Mindfulness: The Future of Therapy

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Did you practice mindfulness today? Mindfulness is a technique therapists use to promote the practice of good mental and physical health. Mindfulness practice has been said to allow people to be in greater control of their thoughts and actions, rather than being controlled by them.

Mindfulness was first explored in Buddhism and has been spread across Western rituals. It is a process in which we are aware of our present moment experiences. In addition to being aware, it is the ability to maintain openness and acceptance of our thoughts, sensations, bodily states and environment.

Mindless states and mind-wandering has been proven to be maladaptive! Instead, keeping our minds focussed on the present moment is associated with higher psychological well-being (2010, Kilingsworth & Gilbert).

Can anyone practice mindfulness? … YES! However, it is a skill that truly must be practiced till mastered. I am still learning and trying to get the hang of it.

Lets explore 4 things we can do to be a bit more mindful each day.

1. Set an Intention

The most simple step to start is by creating the intention in your mind that you are going to be more mindful. You are making a commitment, so now stick to it! By creating this intention, you are more likely to be aware of your mind wandering and recognize that you should shift your awareness to the present moment.

2. Recognize shifts in awareness

Recognize when your awareness is shifting and your mind is beginning to wander. Correct yourself when your thoughts are beginning to spiral to think about anything but the present.

Many of us tend to think of the past or the future. However, studies show that thoughts that wander away from the present are maladaptive. It can be important to plan for the future, but maybe we don’t need to make “big picture” plans. Look for what we can control and work on presently, this will set ourselves up for the future success we desire.

Therefore, we must learn to recognize when our thoughts begin to shift and quickly learn to shift back and be mindful.

3. Listen to others attentively

How often do you find that when someone else is speaking you are already thinking of what you want to say next? How does that make you an active listener? … It doesn’t!

Listen closely when others speak, this will allow you to pay closer attention as you will truly be taking in what the speaker is saying. Just by listening more closely you will connect better to what is being said and will eventually become more aware of the responses you decide to form. Ultimately this will improve your bond with that person and your communication skills. Listening closely is an important skill for one to stay mindful.

4. Focus on your breath

Breathing is something we naturally do every second of every day without having to think about! When your present mindedness is lost, you may simply refocus by counting your breaths. Focusing on your breath can significantly improve your mind and body connection!

If distracting thoughts arise due to mindless thoughts, try counting your breaths as you inhale and exhale slowly.

Although these are just a few ways of keeping mindful, I do plan to return to this topic again. Let me know in the comments what you do to practice mindfulness and focus on the present!

References:

Hoffman G.S., & Gomez F.A. (2017). Mindfulness-based interventions for anxiety and depression. 10.1016/j.psc.2017.08.008

Killingsworth MA & Gilbert DT., (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science. 330(6006):932. doi: 10.1126/science.1192439.

Flowers

snowdrops flowering from the snow in spring
Day by day, row by row,
Like flowers, our love grows.
Seasons change and sparks may die,
But we push through to the other side.

Where things are serene, thoughts are fluffy and clean,
Only a special two can experience what I mean.
Two souls that are intertwined,
Just like a tall and healthy climbing vine.

Not all flowers make it past the storm,
Those are the one's who are very torn.
Torn between a life that they yearn to build,
And torn between a love they cannot give.

As one flower waits to grow with the other,
It turns around to ask its brother:
"Why do some flowers die through the seasons?,
Why can't we grow together just as God pleaded?"

The brother's response was long but right. 
"Sometimes our leaves cannot hold on as tight. 
As the wind roars and the flowers blow, 
Not all the flowers survive in each row.

Those who do have won the fight, 
and will grow together towards the light.
Only the brightest flowers can understand,
There is more to growth than what God planned. 

After the storm, will come the clear,
And those who remain standing will no longer live in fear.
They will have grown in unison tall and strong,
And be united together once and for all".

Day by day, love will grow,
Like snowdrops in fields of winter snow.




Is Ignorance Truly Bliss?

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Sometimes ignorance can be bliss, but sometimes it isn’t. In certain scenarios it can be very beneficial to be aware of an important piece of information. However, in others, you may benefit from the blissfulness of not knowing and enjoying the moment.

So then why do we equate ignorance to being blissful? Think about your childhood for a moment. Childhood holds a sort of blissfulness to it. Children are unaware of the burdens and responsibilities that adults hold. Parents hide the obstacles that come along, and therefore, children can go on with their daily life peacefully. Time is a difficult and strange construct for children; as quickly as obstacles come, they go, and they are back to enjoying their blissfulness.

