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What’s Not Working?

Hello, Mindfuls! We’re more than halfway through the year. As we look back on the first six months of the year, we might want to question what’s not working in all areas of our lives. What are you prioritizing? What is getting lost in the shuffle of your daily life? What actually deserves your attention? As we re-evaluate the last few months, we must consider the possibility that we’ve taken on too much. In a rush to “get things done,” we can lose ourselves in the process. Does that project, activity, or event really require your assistance?

Minaa B has written a wonderful piece about urgency culture which “reflects an expectation to be on-demand at all times”. Free time doesn’t mean you are available or need to be active. Free time is yours. Set time aside on your schedule for breaks, not only during your lunch, but in-between meetings. This time is yours. No explanations are needed. 

Allow yourself time to explore without judgment. Cultivating any new practices takes time, understanding, and flexibility. Welcome the process and make it work with your needs.

Support for learning more about urgency culture:

Reflective prompts for you:

  • What are your priorities for the summer (or the back half of the year)? What really needs your energy or focus?
  • What are your emotions telling you about the last six months? 
  • In what ways can you disconnect from urgency culture that will work for you?

Take care of yourselves.

Mindfully,

Amanda

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Understanding Mindful Practice

Hello, Mindfuls! Mindfulness is part of Buddhism’s noble eightfold path to end suffering. The eightfold path is right understanding (samma ditthi), right thought (samma sankappa), right speech (samma vaca), right action (samma kammanta), right livelihood (samma ajiva), right effort (samma vayama), right mindfulness (samma sati), Right concentration (Samma samadhi). Mindfulness, although important, is not the only pathway. Walpola Sri Rahula notes, “it should not be thought that the eight categories or divisions of the path should be followed and practiced one after the other in the numerical order.” 

Walpola Sri Rahula provides a helpful example, “Right mindfulness is to be diligently aware, mindful, and attentive with regard to (1) the activities of the body (kaya), (2) sensations or feelings (vedana), (3) the activities of the mind (citta) and (4) ideas, thoughts, conceptions, and things (dhamma)”. As our practice grows, we learn to be aware of ourselves in the given moment. This is not an easy thing to do! Notice our reactions are the start; going deeper into how we reach leads us into the latter of the noble path. 

Mindful practice, although it welcomes everyone, may not assist all. Kaufmann, Rosing & Baumann found that when practicing mindfulness training and techniques, some people can have increased alienation and higher stress hormones to release. Consider working with a mindfulness-based therapist and ask about what mindfulness practices could assist in your care. If a mindful technique (body scans, meditation, self-awareness practices, etc. doesn’t work for you, stop practicing. Look into other self-soothing techniques that may assist you. Find what works for you and leave the rest.

Support for learning more about mindful practice:

Reflective prompts for you:

  • What about the noble eightfold path interests you? How can you explore the path more in your own life?
  • Would mindful practice engage you in living a more restful or engaged life?
  • What do you notice about your reactions in your daily life?

Take care of yourselves.

Mindfully,

Amanda

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Developing a Mindful Leadership Practice

As the oldest of four siblings, I learned that I “must” lead at a young age. I didn’t learn how-to, it was just a requirement. For the first 20 years of my career, my leadership style could best be described as “bossy big sister.” This style lent itself to being forceful, occasionally toxic to me, and to those I led. Sometimes I could be fun and creative, but I was just trying to get by in a world that thrust responsibility on my too-small shoulders at a young age.  As my opportunities and responsibilities grew; they began to weigh me down. With a lot of work and training, I have become a better leader through a process of mindfully engaging with my own understanding of what it means to lead and how to lead in a way that becomes more empowering for those I serve as a leader. I am by no means perfect, but I’d like to believe that my more iterative style allows me to hold space for others to grow and develop under my leadership. 

The past two decades have been spent examining, expanding, redefining, and refining my leadership style which have been described as “innovative and transformative.”   These are not my own words, but rather words used by my executive coach, who analyzed my strengths as a leader. These words make me feel seen and articulate how I hope to be seen as a leader. 

The assessment process has not only  my core strengths as a leader, but also identify the areas that require targeted mindfulness. For instance, one of my assessments noted that I tend to be very hands off as a leader. I am the absolute opposite of a micromanager. While this might seem like a good characteristic for most people, the downside is that sometimes I don’t provide all the information that people may need in order to proceed. Therefore, when I am initiating a new project, procedure, and/or policy I have to be careful to ask myself, “Have I given them all the information that they need to proceed? Am I accessible in order to answer any questions they may have?  What might I have missed?” 

Pairing the assessments from my coach, supported my development as a mindful leader and colleague. They helped me become more  self-aware as well as give me some insight of how I show up in the world without judgment of myself. Assessments aren’t the end, but tools that can support a more mindful practice. 

Points to Ponder:

  • What tools/ techniques besides assessments do you use in order to gain perspective?
  • When was the last time that you thought about how you show up in the world?

Thinking about my leadership helps me to be more aware of how I show up for others as well as myself. Helps me to see that as I bring my own strengths and opportunities for growth to my work so do others and to allow space for the exploration of self and the journey to a more mindful leadership style. 

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Reflective Journaling as a Practice

Hello, Mindfuls! Getting back into the swing of things after a long time away can be difficult, but also a fresh start. One thing I’ve committed to practicing again is reflective journaling. Reflective journaling helps one see the connections of their work through a critical and analytical lens. The importance of reflective journaling isn’t to judge, but to learn about ourselves through our experiences. This phenomenon coined by David A. Schön is called reflection-on-action, the process of evaluating our actions after an event has occurred. This practice is continual and meant to help practitioners learn new pathways to teaching and learning.

As we reflect, we notice our routines, and habits. This helps us build upon what we already know or start something new. Start with writing about your experiences with a timer. Write down all that you observed about your day in 5 minutes. As your practice grows, set the timer for a longer period of time. Learning about our processes is the goal. 

Allow yourself time to explore without judgment. Cultivating any new practices takes time, understanding, and flexibility. Welcome the process and make work with your needs.

Support for reflective practice:

Reflective questions for you:

  • How can reflective practice assist in your research, life, or with your other practices?
  • What connections are you trying to make through reflective journaling?
  • How will you put into practice what you have learned through your practice?

