Mindfulness Begins with Observation

The Little Things? The Little Moments? They aren’t little.

John Kabat-Zinn

Majority of our lives are made up of the small, the mundane, the unnoticeable. Hollywood and the shape of modern American society have set expectations that life is full of large noticeable moments. Imagery of sun glinting off our smiles indicate health and stress free living. I don’t know about you, but when I step out the door I am not taking any moment to pause. I typically am concerned with keeping the toddler from running straight across the street to pet the neighbors dog (cars be damned!) or the overzealous puppies from darting out the door.

Photography, videos and advertisements have taught us what perfection should look like. Social media has brands for all parts of life from hot mess moms to Pinterest moms. When is the last time you saw a mom with messy hair, sleep deprivation and pajama clad wandering the late night market for cold medicine for a kid on social media as the new trend?

I call bullshit. What all of that has done is set us up for unrealistic expectations so someone else can promote their thing (which I don’t fault anyone for promoting their thing). However, that is not an accurate representation of daily life. Life is messy, chaotic, confusing, and emotional. There are productive and focused moments. There are moments where you lose your train of though because the voices of Donald and Goofy float in from another room accompanied by a child’s giggles … this is a moment. A real, live beautiful moment. Did it derail my train of thought, yes. Is it worth hearing his laughter and joy? Absolutely.

When I was younger I was so into the flow of things that I got in trouble for being different. I wanted to sit and watch the sun on a leaf instead of being in cheer. That wasn’t the image for girls my age so off to cheer I went. Social Imagery has a powerful impact on perceptions and expectations. These perceptions and expectations can take the place of personal realities and norms if we are not mindful of our truth.

Gorgeous photography, trending news, apps and the like are fascinating. They serve as a distraction from our everyday and give us things to discuss with co-workers and acquaintances which can help with relationship building. However, the distractions can warp our perceptions of ourselves.

Mindfulness assists us in bringing us back to our life and our moments. When we accept that our life will have more small moments than large a relief can wash over us. Carrying a constant expectation that life is going to have a string of major changes/announcements/moments is asking ourselves to constantly be ON. Instead of being ON, be mindful.

Cultivating a practice of mindfulness will increase the likelihood of finding the opportunities that are in front of us as they are instead of looking for opportunities with a preconceived notion of how they should appear. The more we can focus on the moment and see it for what it is the easier our life will be. Removing preconceptions from our lives is a game changer.

Suddenly, we aren’t worried about doing things the way someone else said we should but finding the solution for ourselves that aligns or fits with who we are and how our life flows. Mindfulness matters. Mindfulness brings awareness to ourselves of what is or is not working. By identifying how we are feeling in the moment we identify what isn’t working. Once we acknowledge what isn’t working then we can make the shifts and changes needed for peaceful living.

Simple ways to begin mindful living:

  • Observe how you feel when asked to commit to something. What is the first answer that runs through your mind? What is the answer that left your mouth? Do they match?
  • Observe if you have a default answer to any commitment question. Are you the person that will always say yes or are you the one people ask for a short time and then stop because they know the answer is no? If you have an auto-default on answering, why is that?
  • Observe your physical body when speaking with people or doing tasks. Do some people leave your body feeling tight and sore? Are you relaxed with most interactions? What do you think your body is telling you about your interactions?
  • Observe your mental state when doing tasks or interacting with people. Does a task wear you out or leave you energized? Do you get grumpy and bitchy or remain calm? Is there dread or peace associated with this task?
  • Observe your emotional state when doing tasks or interacting with people. Are you worn out at the thought of having to interact with this person? Does a social event fill you with dread or peace? Do holidays have you buying a bottle of whiskey and making an escape plan before going somewhere? Does this invitation feel like an obligation you must do or fill you with joy?

Pick one place and begin your observations with mindfulness. No judgement just observe. I recommend that you take the time to journal your observations. This will allow you to notice trends and patterns.

