Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, experiences and environment without judgement. Often we live but are not present in our living. Practice mindfulness lets us become more aware of our everyday living.

Mindfulness can be practiced anytime and anywhere. It allows you to bring your awareness to the present moment. The practice of mindfulness helps us to nourish and reinforce our own ability to restore our well-being. Resilience to stress is a key benefit of mindfulness. It is an art of accessing energy that helps you recognize the happiness in your life.

Mindfulness helps you silence your mind, calm your nerves and examine your inner voice because even during free time are are seldom doing nothing. We will text friends, check social media, turn the TV on, look at mail and so on.. We are always thinking about our next activity and not trying to take everything out of our minds.

Mindfulness can be traced back to Buddhism. Buddha believed that there were three overarching purposes of mindfulness:

1. Knowing your mind – what makes you tick and understanding your inner motivation. Self discovery without judgement and to observe feelings, thoughts, and reactions without criticism.

2. Training the mind – to help it function in a beneficial way. When you fail to train your mind in a conscious manner it becomes vulnerable to external forces. Meditation is extremely effective practice that trains the mind to live in the present moment with awareness.

3. Freeing the Mind – this is a freedom from negative thoughts. When we stop clinging to opinions, judgements, people and possessions our minds gradually become free.

In the 21st century, mindfulness is an effective intervention and is taught by professionals and leaders from different fields. Mindfulness based interventions (MBI) are seen as potentially beneficial in many fields. It is being taught with the help of several additional aids, using research, best practices, secular language and computer-aided interventions. MBI is used as an effective adjunct to cognitive and other therapies.

Meditation is a practiced tool with which one can observe inner/outer experiences with compassion, acceptance and neutrality. It disentangles ourselves from daily ebb and flow of emotions, anxiety and stress. It connects to our lives in a deeper, more profound way.

We can meditate while sitting, walking, drawing, and even jogging. The main objective is to help you focus on the present using physical sensations, feeling and mental state to develop our consciousness in this non-distracted state. Meditation practice helps tune into your inner self. It trains the mind to live in the present moment. The main concept is to avoid thinking about your next activity, errand or job while you are meditating. As you continue to practice, you will learn to slip more easily into this state of restful awareness. Because stress has a strong link to overall health and well-being, meditation is a suggested ritual to overcome stress in our daily lives.

It is also know that meditation promotes better sleep. Relaxation response helps mind and body relax, therefore, it is easier to fall asleep. Stimulation of TV, internet and electronic devices can increase restlessness. Mindfulness meditation helps you stay in the present moments including moments that happened a few minutes ago so it is suggested that this is last thing you do before bedtime.

Meditation also reduces hypertension which is a silent killer. Hypertension can lead to stroke or brain hemorrhages. Hypertension caused by late nights, overwork, overheating and prolonged stress are dangerous to your health and well-being. Meditation improves breathing, skin health and help chemotherapy patients as well.

The simple act of being present can make a significant difference to the way we approach our work, our relationships, our society and our challenges. There are many established therapies which help people deal with stress, depression and other physical and mental health conditions.

Mindfulness helps us manifest positive, empowering results due to purposeful deliberation and helps make us conscious and deliberate in our choices. The main objective is to direct our attention while silencing the internal chatter that continues in our hearts day and night. It helps nourish and heal us. Mindfulness enhances clarity and focus while paving the way for improved decision making skills. By learning to be in the present moment we improve the quality of our lives and transforms our relationship with our thoughts. Mindfulness helps you reconnect with yourself.

I became so interested in mindfulness that I took a course in it at New Skills Academy. I am happy to share my certification in mindfulness received today. I hope that you think about making this journey in your life as well. It helps you deal with the day to day anxiety that controls your life. Happy meditating.

