Understanding Your Daily Focus
We hear about mindfulness often, but what is it really, and why do
we do it? At its most basic, mindfulness is a set of tools you can use when
your natural reactions are not serving you well. This could be something as
simple as deep breathing techniques to calm down, exercising for anxiety, or
otherwise engaging the body in conscious ways. In practice, mindfulness is the
use of these tools, it’s the way that we override our nervous system to
re-regulate ourselves. Things like anger, fear, and even other, smaller
emotions can set us on edge and spiral our bodies into a pattern of behavior.
Mindfulness is turning this reaction off and redirecting that energy.
In this week’s Daily Focus, I want to look beyond the abstract concept of mindfulness, practical tools, and what that looks like in basic action. Instead, let’s look at what happens to our minds, nervous systems, and lives when we begin to subconsciously adopt these strategies.
Saturday, March 19
“Unspeakable feelings need to find expression in words. However, verbalization of very intense feelings may be a difficult task.” –James A. Chu
There is a natural disconnect that occurs somewhere between our nervous system recognizing that there is a threat, and our ability to articulate what we’re feeling. Often, anxiety is just a nebulous vibe hanging over things, and not something that we can control. Part of controlling our emotions and negative thoughts comes from acknowledging them.
Sunday, March 20
“In between every action and reaction, there is a space. Usually,
the space is extremely small because we react so quickly but take notice of
that space and expand it. Be aware in that space that you have a choice to
make.” –Rebecca Eanes
This is sort of the crux of it, for me. Our brains are wired to notice and respond to patterns. When something familiar and upsetting happens—our bodies already know what to do. But there is a split second in between these two things where we have a chance to reevaluate. Next time you find yourself saying, “You know what, that’s it,” try to open that small moment up and respond differently. Even if you don’t mean it, sometimes just going through the motion can offer up a new pattern to our brains.
Monday, March 21
“Emotional regulation flows naturally from being in the presence
of someone we trust” –Bonnie Badenoch
One of the ways we can begin to open that space is up is by
modeling behavior after someone we trust. This is often why a partner, sibling,
or parent can calm someone down where other things might fail. Our bodies and
our minds recognize the other person and find safety there. It opens that split-second
moment of reaction and allows for thought to come into play, instead of pure
instinct. On the other hand, we should also remember that we can be this for
others when they need it.
Tuesday, March 22
“Baby deer are born knowing how to run, something that probably
saves their lives right away. Humans are born knowing only how to scream. What
does that tell you? That knowing how to ask for help is the most important
thing we can know.”
Sometimes what we really need is someone else to help us break out
of our panic, sadness, and fear. Sometimes just a hug is enough for us to feel
better because we are naturally predisposed to behave communally. Our greatest
strength lies in the way we can better one another, how we can learn from, grow
with, and encourage other people around us. There is so much more to the layers
of love, laugher, and peace when it is a shared experience.
Wednesday, March 23
“You don’t have to control your thoughts; you just have to stop
letting them control you.” –Dan Millman
This is sort of the fake it ‘til you make it attitude, just pumped
up and working in your favor. You do not have to feel perfectly calm, ready, or
good to perform the motions. Sometimes, just going through the action and
saying, “Yes, I understand that I have real concerns, real anxiety, and real
feelings about these things, but I still need to put one foot in front of the
other.”This is what it means to neither control your thoughts, nor to
let them control you. Let them come, let them go, and do not react directly to
Thursday, March 24
“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away
and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. –Pema
A big way to be at peace with your thoughts is to stop pushing
them away. Sometimes it’s best to just sit with your thoughts, to allow them to
take shape so you can respond to them logically. The best version of yourself
is not a clean slate, but rather taking all of the lessons you have learned so
far and building on that.
Friday, March 25
“You cannot control the results, only your actions.” –Allan
Peace comes from letting go. All we can do is be the best version
of ourselves, be true to ourselves, react in a way we won’t regret, let our feelings
be heard, and then also understand that there will always be things, people,
and situations that we simply have no control over. And that’s fine. Because we
do have control over ourselves, and that’s all anyone in this world really
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