Take care of yourselves.

Mindfully,

Amanda

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Cultivating Silence Within

Hello, Mindfuls! It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post for the page. In my absence of posting, I’ve been living and enjoying the quiet that non-busyness brings. In a world filled with noise, chatter, and constant motion; sitting with myself most oftentimes in silence felt luxurious. During my quiet reflection, I was reminded of a quote from Thich Nhất Hạnh’s book, Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise, “All the wonders of life are already here. They’re calling you. If you can listen to them, you will be able to stop running. What you need, what we all need, is silence. Stop the noise in your mind in order for the wondrous sounds of life to be heard. Then you can begin to live your life authentically and deeply.” This doesn’t mean that we should ignore our lives, but rather find time to include moments of silence. These quiet moments allow us to welcome in what we enjoy in our lives. 

Again, finding time for silence is a luxury, but a necessary one! It doesn’t have to be for a long period but maybe pockets within your day. Setting a timer for 2-5 minutes to just stare out the window, listening to the Nap Ministry’s daydreaming playlist, meditating (if the mind and body will allow it), not looking at your phone right after you wake up, or just napping can all allow silence to thrive in your life. 

Allow yourself time to explore without judgment. Cultivating any new practices takes time, understanding, and flexibility. Welcome the process and make it fit your needs.

Support for silence practices and rest:

Reflection questions for you:

  • What is your definition of silence and rest? Is it a narrowed view?
  • Have you allowed yourself to cultivate a silence practice that works for you (outside of idealized viewpoints)?
  • How could a silence practice benefit your life? Are they any roadblocks to hindrances that might arise?
  • What would a community of practice/care rooted in silence practices look like? How could you support your community to invite silence in? How can they in-turn support you?

Take care of yourselves.

Mindfully,

Amanda

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Reflections from the pause


Hello, Mindfuls. It’s been a long but much-needed pause. During this time, it was important for me to rest, reassess, and grieve. We’ll soon approach the anniversary of the COVID lockdown in the United States. The last two years have been difficult and surrounded by grief. From the death of family, made family, and loss of time and life events; it was important to step back and check-in with myself and my emotions…

Grief isn’t a short-term phenomenon. It isn’t limited to losing people, but also pets, jobs (toxic or otherwise), divorce, political shifts, racial injustice, etc. As Psychology Today mentions, “grief obeys its own trajectory, there is no timetable for feelings of pain after loss; nor is it possible to avoid suffering altogether. In fact, attempts to suppress or deny grief are just as likely to prolong the process, while also demanding additional emotional effort.” There is no timeline for grief. Although, there are the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance coined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross), you may grief in this order or not move through these stages at all. Your grief is your own, it doesn’t follow a linear path, but is an individualized emotional response to the trauma of loss. 

You have permission to mourn, whether the loss is “big or small”. You have permission to explore your needs and say no as often as you need. You don’t have to “people please” your way through the process. Your feelings are valid, even if they are sad.  Allow yourself the time to process without judgment.

Support groups:

Reflection questions for you:

  • What is your definition of grief? Is it a narrowed view?
  • Have you allowed yourself to grieve in ways that feel supportive to you?
  • Have you reached out to any bereavement professional or group that may support you?

Take care of yourselves.

Mindfully,

Amanda

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A Pause for Us

Hey, Mindfuls! 

We’re taking a pause! We’ll take a pause from January 24th until March 6th.

During this time, we won’t accept any speaking or writing requests. We’ll slowly respond to emails after March 6th for future events. No new posts or prompts on our social media pages until March 6th as well. We’ll truly rest during this time. 

Here’s some reflection prompts for you during our pause:

  • What brings you joy?
  • What are you hoping to learn about yourself this month?
  • How can you invite more stillness practices (rest, silence, and/or mindful walking/ standing/meditation, etc.) into your life?

Explore stillness practices and remember to take care of yourselves. 

Mindfully,

Amanda

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Mindful Collaboration

It would be easy to believe that mindfulness is a singular act that does not extend into how we live and work with others with a focus on mediation. However, as outlined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the seven key attitudes of mindfulness include non-judgement, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go can apply to most aspects of our everyday interactions. Moreover, these attitudes of mindfulness are especially relevant to our formal and informal collaborations with others. In that vein, I’d like to share some of the ways that I have integrated mindfulness into my collaborations:

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate….

No one can read your mind; therefore, critical to successful collaboration is communication. Without communication, you can lose focus, momentum slacks, ill will begins to develop, and no progress happens. Some characteristics of productive communication are honesty, integrity, kindness, and humility. You must also consider how others communicate and thoughtfully use available resources to bridge the “mental to mouth to ear or eye” divide. 

Find the right match in collaborators and then assess and discuss each others’ strengths and weaknesses….

Collaborate only with individuals with whom your drive, ambition, and value system align. I did not say the same drive, ambition, and values. That would lead to poor results because you would only mirror each other and end up myopic and unbalanced—lay out your abilities and relevant shortcomings out on the table. The time to tell someone that you are a poor note-taker is not after the fifth meeting, and everyone wants a recap. Ask yourself, “What are my strengths, and what are the strengths of others?” “What are some of my areas of improvement and challenge?” Being clear at the offset allows you to accept yourself and others. 

Define each collaborators’ role….

Based on a thorough discussion of each collaborator’s abilities, you can determine which tasks/roles suit which individual. Knowing your role as you begin a collaboration will help keep some disappointment to a minimum. If “Joe” isn’t good at keeping deadlines or is too inflexible, then maybe Joe wouldn’t make the best project manager. Trust each other while also holding each other accountable.

Be a follower and a leader….

Whether they are the project manager or the note-taker, every collaborator should feel a responsibility for and to the people with whom they are collaborating. Ask yourself, “Have I recognized the contributions of my other teammates, and I’m I taking the initiative to get things done?” Both of these questions require that you sometimes step up or step back to accomplish what needs to be done in service to your collective vision.

Have a vision and define the outcomes….

It is challenging to get anywhere if you have no idea where you want to go. Without a vision or defined outcomes, the collaboration could fail due to a lack of focus and purpose. Attention will wander and become divided. Constantly ask each other, “What does what we are trying to achieve look like?” Answering this question helps keep you all focused, but it ensures that everyone has the same or similar view of the project. But moment by moment, awareness builds in flexibility and can help the collaboration pivot to meet the ever-developing vision.

