Living in an Atmosphere of Growth

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If I had to describe my journey in two parts I would say the first part was the physical recovery and the second was mental recovery. That’s lumping a lot of areas together, but in the end that is what I was doing. One thing truly did lead to another. I would begin a course, or hear a talk on subject I was interested in and it would inevitably send me off in another direction of personal growth. Gretchen Rubin calls this “living in an atmosphere of growth.” It would have been nice had I decided to one day just start working on all these areas in my life instead of having something so devastating happen to me, but that is not my story. And I think it’s true for many people. Unfortunately it usually takes some horrific event to awaken us to how we should or could be living. To people I’m meeting for the first time, I can seem extreme. This is partially my Upholder personality, which has always been there, it was just focused on other things instead of growth. Like I’ve said in earlier posts, I live this way because it was a WAY OUT of how I was feeling. And I never want to feel that way again. So when someone says to me “don’t you miss cookies” , the answer is always no. My “why” is crystal clear and keeps me moving forward.

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I say all this because the next step in my wellness journey was a class I stumbled upon given by Elisha Goldstein. It was an online Mindful Living Course that I did over four or five days. I’m going to share some of my revelations I unearthed while taking this class. You can find out more about Elisha here.

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Did you know our brains are wired to survive, not to be happy? Our brain fears the unknown so when we try to make changes our brains start to object. It’s a survival instinct. When we relax, we calm the nervous system. This jumped out at me because if there was anything I needed to do it was to relax my nervous system! According to Elisha, the benefits of relaxation are the following:

Less Worry
Slows Heart Rate
Boosts Memory
Better Decision Making
Less Stress Eating
Protects Mental Health
Protects Your Brain

All super important. Why would I not want all of those benefits? Sign me up! One of tips he suggests, which I have used in my own life are recognizing when you tense up. What people or time of day does this happen? When it happens, we should breathe and stretch to relax. On my Insight Time app, there are many 1 minute meditations for exactly this purpose. If you are bracing you need an antidote!

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Another tip was to practice single tasking. I’ve posted before about the fact that there is no such thing as multi-tasking, you are just doing two or more tasks more poorly than you would have doing one at a time. The biggest change in single tasking for me came with my walks. A couple times a week, I walk at our local nature preserve. I’m so fortunate to have this beautiful piece of nature in my neighborhood. When I walk, I do nothing else. I don’t listen to anything. No audio books, no podcasts, no music. I love all three of those things, but my focus is on the world around me. I do some GREAT thinking during these walks. Decisions get made because my brain can relax and wander. My decision to write a book, start a blog, take a part time job all came out of these walks.

This week think if you find yourself “bracing” and what you can do when that happens. Try relaxing by breathing, meditating or stretching. Also, try single-tasking. See if it makes a difference. It did for me! I can’t wait to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!

Become Mindful

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I didn’t know when I started meditating the kind of awesome power it has. It has made an enormous impact on my life. Meditation and mindfulness were on my list of good mental health practices.  At this point I began meditating a few minutes a day to start.  My trainer had recommended an app to me that was very easy to use. She really was pushing meditation for me and I can see why.  We have already established that I needed to calm down.  And I now understood that this was going to be a part of my healing.  It was time for me to get serious about mindfulness!! My next resolution looked like this:

My Quotation: “Train your mind to see the good in every situation”

Daily/Weekly Actions:

Meditate Daily

Take an Online Meditation Course

Eat Mindfully/Live in the Moment

I started meditating with just a few minutes a day and worked myself up from there.  I also began a sleep meditation at night which was fantastic!  No more busy brain keeping me up at night.  I turn on the guided sleep meditation (there are many to choose from) and I’m asleep in minutes!  Heavenly.  After I found a few guided meditations on the app I was using, I discovered Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation Experience.  Have you ever done one of these programs?  If not, let me explain.  Every few months Deepak provides these 21 Day Meditation programs for free.  I still can’t believe they are free for the amount of content and quality you get! Each program has a topic to work on within the 21 days. First, and most of the time, each day begins with an introduction from Oprah speaking to us with all her wisdom.  I’m a big Oprah fan! Then we hear from Deepak.  Both he and Oprah explain the topic at hand.  I take A LOT of notes during this time!  Next, Deepak gives us a Centering Thought.  Something to carry us through the day and to remember from the day’s teachings.  Next, we prepare to meditate.  We sit, breath and listen.  Deepak then gives a Mantra to silently repeat to ourselves during the meditation which will last approximately 15 minutes.  When completed, there are journaling questions to ask yourself and reflect on.  Let me just say, this way of practice really spoke to me.  I could feel after the 21 days a calmness that wasn’t there before.  It was noticeable when I realized that instead of getting worked up, angry or anxious about things, I would be more in the flow.  I didn’t get so excited about the little things that can and do go wrong in life.  That was my meditation practice showing up for me. I will dive deeper into the 21 Day Meditation Experiences on future posts! There is so much to say about them!

Meditation has SO many benefits. To name a few, it reduces pain, boosts your immune system, generates feelings of optimism, releases fear and anxiety, helps control thoughts and emotions, improves focus and helps you relax and sleep better. I needed every single one of those things and more. If you want to read more about the science behind the benefits of meditation, please click here.

I have learned and grown so much over the past two years and most of that is due to my meditation practice, which leads to self awareness and personal growth.  I will go into more detail in future posts but the overall affect has been that I no longer get so anxious or panicky anymore.  A simple thing could set me off in the past and honestly I haven’t had any episodes since I started my practice.  Have you ever had a panic attack?  Well, it basically feels like you’re dying.  It’s the most awful out of body experience and I hope to never feel like that again.  I don’t think I will because I have so many tools to work with now.

Which leads to my next action, which was, Take an Online Meditation Course. There are many online classes! Some are free and some aren’t. I chose a free, well-reviewed course and was not disappointed. I recommend this for anyone is new to meditation. I loved the way the instructor taught all the different types of meditation, because they do vary. I scheduled time in my calendar every day to do the lessons. It didn’t take much time and I truly enjoyed it. If you would like to check it out, click here.

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Eat Mindfully/Live in the Moment falls into just being present. I started to pay attention to the current moment and not reliving events of the past or worrying about the future. You really can beat anxiety by just being present. Eating mindfully, or doing whatever it is you are doing at the moment keeps you present. Also, this forced me to stop multi-tasking, because if you don’t already know, there is no such thing. One activity always suffers and you end up doing two or more things badly instead of one well. Eating doesn’t require any skill but the idea was to enjoy my food without rushing or standing at the kitchen counter. I was not only practicing eating mindfully, but single-tasking in general. You can read about that here.

Have you thought about meditating? If you would like to become more mindful, try the following:

  • Take an online or in person meditation course
  • Make meditation a part of your daily schedule
  • Practice single-tasking

Let me know how it goes! Please comment below! Thanks for being here!