5 Days to More Calm: Mindfulness

Black Mom’s Guide to Calm

Today’s topic is mindfulness!

One definition is:

“awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

I’ve been an overthinking and a worrier since I was younger. I found (and still do sometimes) myself either constantly worrying about the future or replaying the past, what I should’ve/could’ve said/done differently which caused me to feel anxious and overwhelmed a lot. Yoga and meditation really helped (and continues to help) me stay present in the moment more often. I’ve also learned how to go with the flow of life, accept and embrace where I am in the moment, surrender to the process and trust Divine timing.

In addition, mindfulness:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Can help with chronic pain and lower blood pressure.
  • Improves focus and concentration (which allows you to be more productive and have more energy).
  • Improves your self-awareness (you’ll better understand your strengths and weaknesses and know where you can improve).
  • Causes you to be less reactive (you’re less likely to snap or go off when you’re frustrated or angry).

I’m not sure it’s possible to be mindful every single second of the day (because: human), but there are practices you can incorporate so you’re more present more often. Here are a few:

  • Do one thing at a time (as much as possible).
  • Pause and take deep breaths, focusing on your inhales and exhales.
  • Take a moment to observe your surroundings with your 5 senses.
  • When having a conversation, listen as the other person is talking (instead of coming up with your reply while they’re still talking).
  • Practice mindful eating: Focus only on eating. Notice how your food smells, the temperature, the taste and texture. Chew slowly and really savor what you’re eating.
  • Scan your body. Become aware of any sensations you feel, notice how you’re breathing, see if you’re tense anywhere, notice how you feel emotionally.

I hope this quick overview will help you get started with your practice in being more present! If it does (or if you want to share a comment or have a question), please reach out to me here — I’d love to hear from you!

Also, for more (and exclusive!) resources for finding your calm, learn how you can be part of our new community here: Black Mom Calm Patreon.

 

13 Ways to Be More Mindful Daily

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

This blog post is part of the Mindfulness in March series. 

Do you want to be in the present moment more often so you can experience more calm? Here are 13 ways you can do so.

1.  Focus on your breathing for 1 minute. Sit comfortably and simply notice your natural inhalations and exhalations. (Don’t consciously try to change the way you’re breathing). Is your breathing shallow or deep? How does it/do you feel? What sensations do you feel in your body? Whenever your mind wanders, bring your awareness back to your breath.

2. Concentrate on one task at a time. As much as possible, focus on doing one thing at a time.

3. Take a mindful walk. You can do this in your yard, if necessary, and here’s how to do it.

4. Drink mindfully. When you’re having your morning coffee or just drinking with your meal, do this: Slowly pick up your mug/cup/bottle and notice how it feels in your hands (Is it warm or cool? What’s the texture of the container?). Slowly bring it close to your mouth, taking a moment to smell it then take a sip and pay attention to what you taste, the temperature and the texture before swallowing. 

5. Observe your surroundings. Pause for a minute or two and look around you. Take in everything you can see around you without judgment. 

6. Take a moment to appreciate three things about yourself. It can be physical or non-physical.

7. Listen mindfully. The next time you’re having a conversation with someone, really listen to what the other person is saying without judging good or bad. Don’t come up with your response (like most of us do), simply listen.

8. Do a body scan. Sit comfortably with a straight spine and close your eyes. Start from the top of your head and observe how each area of your body feels.

9. Observe your thoughts for 1 minute. Sit quietly and “watch” your thoughts. Don’t get caught up in them, don’t judge them. Just allow them to come and go.

10. Slow down and pay attention. Instead of rushing from activity to activity, take your time and really focus on what’s happening in the moment.

11. Listen to music while doing nothing else. 

12. Take a digital break. Whether it’s for a few hours, a day or a week, take some time away from scrolling on social media or even take a break from using your phone.

13. Practice yoga mindfully. As you move through your asanas (poses), breath fully and deeply, focusing on your breath and what you’re doing at that moment. Notice any physical or emotional sensations that come up and observe your thoughts without judgement. And when you notice your mind wandering, bring your focus back to the moment.

