A new year has begun, but it feels pretty different this time. After nearly a year of pandemic measures and without a clear end in sight, how do we energize ourselves to face 2021 with strength and positivity?
The exact steps we take will be a unique journey for everyone, but mindfulness can be a major partner in finding and maintaining your path, and empowering you to start the new year with hope and meaning.
Here are 3 things I shared with Global News that will help you create a mindful 2021:
Q – What is mindfulness and why is it important?
Mindfulness is being aware of your mental chatter and not allowing it to get to a point where it takes over or depletes you.
There’s a common misconception that mindfulness means totally clearing your mind, and that you have to do that before practicing mindfulness. Not at all. Mindfulness is the practice of calming your mental chatter, meaning you can start from any mind state. To whatever degree you’re able to calm that mental chatter and move towards inner stillness will deepen your connection to your heart and your true self.
With COVID, many of us haven’t been able to see our families. Some might have lost their livelihood, have the kids home full time, been caring for sick loved ones, been struggling with impossible daily routines… It’s understandable that there is more mental chatter going on in our minds than usual.
This is why mindfulness is more important than ever. While we might be tempted to try tuning out that chatter, avoidance will only make it louder. When we accept its presence – observe it without judgement – it begins to settle. In this way, mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety, allows us to relax, improves our well-being, and allows us to be more present in the moment and think more clearly.
It allows us to make more conscious choices rather than mechanical ones – to respond instead of react. In this way, we not only improve our own well being, we become connected to a larger forward movement for humanity.
Q – When is it best to take a mindfulness moment?
There isn’t one right way or time. It’s about what works for you. Just like some people prefer to exercise in the morning, some at lunch, some in the evening, mindfulness is personal to everyone, and it needs to work within your life.
A lot of people think that mindfulness means waking up at 4 AM and meditating in a calm environment for an hour, so they don’t do it. But mindfulness can be as simple as a 5 second practice of stillness.
Stillness is a key element of mindfulness. It helps us create clarity through the mind chatter, allowing us to hear the messages of our hearts without our brains hogging the microphone.
The whole point is to become aware of your mind chatter. Becoming aware of it is progress. You can use stillness to calm the mental and emotional chatter in your brain so that you can tune into the intuitive wisdom of your heart.
Q – How do you take a mindfulness moment? Do you have any quick tricks to breathe?
There are several ways to practice. I will share 5 ways with you today.
1. You can choose slow, long, deep breaths. Most of the time we are rushed and take short breaths without even realizing it. Intentional deep breaths can be done anytime, anywhere and have such a transformative effect.
As you take your deep breaths, focus on your heart, focus on your stomach. It’s amazing how fast you can get out of your head, out of your mind chatter, and reset by doing so.
2. You can also go out and observe nature. Our ancestors spent a lot of time in nature. Nature is very grounding. It’s a way to connect to the earth.
Go outside. I know it’s cold, but even if it’s just for a few minutes. Pay attention to your senses in nature. What do you hear, smell, see, feel, taste? Notice which way the breeze is going. Which way is your breath going? You can touch a tree. Sit or lie down. It takes you out of your thoughts and reminds you that you are part of something bigger.
3. You can practice 5 seconds of mindfulness. Most of us think that’s a short period of time, but it isn’t when you’re experiencing those 5 seconds mindfully. Believe it or not, the act of counting itself is a way to stay focused and present.
Take the time to count out 5 seconds. Those seconds are more powerful than most people realize.
4. While you are taking your deep breaths, you can do mindful affirmations.
Many people think you need to take major action to create real change in your life like changing jobs, changing relationships, moving to another city… The truth is, you can create a whole new reality just by changing small daily habits. Mindful affirmations are one of those changes.
The purpose behind the affirmation you choose is what you want to move towards in your life. For example, “I am enough.” The world in 2020 has been tough enough on us, We owe it to ourselves to remind ourselves that we are enough.
“My feelings are important.” “I am loved.” Affirmations train your brain how to think. It’s you carving out new neural pathways, like ski tracks in fresh snow getting more deeply set with each run. It’s you rewiring your brain to believe these affirmations.
5. Guided meditations are another choice. You can find so many of them that can be as short as 1 minute. Find them on YouTube, Spotify, or apps like Insight Timer, Headspace, Calm, and Aura.
Meditation is giving yourself the gift of time – time to let go of judgement and expectation, to tune into your curiosity and creativity, and to live within your inner experience with kindness, compassion and wonder. It’s a gift that re-gives. When you are kind to yourself in this way, it ripples outward to those around you, creating a domino effect of inner and outer kindness.
Mindfulness is not a one size fits all approach. It’s about finding the sweet spot of what works for you and really gets you out of the constant mind chatter and into the present moment. It helps you be kinder and more compassionate with yourself and others, and helps you make decisions from a better place.
If you would like help bringing mindfulness into your life for 2021, I invite you to connect with me.
Wishing you an energizing new year!