So, what is mindfulness?
He explains mindfulness as:
- “Noticing your thoughts, feelings, and actions without judgment or criticism.”
- “Observing what’s happening around you.”
- “Being fully aware of your senses moment to moment.”
- “Living in the here and now without resorting to old patterns and automatic reactions.”
- “Exercising acceptance of your own experience, whether good, bad or neutral.”
I really needed mindfulness because there was a lot of crap in my noggin.
With my digestive issues, I had heaps of negative self-talk regarding my body. I told myself over and over again that I was fat, bloated, heavy, chubby, and undesirable. This also just added to my stress – which I held in my stomach, only making the situation worse.
With mindfulness, I got real on the negative dialogue and self-limiting beliefs in my head. I truly think that what you believe becomes your truth, simply because your mindset frames every possible situation and how you react to it.
How mindfulness helped me heal:
Just by taking the time to listen to the words in my head, it allowed me to get clear on the negative phases I said on autopilot. And by controlling your thoughts, you can control your mindset, and ultimately your body.
For many years, I dwelled in negative thought loops. I just assumed that this was how everyone’s mind worked and being critical about myself was normal. Honestly speaking, I didn’t realize that I leaving that dark rabbit hole was possible.
For me, the first step was ACCEPTING the sh*t I said.
After becoming mindful of the way I treated myself, I owned up to the fact that I made these declarations 24/7. I tried not to beat myself up about it, avoid it, or pretend that if it didn’t exist maybe it would vanish. I just had to accept it.
Then, by ditching all the talk around “being sick forever” and “never getting better” I could intentionally create stronger self-dialogue.
So, how can you also use mindfulness for healing?
Many people just slap tips on their blog that are prescribed from a textbook, but I’m sharing exactly what I did. Plus, I like to experiment with strategies that don’t take away much time from my regular life. (Because the working hours, errands, and commuting life is REAL). We all want actionable tips now instead of having to commit to a two-week mindfulness retreat in India. (Myself included).
So, here are 3 tiny tactics I use to practice mindfulness:
#1. Count 5 colors and sniff 5 scents (aka the CTRL+ALT+DLT)
When my head is spinning or if I’m becoming anxious, I use this tactic to ground myself in the present moment. If you are sitting in a coffee shop, take a break from your screen and look around. Maybe you see the copper color of the coffee machine, the blue book cover, and the green leaves of a potted plant. Next, inhale and sniff for a variety of scents – whether it’s the coffee beans or the cologne of the person beside you. This simple tool shifts you away from using the central part of the brain and your amygdala which controls your anxiety. It will force you to use the frontal areas of your brain instead. This includes the occipital lobe and the temporal lobes which control smell, taste, and short-term memory. This tactic takes almost 20 seconds and it works wonders for me because it forces my mind to escape the crazy chatter and quiets the lizard brain, which Seth Godin calls the amygdala. It’s like a CTRL+ALT+DLT for your head.
#2. Intentionally slow down your toothbrush.
When I brush my teeth, the last thing I’m thinking about is that action. It’s usually about what I need to do the next day or some email that’s begging a reply. One way you can practice mindfulness is by only focusing on brushing all the four quadrants of your mouth – nothing else. It’s a simple way I ground myself when I am on autopilot. Honestly, it’s a tiny action, but it’s difficult to not let your mind wander. (I’ll admit that for sure!)
#3. Look at the night’s sky.
If I’m getting home late and the stars are out, I’ll take a second to peek at the sky. It reminds me that I am just a tiny fleck in the entire universe. It also helps put my digestive pain, migraines, or whatever other deeper stuff I’m going through into perspective. A look into the night’s sky will make you realize how small your problems really are compared to the vastness of the universe.
Lastly, don’t forget that it’s a practice.
You aren’t going to get it right on the first try and this stuff takes years of practice. Be patient with yourself. We are all just doing the best we can.
Peace & love,
-Kelly from The Wild Manifesto