Are there other ways you bring yourself to the present moment? I’d love to know! Comment below or contact me. And to take it a step further, sign up for the 5-Day Mindfulness Experience here.

Mindfulness Meditation and Affirmations

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

This is the second blog post in the Mindfulness in March series.

First, I want to say I hope you’re doing well through all that’s going on. If you want to check in with me to let me know how you’re doing, and/or if I can do anything to help, I’d love to hear from you!

Now, in this post, I want to share how to do a mindfulness meditation that will bring you to the present moment and also help you find calm. Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit comfortably with a straight spine in traditional meditation style, with your feet on the floor or kneel.
  • Close your eyes, relax your shoulders and body, and unclench your jaw.
  • Inhale slowly, fully and deeply, filling your belly with air like a balloon.
  • Exhale slowly and fully, allowing your navel to go back towards your spine.
  • As you continue breathing deeply, observe the thoughts that come to you. Don’t judge yourself for having them or the thoughts themselves. Try not to let yourself get too involved with the thought. Observe and acknowledge it for a moment, then it let it float on by. Allow yourself to be present.
  • Continue for 3 to 10 minutes (and so you’re not distracted by time, use your phone as a timer, an app or find a YouTube meditation music video).

Also, here are a few affirmations you can use to bring yourself back to the present moment when you need (especially during moments of overwhelm, stress and anxiety):

  • I choose to live in the moment.
  • I embrace where I am in my life.
  • I am in the flow.
  • I find peace and joy in this moment.
  • All is well, and I’m okay right now.
  • I breathe and focus on the here and now.

What Is Mindfulness?

mindfulness

This month’s focus on the blog is mindfulness. If you don’t know (or need a reminder), here’s one definition of what it is:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

Basically, being mindful means being in the moment, focusing on whatever you’re doing (or not doing) and taking in whatever you’re experiencing without judging the situation (or yourself).

Why is it important to be in the present moment more often? Doing so:

  • Lowers your stress levels.
  • Improves your focus and concentration.
  • Helps you worry and overthink less. 
  • Helps you become less emotionally reactive
  • Can enhance your relationships with others.

Here are a few quotes to inspire your mindfulness practice:

“Wherever you are, be there totally.” – Eckhart Tolle

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“The way to live in the present is to remember that ‘This too shall pass.’ When you experience joy, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ helps you savor the here and now. When you experience pain and sorrow, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ reminds you that grief, like joy, is only temporary.”– Joey Green

Start your mindfulness practice with the 5-day Mindfulness Experience. Sign up here!

Trust Divine Timing: Letting Go Of The How And The When

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

A challenge I’ve been dealing with the past few months is letting go of how and when (which is almost always a challenge for me, TBH). I know, intellectually, that I can’t make things happen how and when I want them to. But I have to admit: When I feel like I’ve been doing the work, taking inspired action, laying low and planting seeds behind the scenes, and it looks/feels like nothing is happening, I get discouraged sometimes. And I start to have doubts — even though I know, for sure, that everything happens when it’s supposed to and how it’s supposed to.

And knowing this truth means I have to let go of how and when and surrender to the Divine.

Now you might be saying, “Yeah, that sounds great, and I can relate, but how do I do this?” Well, I don’t have all the answers, and I’m still a work-in-progress, but here’s what I’ve learned:

Focus on what you can control. I cannot control every aspect of the process, and that’s okay. So instead of worrying about what I can’t do, I put my energy towards what I can do.

Do your best and take inspired action. Continue putting in the necessary work to make your intentions a reality, and make sure you are:

1. Doing things that actually move you in the direction you want to go.

2. Getting guidance from Spirit/your intuition about what to do (ask, get still and quiet so you can hear, and pay attention to clues around you).

3. Do not act or do things from a place of desperation; it never works.

Remember your why.  When you start feeling discouraged and feel like nothing is working, remember the reason why you want what you want and why you began. Take time to visualize the outcome you desire and feel good about it coming to you.

