We're dealing with a lot of unknowns today. Unknowns about when we will go back to work, unknowns about our own health, the health of our loved ones and our planet, unknowns about our finances, unknowns about when life will get back to normal so we can go out into our world without a mask and gloves and without having to wipe our groceries down or wash our hands until they turn raw. When will we be able to sit in our favorite restaurants and have a nice dinner? When can we go to a cafe and sit and chat with a friend over coffee? When can we gather in groups again? When can we see our family and friends' faces again, in-person, less than 6 feet away, and give them huge hugs? When can we stop worrying?
That last question is the one that I've been working on over the last month. The thing is, we can't control our external circumstances. Ever. During quarantine or "normal" life. No matter how hard we try and think we are doing it. Maybe we try to control by planning out our calendar or by trying to change the behavior of another person. But life happens and sometimes it ends up ruining our plans anyway. (I say ruining but really it's only a detour and sometimes a much-needed one that redirects you and actually gets you back on track to where you are meant to be.)
The one thing we CAN control is our thoughts and our reactions to these unknowns.
I've been diving even deeper into my meditation practice this month with a special focus on my mind. Getting curious about how my mind works. And it's helping me lean into the unknown instead of be fearful of it.
Try this simple practice to learn more about your mind:
Set a timer for 3 minutes.
Right now, close your eyes and count your breaths up to the count of 10.
Inhale 1, Exhale 2, Inhale 3.. Exhale 10, repeat until your timer lets you know time is up.
Reflect ~ Did you notice your mind wandering off? Did you bring your focus back to your breath? (that's a moment of mindfulness) Did you find yourself thinking, feeling, witnessing other body sensations?
The first time I did this, I noticed the difficulty I was having with focusing. Focusing nearly hurt, like fatigued muscles at the end of a race or holding a pose in yoga for a really long time. I was able to continue counting but the counting ended up falling to the background while my thoughts came to the foreground.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that while you work on these practices, no matter how simple they seem to be, don't judge yourself and approach them with patience, kindness, and compassion for yourself. Remember, it's just as important to practice positive self-talk and carry out non-harming thoughts towards ourselves in these practices as it is doing the practice itself.. Thoughts and feelings are part of the human experience and we have to train them like we would as if we were working out.
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Mandee Metzger is the Creator and Founder of Inner Light Botanicals. She has studied and practices Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness, Crystal Healing, Reiki, and Integrative Nutrition and is a huge advocate for mental health awareness and feeling your feelings. She believes in the power of a smile, positivity, and the healing journey. She also believes in the power of integrating self-care into our daily life in small moments. And she believes in the power of the energy we put out into this world to transform lives and our planet. Find her simple self-care practices and mindful lifestyle on her YouTube channel, Mindfulness with Mandee.