Conversations While You Grieve

 

photo of blue sky
Photo by Elia Clerici on Pexels.com

As we go through life, losing a loved one is so incredibly devastating and people chose different ways to go on.  In my experience, after losing both my parents and one of my closest friends, I find myself thinking of them often and  while including them in my daily life as often as I can.  Often I find myself having a conversation out loud to share something happening, a feeling I have, or even just to say I miss that you won’t be with me at a specific event.  Recently, I just celebrated a special milestone birthday.  This made me think about my parents and other loved ones who were not there to share this special day with me.  When my husband and I returned from my party and I was emptying the trunk of endless presents and balloons, two balloons cut loose and went straight up to the sky.  I want to think that they were sent to my parents so they could be a part of my celebration.  No celebration is ever the same without them.

hot air balloon
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
brown pagoda near body of water
Photo by Aron Visuals on Pexels.com

 

 

My father passed away over 25 years ago and I always feel grief and sadness when I think about my own children and how they did not get to know this wonderful man whom I adored.  How different their lives would have been if they could have grown up with him as their grandfather who would always give them endless love and encouragement.  I feel him at all of our special times, I see his face and personality through my children’s eyes and I miss him so very much.  More recently I lost my mom and I have yet to have an hour of my life go by where I do not feel like communicating with her.  I communicate with her in my dreams, with my words and even in my thoughts as I sit here writing or doing an everyday task.  Many times a family event or crisis will erupt and I find myself having long conversations with mom about what is happening.  It comforts me to speak with her and I can feel her gentle touch telling me it will be fine.

Some people feel frightened when they think of people who have passed away.  I feel deep sadness yet I feel as if they are always with me.  When situations arise that are out of my control, I often think about what my mother would think or say.  I often find myself pointing out to her someone’s shortcomings that I once pointed out to her when she was alive.  My mother only saw the good in people.  I try so very hard to be the same way, but with age comes wisdom. Wisdom to let go of those who betray you, lie to you and are not faithful to you as they were before.  Many tears later you become stronger and realize that life is too short to worry about these incidentals.  When you can sit back and know with all your heart that you did the very best you could, you need to let go and just go on.

My life is not the same without my parents.  As I approached this milestone and just finished celebrating it, I realize that life is a journey or even like a train ride.  You get on board and people get on and off your train.  Certain people get off your journey train to go their eternal resting place. This is a tough bump on the track and is hard to repair. We never forget those stops along the journey. Some people get off and return again at a later date, because we all know how busy life can be and how time surely does fly.  That has been a recent part of my life as I have reconnected with high school and college friends that I had not seen for a long time.  We lived far apart and life got too busy.  Now they are on my train again and we are having the ride of our lives.  On the other hand, others get off and you are not looking for them at the next stop or ever again.  Accepting that is the only way to go on to lead a peaceful life.

bridge clouds forest guidance
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How have I grown as a person?  How am I ready to embrace the next part of my life?  With strength and courage I am ready to forge full steam ahead and make my own decisions about who will be on my train and who has gotten off, never to rejoin me on my journey.  Instead of anger I have chosen the feelings of indifference and peacefulness with my self.  I am practicing mindfulness, taking better care of my body and soul and giving love to those who deserve to have my love.  My love is selfless and without end.  But now that I go along my journey into the next phase, that love will not be given to those undeserving of it.  I would never have the urge to hurt anyone but I can go on without them.  I will pray for their salvation and their finding of the truth but they will no longer be in my  life.  Because deep in my heart I have lost the two most important people in my life, my parents, and my conversations with them will continue until we meet again…….

 

The Road Ahead

Did you ever sit and ask yourself “What next?”  It is often a scary and very difficult question to answer.  As I am nearing my retirement from teaching (the next few years), I often spend time contemplating what I will do next.  I try to get a realistic idea of life as a retired person when we have our extended week vacations, but know that this is not a true view as we often try to squeeze everything in that has to get done into a short time period.  So what if your time is unlimited?  What if it doesn’t matter if you do it today or tomorrow or next week?  How do you stay focused and live life to the fullest?

