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

Mindfulness & Words

Just for today, pause before you say your words. Take one small moment to reflect on the words that are in your mind.

  • Do these words feel heavy or light?
  • What emotions do the words convey?
  • Are these words making you feel good about yourself?
  • If these words were said to you, how would you feel?

This exercise in mindfulness can change so much in your life. Words are the most powerful thing we have at our disposal. Our words convey emotion, truth, reality, perception and so much more.

Each of us has said something and instantly regretted it. If you had taken a moment to speak, would you have uttered those words or changed the way you said what you needed to say?

Words shape the world around us. Our children believe and internalize what they see and hear. What they hear you say to them, about them, shapes their perception of their self. This perception further shapes their self image and relationships with their self and others.

Your relationships are shaped by both words and actions. Do your words and actions match? Are you in alignment with your thoughts and expressions?

Taking a mindful moment before speaking to check in with yourself and see if what you are saying and what you are feeling match can change everything. If you are saying yes to a commitment, but your body and mind are screaming no through feelings such as anxiety, tension, irritability, etc. Then why are you saying yes?

Use these clues to find truth in your life. If each of us used mindful moments to connect with ourselves and consider how our words and actions do or do not match, the world would be a better place. We can start making profound changes with little moments.

Honest with ourself is the most profound change we can make. Understanding that we really do have choices and freedoms is profound. Matching our words to our actions is the best gift we can give ourselves and our society.

For one hour, I want you to practice mindful moments in speaking. This could be the most terrifying, exhilarating, freeing experience of your life. Be completely honest with yourself if your words and emotions line up.

If they do, great keep doing this and making sure you are living your most authentic self, but take the check in one step further. What are you conveying into the world? Is it anger and hatred or loving kindness and compassion? What do you want to convey with your words and actions? Hope or Despair? Change or compliance?

If your words and actions don’t match up ask yourself why you are not allowing that to happen? Change your filter and ask yourself why you do this? Why do you keep your words and your actions from matching? Journal. Meditate. Take a run. Do what you need to and dig into your truth. Discover the core reason you do not do this. Once you know the reason, then you can take the next step into making the change to bring your words and actions into alignment with yourself.

With Mindfulness & Words,
Irisa

Adventures and Transitions in Parenting

As a parent I find that my life has been in a constant flux for the last eight years. When my children were infants I felt as though I was trying to survive on interrupted sleep, coffee i.v. and cuddles; with the occasional adult time with my partner. As toddlers we worked through emotional, mental and physical growth in their body, mind and spirit; often in leaps and bounds.

Now my children are 8, 6, and 3. The infant stage is long behind us and while I miss the cuddles of infancy, I love seeing my children’s personalities emerge and grow. I don’t know if I am better at seeing the cognitive and emotional jumps because this is my third child or he is just more obvious in his behavior changes but we are going through the three’s. With my three year old there is a sadness when his stages end, as we are done having little kids.

Conversely, my 6 year old struggles between his personal freedoms and staying home with mama. But I love hearing his stories of lunchtime escapades. Yesterday, he was pikachu and his best friend was his trainer … they paired up against another trainer and Pokemon in the schoolyard. I am not sure how they were “catching” or “battling” each other but I got a call from school about roughhousing at lunch and the scrape on his chin. After finding out it was a tiny scrape and the story behind it the nurse did not know how to react when I laughed at the boys escapades. I was just glad he was having fun with friends and using his imagination.

My 8 year old and I are going through a huge transition. Traditional schooling is not working out for her, so we are beginning our adventures in online schooling and homeschooling. She could not be more excited. Especially since she has a laptop from the school, something she had been begging for and we said no. However, I have borrowed one from the school because I like the flexibility it offers me in her education and still attending to her brothers pre-school homeschool education.

We have spent the last part of this month in what is called unschooling. Allowing a natural transition from the traditional school environment to being homeschooled. She has been a part of setting up the kids office space and today will help me rearrange the bookshelf to put all her schoolbooks away from the toddlers reach; plus keep her art and science supplies away from our house art and science supplies. Each day she has been doing assignments and reading based on what I have given her to see what does and doesn’t work. She has ADHD, so this has been a good time for me to learn what does and doesn’t work for timeframes and projects. It will be a learning curve but for the first time in a few years she is excited about school.

Yesterday, I spent the morning signing up for this semesters homeschool classes at the zoo and science center. There are several homeschool co-ops to reach out to in the area, drum lessons to be procured. Plus arrangements to be made with friends for guitar lessons and music reading/theory. We are fortunate that the pool of people to assist us with homeschooling and supplemental education include: IT professionals, Computer Sciences Professor, Professional Storyteller, Environmental Conservationist, Earth Sciences Enthusiast, Math teacher, Music teacher, Musicians, crafters, artists …. and this is why it takes a village.

The adventures continue and I find that as they do my personal focus can begin to shift a little more personally. A lot of who I am and what I love has been set aside for the last eight years to fully be there for my family. I didn’t want to miss a moment of my little ones being little, especially since my husband gave me the gift of being a stay at home parent. There is not a moment of regret at this sacrifice, but now that they are growing it is time for me to reclaim and rediscover mama.

I have been spending a lot of introspective time. In this I have been reminiscing on who I was before children and who of that person is still there. My love of writing has never diminished; however I do wish inspiration struck during the daylight instead of the middle of the night but I will take inspiration however I can get it. There is also the craftsperson, gardener, herbalist, chef, meditation guide, aromatherapist and lover of the old ways that honor the cycle of life. Slowly, I breathe life back into myself and allow myself and my children to discover who this person is.

Sassy Mama