Abby’s “CliffsNotes” Version of Mindfulness

Thank you, Louise, for featuring me on your blog! I am Abby and on most days I manage a blog over at https://mylifelines.co. Other days, I struggle to merely manage myself!😆

In the past year, I have completely turned my health and happiness around. Before, I was in a constant state of rumination. Always thinking about my past mistakes, worrying about my future, and not enjoying the now. I would get involved in too many things, never exceeding at anything. I would fall for the wrong guys and then tell myself I wasn’t good enough when they decided to end it. I would eat until I was sick and not work out because I was “too fat and out of shape.” I was depressed and I didn’t think I would ever get past it.

Fast forward to today, and I have somehow learned (and 100% believe) that everything I do in life needs to be for the health and benefit of myself. I always worry that this sounds selfish, but this is my truth. Honestly, it should be for all of us. There are many things I still do for people, of course, but I’ve learned that those things need not affect me negatively. Bettering oneself is a long process, and while I feel as though I’ve learned the easier lessons, I have a long way to go. True mindfulness is one of those more difficult lessons.

There are numerous definitions of mindfulness. It’s been interpreted, learned, and shared by many people in millions of ways in all different areas of the world. It is simple to understand, but insanely difficult to master. Here are two definitions that I like the best:

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” https://www.mindful.org/

“Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself.” http://franticworld.com/what-is-mindfulness/

The “Abby’s CliffsNotes Version of Mindfulness” is this: focus on you.

We can use and learn mindfulness —

  1. To understand what you are feeling in the moment.
  2. To get away from the thoughts of yesterday. And the worry of the future.
  3. To listen to your thoughts and emotions without any judgment, but to also learn from them and move past them.

I have read many articles, watched a number of TedTalks, and I still would say I only understand about 25% of it. I am on an exciting learning path to fully grasp it.

My most recent TEDx talk was by Barry Margerum — “Sustaining Happiness Through Mindful Living.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYr7qJq7bJk

He stressed the need to focus on the present without judgment or concern. But instead with an open, accepting, and learning mindset. He states that, more often than not, our focus on the past is clouded in guilt, regret, grievances, and sadness – while our focus on the future is filled with anxiety, tension, worry, and fear. Of course, it’s all easier said than done, but he did leave off with a useful exercise. It’s one that I have been trying to incorporate in my everyday life. You should try it, too!

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First, you focus on your breathing. What helps me, something that many experts suggest is to focus on a part of your body that is moving with your breath. I focus on the rhythm of my chest with my breathing.

Then, when your mind wanders, instead of getting mad or annoyed (because that just makes me think even more), take a moment to realize where your mind wandered to.

Realize the wandering. Write the thought down if you think that will help. You can get back to it at another time. Then, go back to focusing on your breathing.

This is beyond challenging for me. I’ll start breathing and my mind is literally saying “don’t think about anything” — “well… now you are thinking! Don’t think! That is still thinking!!”

~OR~

You know when you were a kid in the car and really had to pee, so your evil siblings would say things like, “don’t think about waterfalls, or drinking water, or the sound of a faucet!”? Now my brain has taken over, saying, “I know you aren’t supposed to be thinking about anything… So here are all the things you forgot to keep worrying about.”

This isn’t supposed to be straightforward, but the more I do it, the better I will get at controlling my mind and my in-the-moment happiness!

Do you practice mindfulness? What types of exercises do you do?

You can catch more of my posts at https://mylifelines.co ! 😊

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