The word ’mindful’ appears now more than ever; mindful eating, mindful life, mindful shopping, almost 2 million hits on google alone. When I think of the word mindful- I think of awareness. A mindful moment isn’t necessarily filled with comfy zen calm, when I stub my toe I am suddenly and powerfully awake and aware of the throbbing in my foot and the immediacy of the pain. I am experiencing a definite moment of mindful awareness of my present time experience. Yow!
But then, my stress response fight or flight mechanism kicks in to ‘protect’ me, and I might spin off into reactivity, anger, fear, judgement for my ‘perceived’ clumsy movement to the ‘apparent’ negligence of street cleaners or dump trucks, who knows. I could fester on this particular event for years. Maybe.
This is mindlessness, a habitual pattern of chronic mind wandering that keeps you and I in reactivity, judgement, fear, wanting things to be different, the places most of us spend most of our time and energy. Research finds that up to 90% of our thoughts are repeats. All just as the mind was designed to do, to help us remember tasks, protect us from harm, and keep us going day to day in our stressful lives. While our ancient animal brain loves patterns and habits, and is designed to keep us alive into the next moment, it doesn’t care about our long term wellness, vitality, and joy. So, while we are marinating in our culture of stress response, increasing our overall ill health as we move about our days, how do we evolve our ancient systems to help us find wellness, avoid chronic issues like disease, addiction, discomfort in mind, body, and soul? Can we?
I believe the answer is yes. We can build our resilience, deepen our compassion for ourselves and others, and increase our confidence, hope and joy all while enjoying better health, wellness in body, mind and soul. With a deeper calm, peace and ease, our creativity blooms, our passion, joy of life and desire to serve humanity grows too. Sounds like a world I want to live in.
I created Mindful Journeys as an embodied healing practice to bring mindfulness in body, mind, and spirit with ease for everyone. There are thousands of ways to achieve a mindful, awake and aware consciousness, all designed to help us move through life with more ease, vitality and clarity, and I have tried most of them. I remember in my 40’s after a painful divorce crying in my therapist’s office and asking if my life would ever stop the roller coaster ride, and would I ever find some calm. She just nodded, sympathetically, I guess, and I went home and took my antidepressants. I started an intense yoga practice in a hot yoga studio, attempting to sweat away my misery, and it did empty me out, but I didn’t feel joy.
I tried meditation too, many kinds, and mostly felt like a failure. I couldn’t find anything that seemed to work for me, that I could stick with. I knew I needed something, desperately. I’ve done the gamut of panic attacks, mental and physical break downs, a horrible menopause, and lots of pharmaceuticals. A few years ago I met a wonderful compassionate counselor who truly understands embodied healing, and with her care I felt my body and brain reset. I can’t stress the importance of support on any wellness journey, I am so grateful to family and friends for their support in my journey.
During Covid lockdown, I learned qi gong, an ancient healing practice designed to bring health and wellness to targeted organs and systems, a sometimes strong and powerful practice, sometimes very simple movement. I gained an advanced yoga certification from a wonderful wise woman, a Buddhist teacher and master yogi who showed me the connection of mindful awareness, buddhist dharma teachings, and the purposeful movement of yoga— not the exercise-y Yoga Fit I learned years ago.
All this learning and support began to coalesce in my head. I began training in the use of energy medicine (think acupressure points) tools and techniques as well, and began to weave together a practice that is both accessible and valuable to everyone. My students are all ages, and tell me they feel empowered by this practice, just as I feel. It is an experience of building joyful resilience.
I know that many people are intimidated by yoga— and honestly, most of us find common yoga poses like Downward Facing Dog or even a Forward Fold pretty extreme. My hubbie has been doing yoga with me for years and he still groans a bit when we do a forward fold.
But yoga is not just physical poses to put a body into, it is purposeful movement developed over thousands of years to stretch, expand and impact our subtle energy system, calming and centering our nervous system— and all the organs of the body. And stretch any tight or tense muscles and tendons! Other ancient practices like qi gong and tai chi provide similar health benefits.
Energy wants to move, and needs space to move. When we store ’stuck’ energy—anything negative really—like all that chronic stress we live with day to day, it settles in our tissues, organs, all the way to our cells. Scientists say 90% of our current health concerns come from our response to stress. If that is true, then mindful movement, woven with a purposeful breath practice, and a focused mind can literally save our lives.