I read somewhere on “the socials” this week that 2021 is just 2020 with a cute, new haircut… and while it’s not Jung, Confucius, or Thích Nhất Hạnh, it’s relevant and profound. Why don’t most New Years Resolution’s last throughout the year? Why do we impulsively sign up to that expensive Gym Membership with grand plans of changing our lifestyle in a heartbeat? Why are “bad” habits so hard to break? And how can we develop and maintain a Mental Wellness routine with longevity in mind? In this article, I’ll be discussing just that.
As an introvert and empath, I’ve always struggled around this time of year. Constant social interaction over Christmas and the New Year. In my circle, everyone’s birthday seems to fall in between late December and early Jan! Packed shopping centres with people flooding to purchase the newest gadgets and the latest sneakers; it’s a marathon! Suddenly, I find myself taking on other people’s nervous energy as well as my own and when did I suddenly stop my self-care routine and find this sudden urge to keep up with the Kardashians/Jones’s/whatever’s? After the holiday mayhem passed, I collected and compartmentalised my thoughts, and this is what I found. (Note: extroverts read on; this applies to you too!)
Big sudden changes don’t work! Avoid making them!
The brain is a muscle, just like your abs. If you go hard and try to workout like a machine on Week 1, you’re going to find yourself in a load of pain and burnt out before you’re able to actually enjoy the progress you’re making on your wellbeing journey. Small, incremental steps are best when it comes to developing any routine. Instead of planning a regime of hour long, daily meditation sessions, begin with 5 minutes when you wake and before you sleep. Then, gradually build on that when you know you’re ready to. So let’s talk development and maintenance. Where do we begin?
Get creative! This routine is of your creation!
Dedicating a personal space in my home has been one of the best things I’ve done to contribute to a more effective Meditation routine. I’m lucky enough now to be able to dedicate an entire room to this space but when I began, it was in a small corner of my bedroom; and it was a game-changer! A space filled with lush fabric, oracle decks, crystals, candles, incense and feel good books. Another option is a quiet space outdoors, amongst a garden and tranquil scenery. I added a personal flourish to my self-care routine and I truly encourage you to do the same. Where energy goes, results flow!
Experiment! One style doesn’t fit all.
All styles aim to elicit a meditative state; where we’re focused and calm, our emotions are under control and we’re consciously aware of our actions and reactions. That said, what works for one person may not work as well for another. This is because we’re unique and our learning styles all vary. Where one may learn kinaesthetically (by doing) another may learn by watching and another by listening; or varying degrees of all three. There are many common misconceptions about what meditation is, so seek to play and you shall find.
What happens if you just can’t get into it or you “fall off the horse”?
You jump back on, of course! Incorporating consciously aware, mindful moments into your daily life is a wonderful way to normalise healthier habits – until it becomes so ingrained that a meditative state just becomes a part of you. Except for when you’re operating machinery, that is!
Where and how can we begin to practice these ‘mindful moments’?
1) In our interpersonal relationships and our relationship with self.
When our nervous systems aren’t regulated, our relationships tend to be more strained than usual. This might look something like this:
– Moodiness and ‘snapping’ easily
– A shorter tolerance to challenging situations
– Taking things personally
– Thinking negatively
– Feeling as if everything that could go wrong, does go wrong
It’s very helpful to Practice the Pause. That is, pausing before we yell, or project our negative emotions onto others or deeper into ourselves. We can do this by moving into four long seconds of deep belly breathing. This simple act of deep breathing sends an immediate message to our Parasympathetic Nervous system which then works with our Sympathetic Nervous system to communicate messages of safety and relaxation throughout. Please see my blog for a basic understanding of the Stress response, here https://danieladlspiteri.com.au/2020/12/15/stress-cause-effect-and-clarity-a-mindbody-approach/ Practicing the Pause in challenging interpersonal situations is beneficial to both ourselves and others.
2) Tune in and listen to your body’s needs. Regularly checking our Emotional Barometer is a powerfully helpful technique in really getting to know and regulate our nervous system. You might like to do this by simply asking “How am I feeling?” regularly throughout the day, keeping a diary/journal handy or using a scaling system. If we find our emotions are in “the red zone”, then we know we need to ground and regulate. Meditating is the best way to do this, however if that seems too overwhelming, here are some simple things we can do more of, until the idea of meditating seems doable:
– Work with The Vagus Nerve to elicit a sense of safety by taking cold showers, or merely splashing cold water on our face.
– Singing and dancing. Working somatically – moving nervous energy out of our system is incredibly useful!
– Box breathing. To learn about this technique, click here – https://www.facebook.com/danieladeniselouise/posts/619925428693067
– Getting out of our heads and into nature. Get barefoot and get grounded.
And finally, be kind to and forgiving of yourself! Mental conditioning isn’t easy to break free from.
Mental Conditioning is a form of belief’s which have been instilled into us from birth and form the first part of our lives. For a majority of us, this system of belief’s was far from positive and may have contributed to a great deal of our perceived suffering. However, our caregivers did their best and considering you’re awake to this fact, your wellness is of your creation. Your wellness is of your choosing! Holding on to feelings of guilt for dropping off schedule isn’t benefiting you or those around you. Find peace in the fact that this is a process. We fall. We rise. We learn.
Yours in wellness and empowerment,
To book a class, visit here – https://www.trybooking.com/BNVVB Please note that I am not a trained medical professional and as it stands I do not work with complex, unhealed trauma, but I am happy to direct you to seek a referral.
Back On Track Healing Services would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of this land (Kulin Nation) and thus pay their deepest respects.