Mindfulness Mondays 4/13: Feeling “Full” of Life

Remember last week when I told you I was working on a new habit of waking up earlier- I’ve made progress! Today I was woken up at 5:45 am, though finally got out of bed at 6am. My sleep app showed that I did not enter into deep sleep at all, and so I could feel throughout my body the soreness and indigestion that comes with inadequate sleep. Though I’ve been trying to get right out of bed, it’s been difficult since I’ve been suffering from tendinitis of both shoulders which is making it harder to lift the blankets and bring myself up. Despite all of this I have made huge progress with when I awake and actually get up (I’ve gained a whole 25 minutes since last week)!

I’ve also re-invigorated my practice of some yoga and stretching in the morning, as well as a prioritizing just being alone with my cat before my partner rises. This has been really amazing, since normally I reject alone-time though lately I have been finding I crave it the more I’ve been giving myself that “practice” alone-time in the morning. Today, I was able to watch the sun rise as it peaked through the trees of my wooded backyard while holding my cat calmly- after 5 minutes of me cradling him, we both were still in awe. It was a beautiful moment of peace and I reminded myself out-loud of my intentions for the day and that I was going to let myself shine no matter what. After reflecting on recent events and being mindful of the opportunities I’ve been taking part in, I keep coming back to this feeling of “being full”. What I mean is that I’m actively checking in with my thoughts and emotions on situations in my life more regularly. In this, I’ve noticed there are areas of my life that I feel could improve, and so something is missing and I’m not completely satisfied or “full”. There are other areas where my satisfaction is almost overflowing, and so I have much thanks for the “fullness” that is present, but also recognize that there needs to be a balance.

This past weekend I was able to spend some time with friends I have not seen in a while, as well as meet complete strangers and have lovely conversations. Over the last week I’ve also had times where I have been by myself throughout the day and even at home overnight while my partner was traveling. I’ve realized that I do thrive off of being around others and the engagement that can occur. I also am working through my natural inclination to avoid loneliness at all costs, by giving myself opportunities in the morning and throughout the weekend to be by myself. Though this has not been easy it has been a joy to see my progression, and is my own way of practicing self-care. Yes, I have found joy throughout this process because despite life’s less-than-satisfactory moments, they’re only still moments, moments then that can turn around. This feeling of fullness is more of an appreciation for all of those moments that I’m able to be a part of, as well as the turn-around process. I’m full because I’m experiencing all of what life has to offer: the loneliness and the community, the scary and the fun, and that is truly a fulfilling experience.

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Mindfulness Check-In 2/16: Stir Crazy Exercises and Ponderings

Another Monday off but today because of President’s Day and the celebration of George Washington’s birth! Along with the tumultuous amount of snow we received in MA and unbearable below 20 degrees weather, it just makes it nearly impossible to go outside for longer than you have to…shout out to Keely in Alaska (check out her blog)!

I kept debating on how I was going to frame my post today…and after lots of deliberation I came to the conclusion I needed today’s to be short but vividly expressive, so here goes.

In my effort to stick to my exercises and yoga routine, I give you my first successful inversion- Crow Pose:
Ignore background- Kitchen floor is being remodeled and thus kitchen contents are now in living room.

Ignore background- Kitchen floor is being remodeled and thus kitchen contents are now in the living room.

This was the best photo I could capture, which shows both of my feet are off the ground but did not catch when my feet were much higher. Regardless, this is what practice and progress look like. While I’m still going to practice this so I can have better balance, muscle strength, and bring my legs higher, I am also challenging myself to eventually be able to do a headstand. I can tell you I’ve had my fair share of falls and unintentional somersaults, but it felt so good when I finally got this after a few tries today. Adrenaline surged through me while my boredom subsided. For my pose I was following Yoga with Adriene’s Foundation video on “Crow Pose,” but had actually started with her video on “Headstands”. I was left with great advice to consider, which I realize greatly resonates with my personal belief of self-love and self-care.

