Meditation Doesn’t Need To Be Complicated | 5 Practices To Try Out

When we think of meditation, I think we all envision a monk sitting calmly under a beautiful tree, sitting perfectly straight, possibly levitating, with his legs crossed and hands rested on his knees or in his lap. Even though this is the traditional way of a meditation practice, there are many different ways to practice mindfulness and meditation.

By definition, meditation is the action or practise of meditating. Therefore, meditation can be whatever you wish it to be.

I personally practice Transcendental Meditation (TM), where we are given a mantra specific to us and we meditate for 20 min, 2 times a day. This practice is meant to be effortless, you allow your thoughts to come and go as you repeat your mantra with your breath over and over again. The other part of this practice is you sit comfortably, if that is cross-legged and in a straight posture, great, but for myself, I will sit with my back rested against a wall or the back of a chair or couch with either my legs crossed or straight out in front of me.

This is the perfect practice for me, but for yourself, this may not work. Mindfulness is about finding what works for you and your individual needs. It’s paying attention to what gives you anxiety or upsets you through the day, but also finding out what calms you back down after those situations have passed. There is no sense in trying to force something that does not work for you, however, to know if it works or not, you need to first give it a try.

Here are 5 meditation practice methods you could give a try:

  1. Transcendental Meditation

    As I mentioned above, this is the practice I personally do every day. This is not paid advertising for TM, but my own personal experience with it and how much it has helped me through the years. This is a technique that you learn through a teacher and a course, but it is very understandable and does not take weeks or months to perfect. Once you learn it, you’re good to go and practice everyday. On their website they state, “In the TM course, you learn how to effortlessly transcend — go beyond the surface level of your awareness. This state of deep inner silence is typically unavailable from meditation apps and other techniques.” As I mentioned, you are given a mantra specific to you and you are to practice the technique 2 times a day, 20 min each time. If you want to learn more about TM, click here for their website and to find an instructor near you.

  2. Breathwork

    There is a lot of talk starting to arise all over the internet about breathwork. So what exactly is it? Breathwork is any type of breathing exercises or techniques. There are many different ways to practice this technique, all from sitting and being mindful of your ribcage rising and falling, to counting breathwork where there is a sequence of breaths in an order like 4-4-4 (inhale for 4 seconds – hold the breath for 4 seconds – slowly release for 4 seconds). This is an afordable (as you could learn this technique for free on the internet/in a book or through an instructor) and an available technique for everyone. As mentioned, one example of a breathwork technique is through a sequence of numbers. For example, 4-4-4, you want to slowly inhale your breath in paying attention to the expansion of your ribcage and through your nose for 4 seconds, then hold that breath for 4 seconds, and end by slowly releasing your breath for another 4 seconds. You can also play with these numbers as well to make it easier and more challenging by having your numbers as 3-3-3 or 10-10-10, or even 5-10-15.

    Another technique that is very effective is alternate-nostril breathing. This technique is one type of pranayama or breathing practice, also known as nadi shodhana. With this technique you want to sit comfortably, bring your right hand up to your nose and move your forefinger and middle finger out of the way. Place your thumb on your right nostril. With this nostril covered, close your eyes and exhale fully and slowly through your left nostril. Once you’ve exhaled completely, release your right nostril and put your ring finger on the left nostril. Breathe in deeply and slowly from the right side. Make sure your breath is smooth and continuous. Once you’ve inhaled completely, exhale through your right nostril. Release your ring finger and close your right nostril with your thumb again. Breathe in fully and exhale fully from your left nostril. Repeat the full process two or more times.

    As mentioned there are many types of breathwork techniques to explore and try to see which one works for you!

  3. Counting

    Another helpful practice is counting. This one ties in with breathing as while you are counting you will be paying attention to your breath. Sit comfortably, and inhale through your nose as much as you can while you count 1, then exhale. Inhale again saying 2 either outloud or to yourself, and exhale completely. Repeat this pattern until you count to 10, then start over again from 1. Try to sit doing this technique for around 5 minutes to start and slowly increase from there. The point of this exercise is to get you slowing your breath down and to pay attention to how you are breathing as well. Which brings me to my next point…

  4. Being Mindful

    Did you know being mindful of your everyday life and living in the moment can also be considered a form of meditation? When was the last time you went for a walk without headphones or a phone and payed attention to everything happening around you? This can be a form of active meditation or mindfulness. For example, go for a 10 minute walk and listen to all of the sounds around you, feel the sun or wind on your skin, pay attention to what you are seeing as you walk. Just by tuning into your senses for only 10 minutes to start, it can be a wonderful way to get a mindfulness practice in if you are not ready to try meditation just yet. You can do this with not just walking, but when you’re painting or drawing, playing a musical instrument, playing a video game, reading a book, etc.

