Attention and the Now
This first mindful approach to well-being is simple and yet can be so hard to do. It is the foundation of mindful living, which is to be aware of and present in the here and now. Attention in the ‘now’ is to be a conscious observer of yourself.
Being in the now opens the door to awareness of our thoughts and emotions. It allows us to make conscious and intentional decisions for how too respond to our internal and external environment.
A mindful approach to well-being is about being present in a moment, not just living it, but noticing your physical body, your emotions and your thoughts. Actually listening to yourself and your body, and noticing when something is wrong, imbalanced, or balanced.
Starting right now, take notice of how your body feels. You can use this Body Scan exercise if you want a method to check in with your physical body.
By noticing your body messaging, thoughts and emotions, you start to see patterns. With awareness of your patterns, you become intentional in how you respond. You are engaging in mindful living and it becomes a habitual way of being. Mindfulness is a way of being.
Intentional response is based on awareness of your physical space, emotions, and thought patterns, and consciously deciding what you want the outcome to look like. Then taking the best action.
When you are holding that intentional awareness of the thought and emotion cycle in the now, take a pause. This pause is the mindful way of making a conscious and intentional choice for how you will respond, rather than making an unconscious or impulsive response.
This mindful approach to well-being will help you feel more in control of your actions. Over time, you will consciously be able to change how you respond based on what you have learned about patterns that regularly appear in your internal and external environments.
Attention to the here and now will reveal the cycle of thought to emotions, and the potential negative thinking cycles that we can put on a replaying loop. It also helps become more in touch with our body and fosters the mind body connection. This type of mindful approach will help create positive space in your life and increase well-being.
Managing stress, maintaining balance, and practicing self-compassion is a lifelong balancing act. As humans, we are constantly trying to find peace and bring balance in our lives. Incorporating self-compassion into your daily conversation with yourself is a mindful approach to well-being.
The way that you speak to yourself has a direct relationship to your thoughts and emotions. The body and mind connection is a real thing. We can make ourselves physically ill from stress, worry, and catastrophizing. By getting in the habit of talking compassionately toward yourself, you will increase feelings of happiness and optimism, resulting in greater well-being.
There is a lot of research coming out about this through the field of Positive Psychology. You do not have to look far to find research studies that support the connection between well-being and mindfulness approaches in life.
Difficult times call for self-compassion and solution focused thinking. Positive times call for self-compassion and recognition. When you do well, you want to recognize that. Don’t let a negative voice come in telling you that you could have done better. Remember to recognize what went well, not just when you need a big self-hug.
It’s important to recognize what didn’t go well, and how you will do better next time. But do remember to acknowledge when things go right because of your talent and skills. It’s easier to forget to compliment ourselves than to give ourselves credit. Be your biggest fan, not your harshest critic.
Often we are better at giving compassion to someone else than ourselves. That goes with the cliche, we are our own harshest critic. So if you find it’s easier to be compassionate to another than it is to be with yourself, imagine what you would say to a friend in need, then say it to yourself.
If you are already in the practice of using positive self-talk, yay you! If you are really good at beating yourself up, stop it! Commit to being nicer to yourself right now.
Make this Promise to Yourself (say it out loud)
I promise myself that I will replace harsh words with kind words and I will use kind words with myself more often.
Use Positive Self-Talk Mantras
I will get through this.
I am brave.
I can do this.
I believe in myself.
I deserve the time to take care of my health and well-being.
Taking care of me takes care of everyone I love.
Use these positive self-talk mantras often. Make up your own to fit unique situations. Create them ahead of time so you know exactly what to start saying to your beautiful inside self any time negative self-talk starts.
If you want to learn more about the health benefits of positive self-talk, check out this article from the Mayo Clinic.
Mindful approach to Ruminating Thoughts
Ruminating thoughts are the ones you can’t get out of your head. As hard as you try, they just don’t go away. They drive you crazy, you just want to think about something else, but you can’t stop.
To break out of a rumination loop, you connect to the present moment. Understanding that, the ruminating thoughts will come back. If you try to make them go away and stay away, you will stay stuck in the cycle. Be realistic and accepting, and bring your attention to the present.
As you anchor yourself back in the present, repeatedly, the frequency and intensity of ruminating thoughts will decrease. It helps to change your atmosphere. For example, use essential oils, play music, engage in a hobby, go out for sport, or meet a friend.
It helps to use mantras and positive self-statements. Put them on a loop instead of the ruminating thought. Engage in activities you enjoy. Take a bath, color, write, make art, vision board, take a walk, go to the beach, or any other thing that you enjoy doing.
With ruminating thought and emotion cycles, we can get upset with ourselves for being in the loop. Give yourself a hug and do things that make you feel good. Self-compassion is necessary in a mindful way of living, and will help you when you find yourself in a rumination mind loop.