Big questions like these need real thought and exploration. I often try to picture my life on a daily basis and when I put the activities in each day, I know that it will take motivation, energy and consistency to help achieve a healthy, fulfilled retirement. Having a plan and sticking to it is so important to avoid being home in retirement and saying “what now?”.

man and woman sitting on brown wooden bench
Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels.com

Do I see myself sitting on a beach, volunteering in the community or getting a part time job?  Perhaps for some of the time.  Do I see myself going to the gym every single day instead of trying to squeeze it in after a long day of working with children?  These are all visions that focus me to decide what I want to do next.  Mapping out a typical day in my mind makes it more of a realistic goal.

person writing on white book
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I have many friends that have retired and their advice is to plan ahead.  Write a list of all the things you want to do, places you want to go and imagine your typical day.  Think about what you wanted to do in your life that you didn’t because it wouldn’t pay the bills.  Now that you have planned for your retirement and have a good idea of the money coming in and going out every month, what is it that you want to really do to feel complete in your life?

As I ponder and plan for this upcoming change in my life in the next few years, I am always making lists in my mind, in my phone and even in my plan book.  Always reading, I am always making note of something that catches my eye that I want to look into at a later date.  Just this weekend I wrote down two courses at my local BOCES that I may be interested in taking — maybe some computer based learning (programs I am not fluent in) and a cooking class  (a type of food I would like to try to cook but never had time with a work schedule) and maybe a new language

adolescent adult beauty blur
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
man in brown long sleeved button up shirt standing while using gray laptop computer on brown wooden table beside woman in gray long sleeved shirt sitting
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

What is on your bucket list?  If someone told you that you can do anything for one year, no questions asked, what would be on your list?  My list includes going to Italy and Greece, traveling within the U.S. to places like Arizona, Tennessee and South Carolina, and at home minimizing collections that are taking up space and organizing my living space.  These are just a few items from my list.  No matter how old you are, you should always write down your dreams and goals.  That makes them more attainable.

Most importantly I look forward to being more mindful of activities I am pursuing as I will be rushing around less and taking in all that I dreamed of doing since working.   So what is it that you think about every day when you are working? What would you rather be doing?  Start keeping track of your thoughts, save them for the future and you will always be busy in your retirement.  Happy dreaming!

dream text on green leaves
Photo by Karyme França on Pexels.com

The Simplicity of Eating

I recently had some sinus and dental surgery that left me having difficulty eating even the softest of foods for many days. The first day should not count at all since all I consumed was jello and protein shakes.

We take so much for granted when we just eat whatever we want. So I’m told I can eat soup but it has to be room temperature. An interesting concept. So you heat up your soup and then have to make it cool down. And the soup can’t have any crunchy components, so soup of choice would be cream soups or broths. My personal preference on these days was Cream of Broccoli and Lobster Bisque.

Even though I always try to eat healthy I was eager to add puddings and cheesecake to my eating. I just figured that before long I will be back to eating those salads for lunch. So I am going to enjoy this pudding while I can. So many to choose from–chocolate, vanilla and chocolate mixed, rice pudding, tapioca and flan.

Well after a few days I tried hard to stick with my healthy diet. My vitamins came back into my daily routine and I tried to plan each meal with more care and thinking of course about limited chewing capability. So dinner plans revolved around salmon and sweet potato, served at room temperature of course.

I am now figuring that I have to continue this type of eating for a little more of a week. So my meal plan expands to include overnight oats with peanut butter protein powder and cinnamon for breakfast. Lunch is still a kind of soup or muffin, no nuts of course. As I start to consider dinner I decide to have good old Mac and Cheese– something I never eat anymore but love, love, love. So I just have to have it because you know I don’t have many choices now (just can eat so much soup and eggs) so I will take the plunge. I make myself the creamiest mac and cheese I can find and eat it very, very slowly. I know this is probably one of the last times I will eat this I will enjoy every morsel.

I have to confess that after eating this I felt full, bloated and sorry. My body is not used to eating like this anymore and I felt uncomfortable for hours. Yes, I did enjoy it but I reassured myself that I gave up these kinds of foods for a reason.