Set achievable, incremental goals….

Once you have a vision, it is easier to plan a course of action. Having goals helps to keep everyone on task and target. As you are developing the goals this where you ask, “When do we want to accomplish this, and how will we accomplish it?” Along the way, making sure that plans and attitudes are flexible enough to accept when things need to change, 

Take time to have fun and brainstorm….

I call this the “Cooked Spaghetti Method”. Years ago, I learned to throw spaghetti noodles against the wall to see if they were at the appropriate level of doneness. I would do this until something stuck. And when a noodle sticks, you know it is done. I find this process enjoyable. Brainstorming session(s) should work without reserve but full of respect. The process of coming up with ideas can be fun because it is an excellent opportunity to find out how each collaborator’s brain works. Some might be very deliberate about what they share, and others might blurt out the first, second, and third thing that comes to mind. It is also helpful to create space for each collaborator’s process. The brainstorming process will further help the group assess each other’s strengths and growth opportunities.

Keep it Simple, especially when it gets complicated….

Making things happen takes time, and sometimes it can seem like the most straightforward tasks get complicated when working with others. So throughout the process of accomplishing your group or partnership’s goals, make sure to ask, “How can I simplify this process?” and sometimes the answer is to be quiet. Other times the solution is to go deeper and consider your own mind.

Plan, take action, coordinate, hold yourself and each other accountable….

Once the vision is developed, the roles outlined, and goals set, it is time to take action. As it has been said, “Talk is cheap.” All the communication in the world will not move mountains if concrete actions do not support that talk. Therefore, consistently review the steps and actions to achieve the group or partnership’s vision and goals.

Be Flexible….

Even the best laid plans can not stand up to mother nature, family obligations, health issues, time, global pandemics, or just the plain ol’ stuff of life is let loose to poop on your plans like a flock of pigeons. Flexibility is key to getting things done. Remember, the main reason statues get pooped on is because they don’t keep moving. So be prepared to tweak your vision, adjust the direction, and maybe even change your plans or let go when needed.

Points to Ponder: 

  • What are the characteristics of a successful collaboration? 
  • What are the characteristics of an unsuccessful collaboration? 
  • What are some ways that you mindfully collaborate? 

Mindfulness is a practice. Every collaboration will not bear the intended fruit, but we learn when we lean into a beginner’s mind each time we practice.

Ingrid

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Change: Mindful in the Midst

Change is hard, and the only thing constant is change. Sigh. That is where I wanted to start and end this post. Because it just is. Even when it is considered a positive change like my most recent move, it can be highly disruptive to the practical side of life. It can also be disruptive to your sense of self and understanding of your place in the world. 

By and large, my moving experience went as smoothly as a cross-country move could go. But the thing that disrupted me the most was that I was no longer who I was when I began the journey. I have to now mourn the woman I once was and get to know who I am now and who this new experience will lead me to become. The key to dealing with change is making sure that I am conscious of making space for myself just as I make space for others. 

Here are some of the practices that I am putting in place to support this time of growth and change:

Journaling at the end of each day and sometimes when I first wake up. Whether it is writing a line or page, I try to write something that helps me process and consider the day. I also use a bullet journal to keep up with tasks I’ve completed, things to do, and random thoughts of the day. 

Reflection during the drive home. There are pluses to working from home, but I must admit that I missed the transitional period that my commute gave me. Now that I have a commute again, I use that time to release the day’s tension so that by the time I get home, I can be more present where I am. 

Create Margin. More than ever, my days are filled with emails and meetings, rinse and repeat. I work to be intentional in my calendar planning by putting focus/time on my calendar where I complete the tasks generated from emails and meetings. I also make sure that I have at least 15 minutes between meetings or tasks. Creating a time buffer allows me to move more at ease throughout my day and to be more present wherever I am at any time. 

Meditation. I am an active meditator. I find it challenging to sit still. I can do it for short bursts of time, like in between meetings, but my preferred method for long periods ofmediation is a “Walking Meditation.” It helps clear my mind and brings me back to an awareness of my body. 

Allow myself space to grieve. As I said, the change I am currently experiencing is mainly positive. I started a new job that I am excited about. The move across the country, while challenging, allowed me to make progress on some personal goals. But yet I grieve the loss of nearness to the community that I built. I grieve going into the unknown, unsure of what the future holds. In this time, allow all of the emotional states to exist. I give space for myself. 

These are just a few of the mindfulness practices that I have put into place to support myself during this time of personal and professional change. 

Points to ponder: 

  • How have you changed or not changed since 2021?
  • What method have you put in place to support change and growth? 
  • What is a most challenging part of a change for you? And how do you give yourself space as you grow and change? 

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New Year = Healthier Boundaries & More Alignment

Hey, Mindfuls! 

Happy New Year! Each new year brings excitement, but we can forget to maintain healthy boundaries and focus on alignment rather than uprooting all our progress in the following year. Of course, this is easier said than done. We’ll all face discomfort when setting boundaries, but as Nedra Tawwab explains, “Your discomfort level around certain people and with certain things is an indicator that boundaries are needed. When you feel anxious, look for the boundaries needed. When you feel resentful, look for the boundaries needed. Where are your practices and boundaries out of alignment? Practicing boundaries is the hard work of a fulfilling life. The application is doing the hard thing through your discomfort.” We begin to honor our needs more with practice, but where do we start? As always, we must go inward to reflect on what’s most important to us. 

Ask yourself the following:

  • Are your boundaries with people in your life healthy (you can set your boundaries without yelling and/or disregarding your own needs by saying “okay” to keep the peace?
  • Can you state your needs without feeling the need to justify them to others for validation?
  • Are you focusing on activities, projects, and goals that help support your emotional and physical needs? Presently, do you know what your emotional and physical needs are?

Identifying needs and healthy boundaries:

  • Acknowledge your needs without judgment.
  • Reassess your needs for yourself first, then your communities, families, and caregiving responsibilities.
  • Focus on setting healthy boundaries for your health (e.g., “I won’t be available during that time, let’s look for another date that works for us both.”)

