One year ago I felt like everything was closing in on me. Thoughts swirled around in my mind, creating physical pressure on my chest. I was broken. Why was I so sad? Why did I feel so out of control? I didn’t realize it at the time but I was causing these feelings. I was so busy trying to better myself, checking off boxes on life’s checklist, I somehow forgot to live it.
I felt as though I couldn’t even breathe. I was overworked, unhealthy and struggling in many ways at home. I began searching for anything to motivate me to snap out of it. Life is hard and if I’m having a hard time I must be weak. I was forever on the journey to live a completely fulfilled life. I was addicted self-help. I was constantly searching how:
-to be a better leader at work -to be a good mom -to become healthy
-to not care about other’s opinions -to become brave -to prove my worth
I devoured self-help books and consumed every webinar and podcast I could find.
Racing to watch that one last webinar before the free “online conference” expired, my children would watch Netflix, on their own, in another room. Thus began an unhealthy relationship with consuming information. There was always something more to learn and another goal to develop. It seemed that the more I strived to “change my life” the worse I felt. And the unhealthier I became.
Have you ever felt like this before?
I became obsessed with “fixing” myself. I thought I was moving along a straight line to bring me to happiness and fulfillment. The end never came. I never directly applied anything into my own experience. Someone else’s solutions will never allow you to develop your own. Consuming information without pausing to contemplate how it relates to your own life will do nothing in the long run. Yet I couldn’t help but seek out more information.
My children suffered, my marriage suffered, my work productivity suffered and I suffered. Quiet and alone, I carried so much worry with me. It clouded my mental state and my self-worth. In my journey towards a healthy mindset I grew weak.
‘When does self-help become self-harm’?
Striving for more is a part of life. Some strive for happiness, wealth, comfort, excellence, power. Others strive for food, a roof over their heads, or a better life for their kids. However when we focus on the outcome we cannot remain present and we miss the journey along the way.
We need to learn how to be mindful of our journey. This is achieved when we purposefully bring attention to the moment while we experience something. Simply put, mindfulness is in essence focusing on the now. When one gardens if you only focus on the plant you will have a small harvest. It is when we focus on the soil, the richness of the dirt in which our plants are living in, that we see the abundance of nature’s bounty.
Life’s journey is not a start to finish straight line with bumps along the way, rather it is ever changing. It turns, circles, speeds up and slows down… and sometimes it needs to Stand Still. Sometimes when we are standing still we give ourselves the space we need to be mindful of how we truly feel.
Honor where you are now... Soak in this moment!
Here is a simple grounding exercise that is an easy way to begin to learn how to shut out the noise of the world and turn inward to feel the present moment. Close your eyes and practice this exercise, which uses your senses to focus your attention. It is a great exercise to use as a beginner, but can also be used at any time. I have used this to teach teachers, parents and even children.
Name 5 things you see.
Name 4 things you feel.
Name 3 things you hear.
Name 2 things you smell.
Name 1 thing you taste.
Now open your eyes.
Take a deep breath and just...
Together we can create a new generation, one that is kind and confident, calling for major change in this world. It’s time to get honest. It’s time to be brave. It’s time for acceptance. It’s time for self-love.
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