Flow. The best ways for me to do this are to:

1. Stay in the present moment as much as possible. I focus on what’s in front of me (because it’s easy for me to let my mind wander and start creating all these worries and what-if scenarios). And when my thoughts stray (because that’s how the mind works), I gently bring my awareness back to the moment.

2. Use affirmations. This allows me to stay positive, vibrate higher and focus on what I want/what I’m creating vs. letting fear and worry take over. (See below for a few I like to use).

Breathe and keep reminding yourself that everything works out when and how it should. Again, I know this is true, but sometimes, doubt creeps in. When this happens, I take a few deep, full breaths and remind myself of this truth and of the fact that Spirit/my ancestors have my back.

My favorite affirmations to use for surrendering the how and when:

  • I listen to my Higher Self and take inspired action.
  • I do what I can and let Spirit handle the rest.
  • Everything happens when and how it’s supposed to.
  • I choose to trust Divine timing.
  • I choose to trust my process and journey

“Everything comes to you at the right time. Be patient.” – HealthyPlace.com

Be Where You Are

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Confession: I’m not the most patient person in the world; I’ve had to teach myself how to be more relaxed.

By starting my calm practices (yoga, meditation, crystal healing, etc.), I’ve discovered how to stay calm and present and how to release control (or feeling like I can or should control everything).

Of course, it’s pretty easy to do this when things are happening the way you think they’re supposed to be. The challenge comes when things are not going the way you think they should, when you’re wanting to be somewhere other than where you are now, or feel like you’re not where you’re “supposed” to be.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been noticing that I’m ready to get “there,” feeling anxious about the things I’m intending to manifest in my life. As many of you know, I’m currently back home due to separation/divorce and trying to build myself back up after all I’ve gone through. It’s been a little over a year now, and I have times when I “should” on myself (as Iyanla Vanzant says) — like I should already be further along or I should already be where I want to be.

When I have these moments, I remind myself that even when it doesn’t feel like it, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and where I need to be. I might not understand why things are unfolding the way they are or how things will work out, and I don’t have to. I also have to remember to stay in the present moment, not only so I can be more calm and content, but also so I can take action from a place of inspiration and peace.

Here are some ways I bring myself back to the present moment when my thoughts become overwhelming:

1. Pause and take a breath (or breaths). Also, I choose which thoughts I want to keep (the ones that serve me) and which ones I want to release.

2. Allow myself to be present and in the moment. Sometimes, I literally tell myself to focus on what I’m doing at the moment, and I when I start having thoughts that cause me to worry (and notice it), I am intentional about releasing them and bringing my awareness back to the moment.

3. Remember that it’s not my job to figure out how or when something is gonna happen. My job is to set my intentions, take inspired action, and let Spirit handle the rest.

4. Don’t compare my path to anyone else’s. Everyone is on their own unique journey, and I don’t know what they’ve done, or even gone through, to get where they are. Also, I remind myself that everyone gets to their “finish line” at different times; I’m not in a race or competition. Therefore, I shouldn’t feel like a failure just because it’s seemingly taking me a longer time than others.

5. Know that there are different seasons in life. The Earth has different seasons on this planet, and we do, too. There are certain times of the year when we plant seeds and other times when we reap the harvest of what we’ve planted. Both are necessary — and it’s important to remember that.

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle

Moving Through Overwhelm

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed with life lately. In the past few weeks, I was in a car accident (no one was hurt, thankfully, but I was driving my parents’ car). After that, I ended up getting my own car (yay!); however, the process of getting there was a little stressful since I had to rearrange my schedule to look, sign papers, etc. Additionally, I’ve been feeling like I’m behind on my business-related work, dealing with issues with my ex more recently (Venus retrograde, perhaps?), and just day-to-day life.

During this time, I’ve really had to remind myself and practice staying calm, at peace, grounded and centered.  And I say remind myself because even as the calm coach, I, too, have to remember to practice what I preach: Peace is a choice, and it’s up to me to actually do the things that bring me peace because my inner peace is inside of me, no matter what’s going on around me. With that said, here are some of the things I’ve been doing, just in case you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, too:

1. Pause and breathe.

If you’re anything like me, when you’re stressed, you can find yourself overthinking and overanalyzing things, which — of course — leads to more stress because you’re probably thinking of all the things that might go wrong. Or, you’re obsessing over your to-do list, wondering how it will all get done.