To disrupt ruminating thoughts, you want to replace them with thoughts that lower stress, keep you engaged in the present moment and activity, and help you problem solve. Recognize that ruminating thoughts often linger when you try to make them stop and never come back. There is a saying, ‘that which you resist, persists.’
When you accept that ruminating thoughts usually pop back in, then you can put your focus on what you will do to disrupt them, rather than becoming upset that you cannot make them stop. Another activity you can do is to move into solution thinking. If the rumination won’t go away, rather than dwell on the problem, think about solutions.
You may want to get help when you are working on solutions to ruminating thoughts. Call a friend, or anyone in your support system. Be cautious that you are not pulling others into your loop. Use the attention to the present and now, and come up with practical solutions that are possible now.
Limit the amount of time you give to the solution finding process since it involves future thinking. Come up with solutions, make a plan, and then engage yourself in an activity.
Battling Conflict from Black and White Thinking
When we think in opposites, as if there are only two opposing ways, we are using rigid, or black and white thinking. Remember the famous line of Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars when he said to Obi Wan Kenobi, ‘If you aren’t with me, you are against me.’
Well, as the story goes, we know that was not the case with obi wan. But because Anakin could not see beyond two opposing sides, he went deeper into the dark side becoming Darth Vader, losing his wife, and alienating himself from his offspring he was trying to protect.
In real life, we do this automatically all the time. We make judgments and we engage in black and white thinking. Most of the time it is unconscious and automatic, and comes from years of being in our culture, community, and environment.
Like when you see a particular fashion statement, car, hair style, vocal style, or occupation. A judgment is made about that person. The person is this type of person or that type of person.
Now this is normal, it’s the way our minds work, we judge. But to notice when our minds are doing that judgy thing helps for when we might go a little dark side, like Anakin, and become rigid in our thinking. Even go so far to deny the efficacy of the ‘other’ side.
These limits on the validity of other angles can result in conflict. Using the mindful approach of paying attention when we are judging will help us when we get into a conflict.
The mindful approach simple and basic approach, that is hard to remember to do. Attention to the now is the first step. Bring yourself to the present moment and pause. The idea is not to stop judging, but to recognize judging, and during this pause to make a conscious and intentional decision for how to open your mind.
Make a conscious effort to consider more than two ways, or sides, of the situation. Does the pizza have to be cut into halves, can it be quarters so everyone gets what they want on the pizza? Does it have to be get a nose ring or not? Could you try out a magnetic nose ring to see how you or your child likes it?
Could the person with the pink hair also be a lawyer. Does the clean cut looking suit mean they are conservative in all parts of their life. Could they be the guitar player in a metal band? You don’t know.
This mindful approach is working on being aware of automatic judgments so when you are irritated or annoyed with someone, you can consider alternate viewpoints in place of black and white thinking.
One really important thing to remember: Do not judge yourself for judging.
Judgment happens as a normal human behavior. Rather, congratulate yourself for recognizing when it happens, and then use the present moment to consciously decide what comes next. Break any rigid cycles consciously by being open to a whole rainbow of options.
Acceptance that nothing lasts forever
Unpleasant things happen sometimes. And we want them to end as soon as possible, so we resist these unpleasant feelings. The mindful approach to well-being is dealing with this resistance to the inevitable unpleasant experience. This is acceptance of the reality of being human.
This can work in the opposite direction too. We experience many pleasant experiences, and we don’t want them to end. We resist letting go of the moment. But attempting to hold on to that moment results in losing the beauty of the now, because the focus went to the future.
The mindful approach to acceptance is seeing and accepting that nothing lasts forever. This is the dynamic nature of life. We could not understand the meaning of pleasant things without unpleasant things. They go hand in hand.
Acceptance is feeling what is present and accepting it. Present moment focus is emotional regulation, by staying in contact with what is right here and right now. It is not indifference, liking or agreeing with a situation, or passive resignation. It is actually an active state of being aware and experiencing the present moment.
Acceptance is a pathway to breaking patterns of thinking about what you ‘should think’ or ‘should be feeling’ based on self-judgment. Remember to practice self-compassion as you encounter experiences which call for acceptance.
Acceptance allows you the time for pause, consideration, and a conscious intention for what action, if any, you will take. Even in the most pleasant situations, be mindful of acceptance so you can stay in the moment and savor it rather than worry about continuing it. Squeeze every moment of pleasure out of it that you can, and then let it go.
This may seem like a strange mindfulness approach, but goal setting has two important components to consider. One, conscious intention needs direction. Two, balance is necessary for future thinking and being in the present moment. You don’t want to spend too much time in future thinking.
Goals are important because they give you milestones, benchmarks, a vision to strive for, and something to celebrate when achieved. Goals are not present oriented, but future oriented. Which is why a mindful approach to well-being is recognizing that more time should spent spent in the present moment working on baby steps toward goals.
Too much future thinking can keep us from reaching our goals, because our thoughts are always fixed on achievement being ‘in the future.’ We become frustrated and it takes away the focus and action toward achieving that goal. Weight loss is a great example of too much future thinking interfering with baby steps of the now.