My goal is to get back on track to my healthy eating as soon as possible. In recovery I have missed the gym the most and hope to go back in the next few days. I can say that we all need to binge every once in awhile but make it our business to get back on track to take care of our bodies with the food we eat. Remember, we are not eating only for the enjoyment but to make our bodies healthy, strong and lively. Of course, enjoyment is necessary whenever possible. That is why I always try new recipes with my new air fryer and InstaPot. I hope to share some of those with you soon. In the meantime, I will stick to my soft foods for a few more days while making better choices.

Happy Eating!!

Meditation and Yoga

Practicing mindfulness meditation involves directing your complete attention to sights, sounds, smells, sensations and thoughts.  Concentrate on senses that you do not notice on a daily basis.  Paying attention to your breathing in meditation helps you focus your attention  instead of letting your mind take over and control you.

 

woman doing yoga activity
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Breathing is essential to successful meditation.  Sit comfortably in a chair or lie down.  You can also stand in a controlled position.  Close your eyes when you first start this process so you can concentrate.  Observe and feel the rise and fall of your abdomen and notice the inhale and exhale at a slower rate.  Make note of your sensations as you inhale and exhale.  Feel your diaphragm expand with each inhalation and deflate with each exhalation.  At first, it is natural for your attention to wander off and this may happen often during the first few attempts at this.

 

 

man meditating in the middle of pathway
Photo by Ruslan Alekso on Pexels.com

When first starting on this mindfulness meditation journey, tune in to your breath at random times of the day and observe your abdomen rising and falling through three or four breath cycles.  Pay extra attention to your thoughts and bodily sensations.

During times of stress, visualization meditation may help relieve anxiety.  Think of your mind as a large body of water.  Imagine riding waves of stressful thoughts and then allowing them to flow away from you.  Allow them to flow away without dwelling on them. Constant conscious deliberation and acceptance of stressful events helps your mind open up to new opportunities.  You will begin to notice the change in yourself as you continue to practice meditation and move away from the feelings of self-pity, jealousy, anger or sadness.  Mindfulness helps us achieve more contentment with our lives.  We accept consequences and explore opportunities instead of being in denial.

By meditating just 15 minutes a day you will see a change in the way you focus on the world around you.  You may see a change in your level of patience and take your day more slowly and comfortably.  This will help you to continue to become less stressed in your daily life.  When feeling successful and letting your mind go, you will take this to other areas of your life.  If you are in a meeting at work instead of getting stressed about an impending deadline you may instead decide to take some deep breaths and plan a step by step solution so that you are not anxiety ridden.

woman sitting on gray chair
Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

Also, this may bring about a complete change in your workout routine.  Meditation and mindfulness practice will make you more aware of your workouts.  You will notice more concentration in your Pilates or Yoga classes and less thoughts of the outside world stresses during your every day workouts.  This will make your workouts even more beneficial, not just physically but also improving your emotional well-being.

 

 

 

group of woman in yoga class
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

I hope that these suggestions have been helpful and that you will find solutions in some mindfulness meditation practices and your everyday fitness and wellness goals.  I would love to hear some of your stories……

Taking the U Out of Stress for 2019

If you are like me, the last few days of the year are spent organizing, cleaning and planning for a new year that will be better than the last.  All of us come to New Year’s with a new hope, dreams of a more successful and peaceful year and we make lists of what we want to accomplish.

So instead of stating my resolutions, my hopes and dreams, and promises for 2019, I have decided to make a list of what I am going to do to have less stress in my life.  Namely, let’s take the U out of stress for 2019.

1. Plan A Time Out for Every Day

Whether it is first thing in the morning or after dinner cleanup at night (whatever time works better for you), plan on spending 5 to 10 minutes with no thoughts in your mind.  Sit  quietly and remove any technology within your reach.  Close your eyes and breath deeply and slowly.  When you exhale, let all the stress of the day just leave your body and give you a new feeling of calm and relaxation.  This may take awhile to perfect but it’s one day at a time and we can only work to make our lives better just one day at a time.

woman sitting on couch
Photo by David Cassolato on Pexels.com

2. Learn How to Say NO

Practice saying No over and over again…no, no, no , no….until it becomes an acceptable word coming out of your mouth with no regrets.  I am not telling you to say “no” all the time but rather when you don’t want to do something or you don’t have time to help or go somewhere, say it loud and clear:  NO!!!! You can, of course, say “Although I wish I could I have to say No because……”  Practice with minor requests.  Try not to over obligate yourself this year.  Spend  quality time with family and friends without doing three different things in one day!!

