Welcome to 28 days of awareness!
This 28-day challenge focuses on a single part of our bodies, emotion, or aspect of our lives each day. The invitation is to take small bites of mindfulness and sprinkle them with focus on one issue every day for the whole month of February!
Day 1 Breathe
Welcome to the #28daysofawareness challenge! Let's get started!!!
Today it's all about paying attention to our breathing. What is it like? You don't need to change it in any way, just become aware of it throughout the day. The truth is that as soon as we are mindful of our breathing, it changes... so if you catch yourself shallow breathing or breathing quickly it will automatically slow down and become deeper without any effort on your part.
We all know that breathing fully ...and slowly has multiple physiological and mental benefits. Did you know that breathing is the only automatic bodily function that we can actually control? So use mindfulness to turn your breathing into a tool for presence, relaxation, energy, pausing, or whatever else you want to focus on... It is always available and does not requiere any additional effort on your part!! (It is also a very discreet tool ;-)
ANCHORING - If it helps, set random alarms on your mobile as reminders to pause and become mindful of your breathing. Another suggestion is to link this aware breathing exercise with a specific daily activity. For instance, I pay special attention to my breathing whilst driving during the school run, in the morning and early afternoon. That way I always remember! ;-) It may take you a few days to get the automatic association set, but it's worth it as it means you don't need to make a point of remembering!
INSIGHTS - Have you learned anything from this exercise? Any surprising realisations? (For instance, it's quite common to hold your breath without even noticing). Has anything changed by being mindful of your breathing? At a physical level? In terms of your mental chatter or your emotions? Has it helped you to tune into your body more easily? If so, how has this impacted your day?
Leave your comments and/or questions below. Let's do our bit to create conscious community!
See you tomorrow!!
Day 2 Upper Body
We continue with our #28daysofawareness challenge!
Today we are focusing on our upper body - head, neck, and shoulders. This is where most people feel tightness, tension and strain, where we hold ourselves without even noticing. Shoulders high towards the ears, or stooped forward... neck stiff and unyielding... clenched jaws... throbbing temples... a permanent frown on our forehead... are all common occurrences that we are not always aware of. And I'm not talking about actual... physical ailments (headaches, migraines, grinding teeth, torticollis, etc).
So today make a point of noticing all the sensations in the head, neck and shoulders area at regular intervals during the day. You could even keep some sort of tally of what you became aware of, what you were doing, and what you were feeling. It doesn't have to be a very big exercise, just a piece of paper (or a note on your mobile) and a quick recount of instances to be able to notice patterns.
ANCHORING - Again, it is vital that you associate being mindful of your upper body with 2-3 different activities to maximize the chances of remembering to do it. Also you are likely to vary the location of any tension by activity. For instance, it took me years to realise that when I sit at the computer I hunch my shoulders up, and that when I chop (food) I tighten my jaw.
INSIGHTS - So how is any of this useful? For starters, it's a way of practicing mindfulness and of connecting to your body. Secondly, it allows you to gain information about how you hold yourself unconsciously and why. I thought about why I clench my jaw when I chop veggies and became aware it was a way for me to feel control. Then it occurred to me that flowing movements whilst chopping with a knife is a safer bet than holding tight and creating tension in my upper body. Never mind making chopping more enjoyable! ;-) And finally, it allows you choice. Change your body, change your feelings. It's true. Give it a try!
Feel free to share your experiences and observations below! Also if you are visually inspired, do share any shots on Instagram (using #28daysofawareness)
See you tomorrow!
Day 3 - Heart and Gut
Welcome back! Let's get cracking with day 3 #28daysofawareness
Today we're focusing our attention on a very special area - our torso. Here is where all our major organs live (except the brain) and where, crucially, our heart and gut reside. Much continues to be discussed among the scientific and medical community about our heart and our gut intelligence. But as long as humankind has been around, all spiritual traditions and cultures link the heart to our emotions and the gut to our instinct. So it's a pretty special area, right?
Today, as you go about your business, focus on:
-- Your chest. How does it feel? Open? Concave? Tense? Light? Heavy?
