Blog Post

The Challenge with Mindfulness

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough.  Each moment is all we need, not more.”  – Mother Teresa

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The idea of Mindfulness seems simple but like so many other things, it turns out not to be so simple after all.

Each month I choose a theme of focus.  I choose them based upon several factors.

  1. Something that is of general interest to me
  2. Something that I am passionate about for myself and for others
  3. Something that I am myself challenged with in my own life

It is almost always remarkable to me that during the course of each month I learn so much for my own journey in exploring that month’s theme.  I learn so much and am inspired to enhance my own life through many new practices or behaviors.  I am constantly reminded that while we may be good or even a little great at some things (it is ok to say that!), there are always new things to learn and to bring into practice in our lives.

Mindfulness has been no different than any other monthly theme.  Here’s what I have learned during the course of #MindfulMay…

  1. Introspection or self-reflection is different than Mindfulness.
  2. Mindfulness is so much more than meditation and clearing one’s mind.
  3. Removing judgment from our thoughts is challenging and takes practice
  4. Mindfulness is about being present; being clear with your thoughts and emotions; and being able to focus on what is important.

I am typically a very introspective and analytical person.  In fact I would go so far as to say that I tend to think too much.  Like so many, I over analyze and often times put judgment to my  thoughts, emotions and behaviors.  Of course, I am not saying a healthy dose of introspection is not beneficial to one’s own growth, but like anything it should be in balance.  If not in check it can become a sometimes vicious and exhausting cycle that many times leads to anxiety, insomnia and a let’s face it – a lessened level of joy in life than is possible and we deserve..

I have tried and benefited from many things in the endeavor to be mindful and “open” and present in my life.  These are a few of the practices in which I am dedicating myself:

  1. Meditation:  Like many others, meditation is an elusive practice to me.  I have explored it for many years and struggled with it in practice.  I’ve come to realize that I (we) have to forgive ourselves and our imperfections and release some of our own expectations of something in order to experience it.  Unlike the idea of “Eat, Pray, Love” we do not HAVE to go travel the world and learn to sit in stillness for an extended period of time. Now with the grace of technology and some great “Apps” you can learn to meditate anytime, anywhere.
  2. Physical Activity: I like to run but running isn’t for everyone.  For me the benefit is twofold.  First of all, the challenge of it (getting through that initial “why do I love this again” period) forces me to focus on nothing but getting through the hurdle.  Secondly, the endurance is my therapy.  I can get into and “out of” my own head.
  3. Creative Outlet:  I love my camera!  But whether it is painting, glassblowing, needlework or photography, anything that gets you out of your own head and allows you to focus on a single thing will bring you to a mindful state.  Plus you will end up with something beautiful in the end!
  4. Journaling:  This I admit is a new one for me.  I have always thought it would be a good practice to have but have never been one to go more than one or two entries.  But I have found a new appreciation and willingness to dedicate the time to develop a routine.  It is a great way to release thoughts.  It is also a great way to focus an intention and change a mindset.  I recommend looking at incorporating some format to your journaling.  Along with your general thoughts and feeling about anything – add a list of gratitude and an intention.

These are just a few of my latest explorations to achieve a better practice of mindfulness.   I’d love to hear how you may be incorporating more Mindful practices in your life.  It is one of my driving principles, (and one of the goals of LiveChicago) to not only try to inspire through theory and practice but to also be first off inspired by others.  Life (and LiveChicago) is a journey we are on together.

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