    One more technique you could try, which ties into all types of mindfulness and meditation, is diaphragmic breathing. Laying on your back place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. You want your breath to start from your diaphragm, so the hand over your belly should move first and the next movement is your chest. Imagine as if you are blowing up a balloon from your stomach, as that balloon gets bigger there is a bit of movement into your chest and when you let that balloon go, the exhale will go from your chest back down to your stomach. Another way of thinking of it is you want to expand your ribcage from the front, side and into your back so you get the full surface area of your thoracic cavity (the area inside your ribcage where your lungs are located). This can be a bit frustrating at first, but keep at it and you will have it down in no time.

  5. Listening To a Recording

    This is another popular choice and for good reason. There are so many different apps you can download like Headspace or Calm, but they all have one thing in common, it’s an easy and affordable way to try out mindfullness and meditation. They typically have recordings on them that either take you through a story, help you be mindful of how you are feeling from head to toe, they will take you through a breathing technique or help you with counting a sequence. Most apps will have a free trial, but some eventually have you paying for the app as a one time fee or monthly fee. With technology as it is these days, almost everyone has a smartphone or tablet they can use to access these types of apps. They are a great place to start, but if you wanted to try something else or this type of meditation does not work for you, trying one of the other techniques mentioned above can be just what you are looking for!

You do not need fancy crystals or rocks, weighted blankets, or a cusion specifically for meditation to sit on. To try out meditation and build yourself a consistent practice that works best for you, all you need is yourself and somewhere to comfortably sit. Give one of the techniques mentioned above a try and let me know on here or on my Instagram which one works best for you!

Much love

LEW xo

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


Why Your Goal Setting Is Not Working For You

Every year without fail we make new year resolutions that we cannot keep. Then we feel like we have failed and it puts a damper on our mood for the year.

According to the University of Scranton (Michael Scott’s hometown), a whopping 92% of people who set new year’s eve resolutions do not actually achieve them. Are we surprised? Probably not. But why is it that we cannot meet the goals we set for ourselves every year?

Because we start off on the wrong foot and do not set our goals correctly.

You do not have a timeline. You’re not sure when it will happen.
Your goal is Vague. You’re not being specific enough with what you want to achieve.
Unwritten. You have not taken the time to write your goals out on paper. Yes, there is an actual study that proves this works.
Your goal is intimidating. We can all see the future we want but we don’t break the road to get there into smaller realistic steps.

How do we set goals that work? By transforming them from a dream, into a plan.

1) Follow the proven steps of SMART goals.
Specific: Make your goals specific and narrow for more effective planning.
Measurable: Provide a way to evaluate and keep track of the metrics or data targets that will prove you are making progress then re-evaluate when necessary.
– Attainable: Make sure you can reasonably accomplish your goal within a certain timeframe.
– Relevant:
Your goals should align with your values and long-term objectives.
– Time-Bound
: Set a realistic, ambitious end-date for task prioritization and motivation.

2) Write it out! A study at The Dominican University found a 42% average of people achieving their goals when they write them down on paper.

3) Put a reasonable timeline to it. Having a due date can give you a sense of urgency to get it done.

4) Break your goal down into baby steps. You must first learn how to walk before you can run. Breaking your goals down into smaller steps makes your goal more manageable.

Journal Prompts for 2022:
1) 3 things I achieved in 2021
2) My biggest lesson in 2021
3) What do I want more of in 2022?
4) 5 intentions for the year. “I will…”
5) Your word or words for 2022
6) Main Goals and Focus for 2022 psst…remember to be really specific here.
7) Purpose in 2022
8) By the end of 2022…

So grab yourself a pen and paper or write out your goals the twenty-first century way and get out your IPad and Apple Pencil and start making yourself goals you can achieve this year to make you that much closer to your end goal, whatever that might be :).

Infographics are found on my Instagram account here.


Perfectionism.

I believe everyone has had a form of this in someway, whether it be getting the best grades at school, wanting to be the best at everything you do in life, or being the MVP on your team.

