, safe, and either well-fed or have the knowledge that you have access to food. This is considered your formal [practice and it is the foundation from which other aspects of the practice will build form.
The formal practice can expand from this by taking scheduled time outs in your day where you pause and breathe. Creating these pauses by setting a timer or putting up sticky notes to remind you to stop, drop, and breath helps to build a new habit of meditation.
Now let’s talk about unscheduled or informal moments of mindfulness. Your informal practice is where the magic really happens. This is when you find yourself at a stoplight maybe squeezing the steering wheel to will the stoplight to change to green so that you won’t be late to an appointment. Instead, you might remind yourself to stop, drop, and breathe. OR you might implement a min-breathing, mindful time-out just before a heavy meeting or a challenging conversation. Taking time outs to pause and breathe throughout the day helps your body, mind, and spirit as a whole recommit to being in the present moment and noticing what it has to offer. Being present has so many more options and so much more freedom than exhaustion, stress, holding your breath, and anxiousness.
Sometimes our moments are pleasant and joyful. At other times our moments are challenging. Because they are transient, the one thing we can be sure of is that another moment with its own uniqueness will come along. This is always important to keep in mind, but especially important when we find ourselves challenged in uncomfortable moments.
Mindfulness is the HOW… how we become present in the current moment: We sustain our focus on the breath breathing in and breathing out, in the present moment, without judgment.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose,
in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Awareness is the WHAT…Awareness teaches us to recognize memories and thoughts, emotions and feelings as they arise.
Again, the pillars of Mindfulness:
- You’re not your thoughts
- You’re not your feelings
- Memories and damaging thoughts are like propaganda
- They aren’t you
- Thoughts, feelings, and emotions come and go
- Allows us to experience the world through our
- Senses such as sounds, sights, taste, pressure
- Allows us to witness our thoughts, emotions, and feelings
- With practice allows us to witness physical sensations that are connected to our thoughts, emotions, and feelings as they come and go
- As a vantage point from the body
- If done as the good scientist/the observer encourages open-mindedness and gentle persistence
- Begs for curiosity
- Does not negate the mind’s desire to fix, solve and find solutions to our challenges
- Gives us time to choose the best course of action or solutions based on more information
- Gives us an opportunity to pause
- Many times can reveal that there is no fix to a problem or challenge
- Many times the answer is to just let it be
Awareness has the capacity to operate on 2 levels
- Awareness as a part of the simple activities of daily living
- Can be done anywhere and anytime
- For example, breathing counting to 15 or 20 as an informal practice
- Noticing our heart rate
- Noticing other physical sensations that happen throughout the day
- Awareness can bring about change by breaking habits and patterns of thinking and behaving
Many judgmental and critical thoughts arise from habitual patterns of behavior and feelings. By breaking up daily routines and adding in what I call ”break states” can serve to dissolve habitual negative thinking, behaviors and emotional responses. In this way, the process of learning meditation for the first time is actually serving as a break state for those who have never meditated.
Other break states examples: “stop, drop, and breathe” upon a simple notification reminder on your phone, taking a walk at lunch instead of checking social media, listening to a nourishing podcast or music instead of the news.
Now let’s practice…
Breathing…Then Meditate With Chocolate & A Raisin Meditation
RAISIN MEDITATION (podcast @ 41:39)
CHOCOLATE MEDITATION (podcast @50:54)
Mindfulness is all about being fully aware of whatever is happening in the present moment without filters or lenses of judgment. It is clearly defined as “cultivating awareness of the mind and body and living in the here and now” ~Elisha Goldstein.
I encourage you to approach the above meditations with curiosity and a sense of wonder and newness as if you have never had chocolate before. I promise you with mindful awareness, chocolate will reveal a whole new experience. And so it is with all of our life experiences when we can approach them with wonderment, curiosity, and a sense of newness. Experience life from the present/new moment being fully aware of what is, not what we think might be or what it has been. A formal practice is a great way to start, expand that to an informal practice, and naturally your life is bound to look and feel different than ever before. Start from the present moment.
Peace IN ~ Peace OUT
Find More of my meditations here.
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