When you have these moments, stop (and you can do like I do sometimes and literally tell yourself to “stop” out loud). Bring yourself back to the present moment, and take 5 to 10 few deep breaths. As you inhale, fill your belly with air like a balloon and count to four. And as you exhale, bring your belly button back towards your spine, counting to four.

2. Release any physical tension. 

As you may already know, we often physically hold on to stress, and it’s usually unconscious — we don’t realize we’re doing it.  Most commonly, we hunch our shoulders by our ears, clench our jaw, furrow our brows.

So, when you notice that you feel overwhelmed or stressed, take a moment to scan your body, starting at the top of your head and going down to your feet. As you do this, breathe deeply and note if you’re tense in any area of your body; if you are, relax that area. (This is also a good practice to get in the habit of doing regularly).

3. Stay present and focused.

Like I mentioned before, thinking too much about the future is a big cause of our overwhelm (trust me, I know). Being mindful and staying present, brings you inner peace, improves your mood, reduces anxiety, and brings emotional balance.

Some ways to practice mindfulness are:

4. Practice gratitude. 

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to have a “woe is me” attitude and feel sorry for yourself, like nothing is going right. Taking time to focus on the positives in your life and what you have to be thankful for brings you more joy, calm, and contentment. A couple of ways to do this:

  1. Start a gratitude journal, and every day, write down three to five things you’re thankful for or positive things that happened during the day.
  2. When you feel stressed, take a couple of minutes or so to write down everything you can think of that is going well for you.

5. Choose a different thought and affirm.

It’s challenging to just change how you feel from one minute to the next, especially when you have a lot going on. But, one (relatively) simple way to start feeling better is to choose to think differently (because generally, our emotions come from our thoughts). Again, you can literally tell yourself to “stop” when you feel yourself going down the path of thoughts that don’t serve you. Then,  bring your awareness to what’s actually going on in the moment. You can also use affirmations or reminders to shift gears. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • All is well.
  • Trust the process.
  • Focus on one thing at time.
  • Life/Spirit/God/the Universe is conspiring in my favor.
  • Everything is working for my good.
  • I got this.

Do you have another suggestion you would add? Do any of these resonate with you? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

12 Quotes to Inspire Your Mindfulness Practice

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

I’ve always been someone who lives in her head, thinking/worrying about the future and occasionally mulling over the past and what-ifs. So, learning how to be present and live in the moment has been a challenge for me (and it still is at times).

If you don’t know, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn) Essentially, being mindful means focusing on the what you’re doing when you’re doing it (single-tasking); it is being aware of what’s going on around and within you; and it’s going with the flow and accepting your situation/life for what it is right now (while also taking inspired action for where you want to be) — and doing all of this without judgment of yourself or your life (or even other people).

Since I’ve started being more mindful and living in the moment, I feel more at ease, grounded, and centered; I worry less; I’m actually able to get more done; and I’m able to hear my Inner Wise Woman (my intuition) more easily. A few simple activities you can do to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life are:

  • Sit and do nothing for five minutes.
  • Focus on one thing/task at a time.
  • Do a body scan, becoming aware of how you feel and any tension you have.
  • Focus on your breathing.

And here are a few quotes to inspire your practice:

  1. “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste, experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  2. “When you are here and now, sitting totally, not jumping ahead, the miracle has happened. To be in the moment is the miracle.” – Osho
  3. “The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feeling anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  4. “The more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.” – Wayne Dyer
  5. “Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” – Oprah
  6. “Remember then: there is only one time that is important — Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.” – Leo Tolstoy
  7. “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” -Abraham Maslow
  8. “Life is a great and wondrous mystery, and the only thing we know that we have for sure is what is right here right now. Don’t miss it.” – Leo Buscaglia
  9. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle
  10. “Living in the moment, without attaching yourself to regrets about yesterday or worries about tomorrow, goes a long way toward cutting through the chaos of everyday life.” – Eve Adamson
  11. “Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  12. “With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

6 Journal Prompts For More Calm

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

One of my favorite ways to find calm and practice self-care is by journaling. I usually either do a brain dump when I have a lot on my mind, or I write to process my emotions when I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious, sad, frustrated — any emotion that I feel I need to work through. Additionally, I write what I’m thankful for and my intentions for the day every morning.