I for one am very hard on myself, and always have been. The last few months I have been extremely hard on myself, and almost feel like I have gone nowhere. If this is you to, know that you are not alone. There are thousands of people around the world working towards the perfect life, the perfect children, the perfect career, the perfect relationship, the perfect instagram ready life. If you really stop to think about this, no one is flawless, and being perfect is a completely subjective concept that we all try to live up to, but this is in fact impossible.

There is increasing research into this topic of perfectionism and it is showing that this can not only be really bad for our wellbeing but also have a huge impact on our mental health. This in particular is exactly what I have been experiencing myself the last few months. I have been knocking myself down for not having my TTG blood levels down, for not healing my gut by now, for still having symptoms appearing 3.5 years after my diagnosis of celiac disease. But not just that, I’ve been kicking myself for not having my life figured out by now, or not really knowing what it is that I’m trying to accomplish in life. When really if I take a step back and clearly think about all of this, none of it can be accomplished over night and it all takes time.

There are five strands of perfectionism: self-oriented perfectionism, socially prescribed perfectionism,  other-oriented perfectionism, overt perfectionism, and covert perfectionism.

Self-Oriented Perfectionism: this is the kind of perfectionism that boils up from within, you set really high goals which then leads to harsh self criticism when you have not met those high standards.

Socially Prescribed Perfectionism: it is not just about what comes from within but also from what is directed towards us. There are expectations in the social environment that people in your life may have set standards in the way that they see you. This can be the people who are close to us but also the general environment that we live in, people can be very judgmental when we have not reached the standards that they perceive us to have.

Other-Oriented Perfectionism: This is the strand of perfectionism that is projected onto others. They expect other people to be perfect and are highly critical of those who fail to meet their impossibly high expectations. Saying things like, “I expect you to be perfect, I expect you to live up to and hold excessively high standards, and when you haven’t I will be critical.” 

Overt Perfectionism: Overt perfectionists have a very strong preference for order and show increased anxiety when they don’t have order around them. They tend to be opinionated and like to be right and often avoid activities that they cannot do well or don’t understand. I suspect that this type of perfectionism is linked to having a fixed mindset – the belief that your abilities (e.g., intelligence, athleticism, creativity, etc.) are fixed or pre-determined and cannot be developed. Overt perfectionists fear failure and do everything they can to prevent it by being in control.

Covert Perfectionism: Covert perfectionists are “closeted” perfectionists and can sometimes be hard to identify because their actions don’t always match the perfectionistic thoughts in their head. Covert perfectionists tend to have low expectations of those around them and will outwardly say they prefer being average or laid back, yet internally they secretly want to succeed. They may underachieve to avoid any pressure to succeed or competition with those who may be better at an activity.

What is the link between social media and perfectionism?

Scientists data shows that the “Socially Prescribed Perfectionism” can be the most damaging. It is this idea that others and the environment around us expects us to be perfect. This can come into the idea around social media, most people show the good that is happening in their world rather then the days that they are sick or not as productive. When we do this it can give us a sense that people have excessive amounts of expectations weighing on us, and peoples judgement and approval are dependent on us meeting those standards. When we haven’t met those standards we feel like we have let people down, we feel humiliation, embarrassment, and shame. This can be very damaging because even if we do live up to those expectations we feel are placed upon us,  we don’t feel satisfaction and we feel the better we do the better we are expected to do. This can cause a sense of self defeat.

Clinical numbers have been increasing in this exact type of perfectionism and may be linked to the rise of social media popularity. A master clinician by the name of Karen Horney, talked very persuasively about how perfectionism boils up from an inner conflict between an actual and idealized self. This culture teaches us that there is an ideal life but at the same time makes us feel miserable for not quite being able to attain it. It’s this conflict that springs perfectionist tendencies, a need and desire to be perfect and project perfection onto other people. There is a lot to be said in this view point for what is occurring today because in the 1950’s, consumerism was just taking off but now we are in a completely new culture and era. Social media has put those neurotic conflicts on a completely different level. This has elevated social comparison and an idea that perfectionism is projected towards us 24/7 through our social media as something that is normal, attainable, and desirable. We aspire to these ideas of perfectionism but sometimes we cannot quite live up to it. As a consequence we feel a lot of conflict and negative emotions, and to cope with them we adopt perfectionist tendencies because it goes back to the cycle of self defeat. In our eyes, if we are perfect or project perfection, people will value us, people will approve of us, we will get likes and followers within social media and therefore feel better about ourselves. However, this is the problem, if we are using social media to help our self esteem, then this is the wrong reason to use social media and this may be why scientists see more perfectionist tendencies.

How do we change this?

