A challenge to put mindfulness to work: Quit complaining

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You might have heard, at one time, that you can do anything—for 60 seconds, 10 minutes, a half hour a day. It’s also said you can create or break a habit in just 21 days. In my recent posts, “A month of mindfulness…” and “7 tips to incorporate mindfulness…,” I suggest myriad ways to daily practice a deeper awareness within each moment—which could seem overwhelming. However, I’d like to propose a challenge. For the next 24 hours, choose one area of focus in which to incorporate mindfulness: quit complaining. As I write about in “Complaints don’t change a thing,” we can get caught up in negativity and miss out on the positive, the good that surrounds us. Even seemingly harmless comments like, I’m so tired, or the weather, traffic or XYZ sucks… can quickly turn our thoughts inward and escalate a pessimistic mentality. Just for today, let’s create a complaint-free zone and watch the life-changing magic unfold.

How hard is it for you to quit complaining?

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No pain, no gain

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no-pain-no-gain

 

Business travel and other commitments kept me away from the hot room for days. I told a friend I looked forward to the simultaneous pleasure and pain of that evening’s practice. Not entirely familiar with Bikram yoga, he asked why I do it if it causes me pain. When I last hiked, my aching body rebelled as the wind sliced through five layers. When I write, oftentimes it’s with my own blood. So, why do we endure the physical and/or emotional pain that may accompany a strong passion(s) we entertain? Sometimes there is pain in the midst of transformation and healing. Of course, there is the adrenaline high that pushes many of us beyond our comfort zones. For me, I do what I do to face a challenge, to squeeze out every last drop of living in a particular moment. To come out a better, more complete version of me. And sometimes that might mean a skinned knee in the process.

Why do you do what you do?

Wasting time or living life: what’s it going to be?

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wasting-or-living-life

My mind has been stuck in overdrive for weeks. First, I prepped for a long weekend of travel while juggling work, a yoga challenge and writing commitment. Upon my return, I resumed life: working, completing my writing commitment and commencing a new yoga challenge (why not include an ab challenge too, while I’m at it?). I’ve also begun soul searching and deduced I’m wasting my time with this one life I was gifted. Apparently, this epiphany was more than my mind could contemplate, because I ended up with a two-day migraine. Along with that, I suffered bouts of monkey brain, beginning with thoughts at Point M, circling to Point J, then R and ending at Point E. The headache and monkey brain siphoned much of my energy—plus, I have yet to achieve the simple life I desire. Maybe this season is preparing me for just that. In the meantime, I need to quit wasting time and start living.

Are you wasting your time, or living your life?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Making a challenge work for you (or working through the blahs)

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Challenges_blahs

 

It’s no surprise that I love a good challenge. I even attempt to make them harder—like the 30/30 yoga challenge I completed three-and-a-half-years ago. It didn’t just entail completing 30 classes in 30 days. I also omitted specific foods and beverages from my diet. Recently I signed up for another 30/30 and, to date, I’ve completed day six of the same regimen. But I’ve run into a few struggles with the blahs—understandably. After all, it wouldn’t be called a challenge if it didn’t test our mettle. That’s why it’s important to practice mindfulness in other areas; i.e., steal naps when your body needs to recharge, refuse to stress out about household chores, do something for your health (take a yoga or kickboxing class, book a massage or acupuncture treatment). My goal during this challenge is to strengthen my mind, body and spirit to equip me for several upcoming travel and writing commitments—with my blahs but a distant memory.

What’s the latest challenge you’ve successfully conquered?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Go the distance: identify, conquer your personal ‘peak’

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personal peak

The tip I offer in ‘What *not* to do while hiking’ can be applied to any area of our lives. Getting cocky, comparing myself with others, elevating my importance—these are character flaws with which I struggle from time to time. A week after that infamous trek, I climbed back onto the mountain—my proverbial horse—and conquered a 5.1-mile hike, again discovering my muse and solving a plot problem in the novel I’m writing. Although I tripped a couple of times while on the trail, I remained upright, albeit a bit more cautious. I also reflected on how tiny I am—a speck in the middle of a vast desert. And that, in light of my recent fall, the mountain symbolizes a personal ‘peak’ of mine. Returning to the scene of the accident—or failing marriage or dead-end career or spiritual fallout or whatever we’ve identified as a challenge to change—affirmed to myself I’ve got what it takes to go the distance.

What’s your personal peak?

What *not* to do while hiking

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What not to do while hiking

 

My post ‘Responding to life’s challenges…,’ proved a bit too real during a recent hike. You know the saying, ‘pride goes before a fall?’ After an almost six-mile trek in the mountains up to Inspiration Viewpoint, I felt invincible. I never enjoyed athleticism as a younger person—exercise consisted of mandatory gym class, playing tag or riding bikes with neighbor kids, swim lessons on Saturdays and performing on my senior high pom-pom line. Yet over the past half dozen years I’ve become enamored with working out, practicing Bikram yoga, hiking. Since celebrating my half-century birthday this past December, I cannot get enough of: living. And I’m in the best shape of my life. So, as I jogged the final stretch of trail that morning, I got cocky. Bruised and battered the left side of my body, both knees. A challenge I met with humor and, hopefully, the grace I lacked when I tripped and fell—a lesson that didn’t break me.

When have you learned a painful lesson?

Handling the unexpected

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road less traveled

When I complete a survey now, I check the 50-55 box (when did that happen?). Finally, I’ve discovered happiness in its myriad levels—joy, contentment, peace. I’ve gotten the hang of this balanced life thing and look forward to simplifying in the New Year so I can experience more of the above. I’ve set the cruise control and am prepared to sparkle my way into this new season. But what happens when you’re traveling on the right path and life behind the wheel doesn’t look like you hoped for or expected? Maybe you’ve returned to your proverbial waiting place to plan for a new transition (e.g., career change or physical relocation). Perhaps your GPS requires recalibration to allow you to regroup while you navigate the scenic route for a spell. It’s possible a recent challenge or setback is meant to strengthen you to help family or friends. Just take a deep breath, sit back and savor the ride. And Happy New Year!

How do you handle the unexpected?

Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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