-- Your heart. Can you hear your heart beat? What is the quality of your heartbeat? Does it change when you stop and listen? When you breathe differently?
-- Your lungs and diaphragm. How do they feel? Flexible and supple? Or a bit sticky and unresponsive? Are they working well with the rhythm of your breathing?
-- Your back. Is it sore? Tense? Flexible? What is it asking of you? What specific area of it requires your attention?
-- Your stomach. Particularly before, during and after you eat. Are you listening to it? What does it tell you?
-- Your lower belly area. How do you carry it? Is it tight? Or are you letting it hang loose? Does it move when you breathe?
These are just some questions to get you started. The point is to mindfully focus on your middle body throughout the day and observe what comes up for you.
ANCHORING - Some great activities to focus your attention on your heart and gut today include walking, bending, twisting, stretching, eating, and especially any time you need to make a decision - big or small.
INSIGHTS - I invite you to pause and listen to both your heart and gut BEFORE making that decision (or immediately afterwards). Is there a quickening of the heartbeat? A slight churning of the gut? Or a sensation of unease? Maybe expansion? Playfully observe the subtle nuances. It takes some practice to tune it to these sometimes subtle sensations. Often our minds miss them. But it's worth becoming more aware of them - they will manifest differently in all of us, but they can help out by giving us another layer of knowing - our body's.
Do share your comments and insights below! Remember to hang out on instagram and be creative with today's prompt! #28daysofawareness
Day 4 - Lower body
Welcome to day 4 of the mindfulness challenge! #28daysofawareness
So today we go downnnnn to the lower part of our bodies. If you are like me, permanently living in the top floor of the building (aka my head), then it's probably not often that you pay attention to your hips, legs and feet, or even your hands and arms (let's include them here too!). Which is quite ironic as we use them pretty much every moment of our day (except maybe when we're watching TV??).
Let's send some... love down our extremities by actually paying attention to them. Consciously enjoy the feeling of your legs and arms, your feet and hands. See if you can take in all sensory input coming in from them at various points in the day.
ANCHORING - So as not to make it too overwhelming, try focusing on your hands during a task (ie. typing on your keyboard, washing your hands, preparing food, etc) and on your legs and feet during a different task (ie. walking is an obvious one, or taking a shower, or sitting down). Pay special attention to your hips as we often carry a lot of tightness in that area - do a little jiggle, dance away!
INSIGHTS - What did you learn? What is least taken care of? Least paid attention to? Are there any messages for you? If these areas are sensorially deprived, what can you do to "feed" them (ie. walk barefoot more often, handle soil or other textures with your bare hands, knead, arts and crafts, dance, etc). What are small actions you can take routinely to acknowledge this part of your body (ie. caressing your hands whilst washing them, rubbing your feet after a shower, hugging!)?
Tell us what you found out or, better still, show us! ;-)
Day 5 - Walking
So it's day 5 of the Mindfulness Challenge #28daysofawareness and today we are simply going to.... walk with awareness!
If you can and the weather allows, take a stroll outside. Feel the rhythm of your walk and take it all that surrounds you (choose a nature setting if you can). Do it barefoot if it's possible!
And then be mindful of your walking indoors too. How does putting foot after foot in front of you feel? Experience all the sensations of walking in different textures ...and surfaces.
That's it! How long can you walk without losing the awareness that you are walking? ;-)
Day 6 - Movement
Let's start a new week with some mindful moving, people!! ;-) its day 6 of the #28daysofawareness challenge and today we're exploring how it feels to move our body.
How do YOU move your body? Do you flow? Do you not move it much at all? Do you exercise it or simply take it from here to there? Do you listen to your body when it asks for movement? Do you stretch it? Shake it? Wiggle it? How do you respond to music? Do you allow yourself to dance a little? How do you embody str...ong emotions: in movement or in tension?
Pay special attention today to those moments when a feeling/desire of movement comes to you. Bring your awareness to how you move your body in different contexts and at different times of the day.
Movement brings within the joy of release and the expansion of letting go. So above all.... ENJOY!!!
Day 7 - Food
We continue with the # 28daysofawareness challenge! Today is day 7 and we're observing our feeding patterns.