Journaling is definitely something I recommend everyone do, at least occasionally. Why should you? It:

  • Increases your focus.
  • Allows you to process the things happening in your life.
  • Helps you heal from the past and mentally/emotionally.
  • Allows you to express yourself freely.
  • Helps you solve your problems.
  • Creates clarity and helps you become more self-aware.

Using prompts is a method you can use to begin or enhance your journaling practie. Below are six that will help you create more calm, joy, and positive energy:

  1. I’m thankful for ____ (set a timer for 2-3 minutes, and list as many things as you can think of).
  2. I am lovable because ________.
  3. What are the ways I like to (or would like to) practice self-care?
  4. 3 simple steps I will take to find calm are _________.
  5. What makes me happy?
  6. What’s something positive happening (or something positive that’s recently happened) in your life?

A few more journaling ideas:

  • Your goals/intentions.
  • How your ideal life looks
  • Your bucket list
  • Where would you like to be in one year? 5 years?

Journaling is a voyage to the interior.– Christina Baldwin

Happy writing! ❤

Resource

5 Ways to Find Calm Through Life Transitions

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

So, I recently decided to find a part-time job after years of only working from home, and I completed my first week last week. Of course, I still have my motherhood duties and my business, plus all the day-to-day things. Needless to say, it’s been a hectic week, and I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed by things.

Because I’m a recovering perfectionist and control freak, I felt like this adjustment process should have been easier for me and that I should have been able to get everything done for the day in spite of the fact that 1. I now have fewer hours to do things in; 2. Life — and children — don’t always adhere to the plans in your head or on paper; and 3. It’s only been a week. That’s 7 days. Still, I’ve been beating myself up because I haven’t been able to do all I want when it comes to working on my business and spending time with Nailah (enter more mommy guilt). And I haven’t figured out a schedule that works yet.

Thankfully, though, this process has been another great reminder in learning how to stay calm in the midst of life’s changes. Here’s what is working for me:

  1. Practicing mindfulness. Most of my feelings of stress and overwhelm comes from worrying about what’s not getting done or what I have left to do — and feeling like I won’t be able to get it done (which is also a waste of valuable time). I’ve been more intentional about staying in the present moment and concentrating on one thing at a time, which allows me to focus and feel more at ease.
  2. Making sure I practice my morning routine. This consists of meditating, reading/reciting my affirmations (with crystals), writing what I’m thankful for and my daily intentions, and pulling a card from my Womanifesting Fertility Goddess Affirmation Cards. Yes, I now have to get up a bit earlier to get it done before my daughter wakes up, but I can definitely tell the difference when I don’t do it (it’s not good). So, to make sure I stay relatively calm, centered, and grounded, I make sure I do these things.
  3. Being gentle with myself. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been beating myself up about things. Therefore, when I feel that negativity trying to creep in, I remind myself that it’ll take some time to get acclimated to this new normal and to just focus on doing my best.
  4. Creating a (rough) schedule for my days/ week. Adding a job to the mix has helped me see that my days weren’t super structured before. However, I see why they should be: My days will likely go more smoothly, and I won’t feel as overwhelmed because I’ll know what days I do certain things. For example, I’ll choose one day to write, one day to create social media posts, etc. I’ll also stop adding too much to my to-do/intentions list.
  5. Allowing myself to be where I am. I think this is the biggest one for me. I tend to be someone who focuses on the future and lot and where I want to be (like I mentioned in this post). Planning and thinking of your future isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but it can become an issue when you’re always wishing things were different or you were somewhere else than where you are now. The present moment is all there is, so I have to allow myself to simply be here, work with what I’ve got, and make the most of now.

“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges.” – Bryant McGill