When I used to hear the word mindfulness, I always thought it meant that I had to go to some very distant part of the universe in my mind full of butterflies, crystals, buddha's and long deep breathes. I thought to myself, "when in the world am I ever going to get to a place that has all those amazing things at once and do I really want to or have the patience for that?" I am a go go go kind of girl. I have a hard time slowing down and always have. If I have 5 minutes in the day, I tend to fill it with something on my to-do list and if it's not on there then I add it so I can check it off.
Through my individual work with my therapist and being a therapist myself, I've re-learned what mindfulness is. Brené Brown describes it as "paying attention." That's it. Just pay attention. I can do that. I can pay attention. I'm really good at that. I'm especially good at that with others but the work is how to do it with myself.
For those of you who have a hard time being "mindful" I'm going to invite you to try to "pay attention" instead. I don't know about you but it's really helped me reframe the way I think about calm and stillness. The way I think about slowing down. The phrase "paying attention" gives me permission to slow down in really creative ways that I never would have tried before. I'll list them below.
A quick look at my day:
6:30am: Wake up. Stretch. Breathe. Eat a banana and drink a protein shake.
7:30am: Workout at Orange Theory Fitness. Most recently, I had gone a very long time without doing any exercise at all. My idea of exercise was laying on the couch watching back to back episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. When I landed in the ER for the first time in my life this year with dangerously high blood pressure, I knew something about my lifestyle had to change. I needed to move my body. Joining Orange Theory has changed my life, my body and my health. I'm not looking to lose pounds or even be the next runway model. I want to be healthy. I want to feel good. I want to be alive. Whatever you choose, just move your body.
8:30am: Eat a second breakfast that is protein-based and take a long shower. I get dressed with a little music playing in the background. My favorite thing about getting ready is picking out my shoes.
*Drive to work happens here too. I usually listen to a podcast. My favorites that I listen to often are Being Boss, The Marie Forleo Podcast, Practice of the Practice, Abundant Practice, Straight Up With Stassi and Other: Mixed Race In America.
9:30am: Arrive at my office and take some time to set an intention for the day. I usually write it on a post it note and stick it on my desk where I can see it all day. I look at my schedule to see what beautiful clients I get to work with that day and prepare my mind, body and soul for what's to come. I usually light a candle in my office, water my succulents if needed and fill up my water bottle. It's go time!
10:00am - 6:00pm: My day is spent in session with clients, returning e-mails, working on my marketing strategy and planning for any offerings I have coming up. In between sessions I usually make time to slow down and drown out the noise in my head. I usually choose from the following things; I make time to practice box breathing, take a walk around the neighborhood, put on my favorite Spotify playlist titled "Totally Stress Free." or see who's around the office and make time to interact with my colleagues.
6:30pm: I make the trek home. I usually turn off the radio and drive in silence because as if traffic is not stressful enough, it's been a long day and I need some quiet time for me. Luckily I have a 30 minute drive home so it gives me a chance to reflect on the day and leave it at the office because no matter what is done or left undone, at the end of the day I am enough.
7:00pm: Cook and enjoy dinner with my husband. The t.v. is silent but it is on. We always eat at the dinner table together. We share our peaks and valleys of the day and we reflect on how we feel. We check in with each other. During this time we have a rule: no cell phones and no distractions. It's just the two of us. We are paying attention to each other.
9:00pm: Wrap up dinner and clean up the kitchen. My husband and I make it a priority to have some time alone at home. It's how we manage each other's needs based on our personality type. He is an introvert and I am an extroverted introvert. We need alone time even when we're in the same house. He'll usually go to the bedroom and read and I will either read, journal or watch a t.v. show. Yes. I watch t.v. and it's totally okay. I'm not numbing out and binge watching 15 episodes of Grey's Anatomy like I used to but I am getting some comfort from watching 1 episode of DVR. It's what we need. It's how we fill each other up and ourselves.
10:30pm: Bedtime. I put my phone on silent and turn it face down. Bryan (said husband) and I chit chat before bedtime and wind down. I haven't gotten to the place where I don't have my phone at my nightstand but I'm taking baby steps. I have faith I will get there soon. Before I close my eyes, I practice some gratitude for the day I just had. It's how I remind myself to pay attention to the small stuff.
Some ideas for you to slow down and pay attention that I practice often are:
- Listen to music while I'm getting ready for the day. Listen to the lyrics and the background instrumentals. Pay attention to the flow of the song. Sing along if you want to!
- Listening to a podcast on your way to work.
- Start your day with your favorite beverage whether it's a hot tea, a glass of lemon water, a hot cup of coffee or a protein shake and take 5 minutes to intentionally journal while focusing on the words that I am putting on paper. You don't need a prompt or a a "Dear Diary" entry. Just let your pen flow.
- Turn off the radio while driving home. Drive in silence. After such a long day, it's important for you to reflect and catch your breathe.
- Enjoy a nice dinner with good company. Leave your phone in your purse during dinner. Focus on the conversation and the good food in front of you. Indulge in connecting with who you're with. You'll never get that exact same moment again.
- Practice breathing. Take 2 minutes, plant your feet on the ground, breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, repeat.
- Take a walk outside. Notice how the trees are moving and the way the wind is blowing. Feel the temperature and lift your face to the sun. Breathe in the air.
I'd love to hear how you take time to slow down and pay attention and if you're not doing it, it's never too late. It's all a practice. We don't always get it right but we can always try again the next day.