What relationship do you have with food? Are you aware of the types of food you eat? Do you prefer sweet or salty stuff? Cool or hot? Crunchy or soft / smooth? Do your tastes change according to the time of day? Of the month? ;-)
Today pay special attention not to eating itself (we'll focus on that tomorrow!) but to what comes before chewing ... To the food choices you... make and to the reasons (psychological, physiological, habits, etc.) behind them.
If you like to cook, I also invite you to increase your awareness of the food preparation process today. Cooking can be a very relaxing, pleasurable or stimulating activity but... make sure you observe what your hands do, the sensations of handling different types of food, etc. Exercise your presence by making every meal preparation a feast for the senses and for your practice of mindfulness!
As always, I invite you to leave your comment below!
Day 8 - Eating
Now, here's something to get your teeth into! ;-) Today we look at how we actually EAT as part of the #28daysofawareness challenge.
How aware are you that you are eating when you are eating? Do you smell the aromas, savour the tastes, chew the different textures? Do you pause between bites? Do you listen to what your body is telling you in terms of being satiated or thirsty as you are eating? Are you aware of your breathing whilst you eat? Most importantly, are you doing anything other than eat when you eat?
Most of us don't eat mindfully. We are normally doing at least another activity (reading, talking, planning or thinking ahead) which takes precedence over eating. This is a shame, as eating mindfully can be such an intense source of sensorial pleasure and enjoyment! (not to mention the most effective way of not overeating!)
Today, make a point of slowing down and being extremely aware of all that is going on (and in!) WITHIN you when you eat. Try this 5 reminders to be present with your eating: 1) take it all in (use all your senses, not just taste!), 2) slow down, 3) chew more, way more, 4) pause between bites, 5) breathe!
Give it a try and let me know how you got on!!
Day 9 - Drinking
Becoming more aware of our drinking is as important as eating ... And I don't just mean Guinness or other alcohol! ;-) Let's continue with our #28daysofawareness challenge!
So today it's all about what your drink and how you drink. This includes all: water, teas, coffees, juices, fizzy drinks, alcohol, smoothies, etc. And the obvious first question is: do I drink enough? In order to answer it, one must be aware of thirst and of water intake. Seems simple, right? But how many... of us sail (or stumble!) through our days with little awareness of how much liquid we are hydrating ourselves with? It is often said that once we feel thirsty we are already dehydrated....
Today become aware of how much/little you drink... Is it associated with a particular activity (like eating, or taking a break) instead of actually responding to your bodily needs? Do you have the best intentions (to drink more water) and simply forget to do it? What would help you to become more aware in this regard?
Next, what do you actually drink and why? What need is it quenching? (Pay special attention here to sweet, caffeinated and/or alcoholic drinks). What do you tell yourself when you reach for that (1st, 2nd, 3rd....) coffee, coke, or wine glass? Are you aware of your internal dialogue surrounding your "drink of choice"? How much is it YOUR choice or the setting/context/company or even a habit?
There is so much more we could say about this topic, but let's just focus on becoming aware of: a) quantity, b) quality, and c) awareness of choice.
See you tomorrow. xx
Day 10 - Time
Wouldnt it be ironic if I told you this post was originally posted without any text because I ran out of time?? ;-) well it's true!
Let's really hone in to our relationship with time today as we continue on our #28dayaofawareness journey.
Do you notice the passage of time throughout the day? A bit too much? A bit too little?
Next time you react to time, become aware of your bodily sensations, feelings and thoughts. Time management is a topic that usually gets us into "victim" mentality - we feel that time happens to us, despite our best efforts and that we have no control over it. Which is all true! And yet.... become aware of any efforts to befriend time. What would this require on your part??
See you tomorrow!!
Day 11 - Outdoors
Today let's go outside for the #28daysofawareness challenge.
Many spiritual and religious traditions recommend being in nature as a means to increase self awareness and restore a sense of peace (as well as felt sense of dialogue with a greater being). Have you noticed what being outdoors does for you? For your mood? Your energy levels? Your appreciation? Your creativity even?
