Mindfulness Mondays 4/6: Rising Early and Greeting the Day with Gratitude

So this past weekend was a bit jarring in that it definitely was not my typical weekend in how I would normally spend my time, which is working on school. I spent a lot more time with friends and family, shopping, and eating than I normally would even in a regular week! My typical reaction would be to begin stressing on my Sunday evening, or even all throughout Sunday, thinking about the many “things” I needed to get done before the week even began. However, I made a few small efforts that dramatically changed my typical response, which has positively impacted my approach for this week. I realize it’s Monday, however Monday is almost over and my enthusiasm has not deflated yet despite I’m starting to get tired.

Last week I came across a blog called zenhabits, and I checked out a bit about the writer and what the blog was about. Everyone should read this blog. You feel that you’re talking with someone who is so kind but also down to Earth, which makes their expectations/suggestions sound reasonable. One title intrigued me: The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early. Lately I’ve been struggling with getting out of bed early like I had started in January, when I would meditate or practice yoga in the morning and have much more time to just process my day before it actually began. After reading this article, I was motivated to give it a try. My main takeaways in practice were to start gradually, along with following the 3 steps on actually getting up. Since reading the article, the next morning I set my alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual and then increased that everyday since (yes, even on the weekend). I also have been putting my alarm across the room and jumping up to it. Something that was hard was not going back to bed (I’m still working on this but today successfully only snoozed it twice at 5-minutes each). The biggest piece for me was having a reason to be excited, which was that I planned to run 2 miles! (I hadn’t run since early December).

Today, I officially got out of bed at 6:25am, and completed some light stretches. I put the coffee on, and did a few light things around until my boyfriend finally rose.  Then I did something I haven’t done in a while in the morning- I meditated! This entire weekend, though different than my usuals, was calming overall and just a nice experience. Nothing was too chaotic and time was well spent with good people doing fun things. This left me feeling very thankful for the people around me, the time I’ve spent with them either in person or talking on the phone, and with how at peace I’m feeling rather than noticeably stressed. I went back to the Stop, Breathe, Think app and did a quick check-in, and then chose the recommended meditation “Gratitude”. Though it was a five-minute meditation, it was all I needed to get me in a grounded state where I felt good about the things happening around me, and it was an excellent way to start my day!

Since this morning, I’ve been so productive in my amount of readings accomplished and my overall demeanor. I wore a bright yellow cardigan and was excited for the pleasantly warmer weather and sun. I actually did an assignment that I had already done 2 months ago, but hadn’t realized it. Instead of being upset or feeling that I wasted my time, my initial reaction was satisfaction in that I had re-read the material and was able to synthesize it better than the first time. Stepping outside of myself for a minute here- it was really great to watch myself respond so pleasantly! Then I finally did it, I stuck to my exciting goal of running 2 miles. I didn’t just have a 2-mile run however, because that would be too plain. Nope, instead my excitement and motions kicked up my acid reflux and at mile 1.7 I vomited on the side of the road as I had just reached the top of the hill. I guess there’s a first time for everything?

After a quick check in with my body and decided I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I still had another tenth of a mile back at least to my house, and so I knew one way or another I had to get there and I was going to attempt at finishing my run. What do you think happened? I took those last 3 tenths on with a smile to some great motivating music, and relished in my accomplishment and sticking to my goals. I reminded myself of this morning’s earlier meditation, and how grateful I was for my experiences- even the not-so-pleasant. I knew that my vomiting was not a sign of sickness or weakness, just more a reaction to one of my ailments that I could come back from without much effort. I knew I’d be okay, it wasn’t worth reacting over with stress, and I was happy that I had given myself the time to go out and run in the first place in the pleasant weather.

All in all, today has been a good day. It’s still nice out. I’ve had some good conversations and gotten a lot accomplished. I’ve even gotten my blog post done earlier than usual. Yes there’s more to be done and it will get done. I’m liking this “soaking up the good vibes” feeling, and just taking the time to appreciate the things happening around me and how I’m reacting to them. I’m going to keep rising early and meditating on gratitude for the rest of the week, and see just how I do. I don’t see it ending badly 😉 .

If you’re thinking about ways to try and get up earlier, here’s another short and sweet article that is pretty blunt about how to get started and why it can make a difference. Remember to stop and ask yourself at least once this week, if not once a day- What are you grateful for?

Good luck this week y’all and happy Monday!

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Mindfulness Check-In 3/2: Loud Thoughts and Meditation Bells

Sometimes your thoughts actually just sound like LOUD NOISES!

yell

Sometimes this is how you want to get those thoughts out! But you can’t…

Last Wednesday, and then in-and-out since, I’ve been experiencing moments (or a majority of the day) where all of my thoughts seem extremely LOUD, URGENT, EXPRESSIVE, FAST-MOVING, EMOTIONAL, and if I don’t catch myself in time, those thoughts then either turn into actions or words in reality. It sometimes feels like there are 3 different heavy metal bands playing 3 different songs at once, all songs including double bass drumming and loud screaming! Naturally, this can alter some moments and how people see you in that moment in time. So how do you manage to not let your thoughts come out in a manner that is uninviting and sometimes quite scary? You stop for a 1/2 second and just notice, without reaction, the thought(s), and then, notice how it makes you feel and how you may want to respond.

This morning, after I reflected on this internal energy that I’ve experienced over the last week, which is still somewhat present today, I was able to meditate for the first time with my therapist. His specialty is in meditation and mindfulness practice and though I’ve been seeing him since the beginning of September, this is the first time we’ve practiced together, in a session. He actually has one of those little metal meditation bells that look like this:

Photo credit: Zengroupon.com

Well I’m going to spare you the 10-minute recap and just get to what I really wanted to share. Those loud thoughts do mean something, but just because the thoughts are loud, doesn’t mean so do our actions (or reactions). I expressed how often when I practice and I’m noticing, I typically tell myself in my brain, “Thinking about writing a blog post” or “Wondering about my Professor’s email”. You see, that’s just too much text already- too much of the story I’m trying to capture and develop. My therapist led me through the meditation and told me that when a thought or worry comes up, to just repeat in my head “Thinking, thinking, thinking” or “Worry, worry worry”. He explained that by practicing that in the moment, it helps to simplify all of what’s attached to the thought in my brain, that story that I’m ultimately creating and further developing when I think to myself “Thinking about this and that, etc.” By just boiling down the details of the thought or feeling to their most simple state, the act of thinking or worry or anxiety or boredom (you get the idea), we help to simplify the brain and come to terms with those thoughts easier, and thus can choose further how we would like to respond to those more basic thoughts or emotions.

So all in all, you may want to yell out your thought or you may see yourself getting really wrapped up in the creation and re-telling of the story that means so much to you. When you do, stop and notice. Repeat to yourself (or practice getting there) the word that is truly the essence of that thought or feeling- just one word!!! Simplify all those loud thoughts and really see them for what they are, thoughts. Fro there you can then choose the path for best approach.

Happy Monday y’all!