journey

From Mindless to Mindful

So far, this summer has been a somewhat mindless journey.  While most people may see that as relaxing and carefree, I’ve found it to be a personal struggle.  Since my routine has switched up, I’ve had to be more aware and focused on practicing presence and being in the moment.

I’ve always been a big picture kind of person.  I am able to create powerful visions, set my eyes on a goal and chase after it.  However, this makes focusing on details a bit more of a challenge for me.  And I realized, this is exactly whats been limiting my mindfulness this summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely surrounded by gratitude for my summer experiences.  I am provided financial stability with my jobs and am given the opportunity to make connections in a city that is still new to me. But, while I am very aware of all I have to be thankful for this summer, I still couldn’t shake off this feeling of emptiness. When I looked at the big picture of this summer, I recognized I wasn’t in my norm, my comfort, my passion of teaching and was working to make financial ends meet. Of course I was surrounded by more negativity than normal.  Who wouldn’t be with this kind of perspective on their day to day life?

But, I was very aware that I was choosing to look at my life this way.  To simplify the picture and create this less-than exciting narrative for myself. So, as I sat in the shower in this morning, I decided to meditate and let it go.

The first thing I did was recognize the feeling I was surrounded by.  And the best way I could describe it was empty.  What may be empty for others may not match what I’m describing as empty, but for me and my journey, this word just seemed to fit.  So, I was aware of this empty feeling and that I had to let it go, replace it with another emotion.  I wanted to be surrounded by gratitude.  How can I surround myself with gratitude? I started with a reflection of my day so far…all two hours of it.

I got to start my day with a run.  I’ve started to deem running as “meditation in motion” because that’s exactly what it is for me.  I’m able to get lost in the moment as my body moves and pushes itself. So, that was one detail of the morning that surrounded me with gratitude.  The next was new friends to run with.  One friend who I would not have even met if I hadn’t been a part of the lululemon family this summer.  This one detail of gratitude then spiraled into another and another.  My change in schedule has allowed for me meet new people at the box, who go early in the morning, people who I may have rarely ever spent time with if I didn’t have the opportunity to coach early in the morning.  I’ve been able to read books, so many books for pleasure these past few weeks.  I’ve saved money on gas from traveling less by car and more on foot.  I could enjoy a morning run midweek with friends because I didn’t have to be in a rush to get anywhere.  I’ve been able to step foot on my mat multiple times a day, in different settings, in new studios.

I took a deep breath and just like that, emptiness was replaced with gratitude.  My big picture shifted from negative to positive as it was filled with details of love, compassion and excitement.  And all I had to do was take the time to follow the cycle of mindfulness that I preach to my students day in and day out.

The most challenging part was being reminded that I should not judge myself for being mindless.  Each day is a new day, a new journey making us all beginners.  By simply being aware of the mindless habits I was creating allowed me to be more mindful.

So, if you too are finding yourself struggling to go from mindless to mindful, try these steps:

1. Mindful Thinking: be aware of the thoughts and emotions around you.  Do not judge those thoughts and emotions.  Just recognize their presence.

2. Mindful Speaking: say out loud what you will replace these thoughts and emotions with.  Breathe in and breathe out.

3. Mindful Listening: listen to your body, to where you may feel tension, to the thoughts surrounding your mind.  What are you becoming aware of as you work to replace those initial feelings?

4. Mindful Acting: Put it into action. Practice your replacement emotion.  How you do it is up to you.  And always remember to breathe.

If you slip, do not judge yourself.  Simply repeat steps 1 through 4.

Cheers to mindfulness and the mindlessness that sparked the journey.

On My Mat, 365

Today, I set an intention of being present.  While I strive to find presence in each day, I was extra aware of it today.  Simply for the fact that this is my last week with my students.

As a teacher, I have many first days, first weeks, last days and last weeks in my future.  It was this time last year I had my very first last week of teaching, last day of teaching.  This year, though, is different.  This year has been special.

I swore off teaching at my first year.  After living 10 months of constant stress, an overly ambitious and eager attitude, I knew I couldn’t live the next 10, 20, 30+ years like this.  If this was teaching, I thought, I did not want to be a teacher. So, I took a leap, changed paths, and created my own happiness.

Little did I know that my journey would lead me right back into the classroom.

My second year of teaching has been completely different.  What changed exactly?  Me. I changed my attitude.  I created new habits.  I shifted my perspective.  Teaching was no longer this exhausting career because I made choices that kept me balanced.

And it all started on my mat. Yoga became my escape during my first year of teaching.  The heat, the mantras, chanting ohm. I loved it all.  What started as my escape soon became my home.  When I step foot on my mat, I become grounded.  I become reminded of the power within myself.  The power I have to create a greater balance, a greater good.

I look back and am amazed at the mental and physical transformation I’ve had on my mat.  The struggle was real when I would attempt downward dog.  My tight muscles matched perfectly with my tight mind.  But, overtime, it all lightened and loosened up.

As I reflect on my journey over the past two years, I am surrounded with gratitude for the growth and the experiences.  However, everyday is a new day.  We will always be newbies, beginners in this life of ours.  I want a part of each day, of each journey to be spent on my mat; to be grounded by Split Pea.

There’s no time like the present to practice presence.  So, join in me #onmymat365.  Get on your mat once a day, every day to find the bliss, the gratitude, the happiness in your journey.

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Shout out to my forever friend Erin who helped get me started on my yoga, soul searching journey.