Today try to take a walk outside, preferably in a natural setting, and observe your breathing, your ...taking in of all around you... is there a lessening of your own mental chatter? Do you feel more content? More present? Can you focus more purposefully on your walking and on all the sensory input coming your way?
Enjoy and let me know how you get on!!
Day 12 - Flow
Today we're going to explore what it means to be flowing and aware of it throughout your day. It's day 12 of the mindfulness challenge #28daysofawareness!
What does the word flow evoque for you? What would it look like if you were more in flow throughout the day? For me it means striking a balance between external demands and internal needs. Simple on paper, but for some of us quite difficult to reach and maintain.
Are your aware of the rhythm to your day? Do you get "lost" ...in your daily tasks to the point that you don't realise your body needs a stretch, or that you are thirsty, or that you've forgotten something important (despite having it noted down in several diaries!)? Is there any space for living your day within some externally-set guidelines and still respond to what you intuitively feel is best for you at that moment? Can this also include others dear and near to you??
Basically are you aware of your degree of flexibility in your day-to-day life? Is there anything you want to modify or become more aware of at his time to flow with more ease?
Sunday - the perfect day to ponder about and put to practice some of these issues! ;-)
See you tomorrow. Xx
Day 13 - Language
Language. Every day we use it. Every day we misuse it!!
Today is day 13 of the #28daysofawareness challenge and the topic is one of complexity and simplicity at the same time.
Are you aware of how you use language? Or maybe how language uses you? It is often said that language creates reality. The way we express our thoughts, perceptions, emotions and generally reflect back on the reality around us ACTUALLY changes that reality for ourselves and others around us. Yes it is t...he whole "half empty / half full" issue. But it is more than that for language also affects us unconsciously. And that which we are not aware of we have no choice over.
Take today as an invitation to pay attention to all the words you use, both spoken and thought. What emotional charge do they carry, if any? How do they make you feel? What kind of picture do they paint of your reality? What would happen if you consciously changed certain words for others? What if you used language from a place of authenticity and honesty rather than from expectation or manipulation or control?
Also become aware of how others' use of language affects you. Viscerally and emotionally as well as from a mental/intellectual point of view.
There is so much more we could say about language but let's keep it simple and meaningful! Let us use language with awareness, choice and openness.
See you tomorrow!!
Day 14 - Presence
We're half way through our #28daysofawareness challenge!
And how meaningful to have today's focus be "presence". This is really the crux of mindfulness and of awareness. We cannot be aware if we are not present. But what does it mean exactly? It is to be in the here and now with acceptance and allowing and a certain amount of engagement, of curiosity. Now this is where the mind usually jumps up with all kinds of proclamations about how many situations are not ok, and we shou...ldn't accept them. That is what the mind does - it judges, it classifies, it sorts into groups (good, bad etc).
But what is happening is already happening. Resistance is a (default) mental reaction. What would happen if we approached every situation with presence, with an openness to allow it and to observe our response?
Today I invite you to be specially aware of when you are and when you are not being present. With yourself, and with others. Especially with others (that's quite an easy one to spot).
Is it hard work to be present for long periods of time? Yes it is. We are not used to practising it. But does it yield many, many insights into how we operate and from where we operate? Absolutely!
So give it a go. The next time someone or something requires your full attention become aware of the quality of your presence.
I'd love to hear how you get on! Xx
Day 15 - Inner critic
Today I invite you to become aware of that voice within that is always critical. Welcome to day 15 of the #28daysofawareness challenge!
We all have an inner critic and it is often the harshest voice around. Some say it comes from internalising a combination of voices from our childhood - parents, teachers, etc. In any case, for some of us it is a hyperactive voice, a critical perspective that is very difficult to switch off.
Become aware of it today. How often does it intervene? If you want, you could even keep a tally throughout the day - simply make a mark on a piece of paper or take note on your phone. Most of us would be surprised at how often it crops up.
The second invitation is to realise what this voice is trying to tell you beyond the criticism. There is always a positive intention to all we do, including criticising ourselves! Is it to protect? To prevent? Is there a more ecological and mindful way of heeding these messages?