shallow focus photography of a woman in green top wearing white coat
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

3. Play Your Music Loud

Whether you have Amazon Music, Alexa Echo or Google Home, do not hesitate to request a feel good song when you are in the mood or a very traditional soul-searching tune when you are thinking about chores, jobs and commitments.  Let music become more a part of your life.  We often talk about all the music we love and often we do not listen to it as often as we should.  Music can change a blah mood to a dancing, happy feeling.  Perhaps there are certain times of the day where you need an uplift or boost.  Or maybe just to sing while you are cooking.  While doing menial tasks like cleaning, cooking or paying bills, add some of your favorite tunes to ease you through.

adult business career clean
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

4.  Sip slowly

At the end of the day or in the middle of a work at home project, make yourself a cup of chamomile tea or hot chocolate.  When relaxing after a long day at work pour yourself a crisp Merlot or fruity Malbec to take some tension away.  Sit there sipping and just release all of the anxiety of the day.  Sip while making dinner.  Sip while in the bathtub.  Sip while on the phone with an old friend.  Sipping slowly adds to destressing that we all need.  Once the holidays pass us and we are back on our routines, we often need to remind ourselves that we need to recharge our batteries and just relax.  And yes, sometimes the calories are fine.

action alcohol art beverage
Photo by Posawee Suwannaphati on Pexels.com

5. Work It Out

Whether you enjoy a Zumba class, some yoga or Pilates or simply walking the treadmill, moving your body releases stress buildup.  We often need to push ourselves after a long day of work to go to the gym or meet a friend at an exercise class, but once you get there you will reap many benefits.  Your heart will be pumping, you will burn calories and stress will leave your body.  The hardest part is always getting there but once done we feel rejuvenated and feel like anything can be accomplished.  Working out builds self-esteem and heart health, as well as add to our emotional well-being.  So no more excuses this year.

balance body exercise female
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

6. Talk to A Friend

At the end of the day your spirits can be lifted just by chatting with a friend and catching up on life besides work.  You get to re-establish your connection to each other and also realize that the rest of the world has the same kind of day that you do. Hearing that familiar, non-judgmental voice at the end of the phone boosts your ego and spirit.  This is a refreshing end to a long, hard day.  Often, we get so busy and make excuses to not be connected.  Make it a priority this year!!

woman in black dress holding black phone
Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

7. Remind Yourself How Important You Are

Every day when getting ready for work, go over the day in your mind and remind yourself why you are important part of this day and what you want to accomplish.  Remind yourself of your qualifications, your dreams and what you see yourself doing a year from now.  Smile at your reflection in the mirror and then you will smile at whoever you run into during the course of a day.  Forget that it’s Monday.  It’s just another day to be grateful for and live to the fullest.

So many of us will go on and on with resolutions but think about you this year.  Less stress, more devotion to important parts of your life, and more dedication to taking care of you this year.  I wish all of you a Happy and Healthy 2019.  May you find your inner strength to grow this year and to appreciate yourself and all that you are grateful for.

woman standing and doing pose beside lake
Photo by Đàm Tướng Quân on Pexels.com

 

 

Me First – Elaine Gallagher

The Unsanity

We are so accustomed to doing things for others without a second thought, but when it comes to ourselves we just keep putting it off.  That was me my whole life until I started to feel walls closing in and realizing I needed to make some positive changes.  I had gained weight, stopped exercising and had gotten into some unhealthy habits.

So I decided to change.  First of all, I started a new healthy eating regimen, after my doctor told me I needed to even though I was on cholesterol meds, because of my family history of heart problems, I decided to listen to his advice.  This coupled with the fact that my daughter was getting married and I wanted to look and feel beautiful that day.  So my new journey began….

First, I started cleaning my eating completely.  No more junk or processed foods.  It meant more planning of…

View original post 374 more words