Cultivating Mindfulness
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Health and Wellness

Cultivating Mindfulness

It's all in your head!

Cultivating Mindfulness

Everyone goes through stuff, right - times where you just feel mentally worn, tired, or simply "off"?

The overthinking, over-analyzing, and the intrusive, annoying mind-chatter is draining and diminishing - until you metaphorically become a great, big, steaming pile of poop.

Maybe some days, the overwhelming stress comes with the usual tasks of the day job, but whatever the case, we all go through phases where we feel like the world is crumbling beneath our feet. Whether the stress is man-made worries, constant rumination circling over and over again in our heads, or that twelve-page paper, you are not alone in managing stress and dauntingly, busy schedules.

So... how do you cope and still move forward in a healthy manor?

I picked up on some mental-cleansing methods. Some tasks just weren't for me, but some methods stuck with me and in return, they stuck with me.

When I discovered the power of meditation, I became a genuine advocate for it. I get that meditation isn't for everyone, but hear me out. Yes, it's tough to sit down and think about nothing for ten minutes a day. Yes, you have a busy life with constant worries, fears, deadlines, and stress piling up like a metaphorical mountain of garbage. Some days, it feels downright impossible to slow down my thought traffic, but that's exactly when I know I need meditation the most. When everything gets too overwhelming, that's when I decide to step away from it all for a short period of time. I do this to reconnect with the present moment and with my peaceful inner being.

If I find I'm too busy to take even a 30 minute meditation break (which is just goofy, considering all the time I waste on Pinterest and other social websites), I'll just sit and breathe for ten minutes. When I really start to focus my mind on my breathing, what I hear, feel, smell, and taste...I'm able to be present. I'm able to visualize all my troubling thoughts as passing clouds in my mind. When I'm overly stressed, my mind is cloudy with thoughts, darkening to signal an impending storm. Meditating helps me clear the air of the looming whirlwind of negativity. It helps my mind encompass nothing but sunny skies with the occasional passing cloud.

It's not about avoiding your thoughts altogether, though!!

It's about letting the thoughts in, noticing them without judging them, detaching yourself from them, and then letting them go. Make peace with them and send them on their way - show them the door.

Yoga has the same effect on me as meditation. It's the simple idea of living in the present moment and focusing on one thing at a time. It really helps me get out of my own head. In yoga, I concentrate on the breath and simple movements. I marry the breath to my movements. When I'm focusing on just those two things, my mind has no room for anything else.

I do yoga with Adriene on Youtube every single morning and some afternoons if I need a little pick-me-up. She helps bring energy and focus into my mornings... peace and serenity into my afternoons.

Another form of staying present takes place when I exercise.

A good workout session not only helps me to stay aware of my breathing and form, but it also gives me energy and positivity for the rest of the day. There are numerous mental and physical benefits behind exercise, so I make it an absolute priority to help keep me sane.

When my thoughts get tangled and jumbled, I find it best to write it all down via journaling.

I can more easily make sense of it all. Journaling is also a way to let the mind-chatter come and go. When it's all down on paper, it's out of my head.

I also dive into my creativity to help me unlock further dimensions of my mind. It's a complete waste of energy to dedicate my mind to worries and self-doubt, so when I tap into those deeper nooks and crannies, imagination and creative instinct take the reigns.

It shuts out all that negativity that arises when I live in my mind too much. I focus my attention outwards - onto a white canvas with a bright palette of paint beside it, a lined journal and my favorite pen, a blank Word document with all the letters of the alphabet right underneath my fingertips, and a kitchen that holds all different kinds of recipes, begging to be created. When I force my mind to start functioning creatively, I stop living inside the worries and endless cycle of thoughts. I'm able to clear away those clouds and reveal the blue skies and warm sunshine that is always present, just not always visible.

None of these methods are groundbreaking, and I know it all seems like old news, but that's why they work so well. They're well-known techniques that allow me to grasp the present moment and accept my emotions as they are. I believe that the key to staying positive and free of mental sludge is to stay in the present moment. Observe the negative thoughts, but don't dwell on them. In the end, we really are in complete control of how we feel. That's the only thing we have control over in our lives. Everything becomes easier when I realize it's all in my head.

"Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don't serve them tea."

-Shunryu Suzuki

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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