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.

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!

Accepting Where You Are In Life

Most of us had an idea of how we thought our lives would turn out, but it probably looks differently that what we’d initially planned or imagined. I, for example, never imagined myself getting divorced, co-parenting, building a business like Black Mom’s Guide to Calm  or even having the spiritual beliefs I do, and I thought I’d have my life “together” by 30-something. (We plan, God laughs, right?).

When I first felt like my life was falling apart and my plan went off course when I got separated, I had a hard time accepting the fact that I wasn’t going to be married to this person forever (like I thought/planned) and the fact that I’d have to figure things out and start over. I admit: I still have moments when I’m like, “WTF happened?” and “How did I get here?” 

But fortunately, for the most part, I’ve learned to let go of how I thought my life should have/would turn out and accept where I am now. To do this, though, I had to learn a few things:

While I have some part in creating my life, I’m not in control of every aspect. I have to focus on what I can control and let Spirit handle everything else.

The past is the past. I can’t do anything about what’s already happened, so there’s no point in me worrying or stressing about it. Learn from your mistakes and missteps, let the rest go, and focus on moving ahead. As Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.”

Most things happen for a reason. I may not understand why certain things happen while I’m living it, but looking back, I can often see why. Sometimes, situations occur to get you to the next level of your life and to where you’re supposed to be.

Shift your perspective. When I find myself feeling down about where I am, I do my best to focus on the positive aspects and what I’m thankful for about my current situation.

Trust the journey. At the end of the day, I don’t know how life will unfold for me (none of us do). We just have to remember that all is well and that things are working in our favor. Trust Spirit and your process.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

 

10 Quotes to Inspire You to Live in the Moment

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Over the past few years, I believe the Universe has been trying to teach me to live in the moment. As a daydreamer who has been developing her patience forever (it seems), being present and allowing everything to unfold the it is has not been my strong suit. I am, thankfully, getting better at it. Because what I’ve come to realize is that the only moment/time there is is the present moment, and fretting/obsessing over what’s to come does nothing but stress me out and cause me anxiety (and it probably does the same to you).

If you have trouble staying present and living in the moment, here are 10 quotes to inspire you to do so:

  1. “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle
  2. “Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” – Brene Brown
  3. “Trust the timing of your life.” – Unknown
  4. “I know that the big miracles we’re waiting on are happening right in front of us, at every moment, with every breath. Open your eyes and heart, and you’ll begin to see them.” – Oprah Winfrey
  5. “Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot
  6. “Be. Here. Now.”– Unknown
  7. “Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience, moment to moment.” – Jon Kabat Zinn
  8. “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  9. “Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.” – Steve Goodier
  10. “Living in the moment brings you a sense of reverence for all of life’s blessings.” – Oprah Winfrey

Having a meditation practice is a great way to learn how to live in the moment! Download my guided meditation to get started.

Black Mom's Guide to Calm