Affirmations:

  • I am capable of more than I give myself credit for…
  • I detach from anything that does not serve me…
  • My passions will lead me in the right direction….

As always, be gentle with yourselves. Maintaining and reassessing boundaries takes time and lots of practice. You don’t have to accomplish anything by the end of any time frame. Lean into whatever you may need throughout the year with self-compassion and openness.

Explore at your own pace and remember to rest. 

Mindfully, 

Amanda

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How You Can Understand Your Body and Emotions Even Better


When you are angry, fearful, sad, disgusted, anxious, nervous, depressed, or even happy, delighted, or surprised (or insert another emotion), where do you actually feel it in your body?

This question stumps many people only because society does not encourage us to slow down and pay attention to what our bodies are telling us outside of feeling pain. And it’s usually intense physical pain that debilitates us enough to get our full attention, or else we’d probably keep going on with life. But what if we started being more intentional with understanding the range of our emotions and how this shows up in our bodies?

Why is understanding your body and its connection to your emotions so important?

There’s an interconnectedness that happens when we experience various emotions on a level that usually goes unseen until it manifests itself physically. Emotions can have a huge impact on the nervous systemendocrine system, and musculoskeletal system.

2018 study conducted by a group of researchers suggests a direct link between the intensity of emotions with the intensity of mental and physical sensations. The study states, “Feelings were systematically referenced to bodily states, even for states considered as purely cognitive, such as attending or reasoning. Additionally, the more strongly some feeling was experienced in the body, the more salient it was mentally.

Although this study is very scientific in its explanation, it summarizes that tuning in and paying attention to where in your body you are experiencing heightened sensations is one of the best pathways towards healing. And that ignoring, disregarding, or blocking your emotions may contribute to further illnesses.

How can you apply this information in a practical manner?

Have you ever felt angry and suddenly felt a heat surge occur in your body, specifically at the base of your spine? This is an example of where emotion may be physically expressing itself. What if you could obtain further information to support you with understanding the language your body is expressing? This is where the Drop-In Process could help.

I originally learned the Drop-In Process technique during my embodiment coach training from my first Feminine Embodiment Teacher. Part of the drop-in process involves making a powerful inquiry. What I mean by this is, you ask your body a question and wait for a response in the form of a sensation. This is best done while engaging in meditation; however, sitting in meditation is not required.

You could literally use this technique anytime. When any overwhelming emotions come up, ask yourself a question and use silence and the awareness of your breath to lead you.

Here are some examples of inquiries you could use:

  • What can I let go of?
  • What would you like me to know?
  • What can I trust?
  • What am I ready for?
  • How can I love you more?
  • How can I support you?

Try using one or use them all, and see what the body reveals. This exercise also requires patience. Don’t rush the process. Wait for as long as you need to feel where this answer is residing in the body. It may sound very “woo woo,” but it’s a very powerful technique for understanding your body and your emotions even better.

Now, I’d like to hear from you.

What are some of your takeaways from this post? Let me know in the comments section below.

About Simone

Simone Turner is a professionally trained Holistic Health & Embodiment Coach and a Reiki Level 2 Practitioner recently attuned and initiated through the lineage of the Usui System of Natural Healing. Empowering women to step into and reclaim their autonomy is what lights her up. She is passionate about supporting women like you to feel their best from the inside out – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Connect with Simone on Instagram or email her at support@simoneturner.com.

You can also join her online community at: https://wildlynourishedwomancollective.mn.co/

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End of the Year Thoughts

Hey, Mindfuls! 

As we get closer to the end of the year, it’s important to remember that we don’t have to finish the year in any particular way. Oftentimes, you’ll hear folks say, “Finish the year strong.” This doesn’t account for our struggles, pain, triumphs, and just “done with it-ness of the year” most of us have hard. This line of thinking also doesn’t account for those we’ve lost in 2021, including loved ones. Approaching the end of a year brings up a lot of different emotions for everyone; let’s honor that without resilience narratives.

Pace Yourselves

If you didn’t “get it done” before December, it might be worth taking a pause and finishing whatever project or initiative for the new year. Allowing yourself the time to recalibrate could help foster better ideas in the long run. Do you really need to rush the project, or are you following another person’s idea of success within particular time limits? If it’s the latter, hold off and reassess. 

Slow Responses = Intentional Practice

A gentle reminder, you don’t owe anyone a quick response. When we rush, we are being reactive. Take your time responding to emails and texts from work colleagues and even family or friends. In your words and actions, move with intention. Slow down and see what happens (from Reflections from Pausing).

Make a Note of Growth

Oftentimes, we focus on what we haven’t done or how much more we need to accomplish; however, what if we stopped to focus on how much we’ve grown? For example, did you meet your goal of drinking water throughout your day? Did you take your lunch breaks more than not? Have you set healthy boundaries with a colleague and maintained them? These are all signs of growth. Celebrate yourself with any and all signs of growth this year, either in a paper or even a video journal. If you’ve kept a journal throughout the year, read your first entry, a middle entry, and your last entry of the year. Do you see any changes in yourself? Honor those changes.

No Changes, No Problem

Maybe this year was a bit harder for you. Or maybe you didn’t accomplish everything you set out to do. That’s okay. Allow yourself self-forgiveness and compassion and move forward. You don’t have to live in your past mistakes and misdeeds. Instead, look at December as a chance to reassess your needs, boundaries, and goals in the future. Take your time and allow non-judgment to flow. 

Reflective prompts:

  • What was missing from my life in 2021? What can I bring into 2022 that will bring me more joy?
  • How can I focus more on my own needs?
  • What are you looking forward to that involves taking care of your mind, body, and spirit?

Finish the year with self-compassion. There’s no rush to the finish line; no one wins by getting everything done before midnight on December 31st. It’s okay to slow down and reflect on what you want going forward. Lean into whatever you may need during this time. 

Explore and reflect on 2021 at your own pace and remember to rest. Wishing you all a peaceful new year!

Mindfully, Amanda

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Why Having An Embodiment Practice is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL In The Midst of Covid-19 Pandemic

Times have been challenging on various levels for everyone these past couple of years, yes? I mean, who would have ever thought that one year and eight months later, we’d still be navigating this COVID-19 pandemic!

