Mindfulness: My New Superpower
It's my typical early morning and I am grabbing my lunch box, backpack, keys and phone and running out the door. I realize as I am driving away I forgot my workout clothes. I barely said good bye to my husband and can’t remember if I unplugged my curling iron. I drive to work 50 minutes and I can’t even remember getting there. Can you relate?
In the past couple of years, I have started learning more about being mindful and meditation. What was this mindfulness I kept hearing about? I wasn’t even sure exactly what that meant. I hadn’t started meditating and thought it just meant to slow down. I thought if I slowed down I wouldn’t get as much done. My only gauge on the day was productivity. I thought there was something wrong with me because I wasn't getting enough done. Little did I know how the power of mindfulness would change my life and me.
This was hard at first because I did not know how to stop moving so I used an app on my phone called Headspace to guide me. The first step I learned was to breathe. Not just take a breath, but really breathe in deep and low and continually. I also learned to slow the breathing and count my breaths. What I found amazing was I was not able to continue my sporadic stream of anxious thoughts while I watched and felt my breath. It took me many times before I could go more than 5 minutes at a time. When I got up to 10 minutes, I started to see how my new super power was helping me reduce stress and I could do it anywhere. I decided rather than push myself to do it longer, I would do the shorter sessions more often in the day. This takes practice, but it is so worth it. I can tell how my day goes south when I don't meditate at all.
Do you ever have anxiety or fears about things that haven’t even happened? I would have irrational fears and thoughts about everything from my children’s safety to what people were thinking to my own ability and worth. By stopping in those moments and breathing, it cuts off the negativity to help me get centered and see the truth. What was the truth? They were just thoughts and I could stop them if I wanted to. Being present and observing your feelings can help you calm the emotional flow that seems to automatically come with those fears.
I was also learning to replace those fears and negative thoughts with love. Love for other people involved and love for myself. I could be where I was and not in a fictitious, untrue place in the future with things that were not even happening yet. It is still a process and always will be. There will always be new things to worry about. What is nice is now is I can control the chaos better with my new super power of mindfulness instead of it always controlling me. I can accept where I am and who I am.
Breathing brings truth. I can put my ego away a little better when I am present and in the moment. I don’t feel like anyone is out to get me or that I have to be right. There is no outside judgment when we are mindful. We don’t see things, events and people as “good” or “bad”. We just see them as they are. We are just an observer. It is harder to feel fear when you are just witnessing the moment.
Have you ever had your kids say “Mom, you weren’t even listening”? I was guilty of nodding my head and saying yes and not hearing a word if I was cooking, folding clothes or doing any task at hand to get through the nightly chores. Mindfulness takes away the outcome and helps me be in the journey. Being present in a moment and relaxing into that moment also helps me be closer to my husband and kids. I am able to listen more and really take in what they are saying. I am working to have deeper communication experiences with them. With less of an opinion, I can ask questions and share without having to have all the answers. I can enjoy the experience of being with someone without having the distractions of wandering thoughts.
It has helped me physically too. I move at 100 mph and will run into things, drop and spill everything. Anyone else have those bruises from running into the bedpost or open dishwasher door? By slowing down and seeing my environment, I appreciate it more and my body moving through it. By being more purposeful, I actually get more done by moving slower. My super power of being more present helps me see the beauty around me and saves me from the mishaps I would have while rushing. I find so much more joy in the day by slowing down.
My health is improved because of the lowered stress. I also can fall asleep quickly using the techniques I am learning. Our digestive health is also compromised when we eat too quickly, drink too quickly and eat in front of electronics, in the car or on the run. Hormones are more easily balanced when we can breathe and be present. Research shows mindfulness and meditation can help lower cortisol levels. Higher cortisol levels come with stress and make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
When it comes to work, I find that I do my work more accurately and closer to what I want the first time around. When I was rushing to get things done, I made more typos, hit send too quickly and definitely over promised and over scheduled myself. Multi-tasking is not attractive because I never did anything well. I did lots of things half way. The relationships we have at work are so important also because we spend so much time with our coworkers and clients. Really listening can only benefit our ability to help others and unlock the keys to helping people get what they want.
Let’s talk about change. The only thing in life that doesn’t change is change. People change plans, schedules change, they change lanes too quickly and nothing is certain. Mindfulness has helped me get comfortable with change and just experience what is. Being present in each moment allows me to think about the real consequences, not the made up ones. Will it really interrupt my life that much to have something change? I have always wanted to be a “go with the flow” girl. I am not there yet, but I am getting better each day. Flexibility brings so much more peace of mind.
Am I able to do it every day with every situation? No way. I am still a work in progress, but being in the present is a super power in my daily life to aid in coping with a busy, ever changing world. It helps me have stronger and deeper relationships, be empowered with my thoughts, be healthier physically, be more creative, and enjoy my surroundings.
How are you feeling about your pace in life? Is your fast lifestyle or anxiety affecting your health?
If you would like to explore your own health situation, let’s talk. Let's find your super power. Sign up for a free health history consultation on my website.