Social media being a big part of the world today it is more important now then ever to tone down the perfectionist tendencies that may arise with the increasing use of social media on a daily basis. So how can we stop this perfectionism and enjoy social media as a platform to connect rather then show off our “perfect” lives?

Understanding that we feel the way we do because of how culture is. This will take a lot of weight off our stresses and anxieties. Because this teaches us that the way other people are living their lives does not reflect on anything we have done wrong but actually that there is a broader context to those feelings and that we operate in a society that actively creates them. For example, the beauty industry selling us products “that can improve our lives” and makes us assume that we “need” to improve our lives and that somehow, we are incomplete in the first place. So understanding that we live in a culture that can make us feel miserable can help to take the weight off our mental state.

  1. Focus on the process of learning and growth within ourselves. If we focus on the growth and development of our lives, the outcomes will naturally come, because the learning process suggests that if we continue to develop that the learning process will follow. 
  2. Self compassion. It is really crucial for us to go easy on ourselves when we may have slipped up. We will always make a mistake or not perform as well as we did the other day then beat ourselves up for not being perfect. Instead of saying negative thoughts about it, recognize when those intrusive negative thoughts are starting to come in. Then try swapping the negative thoughts with positive and more constructive thoughts of kindness and self compassion. Think about it, how would you speak to a friend or family member in the same experience? You would rationalize with them and tell them it’s not the end of the world, and say things like keep your head down and keep learning. However, we do not apply these same rules to ourselves. Self compassion is one way we can silence that inner critic. 
  3. Finding something that you are passionate about. Finding your “purpose” in life can help to sway perfectionism in a way that you can focus in on your one thing. But do not let this be your identity and your only sense of well being. Have your passions, but stay in check with the other important things in your life like your health, family, exercise, friends, other hobbies and interests.

Perfectionism has a way of taking over our lives sometimes, but there are ways to recognize it and change our mindset on it. Accept yourself for who you are and use this to improve your wellbeing. In a chaotic world, life will often defeat us. But that is okay, failure is not weakness. Let’s celebrate the joys and beauty of imperfection, as a normal and natural part of everyday living.

References:

https://www.verywellmind.com/horneys-list-of-neurotic-needs-2795949

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/253643875_Self-control_mediates_the_link_between_perfectionism_and_stress

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


My Health and Wellness Plan Back to Strong and Happy

There are a lot of blogs out there that are or have shared their wellness journey’s and I realize some of them can be construed as not health and wellness or they don’t need to be doing this journey because from the outside they look healthy and happy. Key phrase here is from the outside, we never know what someone is going through on the inside because we cannot see it. 

This is actually a very vulnerable post for me, but I think if I am up front and honest about how I have been feeling the last few years then maybe it will help someone else have the strength to do the same. For those of you who do not know, I was diagnosed with celiac disease just over 3 years ago from this post date. The first year after being diagnosed I was relieved, and had a great year of feeling better then I have ever felt – I finally knew what it felt to be “normal.” But then I went out to eat one day and long story short I was given the wrong bread and I became ill for 8 months after. Since this incident I have not been able to get myself back on that high feeling, and instead I seem to have hit a plateau of, “things are the way they are and this I just how it is going to be from now on.” It seemed like no matter what I did my symptoms would get a bit better but then come back, for a lack of better words, in a raging shit storm.  I have not been able to get my TTG levels to drop in my blood (antibody test for celiac disease) for over 2 years. This has discouraged me and made me unmotivated because it just seemed like, no matter what I did, my levels were not going to drop any lower and I would always have symptoms appear out of no where. One day I’d be happy go lucky and feeling great and the next it was like I had eaten the wrong bread again.

I guess the best way to describe this is by explaining what I used to be like. I was very active and loved it, I loved going to the gym and playing sports, I never stopped moving. I woke up excited about life and used to get up around 5:30-6:30am on my own without an alarm and never hit the snooze button. I would wake up and think, I’m going for a walk or just excited about what it was I was going to eat that morning.

Now, as I’m sure you can guess, it is the opposite. Over the last 2 and a bit years I have lost motivation and drive, I was always physically and mentally exhausted or not feeling well. It became very hard to get out of bed and I was always hitting the snooze button. I stopped being active and doing the things I used to live for, I became lost. I know having a physically demanding job that I absolutely love did not help with my motivation to be active, but I used to be able to look past this and still get to the gym and do something for me. 