Attention to our goals in the here and now looks like taking action in the present through small steps that eventually lead to an overall achievement. The steps are small and bite sized, so that your attention in the now accomplishes a particular piece of the overall goal that moves you forward.
Some practical approaches to working with goals are: Do short check-ins, not constantly, like a weekly and/or monthly calendared checkin. A monthly review at the new moon is a great plan. That’s what I do every new moon. Write your bigger or long-term goals annually. The new year, or April on the equinox is a great time to do a long-term goal writing and review.
Goal achievement is broken into small specific tasks you accomplish daily or weekly. Over time these tasks take you toward goal achievement. As you go about completing each task, you stay focused on that one task, remaining in the now, deeply engaged in doing quality work for that one item.
The rule of thumb is to give more (a lot more) undivided attention to the present than the future. Leave the rest of your time for living your life with attention to the here and now.
Authenticity: There is no comparison for younique You
Stories we tell ourselves can land us in a rut. Like, ‘I am not creative,’ or ‘I could never learn how to play piano because I’m not artistic.’ Those are stories we make up about ourselves that over time become who we are.
We formulate our life story, and we define our attributes. The longer time period we tell ourself a story to ourselves and others, the more ingrained and real it becomes.
When you identify certain stories as who you are, you are building your ego. The particular style of dress, conservative or liberal, educated, artsy, creative, and modest or flashy. These are all stories you tell yourself that define you, and guide your approach to life. You stay within the lines of this story you have created.
You can direct your story in the future to go down any path you want. Fear and wanting to fit in can keep us locked into a story we are not excited to live. Instead, we have a vivid dream world of a life we aren’t living. When someone asks you what your dream job is, how far away from reality is your answer?
I once asked my mom what her dream job would be. This was after she had put decades into her career already. I was blown away when her response was the job she was doing. Now this is someone who wrote her own story. Her career wasn’t glamorous, high paying, and some days she didn’t like it. But she lived the story she wanted to live.
Oftentimes our character and story is built out of someone else’s story, like your parents, your culture, the media, religion, or community. What you ‘think’ your story is supposed to be. Taking a mindful approach is about making a conscious effort to define your authentic self and live your story, no one else’s. Easier said than done.
A mindful approach to your story involves opening your mind and being honest with yourself. Are you living an authentic life, or one that ‘fits’ with expectations of you. I am not suggesting you drop your entire character and become someone else.
I am suggesting you take an honest evaluation of how happy and content you are. If you woke up tomorrow morning and everything was different, like every wish and dream you have came true, what would it look like. How different is it from the life you are living?
If it’s totally different, you may want to start a new journey of self-discovery and development. If your dream life isn’t all that different from your real life, hooray! You are what Carl Jung might call an individuated human being, and likely a helper for others.
There are some signs that can be flags that you are not living your authentic story.
- You are constantly comparing yourself with others to determine success and happiness.
- Your fear of losing something (beauty, income, house) keeps you from doing something you really want to do.
- You exhibit controlling behavior over others and meddling in how others live their lives.
- Wanting more but never satisfied when you get it (more money, nicer car, bigger house).
- Jealousy and envy of others drives you to ‘outdo’ them but never leaves you satisfied.
- You become defensive and sensitive to criticism because you do not separate yourself from the thing being criticized. You are over identified with the story and inflexible in constructive feedback.
- You judge your success and happiness based on external things (car, title, looks, status) rather than internal self contentment.
Observing rather than believing stories about yourself is a mindful approach to well-being. By observing, you can start to detangle the true stories, from the false stories that have been designed to ‘fit in.’
As you become aware of your authentic self on the inside, you can transfer that to your outer self. You become more individualized and stronger. You learn that you are far more than the things that you identify with to meet outside approval.
This mindful approach to living your authentic story will help you on your journey to be fabulous and youniquely you. You build your character. You write your own story. It doesn’t matter your age, or your history, the future is yet to be written.
Astrology and your Authentic Story
Astrology is an amazing companion for a mindful approach to well-being. The planets help you understand, develop, and construct your younique story and anchor you in the present moment.
Astrology has been the best approach I have experienced personally in my self development and growth journey. It has helped me gain greater clarity and acceptance of my authentic self. Many things didn’t make sense to me until I started to learn about myself through the eyes of astrology.
Things started to make sense because of these diverse dichotomies that existed inside of me that were really hard to make sense of. I always felt different, and that I didn’t fit in. I discovered there were all these different archetypal energies trying to collaborate and work together. But sometimes they weren’t very good at it.
Other times, they were too good at it – and I over did a particular character trait. There is no one right way toward self-discovery and self-development. Astrology is one path, and it accepts you for who you are in all your youniqueness.
I would love to support you in creating your authentic story through astrology. I would be happy to answer your questions about how astrology can help you write your authentic story in a free consultation.