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Archive for April, 2020

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Being mindful, is in essence, being fully in the present moment with a willingness and curiosity to be with ‘what is.’ It involves being aware of the physical sensations in your body, the thoughts in your mind, and the willingness to be with the full gamut of your emotions, as well as holding ALL of the above with compassion. If you are not practicing compassion with yourself or others, you are not practicing mindfulness.


a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Life Coach and Inspiration and Wellness Specialist at Lake Austin Spa Resort, Julie Haber.

Julie brings over 25 years of experience in holistic living and a passion for helping others. She believes our most valuable wisdom comes from the experience of our own life. She likes to remind herself and others that the word inspiration comes from the Latin verb inspire, which means to ‘breathe into.’ She believes every experience we go through in life, whether challenging or enjoyable, gives us an opportunity to breathe into it.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

love this question! I would love to be able to say I had an epiphany or a bolt of light appeared one day and guided me to pursue the career path I am on now, but truthfully that was not how it went down at all. I came to this path from a place of pain and searching for answers. I was in need of healing having suffered from a long term autoimmune disease and multiple life disappointments. I knew I needed a combination of knowledge, healing and inspiration and was on a desperate search for that.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

What stands out for me the most about my career path is that every person I have coached and helped has reflected back to me parts of my own self. The saying, ‘We teach what we most need to learn,’ has been so true for me. I believe I receive frequent blessings through working and serving others, as it often reminds me to apply what I share with others, to my own self. I love helping people find a path of peace, wellness and wisdom.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

There is so much more I could say about this, but to keep it short and simple, I believe there are three things necessary in order to create an optimum, productive, and inspired work culture.

  1. Express gratitude and appreciation for each other’s unique contributions.
  2. Commit to doing our personal best individually and collectively as a team, with a common shared purpose and vision to help others.
  3. Incorporate a collaborative leadership and conflict resolution model. Understand that conflict is natural and allows for growth and opportunity.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. It is the story of a young boy who goes out into the world with a personal vision. Many say he is too poor and young, and this is a ludicrous idea, but he holds fast to his dream. The idea being, if you believe and desire something, and your desire is pure, the whole universe will help and support you in the realization of your dream. It is a book about hope, and deeply encourages us to courageously and persistently move toward and fulfill our goals.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Being mindful, is in essence, being fully in the present moment with a willingness and curiosity to be with ‘what is.’ It involves being aware of the physical sensations in your body, the thoughts in your mind, and the willingness to be with the full gamut of your emotions, as well as holding ALL of the above with compassion. If you are not practicing compassion with yourself or others, you are not practicing mindfulness.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

Sure, there are many. Some of the physical benefits are lowered stress levels (which may, in turn, contribute to lowering the blood pressure), improved sleep, increased management for chronic pain, and brain health (an increase of gray matter- helpful for memory and learning as well as emotional regulation.) Some mental benefits: It can help us to think more clearly and make decisions more effectively, helps to decrease anxiety and worry, helps us to focus and not ruminate excessively. Some emotional benefits: A decrease in a sense of loneliness and isolation, more inspiration and a reported feeling of being more ‘centered’, feeling more connected to others because we feel more connected to our own self, as well as an overall deeper level of acceptance.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

Here are five simple mindfulness practices that can greatly benefit us during these unprecedented and uncertain times.