Although these blissful moments are there during our early lives; the truth is, not all children are fortunate enough to always have that experience. Some children grow up in homes where parents are unable to hide their challenges from their children. This can create a sense of anxiety and fear. The bliss quickly turns in to terror as the child is constantly stressed out for the responsibilities that their parents hold. The more knowledge, awareness and understanding children hold about the world around them, the less bliss there seems to be.

Does obtaining awareness and knowledge about life too early take away from the childhood bliss? I would argue yes, that it does. However, I do believe that knowledge is power, and that the child that has some knowledge of stressful situations can grow up making better decisions than the child who grew up in ignorance. When faced with future adversity, the child who grew up in ignorance may not know how to handle it, whereas the child who obtained greater awareness and knowledge would be better prepared.

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For those of us who did grow up ignorantly blissful, I find now that as adults we dream of returning to that state of bliss. To that freedom of thought and mind. Where responsibilities are taken care of and don’t pile up. When I am surrounded by children today, I find it easy to reminisce on the past blissfulness of being a child. I think of ways that I can once again experience that calm and blissful ignorance. Where the most difficult decision I have is about what movie I am going to watch.

Will we ever return to that same ignorant bliss?

We probably won’t be able to return to that exact bliss. The bliss of running in the streets with our friends and playing as though we have no responsibilities in the world; but that’s okay. With the knowledge and awareness we have, we are equipped to make better decisions and face life’s challenges head on.

After writing this article, I almost don’t feel that ignorance is bliss anymore. The child that is well-equipped and exposed to adversity will overcome future adversity and achieve bliss much quicker than the child who lives ignorantly.

So maybe ignorance isn’t bliss after all?

Let me know what you think down below in the poll and in the comments section! I’m interested to read whether you think ignorance is bliss or not.

You Glow Girl! The Era of the “Girl Boss”

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The term “girl boss” has been around for quite some time but has gained more popularity recently. It simply means an empowered woman who knows what she wants and has the determination to succeed. She is busy building her empire in a world that was not made for her, but she works hard to achieve her goals.

I have seen many women start their own businesses in the last few years, but more so within the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With more people staying home and having extra time to be creative, there has been a surge in small businesses that are run by women.

Let me clarify though that it hasn’t only been small businesses, it is a load of creativity being unleashed from women who are usually working full-time jobs, managing families, school or other responsibilities.

Women like Kamala Harris and Oprah Winfrey are inspiring to just name a few. They strive for excellence, to inspire others and to create change. Now you don’t have to go and be the next Oprah Winfrey… But I think it’s a great time to get started on that side hustle you’ve always wanted to. Whether that may be something you want to do for yourself or do to inspire others, the time has come to get serious about it!

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It’s your time to shine!

It’s your time girl! I always wonder why I wasn’t writing for my blog sooner but then I realized I lacked confidence to get started and kept pushing it off for “later”. In hindsight I am glad I waited because my passion grew stronger over the years to pursue my blog.

In the age of social media I think the best time to start something is NOW! Social media platforms make it easier to reach more users and achieve higher engagement. You can feel confident having a community of people who love your passion just as much as you do!

Nothing is better than creating something yourself and truly loving it. This could be anything really – baking/cooking, blogging, art, physical products, photography, gardening etc. It feels empowering to have created something and to call it your own. No one else can tell you how to manage it or how much time and effort you should put in to it. That’s the special part about having your own hustle ladies, you can work on it at your own leisure and the more you love it, the harder you will work on it.

If you can turn your passion in to an income then that’s great too, but my honest advice is to never start pursuing something with only the desire to make an income. The most passionate and consistent people turn out to be the most successful! Take Oprah Winfrey (again) as an example – she grew up in poverty but worked hard to pursue her education and career in performing arts and speech communications. Today she has her own television network and has proved herself to be one of the most powerful women, influencing the lives of many – especially women and people of colour.

I’m so excited to be writing about this topic because I feel like I have recently entered this space of the girl boss. Over the years I have had the pleasure of being surrounded by women who inspired me to start my own hustle and be my own girl boss. For those women, I am so grateful, and I hope that this post inspires you to do the same for yourself.

