Striving for a Mindful / Meaningful Lifestyle

IMG_3830Ah, how things can change!!! I have always been opinionated, felt I could be right in many instances and be in control of most situations. Since starting this blog, this has changed. It is now my goal to live mindfully. Enough, I think, of always wanting to be right or getting upset about things I cannot control.

Turning the page has not been easy.  I started last year with: Tossing out Control, it was my first attempt, first chapter so to speak. Unfortunately, since then, I have so  much to share and write about, I have not followed on this path. I have not put the effort into it.

Tossing Out the Old is one reason I started this blog. Listening to the New is the other. It is only logical that I should go back and keep at it until I can say I am Living Mindfully. First, though, what is Living Mindfully?IMG_3834

According to author Micki Fine (M.Ed., L.P.C. )Mindfulness is about waking up to life and what it means to be fully human.”  Sounds easy, something we can all achieve, isn’t it? Putting these thoughts into practice is another story because it brings us to other questions such as : what does being human mean? what does she mean by waking up to life? and most important, are all definitions of mindfulness the same, or different people feel differently about the concept?

Obviously, I am running off with something that should only be felt not analyzed. After all, Mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”. Here comes my very active personality, though, ready to think too much and dig too deeply. Breathe…IMG_3490

Let’s go with the flow, to use a cliché. After all, we must be open and curious about the world that surrounds us, without imposing our judgement on anything. Easier said than done.

Being aware of the world around us, focusing in our daily experience, letting go of preconceived ideas, embracing new ones, having an open mind to accept others and their actions as they are, that is what mindfulness will bring to our lives. It is said that once we achieve this……our stress will disappear. A very important reason to strive for this, right?

Understanding the concept and putting it into practice…..there is where the whole thing becomes a conundrum. This is what I have come up with. Living mindfully equals meaningful lifestyle. It is concentrating on the fact that we have more years behind us than ahead. There is not a lifetime to experiment, try different approaches and then change. It is the time to grab life with both hands and live it!!!IMG_3827

Accepting this has made a difference in my attitude. It is so simple I wonder why I didn’t think of it before. Now, I am. These past weeks I have started to do things I truly enjoy, even completing projects I wanted to do for a while. The results have been wonderful. Not only I have reasons to be proud, I have objects to remind me that I am actually moving forward!!! You can see on the photos I have posted here.

Believe me, my body aches and I am exhausted. On the other hand, I sleep profoundly and wake up refreshed. I smile a lot and I am not taking myself so seriously. I am more carefree. Problems, unless they are of real importance, are being left to work themselves out or let to be solved by others, plans are made for purely enjoyable activities. Not everything is peachy, living mindfully and meaningfully my way is still a work in progress, a never-ending task. Life is made of challenges and I believe I am actually winning this one!!!

Breathe!!!

TIME magazine dedicated this week’s cover to mindful breathing. The article is fabulous, a must read. TIME editor, Radhika Jones, says multitasking is affecting our concentration and mindfulness can sharpen our focus. Well, who would have thought? We have been told for years that multitasking was something to be proud of. The ability to do several things at a time proved what organized human beings we were, capable of achieving anything. It seems now that we were confusing movement with achievement: running this way and that did not mean we were accomplishing much!!!

breathe2I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better about this. I could never, really, do more than a couple of things at a time comfortably and then, I wasn’t sure I was completing or doing them right. In the meantime, I have discovered that we have to do things mindfully. This involves breathing properly and I wasn’t….Yes, it all comes down to that: breathing!!!

Frequently, we are told or we tell our friends to breathe. I was just telling a friend a few days ago to do just that. She responded that she was too tired to breathe!! Since we usually mean an inhale/exhale motion when we are flustered, frazzled or upset, that is not enough to produce all the benefits people are talking about. Here is an article that would explain those benefits better than I ever could: Benefits of Deep Breathing

We know that situations in our lives can make us stressed, tense, nervous. In this modern world, when we think of fighting stress, we think of changing our diet or our exercise routine. We even think of medication! Very seldom do we think about changing the way we breathe. We take breathing for granted and think we are doing it right, but we are mistaken. This is what I have learned and tried on and off for years. Unfortunately, I only tried it when I was upset and ready to scream….you understand what I mean. The trick is to do it all the time. From now on, I will try to do this on a regular basis, until this becomes my breathing pattern: breathe slowly, deeply in your abdomen not your chest. Holding the air in your lungs and exhaling through your nose or slightly parted mouth. Keep an even rhythm. It is definitely a learning process, but one we must learn. Soon!!!

Breathing properly makes us powerful because it makes us concentrate and focus. When we learned to do this, we can apply mindfulness to all aspects of our lives. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, on the task at hand, on our present goal. A statement I found on the Psychology Today website says: “when you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience”

So it’s back to basics: BREATHE, so we can achieve, live better, be healthy and enjoy life!!!