The heightened levels of stress have made even the healthiest and most grounded person become more mindful in the way they give attention to their self-care rituals during this time.

I’ve thought about what has kept me nourished these past 20 months during this crazy pandemic, and I’ve noticed that having embodiment practices in place has been the most important act of self-care next to eating, sleeping, and breathing.

What is an embodiment practice?

PositivePsychology.com defines embodiment practices as “using the body as a tool for healing through self-awareness, mindfulness, connection, self-regulation, finding balance, and creating self-acceptance.”

I like to think of embodiment practice as freeform movement while being present and aware of the sensations that are moving through your body.

Essentially, you allow the body to lead through somatic movements, which fully integrate your whole self (mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually) to promote further self-healing.

Why are embodiment practices so important?

Having an embodiment practice can help you balance out being in your headspace, where you may tend to overthink and overanalyze everything.

If you have a Type A personality, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

Allowing excessively worrisome thoughts to consume your Crown Chakra, which is the 7th chakra located at the top of your head and represents higher consciousness, can lead to energetic imbalances. These imbalances can sometimes manifest as frequent tension headaches or even migraines, feelings of anxiety, and not trusting your ability to make healthy decisions with confidence.

Thankfully, the human body has such infinite knowledge built into it that allows you and me to tap into our own innate healing at any time we need so that we may remember our own access to infinite joy and pleasure. And God/Goddess knows, we definitely need more joy and pleasure right now during this pandemic.

Having an embodiment practice remains one of my favorite healing tools during times of high stress and when I feel myself leaving my body. By that, I mean, when I start to feel energetically depleted, physically and mentally numb, stressed out, or tense in my body, a disconnect happens where I’m in my headspace more than I desire to be.

If you feel depleted and disconnected from your body and desire to feel more nourished and energetically aligned, then it’s imperative that you begin incorporating embodiment practices into your lifestyle.

How can you create your own embodiment practice?

One of the things that I love about creating your own embodiment practice is that there are no rules, so you can relax knowing that there’s no such thing as getting it wrong.

Creating an embodiment practice that’s specific to your needs will look and feel different for each individual, so let’s just throw perfection out the window right now.

Your embodiment practice requires your willingness to be present to the ways in which your body may desire to release frozen tension and stuck energy through subtle movements.

Embodiment practices also require you to release the need to want to control the outcome and be in flow with your body as it’s integrating your thoughts.

So what does this look like in a practical manner? I’ll share what it sometimes looks like for me:

  • Doing circular hip movements to help move stuck energy in my womb area.
  • Deep breathing and loud sighs to release tension.
  • Slow Body Rolls – like the kind Beyoncé does, because we also must infuse some fun into this thing!
  • Slowly arching my back while in a sitting position.
  • Journaling what I felt at the end of my practice and noting all of the sensations I was able to be aware of.

What I’ve just shared with you is part of MY own personal practice. However, I understand that if you’re new at this, you may require more guided movements until you feel comfortable doing freeform.

Here are a few suggestions you can start with:

Also, if you have challenges that are different from a fully able-bodied person, you will want to modify any movements to fit your specific physical capabilities.

Now it’s your turn. Practice At Home

Start with putting some music on and allow your body to respond to it. See where the body takes you. The body is like a pendulum in the sense that it will start to create its own motion. As your body moves, become aware of what sensations you’re feeling. Do this for however long your body feels the need to. This could be 2 minutes, 20 minutes, or a whole hour, if time permits.

Creating your embodiment practice will be very unique to you. Don’t worry about how you look. The goal isn’t to look perfect or to be a professional movement therapist.

I’d love to hear what you come up with!

Share below in the comments – how will you use embodiment practices to develop awareness and feel connected so that you show up in the world as an empowered and wildly nourished being?

About Simone

Simone Turner is a professionally trained Holistic Health & Embodiment Coach and a Reiki Level 2 Practitioner recently attuned and initiated through the lineage of the Usui System of Natural Healing. Empowering women to step into and reclaim their personal autonomy is what lights her up. She is passionate about supporting women like you to feel their best from the inside out – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Simone loves directly engaging with her community. Connect with her on Instagram or email her at support@simoneturner.com.

You can also join her new community at: https://wildlynourishedwomancollective.mn.co/

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What are you grateful for today?

As I think about the upcoming holidays, my heart swells with the feeling of gratitude. I really do have a great deal to be grateful for… from the changing colors of the leaves to the love of my family and friends, and even for that cup of coffee, I look forward to every morning. My life is not without its challenges; however, I do remain grateful through it all. Practicing gratitude, especially during life’s difficulties, can help boost positive emotions and physical well-being. 

Gratitude is defined as “A sense of thankfulness and joy in response to receiving a gift whether that gift is a tangible benefit from a specific person, or a moment of peaceful bliss evoked by natural beauty” (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). It is ultimately something you feel when you have been the recipient of someone or something else’s positive actions” (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Based on this definition, gratitude happens when we receive something, or someone gives us something positive.

Gratitude is an Action.

Focusing on the feeling of gratitude is important. Thinking that you have a lot that you “should” be grateful for but not feeling gratitude can be challenging and unproductive. One approach is to focus on the details to help you to deepen the feeling. This act of deepening the feeling of gratitude can also be called savoring. Briefly, savoring is the act of slowing down and taking the time to delight in something special, whether it is big or small.

As we mindfully become aware of all, we can be grateful for and focus on those details by savoring, we may experience many benefits. According to Robert Emmons (2010), practicing gratitude can lead to:

  • Experiencing more satisfaction with life
  • Feeling more optimism
  • Building more stress resilience in the face of difficulties
  • Feeling increased bonding and connection with our social networks (friends, family, and others)
  • Building more self-worth
  • Experiencing better sleep and vitality
  • Experiencing a reduction in toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, regret, and even depression

The action of practicing gratitude can be incorporated into your life in several ways. Some of us may already practice gratitude by saying a blessing before eating or reflecting on thankfulness right before diving into a holiday feast. But, again, the key is to incorporate savoring by bringing in the details of why and how you are grateful.