Wishing loads of awareness as you get to know that inner critical voice better today!!
Day 16 - Perspective
Welcome to day 16 of the #28daysofawareness challenge!
Today we are being mindful of our perspective, because let's face it: our focus determines our view of reality. Reality is subjective – everything we take in goes through filters (sensorial, mental, emotional…). This is how the human brain rolls – no problem with that. Changing perspective, or widening our perspective, creates space and opportunity for insights and solutions, whilst also reducing stress/attachment to out...come.
How often are you aware that your thoughts are interpretations? Faced with a situation, can you ask yourself a different question? (ie. Have a different focus and a different thought?) For instance, before trying something new, what will happen if instead of thinking “What if I fail?” you ask yourself “What will I miss out on if I don’t try?”
Give it a go today, particularly when faced with a challenging or disappointing situation, and let us know any insights!
Day 17 - Conflict
Welcome to day 17 of the #28daysofawareness challenge!
Today I invite you to focus your awareness on a major shadowy area - conflict. Most of us are not confortable around conflict, some of us may avoid it at all costs (even if it affects our wellbeing in the long term).
Today, become aware of your bodily sensations whenever you find yourself in a situation of conflict or disagreement. We often get hooked on the mental explanations of the situation (which may amount to no mo...re than justifications of our own actions and/or words). So really try to focus on how your body feels, whether there is any physical tension or tightness, and where. This awareness of the effects of conflict within our bodies may also allow you to get a bit of distance from the situation, even for a few seconds. See if your emotional charge is lessened as well.
Next time you disagree with someone, try to widen your view to include theirs. You may still disagree but you may be less invested in proving your point. And, as a bonus, you might become aware of something else! A very simple way of doing this is by saying yes to it (whether it’s conflict, disagreement, or any kind of difficulty). The key here is that you are saying yes to your internal awareness of it, not necessarily to the external circumstances of the conflict/challenge.
The key suggestion here is to become aware of any mental hooks that keep you in conflict for longer than is necessary. Clash if you must, but move on swiftly too.
Comments (even critical ones!) more than welcome!! ;-)
Day 18 - Intention
Day 18 of the #28daysofawareness challenge!
Intention comes before attention. Intention is big. It sets the foundations for everything we do... although sometimes we do much without intention. Hence the nagging feeling that we're drifting through our day, through our life, buffeted by distractions, reactions, situations, our own mental meanderings...
Today I invite you to set your intention - to be aware of the energy you bring to everything you start. Your intention helps c...reate the pathway for your experience - it's like an energised focus, a vision of how you would like to be, do, feel. I suggest you use positive language and you state it from a place of wholeness - not just from your mind, but from your heart and body and soul. Gather your entire self (not just your thoughts) to birth your intentions.
And be aware, so aware, that intentions are just that. They are not promises, nor expectations. You would do yourself a disservice if you used them to criticise yourself (or others) for outcomes.
Are you aware of setting and holding intentions, whether specific or generic? If you bring more awareness to the process of intention-setting, how does that make you feel? Does it have an impact on how you approach your day? Do you feel more inwardly connected and maybe more focused?
I'll catch you here tomorrow!
Day 19 - Resistance
Another day of focused awareness! Welcome to day 19 of the #28daysofawareness challenge!
Are you aware of your resistance? We all have it, every day. It takes many shapes and forms, and increasing our awareness of it includes paying attention to the varied ways in which it manifests - procrastination, self-sabotage, denial, seeking distractions, etc...
Today pay special attention to how resistance shows up in your life. It may be on the small things, it may be on a couple of ...big issues. Again the key here is to become aware and to observe. What is that resistance trying to tell you? What does it say about the emotional baggage you currently haul on an issue?
Can you perhaps lean into that resistance? Hold it with awareness so that you can dissolve it / transcend it? It may seem a daunting task but sometimes just by holding our attention to something it loses its power over us.
Try it and let me know how you get on!!
Day 20 - Letting go
So we continue with #28daysofawareness and today it's all about letting go consciously.
In the last few days we've looked at conflict and resistance, as well as intention - all can be observed, integrated, and transcended by letting go.