I really feel as though it took the pandemic and being forced to stop working for me to realize where I had brought myself. When I was forced to stop I then started to feel all my aches and pains in my body. My left shoulder keeps going numb with neck pain and my right hip will scream at me if I do too much sitting or moving. The kind of pain that will make you wince and look as though you have aged 50 years over night. As an Athletic Therapist I know and have seen this all too often with my patients and know that I have lost my strength, mobility and flexibility. Once I build these back up and correct my muscle imbalances, I will live up to my last name of Walker and be an unbeatable Jedi again. I have been on again, off again, bloated with mental challenges and brain fog, anxiety, decreased motivation and drive, and decreased focus. If there is anything I have noticed over the last few years it is that the gut brain connection is a true and serious thing.

However, with all of that being said, I am happy to state that as hard as things have been in the past they are improving and from this day forward I will not accept anything but. It is going to be challenging and I will of course still have off days – but I will not let them drive me away from my goal of becoming strong and happy again.

So you may be thinking, how are you going to do this? Excellent question, here is how:

  1. Fitness: I will be working on my muscle imbalances and correcting my biomechanics. I will be doing this through mobility, flexibility and strength. There needs to be an equal amount of all of these to have a well balanced musculoskeletal system. So I will be making myself a fitness plan that will include all three of these components. 
  1. Nutrition: I have been dabbing into this component for the last 2 months already and I am happy to state that following the diet I have been doing has helped to decrease my TTG antibody levels in my blood and increased my iron. There is still a lot to improve in this department but it is a start! For the first 3 weeks I followed the hypoallergenic diet without consuming any grains. I was to cut out processed foods, dairy, certain meats, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn, tomatoes, artificial butters and sweeteners, refined sugars, and glutinous grains (obviously for me) but the naturopath had me cut out all grains just for the first 3 weeks. I followed this to a T and even continued it past the 3 weeks because of how much better I felt, but then, my digestion started to go wonky again and my energy has dropped. This is why I feel these full on restrictive diets are not meant to be eaten forever (other than the food you have to avoid for health reasons).

    Science actually shows that if you are under eating you will have immune problems and digestion issues. It may seem like you have a food intolerance but in reality your restrictive eating will cause digestive issues because the digestive system is not receiving enough energy, and if it does not get enough energy it cannot properly extract the nutrients your body needs to function. Mind.Blown. Therefore, I have decided that following a very restrictive and paleo diet long term is not the way to go for me. I believe my TTG levels being high is due to cross contamination in food that is processed and made in restaurants that are not careful. Also, having a very restrictive diet has made me very anxious around food, I’m always afraid whatever it is that I am eating will cause food intolerance symptoms. I know I do have some food intolerances because after eating certain things like corn and oats, I instantly have full body autoimmune symptoms. However, I do wonder, if I get my TTG levels to lower to zero, will these intolerances go away? Because technically once I get those levels to zero, that means my gut lining has finally healed and it will be able to digest food properly again. So as long as I stay away from my kryptonite, gluten, I should be okay to eat a variety of food again without feeing sick. That thought actually makes me so excited and pumped to get my gut lining healed.

  2. Mindfulness: This one is HUGE! I have been trained in transcendental meditation and started doing it back when I was in university as I used to have a huge amount of exam anxiety. This technique helped me get through my certification exams, and to be honest, I stopped doing it, and that was a big mistake. I told myself I was way too busy and did not have the time to sit and meditate for 20 minutes twice a day, but this is the exact person that needs to make time for exactly this as they typically need it the most. Since I have started meditating again, I cannot even begin to explain the benefits I have experienced in my everyday life. My thoughts are clearer, I do not snap as much if at all, I’m positive, focused and motivated. Mindfulness does not just have to do with meditation, it also includes living intuitively. If you have a negative thought come into your head, change it right away for a more positive one. If you are overworked, cut your hours. Our bodies need us to start living more intuitively because we all need to start listening to our bodies and giving it what it wants and needs.

These are the three ingredients to not just my wellness journey, but I believe everyone’s. If the health of our mind, nutrition and fitness does not exist, then we are more likely to develop muscle imbalances that will cause injuries. We may have a leaky gut or improperly functioning digestive system because we are not fuelling it properly or moving to help stools pass through your bowels or have a horrible gut brain connection where now the health of your gut effects your mental health and vice versa. All three of these components are absolutely essential for an overall well balanced health and wellness plan, you cannot do one without the other. It only took me siting down and writing this blog for me to truly make this connection. I always tell my patients to include all three but it has really clicked with me as to why.