One example of creating those details is to bless your food and think about all the people involved in bringing that food to the table. Many people, such as grocery store employees, farmers, and even truckers, worked to bring the food to your home. As you bless and reflect on the many hands that took part in delivering your dinner to the table, savoring and gratitude increase.

It is vital to remember that as important as gratitude is to health and well-being, one should not use gratitude to avoid or deny negative or challenging situations in life. As I work through hardships, I have often found that I become deeply grateful for the lessons learned and the resilience developed through them.

In addition, gratitude should not just be used for the major things in life. Simply being grateful for drinking a soothing cup of tea or having a pleasant conversation with someone else is more than enough. Recognizing the little things and being grateful for them is an act of mindful noticing.

Another tip is to try to avoid using downward comparisons to feel grateful. Saying something like, “People are starving in the world, I should be grateful for this lunch” is not going to improve your gratitude, but it could have the potential to instill guilt (a negative emotion). Things in life can always be worse but try to focus on your own gratitude without comparisons to other people or situations.

Most of us know about gratitude journals. However, research has found mixed results from using them. One study found that people who journaled frequently did not experience benefits. Surprisingly, the findings discovered that the sweet spot for receiving positive emotions from gratitude journaling seemed to be about once a week. More frequent journaling could desensitize one from appreciating the good things in life. Only writing once a week focusing on just one or two things that you are grateful for appears to increase positive emotions the most. As the saying goes, “a little goes a long way” when it comes to gratitude journaling.

Finally, Emmons (2003) suggests an additional idea to increase gratitude. This strategy involves focusing on what your life would be like without all that you have right now. Using this approach in writing or mindful awareness can help increase the action of gratitude in the present. What are you grateful for today?

About Wendy

Wendy Vance, MS, is an educator, mentor, coach, and applied positive psychology practitioner. She teaches success strategies and professional exploration topics at Montgomery County Community College in PA and the University of Maryland Global Campus. Wendy is passionate about striving to live a flourishing life and sharing positivity in the world. Connect with her on mypositivecoaching.com, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

Join her online meetup group for positive psychology-based workshops: https://www.meetup.com/bipocwomenpositivepsychology/events/

References:

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective wellbeing in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-89.

Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111-131.

Lyubomirsky, S., Tkach, C., & Sheldon, K. M. (2004). Pursuing sustained happiness through random acts of kindness and counting one’s blessings: Tests of two six-week interventions. Unpublished raw data.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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Reflections from Pausing

We’re finally coming back from a much needed break. Pausing allows our minds to relax and realign with what really matters. Technology, although useful, can be draining. Stepping back, even for a few days, can help refill your cup in healthy ways. 

Here’s some reflections from our pause:

Healthy Friendships Matter

Do you have healthy friendships? Are the people in your friend group rooting for your success? Or cheering for your downfall? Healthy friendships allow for disagreement without aiming to destroy or harm the other person, personally or physically. For example, take a disagreement you may have had with a friend. Could you communicate your unmet needs without yelling, name calling, or being passive aggressive? This doesn’t mean that all your disagreements with friends need to always be rooted in harmony. We will disagree, this is the beauty of being human. However, criticism or feedback doesn’t need to be harsh or an attack, especially coming from friends. Reflect on what type of friends you have, not everyone needs to be in your front row (your supporters and cheerleaders in your life – concept from davidji). 

Slow Responses = Intentional Practice

Gentle reminder, you don’t owe anyone a quick response. When we rush, we are being reactive. Take your time when responding to emails and texts from work colleagues and even family or friends. In your words and actions, move with intention. Slow down and see what happens. 

Celebrating Wins

Are you celebrating your wins? Have you shared those wins with the important people in your life? Why aren’t you celebrating? We need to shift the way we think about “wins”! It’s good to share with those that care and are rooting for us. You aren’t humble-bragging, you are sharing an important part of your life. Don’t forget to cheer yourself on as well! Start writing your wins, no matter how “small or big” on slips of paper throughout the year. At the end of each month (every few months or yearly), read your accomplishments aloud. 

What do you notice about yourselves after a pause? What actions can you take to invite more intention, celebration, and healthy relationships in your life? Explore pausing and remember to rest. 

Mindfully, 

Amanda

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Genuine Work Friendships or Trauma-Bonding?

Hey, Mindfuls! I’ve been reflecting on work friendships versus trauma-bonding lately. You’ll often hear in the workplace, “we’re all friends here” or even worse, “we’re all like family here”. These types of statements fill me with anxiety and often dread. These blank statements don’t account for toxic environments, gaslighting, and trauma from being othered in the workplace. If you don’t agree with the idea of instant friendship or family narratives with complete strangers, you often become the enemy, but only until your coworkers want to be friends again. The idea that we’re all miserable together or all have to “stick together no matter what” is a form of trauma-bonding. Medical New Today defines trauma-bonding as “a psychological response to abuse. It occurs when the abused person forms an unhealthy bond with the person who abuses them.” The reality is you don’t have to be friends with your co-workers or boss. You can set healthy boundaries and separate yourself from unhealthy patterns. You don’t owe anyone friendship, companionship, time, or energy. Only you can decide what you’re willing to give or withhold. 

Identifying trauma-bonding in the workplace:

  • Seek help from a mental health professional or therapist. 
  • Acknowledge and recognize trauma happening in the workplace, especially stories from marginalized folxs and communities.
  • Set healthy boundaries (e.g. I will not answer emails after the work day, don’t expect an answer from me until the following day; I will not share my personal life with you, please refrain from asking about my weekends in the future.; There seems to be something we need to discuss based on your statement. Do you have a minute to discuss now or can we plan for a meeting later?)
  • Take care of your own needs and support those around you that have proven to be consistently healthy and kind (in their words, actions, and deeds). 

Reflective prompts:

  1. Do I have genuine friendships with my coworkers or am I afraid to rock the boat?
  2. Do I share more information with my coworkers than I feel comfortable with to avoid being seen as harsh? 
  3. Is my workplace hurting my emotional, physical, or spiritual well-being?
  4. Is it time for me to find another position based on any of my needs not being met?  

Remember, breaking old habits takes time. Forgive yourself in the process of re-learning to care and protect your own needs. Read more about trauma-bonding in the workplace from Shannon Weber here. If you haven’t already, please read Kaetrena Davis Kendrick’s work on low morale in academic (pg.9) and public libraries. You deserve true friendships in the workplace, nurture those that nurture and support you in healthy ways. 