Letting go with awareness does not necessarily mean giving up, retreating, failing, suppressing our voice or views, or any of the "negative" connotations associated with stopping. Because letting go is more than stopping. It's an awareness-in...fused process that observes and accepts what came before, during, and after the letting go. It is a release. A liberation. A deep exhale. An unburdening. A "no" and a "yes", or an "I don't know" in the same breath. It requires an acceptance of what is, and a mental un-hooking from control, consequences and outcomes. It is a way of saying "I will no longer hold on to this (mentally, emotionally, or physically)". It does not mean that event, or action is forgotten or ignored, or suppressed. We integrate it at a deeper level and MOVE ON. We remain open to what may ensue, but we don't become attached to our expectation of it.
Letting go is very difficult for most of us (and I'm one of them!). It can go against many cultural, societal norms and also against our own psychological beliefs (ie. defences).
Today I invite you to become aware of opportunities to let go... And to let go! ;-) As usual, pay special attention to your bodily sensations. Feel the release! And feel any emotions that come rushing to the surface (fear, angst, desire to regain control, resentment, bitterness) - for they certainly will!
Letting go with the intention of practicing awareness can be a real release. Try it!
Day 21 - Reaction
Day 21 of the #28daysofawareness challenge!
Today we are going to be mindful of what can sometimes be a thorny issue: our reactivity. We all react. It's part of the way our brain is wired - simplistically put an extension of our fight or flight or freeze mechanism. It's an energy efficient way our brain responds based on previous experiences, our core beliefs, and unconscious emotional memories - all of which add up to patterns of reaction.
Today become aware of your patter...ns and see if, by doing so, you can respond instead of reacting. Responding requieres a pause (even a couple of seconds!) and a choice, all of which implies awareness. Reacting is an lighting fast and often unconscious output, one which often bypasses certain brain circuitry and therefore diminishes mindful choices.
Are you aware of the daily contexts of your reactivity? When and why you are at your most reactive? With whom? And how? What feelings seem to underlie the reactivity? Irritation? frustration? fear? Tiredness?
Identifying our reactivity might seem like a daunting task but by paying really close attention to the context in which it happens we can really make a difference to our daily sense of awareness and to our ability to make choices.
Let me know how you get on!!
Day 22 - Joy
Ahhh! We've only got 6 more days to go for the #28daysofawareness challenge!
And today we become mindful of joy in our lives. Did I hear a sigh of relief? Of release? ;-)
Let's look a bit more closely at our emotions, shall we? What comes to mind when you say the word "Joy"? Do you long for it, distrust it? How does thinking about it make you feel (annoyed that you don't have enough of it, glad that you do, not bothered either way)? What are your assumptions around joy? That ...it's fleeting? Hard to come by? A positive emotion? The main goal to life? Would you say you feel joy every day? Regularly or only once in a blue moon?
All these are mental products. They are thoughts. The trick is in being aware that you are feeling joy at the exact time that you are feeling joy. Simple, right? How can we miss it? Well, believe it or not, often we do. Especially those quick moments of it, that pass through our lives without a single mention. You probably do feel joy, even for a few seconds, every day of your life. But are you aware of it?
Go back to your body. Become aware of any subtle changes, any fleeting moments of lightness and of wholeness. Scream for joy when you feel it! (it'll make it last longer ;-) And then see if you can dig deeper at what that joy is trying to tell you. Emotions are like energy messengers that course through out body. What is the joy about? (Pssst, hint: it can be very simple, it might be about being alive!).
Catch you here tomorrow, when we look at the other side of the emotional coin...
Day 23 - Anger
A funny thing happened this morning... I was angry at my husband and looked a bit like the lion on the photo! ;-) Let's continue with the #28daysofawareness challenge.
So, from joy to anger... and everything in between... Yes, we are on an emotional rollercoaster and we don't often realise it. This is a phenomenal sign that we are alive! So, following from yesterday's post - let's become more aware of our anger. What happens to you, on every level, when you feel it? Physicall...y? Mentally? Energetically? Are you aware of the multiple and often enlightening ways in which it shows up?