She explained that doing inversions, especially something as challenging as a headstand, forces her to practice love and kindness to herself. This makes sense because if she’s reckless with her body she could get injured (ouch neck!) and also could leave the practice with toxic thoughts and not feel like she made progress. By slowing down the practice, taking care to listen to the body and what it needs at that moment, ease into the movements with the breath as the foundation, we can really tune in to our bodies and minds. Taking care of your body can be challenging, and so often times we rush the exercises or movements to feel the “good effects” as soon as we can. But being patient and kind to ourselves, through self-love and self-care, we can find greater peace and help ease the restlessness by just (metaphorically) sitting with it through patience.  

When you’re exercising, or doing anything physical for that matter (chores count), do you tune out or tune in? Does the thought cross your mind, or do you check in mentally, with how your body feels and the thoughts that are passing through your brain?

Mindfulness Check-In 2/2/14: Snowy Day Thoughts

Some quick updates of the last week since my last post:

  1. I am still having migraines almost daily, and am trying to decipher what may be triggering them.
  2. I realized that even on Super Bowl Sunday, I cannot abandon my dietary restrictions, because it just brings me unnecessary bodily suffering.
  3. I still have been exercising and doing some form of yoga or meditation daily- my heels almost touch the ground in downward dog!
  4. It’s the second snow day of second semester!

After reflecting on my updates and past happenings at this current moment, the word that comes to mind is progress. At this moment, I am feeling nervous, sore, tired, and a bit overwhelmed. I am noticing the snow that is falling sideways outside, with no intentions of stopping until late into the night. I’m noticing how that dull ache which never seems to fully diminish is now present in back of my eyes and at my temples. I hear the murmur of the fish tank and tapping of the keyboard, and the humming of the plows outside. I am noticing how every time I think about breathing, my chest actually feels a little tighter, which then reminds me to inhale deeper the next time and let out a loud exhale. I slowly sip my Eggnog tea and hear how it sounds as I swallow. I’m deliberately working on being intentional and “in the moment”. I don’t necessarily have positive feelings towards all of the things I’m noticing, but I also have a beautiful choice.

I can choose how I want to engage with what is happening around me. I can choose to be grateful for my yoga practice and despite my body feeling what it feels, I still have an overall healthy body that allows me to exercise or practice yoga at all! I’m working diligently at tracking how my body feels, and noticing how to use my breath to guide my thoughts, movement, and reactions to my pain. Despite how Super Bowl food makes my body feel, I am grateful for the experience of cooking for my friends and sharing food with them, and that I even had food to cook, especially before the week began. And lastly, despite that my brain feels at points like it’s trying to run in opposite directions, I am still here, writing this post. I have this wonderful snow day and was lucky enough to not have to travel my usual 30 minute drive to my University today and jeopardize safety (and sanity). I was allowed more time to work on things that need to be worked on, things I want to do, and to just exist in whatever form I would like today. I’m sitting here now and after a moment realized I had been flexing my foot for at least 10 seconds. I’m making progress!

It’s not about the deadline for me because mindfulness is an ongoing practice. I’m usually the person that tries to accomplish everything on time, as efficiently as possible. But with mindfulness I can’t rush it, and I can’t necessarily finish it. All I can do is practice it and continue to show up and give whatever I can give each day, each moment. I have made progress on my goals, and I will continue to progress with my practice. I hope wherever you are, you can take a moment just to stop and notice what you’re thinking (or not), and how your body feels, what it’s doing, and what you see, smell, hear, taste, touch around you! The best thing about practicing mindfulness for me is the honesty. I can just be honest with myself and don’t have to pretend that everything is great just because it’s a snow day. I can just be what I feel and how I think, and don’t necessarily have to like it but can acknowledge it and let those feelings just sit there as they are- I don’t have to engage with them if I don’t want to! And if I do, I can catch myself in the moment and reflect on if my behavior is helping me or causing me increased suffering. I have the power to determine my own progress!

Here’s a picture I took today of my backyard in the woods. Though I haven’t trekked outside yet, it sure is a peaceful site.

If you look really close at the ground you can see how high the snow is!

If you look really close at the ground you can see how high the snow is!