Purse, keys, laptop, cell phone, backpacks, did I pack the kids’ lunches? Without noticing it all, my brain is in overload, and the to-do list is longer than an Aldi receipt. I can quickly run on autopilot, not noticing what my mind needs. Instead, I fixate on the beautiful distractions of images, commercials, podcasts, and videos. Easier to pay attention to those than the fact that I haven’t eaten breakfast or used the restroom all morning. How long can this overwhelm be sustainable?
The answer comes in the form of a massive headache and the urge to eat the pint of ice cream. You find yourself defeated, irritated, tired, and curled up on your couch.
As someone that hated the idea of deep feelings, meditation, and mindfulness, it was easier to judge the unknown than to recognize the why’s of my overwhelmed brain. It all seemed so unattainable, hard, and difficult. I just wanted to scream and cry. I found myself looking into mindfulness, could this be it? Do I even have the energy to invest in it? It all started with a simple deep breathing exercise, I continued breathing for a few weeks. Ok, this is not so bad. I have noticed my neck is tense, and do I hold my breath all day?
As I started to notice what breathing was doing to my mind-body connection I was intrigued, I kept practicing my breathing for a few more weeks. It became a habit, to utilize my breath to cope with a stressful situation. I became less reactive and took longer to answer or talk. Like my breath gave me an extra five seconds as a buffer against my own thoughts and responses. Could this be me? Could I have the ability to self-regulate on my own? Can my brain have the capacity to do that?
Four years later, I’m a testament to what daily mindfulness practices can do for your mind and overall wellness. It gives you the ability to cope with challenging emotions and situations in a mindful way. It doesn’t mean I don’t face overwhelming feelings, but it means I’m more mindful of how I respond.
Mindfulness doesn’t mean getting an expensive yoga membership or subscribing to a meditation app. It starts with noticing your breath, quieting your mind, and giving yourself permission to feel. As I write this, smiling and drinking my daily dose of caffeine, I’m content and proud of the steps that I’ve taken to become more aware of what my mind needs.
If you made it to the end, maybe you’re starting to ponder, could this work for me, too? I have created a simple breathing exercise for you to follow. My hope is that you find it useful in your own mindfulness journey.