Explore genuine relationships and remember to rest.

Mindfully, 

Amanda

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Putting Care into Your Routine

Hey, Mindfuls! As we get back into the swing of the fall semester or whatever our routines may be in the cooler months, remember to include care in your schedules. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we tend to forget to make time for rest, breaks, and time away from work. As you craft your new schedules, include time for yourself to step away.

Reflect on the following quote from Maya Angelou’s book, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, “Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

Reflective prompts:

  1. How can we live Maya Angelou’s quote in our daily lives? 
  2. What you didn’t like about your schedule pre-work from home orders, during, or afterwards? What needs to change for your current routine to fit your step/away or rest needs now?
  3. Are you scheduling in enough time for breaks in-between meetings and taking your lunch breaks? Do you have any vacation time scheduled soon?
  4. Does your work culture allow time for rest in your routine? How can you advocate for yourself and trusted colleagues if this routine is challenged?

Explore rest in your routines and remember to rest! 

Mindfully, 

Amanda

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What is Mindfulness?

by Wendy Vance

Let’s Talk About Mindfulness!

There is greater communication and information on the topic of mindfulness in books, groups, and social media outlets. Yet, there are still many that do not understand nor can really describe just what mindfulness means or what is needed to achieve it. Our world is filled with so much to see. Most of us are guilty of walking right by that beauty. Instead, we choose to look down with our eyes glued to our phone screen. 

Mindfulness calls for us to look up and out to see the splendor that is all around us.

According to Brown & Ryan (2003), mindfulness can be defined as “A mental state of calm awareness in the present moment, which is demonstrated by acceptance, openness and curiosity regarding your thoughts and feelings, rather than making judgments about them.” The key words to remember are calmness, acceptance, openness, curiosity and embracing a non-judgmental mindset. Imagine how our experience in the world and with those around us could be enhanced by infusing these simple words into our daily lives.

There is a Buddhist principle that states, “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.” This is the principle of mindfulness in action. When we experience a “trigger” we often have a “gut-level” response to that trigger. It is in this space that we can decide to either feed that gut-level response or choose to react differently. 

We do have a choice in how we respond. 

That choice is rooted in the practice of mindfulness. We can practice mindfulness in action. We can react to those “second arrows” with a calm mind and non-judgmental detachment instead of fighting, running or freezing in the moment.

I can appreciate the popular quote from William James that describes this focusing of our attention. James says that “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgement, character and will.” This “bringing back” of our attention is a powerful exercise. Mindfulness gives us a choice in our responses through the act of focused attention. 

Mindfulness is an Action!

Training our attention is an essential part of well-being. It really is a way of being in the world wholeheartedly, rather than allowing the world to overtake us. Being mindful is purposeful and open-minded. We focus on our present moment with our body, mind and emotions.

There are many benefits to the practice of Mindfulness:

  1. Better emotional regulation
  2. Decreased reactivity and increased response flexibility-this supports us in developing more resiliency in the face of obstacles!
  3. Less Impulsiveness
  4. Better emotional handling of our past experiences
  5. More noticeable future orientation-this establishes a more positive and optimistic outlook on life!

So how can you start? Here are the five simple steps that I use when I practice Mindfulness in Action:

  1. Focus your attention on your breath
  2. When your attention starts to wander from the breath, accept this wandering, as it is a natural part of the practice
  3. Acknowledge your current focus of attention, I usually say to myself, “I am thinking right now.”
  4. Redirect your attention back to your breath
  5. Repeat as often as necessary!

Remember that mindfulness is a practice. You will improve the redirection of thoughts back to the breath as you keep at it. 

Another way to practice mindfulness is when you are engaging in your daily life activities; simply stop and ask yourself…. 

What do I hear, see, smell, taste and feel? Bring your attention to the moment!

How does mindfulness show up in your life?

About Wendy

Wendy Vance, MS is an educator, mentor, coach and soon to be positive psychology practitioner. She teaches success strategies and professional exploration topics at Montgomery County Community College in PA and University of Maryland Global Campus. Wendy is passionate about striving to live a flourishing life and sharing positivity in the world. Connect with her on mypositivecoaching.com, Instagram and LinkedIn

Join her online positive psychology meetup group for BIPOC women at https://www.meetup.com/bipocwomenpositivepsychology/events/

References:

Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822–848. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822 

The second arrow. Mindfulness Meditation. (2014, October 3). https://mindfulnessmeditation.net.au/arrow/. 

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Embodiment Work & Embodiment at Work

By Brittani Sterling

Can you remember the little kid who was rewarded for straight As and photographic memory? The one who basked in the praise from traditional recognition, from sweeping entire awards ceremonies to getting all A+s on their report card. Sure, they may have also been naturally intelligent by American P-12 standards or personable and friendly. They learned how the system worked and became a master at burying themselves deeply within its mores, so that no fault could ever be found with them. But did they find happiness in this? Well, that’s where this story gets complicated. What is a child who excels in this system supposed to know when what is translated as the feelings of happiness and pride are really really pomp, circumstance, artifice? When they are pawns in a ranking system, that doesn’t actually mean much outside of its own gates, and at the same time, continues to dictate nearly everything we’re expected to do, to be, and to represent as adults, especially in a field like LIS.

Though I now work in academic libraries, its spaces and halls are not the only ones I have come to inhabit over my time in Librarianship. Though patron needs differ, libraries always hum with a similar combination of kinetic energy, understaffing (just keeping it real, y’all), ever-evolving policy changes, and librarians who still manage to exceed these constant changes with grace and smiles on their faces. Now you may be wondering what is wrong with that? We love what we do and who we serve. Of course, we adapt! We overcame it! We go with the flow. What else would we do?

And that, my friends, is wherein we should pause. Pause to see what you feel in your body, as I hope you re-read that statement in your own voice, from your own perspective. Are you really happy to always be in a state of constant flux? Striving for policies that may change tomorrow? (Usually) with fewer bodies than are really necessary for tasks, and at the same time enjoying your patrons but so used to the upheaval of the environment, that you don’t even notice these things as unusual? 