  1. Befriending Our Anxiety —  It is natural to feel anxious during unpredictable and uncertain times. Learn to accept and sit with your anxiety without pushing it away. Once you have identified that you are feeling anxious or fearful, allow some compassion for yourself. Compassion is both helpful and necessary before you take a step forward. So next time you feel anxious, rather than distract yourself with an escape or let your anxiety get out of control, simply say ‘Anxiety, I am aware you are here. Rather than push you away, I am going to accept that you are here and choose something that helps me to cope with you being here, rather than avoiding or denying your existence.’
  2. Mindful Eating —  Human beings have a habit of eating for comfort. Based on what I am hearing from people lately, there is a spike in eating for comfort now more than perhaps ever. When faced with uncertainty or turbulent times, we long for comfort. Usually under stress, people will eat more or sometimes eat less. I can tell by the amount of comments and memes on social media lately, that many are swinging toward the eating more than they need and are afraid of gaining weight in their search for being comfortable and the reality of being home more, and less on ‘the go.’ Practicing mindful eating can take many forms. Taking an opportunity to say a blessing over your food before eating, eating slowly and eating only what you need, choosing foods that feel comforting in a healthy way (instead of eating a bunch of sugar, baking a sweet potato, or having a sweet piece of whole fruit for instance.) Before you impulsively eat, take an inventory of your feelings and ask yourself, ‘What would feel truly nourishing right now?’ The other night I was reaching for some comfort food but I stopped myself to ask this question and I got that I needed love and comfort, so I called a close friend instead of downing a box of chocolate chip cookies or chips.
  3. Mindful Hand Washing — You would need to be hiding under a rock at this point to not have heard the clear instructions we have been given regarding the washing of our hands frequently for 20 seconds with hot water, so as not contract or spread the virus. Rather than just throw soap on your hands and unconsciously go through the motions, let yourself be fully present with this process. You can even turn it into a mindfulness ritual! Be present as you do this, enjoy it, say a prayer if you like. I have started to do the ‘meditation on loving kindness’ when I wash my hands, ‘May I be filled with loving kindness’, ‘May I be safe from inner and outer dangers’, ‘May I be well in body and mind’, ‘May I be at ease and happy’
  4. Mindful Awareness of Others —  During a pandemic it is easy to be concerned with our own immediate needs before we think of others. It requires extra effort to be mindful of others’ needs because our brains go into survival and fight or flight mode. This is so obvious when you go into a grocery store and you see people arguing over a roll of toilet paper. Practice mindful shopping. Ask yourself, if I were to expand my consciousness to get only what I need for the next week or two, what would I buy? This allows supplies to be left for other people who are in need of what you are in need of too.
  5. Mindful Routines — Even though many of us have had our schedules rearranged during this time, it is perhaps more essential than ever to have regular routines in place. Routine and sticking to a schedule will help to provide the necessary structure and comfort during these times of uncertainty and upheaval. It is so easy to stay up late ‘and sleep in’ and walk around in your pajamas all day when you are confined to your home, but if you can instead stick to a schedule that allows for continuity, you will receive the tremendous benefit. If you are working from home, get dressed in something comfortable but presentable — this will allow you to have the proper mindset. Make sure to have time for Mindful Exercise too! Having some type of exercise is essential. I am lucky to live on a greenbelt where I can go for a nature walk and it is easy to keep a social distance. If you can, get some fresh air and be out in nature. If this is not possible, make sure you are getting regular exercise at home. I did a wonderful nature walk, where I looked for beautiful and peaceful sights on my walk yesterday. I saw a red cardinal, a beautiful sunset, an inchworm, a butterfly, water running in the creek, clouds moving, new green leaves sprouting, and wildflowers blooming. I believe this was immune-boosting and stress-reducing. I call being mindful of beauty!

From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Listen and be present for others, rather than fix or problem solve. I am noticing that during this stressful time, people need to be allowed to vent without being interrupted. Lend an ear or call a friend to check-in.
  2. Be on the lookout for those who may need extra support: Offer grocery support to the elderly and the physically compromised, be mindful of those who are suddenly watching or homeschooling their kids full time, they may need to vent! Be aware of those less fortunate who have less income, resources or are more at risk. Let them know you have their back (from a healthy 6 to 10 feet distance of course!)
  3. Gently help others reframe what they wish they had but don’t, into what they do have — in other words, practice gratitude. For instance, ‘Well they did not have the organic blueberries at the store, but they did have the oatmeal I wanted.’ Or, ‘My kids are driving me crazy, but I am happy we have this chance as a family to spend more time together, this a time that will always be remembered!’
  4. Remind others of the simple superpower they have of mindful breathing! Conscious breathing is free and is one of the best, if not THE best ways of soothing an anxious mind and body. Invite your friends to breathe with you — start by inhaling for four counts, hold the breath for two counts, and exhale for six counts. When we breathe through the nose and it helps to bring more oxygen into our brains, which in turn helps emotional regulation and optimum steps forward.
  5. Practice mindful brainstorming. For instance, if you have a friend who just lost a significant portion of their income due to this pandemic and is feeling anxious and fearful as a result, ask them if they would like to mindfully brainstorm some options with you. There is not just one answer to how to live a successful and meaningful life. Get out a pen and paper and let yourself free associate all the possible options. No option is too far fetched of an idea. When we go through times of stress and constriction, we are often led to places where we have to step out of our comfort zone and grow. Losing a job could mean starting the business you have always wanted to start but were too afraid to, for instance!

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

I have always been a big fan of the Dummy and Idiot books. They are clear, provide excellent instruction, and have lots of resources and plentiful humor. Check out ‘Mindfulness for Dummies.’ Or ‘The Complete Idiots Guide to Mindfulness.’

Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) is also an excellent instructor and resource. Check out his website for some guided meditations and instruction at mindfulnesscds.com

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

In times of stress, it seems everyone is happy to give you advice on what YOU should do based on THEIR OWN trajectory. I personally have found this very confusing, as what is true for someone else may not be true for me. I am sure we have all had moments of taking someone else’s advice and then regretting it later because we were not true to ourselves, or even more seriously, we betrayed our own self. For this reason, one of my all-time favorite quotes is ‘Be Yourself Everyone Else Is Taken’ by Oscar Wilde. I find that when I am true to me, and let myself truly and unapologetically be me, I have less stress and more of a sense of peace and fulfillment in my life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am currently in the process of creating my version and vision of how to spread as much goodness to as many people as possible. The website is under progress and will be coming soon (provided that I breathe deep and let go of perfectionism.) I believe it is essential for our health, wellbeing and ultimately the happiness of our world that we realize we are all connected and that we learn to simultaneously get very good at taking care of ourselves while forming strong partnerships and connection with others. We are all one family! If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are all connected!

Source: Medium

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WhiteBloodCells

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Johnny Light, Editor’s Note: Two of our favorite friends in Sedona sharing how they’re spending their days during this economic shutdown. Perhaps this is all a blessing in disguise.

Source: YouTube

 

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