Take a breathe. Reflect. Be Mindful and reclaim your life.
Irisa

Expectations, Mindfulness & Journaling

I have spent a week working on this discussion on expectations. Ironically, the harder I work on it the more problems I had with it. This morning, I am reflecting on what I had and just started laughing. Here, I had a set expectation in my mind of how I wanted this blog to turn out and it kept crashing and burning. Exactly, the discussion I wanted to have and have been having all week. Thank you Universe for the lesson!

Be mindful about your expectations. Are you setting yourself up for success or failure? For example, my oldest has been struggling in school because she has been expecting to read over a lesson once and know it. Does she have an eidetic or photographic memory? Nope.

No wonder she has been a huge ball of stress. I asked her where she got the impression that was how things worked. Apparently, her dad and I quoting books and movie lines made her think we just knew it after one viewing. Nope, I have worn out movies and books memorizing this stuff.

Are your expectations leading you to an unrealistic state? Remember, we don’t need to live in Hollywood and advertising view of perfection. Ask yourself: What is perfect for your life? Now, ask yourself: What stage of that perfection can you achieve right now?

Take a mindfulness moment and reflect on current self expectations.
Get comfortable, have a journal handy and ready, set, breathe!

Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one

Now, Open your journal and set a timer for 7 minutes.

Prompt … What are my current self expectations? Write until your timer goes off. If you are inclined, write past that. When you are done writing, please take a look at what you have written. Read your thoughts with loving kindness. Your inner voice is telling you the expectations that you have for yourself. Observe them with love and kindness. Treat them as though you are speaking with a loved one.

Once you have observed your inner thoughts. Reflect, but do not judge. Are these attainable? Do the expectations reflect where you are or where you came from? If the expectations are lofty, can they be broken up into stages; think of it as climbing a ladder. Are these expectations so low that you don’t feel like you are moving toward any goals? Do your expectations upset you or excite you?

Once we know what our expectations are, then we can move forward with an understanding of how we are operating. Is fear and ego at the wheel? Lack of confidence? Crazy unreachable expectations (ego)? Another person’s voice?

This awareness can give us the mindfulness we need to adjust our self-expectations. Part of my self care is awareness of expectations. Expecting my kitchen sink to never have dirty dishes is unrealistic. Expecting my children to do their chores and empty the dishwasher of clean and put in dirty is realistic if I am discussing the older two.

Let’s not get crazy though, we all have expectations that make us feel like we are banging our head against the wall. I expect clean folded laundry to make it to the dressers. My children expect magic fairies to put the laundry away and deal with the dirty clothes.

Laundry feels like a circus around here. It stresses me out and never is where I want it to be. So, when it is at its worse and I am at my best: I remind myself they are little and someday I will miss this chaos. I remind myself this mess happens because we are spending quality time instead of chore time. I remind myself that we are lucky to have clothing and shelter.

Those mindfulness prompts are the good days. On the bad days, I sound like a mom who has lost her mind in frustration, too little sleep and what feels like a mountain of dirt and filth. Mindfulness isn’t perfection or if it is, I haven’t found that particular roadmap. However, mindfulness does let us grow, learn and adjust each moment. This gives us the opportunity to handle the next such moment better than the one before.

Be mindful, check on your expectations and if you find those magic fairies send them my way, I could use the help too!

Lovingly,
Irisa

Mindfulness for Personal Awareness

Good Morning Beautiful People,

Today, I would like to discuss with you personal awareness. In my opinion this beautiful tool is essential to mindfulness, clearing energy blocks and being in tune with the Universe to create the life you adore.

First I want you to take a long, slow deep breathe in your nose, then a long slow exhale out of your nose … again breathe slowly and deeply, then exhale slowly and deeply … once more a long, slow deep breathe in your nose, then, then a long slow exhale through your nose.