Regardless if you are on a wellness journey of your own or want to see me through mine, I hope you find what it is you are looking for, because the sun really is brighter on the other side.

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


When Was The Last Time You Stopped?

When was the last time you truly stopped and started living in the moment? I’m not talking about the things we do on a regular basis to make us “stop”. Things that do not count as a true stop are: going to bed and sleeping, a 15 min break in the day, eating, watching TV, reading or finally taking a breath once you get your kids to their soccer game. It also does not count if you plan a jam packed vacation with something planned every single day, I have been there and done that, I can tell you that is not a break it is an adventure. Usually you need a vacation from your vacation in this instance.

What I’m talking about is having a day where you had nothing planned at all, you wake up and just do the things that come to your mind that day. Nothing to do with work or scheduled appointments, where you literally had absolutely nothing to do that day. To be honest with you, I do not remember the last time I had a day like this even during the times right now with living through isolation and not working, somehow I have found a way to still be working on something. Blogs, YouTube channel, videos, Instagram posts, recipes, gardening, you name it, I have found it to keep myself busy.

Staying busy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it helps to keep us structured and in a routine, but when you are only keeping yourself busy, this can take a toll on your body.

It is always very difficult to just stop; stop doing and start being. Stopping allows you to take in the true beauty of life, without feeling like you need to produce something or tend to someone else’s needs. Stopping may allow you to see the little things in life that everyone passes by everyday but never takes any notice to it because we are all just so busy. Things like that mural on the wall of the coffee shop you go to everyday, the different bark on a tree trunk that you walk by everyday, or noticing just how tired you have been the last few months while being too busy to notice it.

In the Western world, we value our work more than we cherish the time spent with a loved one. If you think about it, it’s really quite sad. All we do is work, work, work and then work some more. We are all guilty of exactly this, we make productivity our priority of everyday, this then does not leave much room for living in the now because we try to fit in as much as we can into one 24 hour day. What happens when we do not finish everything on the list for that day? 

We scrutinize and bully ourselves into thinking that we did not accomplish anything that day, when in reality, we did. You think to yourself: I got ready and went to work, got only 90 of the 100 projects I set out for myself today done and had a busy day running around. When maybe we are looking at this all wrong, what would happen if we started celebrating the small victories of each day? Instead, think to yourself: I woke up today, brushed my teeth (or at least I hope you did), went for a 15 minute walk or walked/biked to work instead of driving, I went the whole day not thinking one negative thought, I stretched for 5 minutes, and finally sat down to meditate today. Why don’t we ever feel happy for the little things in each day?

It’s a bit ironic that we work to enjoy the simple things in life and yet here we are working our buns off and never taking a break. To live a full and peaceful life, we need to stop and look inside ourselves and remember exactly what it is that lights the fire within us. This is the big part of having a mindfulness practice everyday, it allows you to have that 15 or 20 minutes in the day to truly stop what you are doing and observe your breath or just how busy your mind is with all of the thoughts running through it. If you do not have 15-20 minutes, try 5 minutes to start.

So I’m going to ask you to stop and consider the last time you truly stopped what you were doing to just be in the moment. If taking a staycation is not an option for you right now, here are some things you can do to live in the moment each day – no technology aloud. 

  1. Take a day off and go to a park or museum.
  2. Make a one day self care plan, think of it as a spa day at home. It can include naps, mediations, pedicures, reading, calming music and walks.
  3. Go on a silent retreat – I personally have not been on one of these but my brother has and absolutely loved it.
  4. Get into nature – move and breathe in it, then be still with it. Listen to the different noises, see the scenery and smell scents it has to offer. Like wind running though the leaves, water falling off a cliff or down a stream, the strong and beautiful scent of that massive lilac bush next to you or the stunning view of a sunrise or sunset.
  5. Take 3 hours and do something creative like draw, paint or play an instrument.
  6. If you cannot take a full day or a few hours, not a problem, start by doing something just for 5 minutes a day. I can almost guarantee if you do this, you will see and feel the benefits of it and that 5 minutes will turn into 15-20 minutes. Do things like a meditation practice, breath work, sit in silence while you concentrate on one object like a lit candle, draw or colour, play an instrument, or writing in your journal.

If you feel like you do not have time for any of the above, then you my friend are the exact person that needs to make this a priority. If you make something a priority in your day, I can guarantee you it will get done. What is stopping you from giving this a try? The fear of missing out on something or the opportunity to “get something done?” You may learn something about yourself if you give this a try, so set aside some time every week to stop doing and start being.