Happy New Year friends! It’s the month of January, and for me, this is a month of new beginnings, great hope, and a time to reflect back on the previous year or years. Symbolically the month of January reminds me of a butterfly; a beautiful creature who was once in a cacoon and is now breaking free. It can finally spread out its wings allowing them to dry off and take in all of the oxygen. The butterfly is preparing itself for its first flight of a new adventure with so many places to see and explore! This is how I feel right now and I want to maintain this feeling throughout the year.
How does one accomplish this “new” feeling of hope and inspiration when we have so many unexpected events that are out of our control? Perhaps, the solution is “mindfulness” ; (the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also: such a state of awareness). Awareness of emotions… thoughts… experiences in a nonjudgemental way! It seems simple, and it can be if you start applying it.
Sometimes we get caught up in current events, daily schedules, and or life, we forget to be here now, to breathe and take it all in. I find myself focusing on the future… will I achieve my weight loss goal? When will we plan our next vacation? Where will we go? Will I ever get caught up on my daily tasks? It can be exhausting if you stop and actually pay attention to your thoughts. Our brains never quit and sometimes that is exactly what we need to do, we need to quiet the mindless chatter in our heads and focus on the now, be fully present right here, right now!
I have reached a point in my life where I’ve realized I can not take things for granted; because someday you may slip and fall on your backside and your whole world is turned upside down. I’ve experienced that first hand, and it is not fun! But, that’s another story for another time. What I want now is to be fully present for my children, my husband, my family, my friends, my dog, and of course myself!
What would happen if we apply mindfulness to our daily lives? It may help us achieve our daily goals… it may allow us to be fully present in a conversation… who knows, we might even put down our electronic devices and focus on our surroundings! You might notice the clerk at the grocery store who is ringing up your items and tell them to thank you! You may learn to appreciate the little things that can sometimes drive you nuts! For example, the laundry! Sometimes we can be overwhelmed with the piles and piles of clothes that need to be washed. Instead of looking at the pile of clothes with dread or dismay, look at them with a grateful heart. Be grateful you have so many choices in your daily lives that you have mountains of clothes to be washed. Some people in this world only have the clothes on their back and I’m sure they are extremely grateful for them. It’s the little things we should be grateful for; the first smile from your baby, holding hands with your loved one, watching the sunrise, or just being alone with yourself and appreciating everything you are!
I’m learning to appreciate myself and who I’ve become and I try to be mindful daily. I have an amazing friend who is also my personal trainer, mentor, and therapist at times! She helps me to stay on track with my goals and keeps me in check. She asked me if I would be willing to try a new “exercise” with her. This is a mindful exercise not so much a physical one. She suggested every time I reach for food or drink I ask myself “will this help me achieve my fitness goal?” Sometimes the answer is yes, and of course, sometimes it’s no. Usually, when I answer myself no I feel pretty foolish about consuming those items. However, I was being mindful at that moment, whether it was good for me or not. It’s about being present and aware of what I’m choosing to eat at that very moment. Mindfulness takes practice, to stop yourself from your routine and really think about what it is you are doing and how you would like to be fully present in that very moment, no matter what it is.
My hope for you this year is to be mindful of your day. Start out simple by turning off your stereo in your car and watch how aware you are driving and how others are driving. Or if you exercise, take out your earbuds and listen to your surroundings. When you can hear your surroundings you will also see your surroundings more. Your routine run can become a more enjoyable experience for you! Whatever it is you are doing in your daily life, just be mindful of it! You may find peace within yourself, and can bring it to others as well!
Happy New Year!
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