What is you anger trying to tell you? Listen to it. Be aware of its subtle ripples, not just the major fireworks. Is it about becoming clear (viscerally clear!) about something? About defending or setting boundaries with others? Is it a rallying cry to change something in your life? To motivate you to defend something or someone?
It's a real shame we tend to put emotions into categories (blame the mind for that!). Joy would be a good emotion, anger a bad one. This is part of our conditioning from an early age. There are no positive or negative emotions. They are all created equal, all have a message to give us, all have a function to fulfil. It's what we DO with them that can have positive and negative consequences... That explains why anger can often come hand in hand with shame.
And what do you do with your anger? Do you use it as ammunition against others? Against yourself? Do you release it or do you repress it? How? Do you transmute it into more socially-sanctioned ways or less intense manifestations (low-level aggression, grumpiness, irritability, etc.)?
There is so much we could say about anger, but from a mindfulness point of view, I invite you to become aware of it as it rises within you, to pay attention to all the signs of it in your body, and to sit with it (yes, stay with it) and see if you can hear what it's trying to tell you.
Day 24 - Gratitude
The sun is shinning in Scotland... and I'm grateful for so much more than that today (although it always helps!). Welcome to day 24 of the #28daysofawareness challenge!!
So did you know that giving thanks is an immediate mood booster? I bet you've heard it before somewhere. Being thankful kick-starts many positive feel-good hormones and puts us in touch with emotions such as joy and happiness. It is a dose of self-induced glad perspective always available to us.
So you might... have also heard that keeping a regular gratitude practice of some kind is an effective way to feel more content with your life more of the time. Some people swear by gratitude journals or by taking a couple of min every night to give thanks. Try it out!
Do you have to remind yourself to be thankful, or does it come easily to you? Do you only experience it when something extraordinarily good happens to you or in the small things of everyday life? Can you be generous in your thankfulness and extend it to other people's good fortunes or just yourself? What is your relationship to gratitude?
Where do you feel gratitude? How does it manifest in your body? Is there a lightness, an opening of the heart, an automatic smile? Can you let it be expressed with your body? What does that look like?
Today as you go through your day, remain observant to any experiences of gratitude and particularly to how your body acts when washed with thankfulness.
Day 25 - Vulnerability
Let's lower our defences down a bit today... Welcome to day 25 of the #28daysofawareness challenge!
We all feel (and are) vulnerable. It's another sign that we are alive. It's also a huge part of what makes us social - it's in the inter-connectedness of relating to others that we tend to both feel our vulnerability and seek to diminish it. A huge topic and one that is linked to our deepest shadows (fear, envy, addictions), our earliest conditioning (boys don't cry, bullying) ...and what our emotional defences look like today.
How do you feel when vulnerability is presented before you in word and in action? Do you shrink from it, as if from a highly-contagious disease, or do you go towards it? How comfortable are you with your own vulnerability? With others' vulnerability? What are your associations regarding vulnerability (mentally but also how you feel it in your body)?
We often see vulnerability as a weakness, something to be hidden. What would happen if you saw it as a source of strength? As a means to connect more deeply with people? As a way to learn more about yourself, those areas of you that are unloved and un-acknowledged? What if embracing your vulnerability in a safe and self-affirming way filled you with fierceness?
Is it possible? I invite you to: 1) check-in with your vulnerability (go deep... feel it in your body!!), 2) hold it in your awareness today (talk to it, listen to it, go walk with it!), and 3) begin exploring what being more consciously vulnerable might offer you, especially in the relationships with your loved ones.
Be brave! Be vulnerable!
Day 26 - Focus
Let's look at our focus as we go about our day 26 of the #28daysofawareness challenge!
Focus is meaning. Where you put your attention is where your energy goes. In fact, our focus determines to a great extent our reality because it is through it that we assess what we perceive as "good" or "bad". It is the colour of our tinted lenses (everyone's glasses are coloured by the way!). But it is NOT that reality (ie. you can change both - focus and therefore your reality). Change t...he colour of your glasses and you will see the world differently. Our focus is a heavily-ingrained mental pattern and changing it requires practice. Just like mindfulness! ;-)
So today I invite you to: 1) become aware of your focus, and 2) explore consciously changing your focus and seeing how that feels in your body. The first part is about becoming aware of the kinds of questions and internal dialogue you have with yourself all day long. The second part asks that you change those questions to see any differences in the way you feel and act, keeping it close to your body.
