Peace. How do we find peace in our busy, hectic lives? How do we enjoy simple, yet beautiful, moments with our children, family, friends, strangers, nature, etc.? How much of life is passing us by as we worry our day away? I have recently become more aware of my thoughts as I am going through a pretty major transition in my life. I am trying to be more conscious of thinking positively, and I am trying not to be so hard on myself. But sometimes those negative thoughts creep in and I find myself entangled in my own thoughts and mind. I have such high expectations for myself that when I fall short of something, that was probably too ambitious anyway, I begin to harshly judge and criticize myself.
You may identify with this or you may not. You might be experiencing a major transition in your life or you might not. Whatever you situation, everyone struggles with something and everyone experiences stress. So what do we do? Again, people have many different ways of reducing stress and finding peace. I want to share something with you that has helped me recently in addition to a good night’s sleep, exercise, eating healthy, and religion.
You might be asking, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them-without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. Don’t you just LOVE that? When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Okay before we figure out how to BE mindful, I am going to bore you with a little bit of history and then I promise to lighten it up :)! Mindfulness was used in Buddhist meditation, but Jon Kabat-Zinn created a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Jon’s program introduced a more mainstream version of mindfulness to the United States. Are you still with me? Did I lose you? I promise you meditation is not as bad as it sounds! You don’t have to be sitting Indian style and humming with incense burning. 🙂
This link will take you to 8 meditation audios that are only 8 minutes each. You can listen to them when little ones are napping, after kids are in bed or whenever you have 8 minutes. I know, it’s a stretch :). Give it a try, though, and you might be surprised. Plus there’s a bonus ;). Mark Williams, co-author of “Mindfulness, An Eight-Week Plan For Finding Peace In A Frantic World” recorded the meditations and he has an English accent! I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for accents. Doesn’t that make meditation sound even more appealing?!
2. Jon Kabat-Zinn explains that mindfulness isn’t achieved through meditation alone. He says, “It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.”
3. While describing mindfulness, a friend taught me a mantra. “Everything right now…is okay”. When you start to worry or stress, take a breath and think or say this mantra. It allows you to take a moment to pause that worry, assess the moment and realize, “Everything right now…is okay”.
My wish for all of you is that this post will inspire you to live in and enjoy the moment. I hope the ideas and references I’ve shared help you, or at least get you thinking about what would bring you peace.
This year, let’s be kinder to ourselves and let’s enjoy and savor the simple yet beautiful moments in our lives. Happy New Year!