No more holding back ladies! Feel confident and just do it, it’s time to take control and be your own girl boss!

The Fear of Trying Something New

fresh gentle chamomiles arranged on beige table
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Are you a little too comfortable with your current life? Maybe you’ve lost motivation. It’s probably time for you to try something new, maybe something a little different that you usually wouldn’t.

It’s easy to lose motivation and feel comfortable amidst the monotony of daily life. I don’t imagine that waking up every day and doing the same thing over and over is good for anyone. A daily routine puts us in a sort of automation and causes us to lack stimulation.

Feeling extreme comfort within one’s daily life can lead to a loss of interest and happiness. Much like when people get too comfortable in relationships. The initial excitement disappears and more effort is needed to keep the spark alive… This happens in your personal life too!

It can be scary to try something new but it can empower you to experience further growth for yourself. I say this from honest and personal experience. Starting this blog has allowed me to experience greater personal happiness and sense of achievement. I feel excited for every post and no matter the number of readers, I am motivated to continue writing!

How can trying something new change my life?

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Trying new things allows us to create further purpose for ourselves which adds to the meaning of who we are. When we try something that we are usually afraid to, it allows us to step outside of our comfort zone. This will lead to learning new skills and finally breaking the daily monotony. As a result, we will feel emotionally and intellectually more stimulated.

Maintaining a habit of trying new things allows us to be open to different experiences. Pursuing a new hobby or skill will allow you to feel inspired. So don’t be scared! This journey will result in a healthier, happier, empowered and more creative version of you.

The next time someone asks you “What’s new?” be prepared to have an exciting response as hopefully by then you would’ve tried something outside of your comfort zone!

Living for Yourself

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When was the last time you made a decision by yourself and for yourself? I can answer that honestly and say that I really can’t remember the last time I was able to fully do that. It’s been extremely difficult for me to live just for myself as I am constantly haunted by the thoughts of my decisions impacting others. Some would say that is selfless and it is empathetic to consider others when living out one’s own life.

But I say by doing that I am no longer living for myself. Instead, I am cautiously making decisions to please others and am sacrificing my own being.

A common example is of the student who graduates from high-school and is then pressured by their parents to obtain further education in a degree that they have no interest in. How can this student be successful in completing a degree in something they didn’t choose?

The reality is that we cannot please everyone and if we are going to spend time trying to please someone it should be ourselves. It’s easy to get lost in the shadows of others and seek acceptance when making decisions. This is an essential psychological need as outlined by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (belongingness and love needs).

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Photo from Pinterest

Abraham Maslow, a famous American Psychologist said that humans cannot reach self-actualization (achieve one’s potential) unless all their basic needs as outlined above are met. So basically, humans naturally seek acceptance and belongingness in order to advance to feelings of prestige and accomplishment to eventually reach self-actualization.

How Can I Start Living for Myself?

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It’s about time you asked!

Who am I?

  • First, you must figure out who you are and what you want. This tends to be the most difficult step.
  • Do you want to be an artist, a musician, an athlete, an engineer? Do you want to graduate university, write a book, run a marathon?
  • Or, maybe you just want to start taking more time to yourself and not feel guilty for doing so.

Self-Care

  • Taking care of yourself is the absolute best thing you can do!
  • Fulfilling your own needs in order to satisfy your happiness can be the most difficult step to take but I assure you that it’s worth it.

Planning

  • Next, you must brainstorm the steps needed to pursue your goals without worrying how it will impact those around you.
  • Remove and detatch yourself from others.
  • Focus on your own goals that are separate from others and how you can achieve them without seeking their approval.
  • What kind of standards must you set so that you can look back and think that you lived a life with few/no regrets.

Accept Change

  • Accept the change that comes with this new journey you are embarking on.
  • Since you will now be focusing mainly on yourself focus on adapting to a new mindset.

Be You!

  • Be yourself! Choose what it is that you want to do and make sure you are doing it for yourself.
  • If you feel the need to seek acceptance or approval then you’re probably doing it wrong and need to start over.

By following this process your happiness will flourish two-fold and you will begin to live for yourself. Although this post is about living for yourself, you will see that once you do, those who love you will be happy for you and their approval (although not necessary) will come naturally, as your success becomes the success of your family and closest friends too.

Be proud of the life you are living and begin to live for yourself & not others! Happy Friday!

Comment down below any thoughts or feedback! Make sure to share this post with your friends and family.