So in my case, for instance, instead of focusing on failure or self-reproach today (it's my fault I'm tired and I'm cranky because I'm tired, and it's raining and horrible out there, and I don't feel like doing anything, and that's not good, etc), I can become aware of the mental patterns underlying this focus and I can choose a different focus (something along the lines of let this be a reminder of why my own self-care needs to come first, and let's use today as a day for quiet reflection and replenishing). Something like that. I can already feel my body smiling! ;-)
Give it a go and I'll catch you here tomorrow!
Day 27 - Anchoring
Ok, we've only got 2 more days to go #28daysofawareness!!!
So let's get a bit practical! The hardest thing about mindfulness is to remember to be mindful. That's why we have to make it a habit.
And to create a daily HABIT of awareness, wanting is not enough, knowing is not enough, doing occasionally is also not enough. Committing to behaviours is the key - then the behaviour becomes an anchor to focus you on mindfulness. How that looks like and what it actually means to you ...will depend on a whole host of factors, including your lifestyle and interests. Just doing a few minutes of sitting quietly at home before bedtime is enough. Doing an everyday activity (like washing the dishes, or driving) whilst practising mindfulness is enough. You need to find the best "reminder" or association to trigger that commitment to practicing awareness everyday.
Another possible anchor is to come up with your own mantra: a few words, or a sentence, that reminds you to be mindful. This type of anchor relies on words and mental images rather than activities, and may work best for you. Repeat it to yourself every now and then throughout the day (stick it on a post it on your computer screen!), as a focus of your attention and as a signal to tune into awareness. A great one that I came across the other day and plays on irony is:
You are actually likely to do the opposite! ;-)
What are some of your most likely anchors for practising awareness consciously and purposefully every day? What would best suit your lifestyle and you interests? What stands the chance to be most successful? (And by that I mean that you actually keep at it until it becomes part of your daily routine).
Feel free to share ideas below!
Day 28 -Meditate
It's the last day of the #28daysofawareness challenge! What would be the best way to finale this mindful month of February?? Let's shut up and sit down!! ;-)
Ok, meditation. Very trendy. Very old. Is it about stopping all thought production for minutes on end? Nah. Nobody can do that (unless you are one of the enlightened... are there any?!). Meditation is being mindful of your thoughts. It usually helps to sit down and sanitize your environment (ie. in a quiet room, no distr...actions) to do this most comfortably, but the truth is you can technically meditate anywhere and anytime. There are many different approaches out there so, if this interests you, I encourage you to try as many as possible and see which fits best.
Meditation has many neurological and physiological beneficial effects – there are many studies out there on the positive impact of meditating even for just 10-15 minutes daily (how much time do you spend checking FB? I thought so). But if it’s not something you’re into, it’s not something you will implement successfully.
Today I invite you to become aware of how you respond to the idea of meditating. Do you experience curiosity? Dread or resistance? Do you think it's easy? Difficult? How does that make you feel? Are there any pressures around the practice of meditation for you? Any self-judgment "I'm doing in it well; I'm not doing it well"? If you've been meditating for a while, do you have a history of classifying meditations into "good" and "not so great" ones? Become aware of how your well-oiled mental and emotional patterns manifest themselves in meditation. That is the one great gift of this practice. It's a way to tune the inner dial so as to block out outside noise and be present for what your mind produces. Here's another thought... say thank you to it, for in that split second you are not your thought, and you are not IN your thought. You are the witnessing awareness observing the thought.
And that, my friends, is mindfulness.
I am a life coach devoted to supporting your journey of self-discovery. I can accompany you on your quest for authenticity with passion, clarity and awareness.
Hi, I'm Magüi.
Perennial student, full-time seeker, professional nomad (and life coach!). My mission is to support you on your journey of self-discovery and on your quest for purpose with clarity and awareness.
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