Now, gently observe yourself. Ask: Dear body, how are you feeling? Be receptive to the answer and simply note it. No digging, reasoning or judging. Ask: Dear mind, how are you feeling? Again, we simply want to know and acknowledge the answer. Nothing more at this time. Ask: Dear Self, how are you feeling? No judgement, no logic, just know the answer and acknowledge it.

You have checked in with your body, mind and spirit … yourself. You have taken a moment to be aware of yourself and where you are at this moment. This is huge. When is the last time you offered yourself the gift of personal awareness?

We sit with our loved ones when they are having difficulties and offer them judgement-free loving kindness. Also, if you don’t think that you sit with loving kindness and awareness for others; when is the last time you said “well, they are just going through a rough time, this isn’t what they are really like …” or something akin to that? Give yourself the same loving kindness and personal awareness you give everyone else. Be the person you are to everyone else to YOU! Stop putting yourself last!

As I have been digging deeper into mindfulness, I had a huge realization with my own personal awareness last week (which was absolutely awful). It was the beginning of elementary school, severe humidity, total body joint pain flair and a migraine that lasted 4 days. I haven’t felt this awful in a very long time. Normally, I am the queen of ignoring my personal pain to push through and get things done.

This week, instead of simply pushing through, I gave myself the space to do mindfulness and sat with personal awareness. How? First, I decided that my family could either pitch in and do some of the simple chores or it wouldn’t get done. I practiced total honesty with them about how I was feeling and what I needed.

Here is what I received: the 8 & 6 year old did some extra picking up without argument and they gave me lots of love and cuddles. My partner, when he wasn’t working, helped with some of the bigger stuff. This was a gift because I could physically rest to heal and it was a gift to them, because I was honest and upfront with how I was feeling and what I needed they could pitch in to help me. This kept me from being upset and moody with them and all of us were happier.

While resting, I observed my body, my mood, my frustration, my temperament and I simply made notes in my journal on what I was feeling and thinking each time something of notice occurred. After a few days of this I looked at what I had written and noticed a pattern of what was bothering me.

By sitting with my self awareness I noticed thoughts and feelings manifesting that were not beneficial to me. This period of observation without judgement or wallowing allowed me to really know some things that were causing conflict and energy blocks within my life. Now that I have awareness on these things, I can move forward and resolve the conflicts and eliminate the energy blocks so that I can continue to move forward with my personal growth in alignment with the Universe and creating a life that I adore.

There is an importance to using the skill of mindfulness to help you be self aware. The tricky part is to observe the self, not wallow or judge. Observation allows you to simply be. Think of it as people watching, except for yourself.

If you find yourself constantly thinking about a situation or individual you may be wallowing. If you find yourself coming to rigid conclusions about an individual or situation, ask yourself Am I judging? Using the simple breathe exercise in the beginning of the article and bring yourself back to a place of mindfulness.

This self awareness through mindfulness allows you to sit, know and understand where you are in your life and what is really affecting you. By doing this you can make better decisions for yourself and your life that allow you to clear energy blocks and be in alignment with your true self. Know thyself and you can create a life you adore.

Be proud of the work and time you are spending on yourself. You deserve it! I would love to hear how mindfulness for personal awareness helps you.
In love,
Irisa

Journal Prompt – Luxury & Self Care

Now is the time to take out your journal and pen. Let’s take three deep breathes: in through the nose, out through the nose, again breathe and feel your diaphragm move slow and deep, lastly one deep breathe in the nose and out through the nose … breathe and feel relaxed. Now, return to your normal breathe.

I want you to create two lists. The first list are those things you enjoy that cannot cost a dime. The second list can involve investing in yourself financially. The purpose of this exercise is to see luxury and self-care in a new light. For each list I wish you to come up with 8 items.

Write: I feel amazing when ….
This is the time to list anything that makes you feel fantastic, beautiful, cared for, loved, sexy, decedent, luxurious …. just flat out amazing!

Love,
Irisa

Luxury: is it only for the rich?

