Hello fellow busy brains!
Welcome back, to the Running Mind Blog. It has been about four months since my last post and I am very sorry for that. Life has been busy, hectic, and fun all at the same time! I can’t believe it is already almost Thanksgiving! The holidays are upon us, and whatever that means for all of you, I hope that you are finding gratitude in your daily life.
Gratitude has become a trendy word. It is painted on mugs, shirts, pillows, and overly hash tagged for sure (#Grateful). Can gratitude be overdone? It can definitely be mis-marketed, but I don’t think you can ever have too much gratitude! Gratitude journals have become a popular tool for managing moods and feeling better on a daily basis amidst our stressful society. Logging things that you are appreciative of in your life on a daily basis is definitely a powerful exercise, and if you are prone to more negative thinking, it can really make a difference.
Log 3 things each day that you are grateful for. Make them really specific and unique to you, and you may notice even more of a mindset shift/mood lift. For example, instead of saying “I am grateful for my husband,” you would write, “I am grateful my husband listened to my whole work story today with all of his attention.” Or, “I am grateful my co-worker, Jeremy brought me a coffee.” Doing a gratitude journal can really help when you are feeling low, or like the universe is not cooperating with you.
We live in such a busy, plugged-in society and it is easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle, as we reach for our goals. This is where yoga comes in. This season I am thankful for yoga (#GratefulforYoga). Yoga participation rises with the participation in technology, and this is no surprise, since our minds and bodies need the yoga to decompress from the technological over-stimulation. Yoga is the union of the breath and the body. It encompasses various tools and practices used to still the mind and ease tension in the body. A common misconception is that yoga is stretching, but the poses are only a small component of yoga. Without yoga, I would not be where I am today and my health would certainly not be where it is today. Yoga was a game changer for my mental and physical health, but the tools I have acquired from yoga philosophy and practice, extend to all areas of my life. There is: yoga for relationships, yoga for anxiety, yoga for work stress, yoga for depression, yoga for neck pain, yoga for addiction, yoga for awareness, the list goes on and on and ON. For the purposes of this post, we won’t dive into all of these different types of yoga, but always feel free to reach out if you are interested in learning more!
So how do we access gratitude if we are stressed/annoyed/depressed? The first step is becoming present. Being present is simply being in your own company and noticing what comes up. Here is an exercise to try to find some presence, pause, or peace in your day:
Find a favorite spot in the house or a favorite couch/cozy chair. Prop yourself up with pillows if you’d like, so that you are sitting up tall. Take a few deep breaths and just let the eyes close. As you take your deep breaths, notice the texture of the chair you are on or the coziness of the blanket you are under. Continue to breathe deeply and notice the quality of your thoughts. Are they coming often? Like running thoughts? Are you anxious? Just notice, don’t judge. As your thoughts pop up, acknowledge them, and then, take your attention back to your breath. Start with three minutes and increase over time.
This is a simple mindfulness exercise, that when done consistently over time, will increase your awareness by making you more present in your own life. When the awareness is increased, it is easier to see that certain situations at work have less negative charge than we think, or that co-worker isn’t as bad as we thought. The mundane parts of our life become illuminated because we are taking time to connect to our inner selves, the part of us that is not our thoughts.
Yoga teaches us that all situations are neutral, and that we place positive or negative charge on them. I think this is key to remember during the holidays. For example, when my grandpa comments on my weight, like he does every year, I remember that his observation is neutral, and I am putting negative charge on it (even though sometimes he is putting the charge on just a bit ;)). If you have any particularly difficult relatives, it can be helpful to remind yourself that they are putting negative charge on things, but you don’t have to. “Tis’ the season to be NEUTRAL” certainly won’t make it on a mug, but it is a good slogan to keep in your back pocket. When we are repulsed by or aversive to someone, it usually is because something within us is triggered, this is also good to keep in mind as you get together over the holidays. Compassion always wins!
I look back on 2018 with a very grateful heart. It was a wonderful year and it also had some very tough times. I got married and enjoyed all kinds of festivities leading up to the big day. My husband and I bought our first home together and I continued to grow a business out of passion. At the same time I was preparing for my wedding, I was facing my biggest fear. I went through a six month health scare crisis, getting two CT scans, more blood work than I could ever imagine possible, and the worst, a bone marrow biopsy. The universe is continually reminding me that I am not my body. The unknown and uncertain scare me the most, and that’s how this health scare sort of concluded, who knows? I am learning to allow that uncertainty and accept it, but I still have a ways to go! I just remember that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations and remain as present as possible.
I hope you have enjoyed my yoga, “Thanksgiving edition” tips, I will have to write a Christmas/Hanukkah post as well ;). What I hoped to convey in this message is that gratitude is important and we can all create it. This time of year reminds us to reflect on our lives and genuinely feel the gratitude and express to others that we are thankful for them. We get together and eat, and drink, and share the love, so I invite you to be as present as possible with the ones you love. Put your phone away and soak in the togetherness. Setting an intention for your Thanksgiving day can also keep you on track and you can remind yourself of it when you feel yourself wanting to over-indulge in the sweets or yell at your sister in law… ha ha (but, seriously)!
May your food be warm, your hugs be warm, and your heart be warm. Namaste.
Maddie (changing my sign off name to my real name now that I am married and, EvySieg, does not make sense ;))