For the month of November 2016 we will be “Practicing Balance: Taking Care of Others & Taking Care of You” in our mindful wellness online community. Click here to learn more about practicing with us (new topics every month).
How often do we read or hear good advice these days?
When it comes to taking care of ourselves and others, the answer is all the time.
In just ten minutes on social media today, I got tons of good advice: I should take technology breaks, develop healthy sleep routines, be kind to everyone I meet, forgive myself, get politically and socially active, be grateful, use a squatty potty, stretch every day, love my body as it is, walk, eliminate my use of plastics… awesome, right?
Well, yes and no.
Yes because reminders and education about conscious living can be very useful. It’s not necessarily a bad experience for me to be immersed in a marketing-curated stream of exposure to good ideas. I learn, feel reminded, and if I can pull mind and body away from the computer screen, I even try new things once in awhile.
However, there are a number of things about this stream of advice that aren’t so awesome.
• Endless advice can lead us to believe we constantly need to improve. When we get too caught believing that we are never right or never enough, we can lose sight of what we actually want and value in this moment and into the future.
• There is too much advice to integrate into a real life. Without forming clear intentions and taking thoughtful actions towards the changes we seek, good advice can just accumulate into an ever-growing pile.
• From that big pile, we quietly grow our list of “shoulds” and hold ourselves to unrealistic standards. Perhaps we get harder on ourselves. Perhaps we feel frozen, knowing we need a change, but we can’t find where or how to begin.
With evermore guiding influence pulling for our attention every day, we face a common challenge: how do we find the guidance we need and use our life energy in ways that serve us well.
Mindful wellness practices can be valuable to help us discover and benefit from the wise guidance all around us. They help us grow more skillful with the art of looking inward in a world that relentlessly draws our attention outward. Through practice, looking inward becomes more natural and available in any circumstance.
With even a very simple practice for a few minutes a day, you may find that the burdens of overwhelm, distraction and “shoulds” get considerably easier to release. You may find that you are more able to slow down and enjoy as you gain a greater sense of what supports you, and what changes you really want in life. And you may find that changes toward health and happiness grow easier to explore and sustain.
A few tools that can serve you well:
Mindful pausing. When life gives us a lot to react to or think about, it can be very hard to interrupt our own energy even for a moment. Practicing a “mindful pause,” in which we learn to stop and notice ourselves in the here and now, relax a little, find our breath and open our awareness can be the single most powerful tool in your toolbox.
Cultivate kindness toward yourself and others. Kindness is a state of mind, heart and action that we can cultivate in many ways. From kindness we grow interested in what we authentically want or need in our lives. From kindness we connect with others toward the good of all, understanding the ways we are alike in our humanity.
Explore the habits of your energy. It is the nature of the human mind to form habits. If we do something or think something in a repetitive way, eventually the habit energy takes over and our brains have to expend very little energy to keep it going. Making changes often requires a briefly uncomfortable interruption of habit energy, and an uncomfortable (until practiced for awhile) practice of something new. We can begin to see the ways our minds habitually act, and we can begin to change the nature or those responses.
These are just a few tools to play with at any time, and what we know is that the more regularly these are practiced, even for a few minutes, the easier and more beneficial they become.
As I’ve read articles in preparation for the Practicing Balance topic in our Mindful Wellness Online Community, focused on balancing the loving tasks of taking care of ourselves and taking care of others, guess what I’ve found: a lot of good advice.
Let’s see what we can do with it!
Feel free to join us in practicing the art of growing well, together.
To learn more about these practices and other ways to get support for what you’re up to in life, set up a free consultation with Jen, Grow Well founder, psychotherapist and coach or check our our upcoming community offerings.
If you’d like to explore the power of online community to support your everyday wellbeing, join our free Mindful Wellness Practice Community on Facebook.