Hello gorgeous one! Today, we will focus on luxury … your idea of luxury, no one else’s. To do this we need to break through and see what reaction you have to the word luxury … excitement or I can’t afford that. First, drop the can’t. Around here that is a four letter word that is not used because it blocks your energy which keeps you from living a life you adore.

Everyone can have luxury in your life no matter the condition of your bank balance or credit cards. The first thing to remember is that luxury isn’t solely about money, but is defined as something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary. This is the time to think of life’s little pleasures. Creating a life that allows luxury opens yourself to the Universal Abundance, increases Self Love and opens you to knowing yourself through self-care.

Now is the time to take out your journal and pen. Let’s take three deep breathes: in through the nose, out through the nose, again breathe and feel your diaphragm move slow and deep, lastly one deep breathe in the nose and out through the nose … breathe and feel relaxed. Now, return to your normal breathe.

I want you to create two lists. The first list are those things you enjoy that cannot cost a dime. The second list can involve investing in yourself financially. The purpose of this exercise is to see luxury and self-care in a new light. For each list I wish you to come up with 8 items.

Write: I feel amazing when ….
This is the time to list anything that makes you feel fantastic, beautiful, cared for, loved, sexy, decedent, luxurious …. just flat out amazing!

I’ll share my journal with you …

I feel amazing when:
1. I start my day with a hot cup of death wish coffee
2. I listen to music that makes my soul sing
3. I read for at least 30 minutes a day
4. I post affirmations around my house
5. I meditate in the morning and evening
6. I take three breathes and check in with how I truly feel before making a calendar commitment
7. My house is clean and organized, not cluttered
8. I take time to care for my hair and make-up

This next list is not to worry about money but just what brings you pleasure and makes you feel luxurious …

1. Professional pedicure and manicure
2. Fine chocolates
3. Eating out at new restaurants
4. Going to a yoga retreat (a yet-realized dream)
5. Travel
6. Going to the gym
7. I spend time in small bookstores, they always have amazing gems on the shelves and with the staff
8. Surround myself with beautiful crystals, candles, essential oils and incense

Shift your energy with luxurious self care. Each of us has a different idea of luxury and that is alright. Whatever brings you joy is luxury. As I was writing this part, my children started interrupting me non-stop. Instead of getting irritated that they were knocking my train of thought off track, I managed to take a deep breathe and think about the type of interruptions they were.

Instead of the usual hunger or this child won’t share a toy with that child, it was come look at this cool butterfly or I found a spiderweb. I am grateful that I noticed instead of letting fear in the form of anger or irritation take over. I listened to the Universe and closed my laptop. From there I spent the afternoon in luxury. We spent time with them showing me the world through their eyes, then when they wandered off I noticed it was a beautiful day outside.

So, I grabbed my tablet and read outside, alternating between watching and chatting with my children. After a while I decided to attempt a challenge in a video game. Then I helped my daughter with a request to make her room more open and loving. So, we moved her furniture around and I left her with directions and ideas on how she can continue to clear the space and make it more hers from there versus cluttered.

Feeling rejuvenated and inspired, I came back to my laptop with a lovely cup of lavender honey tea in a mug from a place that brings me warm memories and love to my heart. I am grateful that I listened to the Universe instead of letting the fact my expectations of my morning were interrupted irritate me. I breathed and listened. Then I received a day of luxury and bonding with my children. The Universe provided us with a beautiful gift because I took the time to listen and observe without judgement or expectation. I am grateful for today. I am grateful for the lessons. I am grateful.

There are so many ways to make yourself feel luxurious from big splurges to small everyday moment that are meaningful if we are mindful to create the space to enjoy them. Sometimes, I set my alarm a bit early to just enjoy the coffee in silence or better yet outside in the cool, dewy morning air. What can you do to fit 5 minutes of luxury into your day today? I would love for you to comment and share.

Feed your soul and you will have the loving support and guide of inner wisdom and the Universe with you at all times.

In love,
Irisa