Sit with those thoughts a moment and reflect:

  • What were you feeling as you ran around trying to check everything off of your to-do list? 
  • Can you recall from that moment? 
  • When was the last time you took a few minutes to just be in your body and feel what is happening in your system?

Likely, much longer ago than you’d like to admit, but this is an ever-important practice for us all. Because as much as we appreciate the recognition, reward, gold stars, and being the go-to person. These things could fade away tomorrow, and what else would we have but ourselves: our bodies? Unfortunately, we don’t often have time to consider that as we fly to and fro between the stacks, running from meeting to meeting, sending the umpteenth email, or unjamming the printer for the 15th time today. 

If pandemic life has taught us nothing else, I hope it has taught us that work and personal life both need a balance in their validity to us. No matter how dedicated we are to our work, we don’t want to be so caught up in the day-to-day that we miss our lives. Build a career that allows you some balance, or you will find yourself distraught when the consequences of your dedication come to roost. 

Join me this evening at 6pm Eastern on the mindfulinlis Instagram page to discuss some somatic strategies to decompress stress from library work

About Brittani

Brittani is the Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies Librarian at UNLV. Her research focuses on the Structural Functionalism of Librarianship, Equity in Collection Development, and the intersections of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion with the Lived Experiences of Librarians of Color. When she’s not advocating for social justice in libraries and beyond, you can find her cresting a summit with her dog, listening to her intuition’s pull of the day, focusing on holistic self-care, or practicing Yin Yoga.

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Reflections on the Journey

Hello, Mindfuls!  I am so excited to move to the next phase of my career to become the Research and Education Associate Dean/Division Director at the University of Nevada LAs Vegas (UNLV) in September. This new transition that I have known about since early July has caused the past month to become a time of reflection. I have been reflecting on all the things that I have gained and all the things that I lost over the years as I continue to grow into the person who I am and the person who I hope to be. Here is some of what I’ve learned along the way:

  • To be less judgemental. Over the past decade I have learned to become less judgemental of myself and others. Recognizing that few people are all good or all bad and that most are the culmination of the triumphs and tragedies that we all face. This allows me to hold space for myself and others to be their full selves. 
  • Work is a means to an end and not the end itself. This statement may be jarring to some, but for me work is work. It is not the place that I go to find my meaning and purpose in life. It is a tool that allows me to live out my meaning and purpose. The question I ask myself is, “who I’m I and how do I want to show up in the world today?” My work no longer defines me, but rather who I am, defines my work and what it means to me. 
  • Great things start as very small things. It is easy to scoff at small starts. I remember once years ago, I shared with someone an axiom that I have come to live by, “One percent progress is still progress.” And they laughed at and then pitied me for not dreaming big enough. Now this person didn’t really know me. They didn’t know that I started life on a fairly low rung and that every step up was built of small almost imperceptible changes that piled up, one after the other leading me to grow and change. I don’t know where that person is in their life, but I do know where I am headed. That single axiom has helped me celebrate each movement forward without making a comparison between my own progress and the progress of others. Any progress is still progress and worthy of celebration. 
  • Community is the real key to success. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have gotten this far without all the people who have invested in me and all the people who I have invested in. We have collectively served as each other’s safety nets and cheering squads. Accomplishments feel good, but they feel even better when you have people to share them with. I am so grateful for the people who have believed in me and stood with me in good and challenging times. I am also excited about the new community that I will create in a new city expanding the love and generosity that I have already received. 

This could go on and on, but I’ll stop here for now. My one hope for this future endeavor is that I will bring with me a renewed sense of purpose and care as I lead in a new situation. 

Questions for your own reflection:  

  • Who are you and how do you want to show up in the world? 
  • When is the last time that you have reflected on your own journey? 
  • What is a small bit of progress that you can celebrate today? 

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Using Mindfulness to Find Your Flow

By Wendy Vance

As I write this blog post, I am concentrating on the task. I am energized and fully immersed. I am in Flow

You may wonder, what is flow? Flow is a state of intense absorption. It is that condition people refer to when they find themselves “in the zone.” 

You know you are in Flow when you feel excited, focused and fully involved. You are enjoying the process of the activity. You are fully present. In psychological terms we call flow,

 “A state that accompanies highly engaging activities.”

If you do not enjoy it and you are not challenged by it, you are not in the condition of flow. 

What can flow look like in everyday life? Here is a short list of possible flow activities:

Playing an intense game of chess
Painting
Playing Tennis
Writing
Working on a time-bound engrossing project
Playing an instrument
Meditation
Yoga
Dance
Working with animals
Gardening
Cooking/Baking
Sewing/Knitting
Photography
What you do for work (hopefully, at least some of the time!)
And much more…

Flow activities are correlated with life satisfaction, achievement, better health and creativity. Those are the positive experiences that we want more of in our lives! 

How can you get into the “zone” and get the benefits of flow? 

Mindfulness and reflection are needed to determine the how of a flow state. Begin to ask yourself questions. 

What activities bring you flow? 

As you mindfully think about what brings you into flow, try to also reflect on the mechanisms of flow that I have listed below. Does your mental list of activities incorporate flow? If yes, great! 

If not, how can you increase the amount of flow in your life? What activities can you add, or will you attempt to try to bring mindful awareness to in your life?

Some characteristics in a flow activity are:

  1. The task is challenging and requires skill.
  2. It requires concentration.
  3. There are goals.
  4. We get immediate (and unambiguous) feedback.
  5. There is a sense of control.
  6. There is a balance between skill and challenge.
  7. There is mental focus or strenuous exercise involved.
  8. There is intrinsic motivation (you get a reward that is satisfying from within)

Flow, once you find it, feels very productive. When you find an activity that provides you with the practice of a flow state, you will experience many physical and emotional benefits such as…

Your sense of self vanishes.

Time stops.

Neutral emotions occur. 

Decrease in pain symptoms.

Natural, productive high

As the saying goes… “You become one with the music.”

These benefits are within reach. Use reflection to find your unique flow state. 

Once you find a flow activity, enjoy it! Eventually, you will need to make changes as you become more skilled. “As we master new skills, our experience of flow will diminish because the task at hand is no longer as stimulating and demanding. Thus, to maintain flow, we continually have to test ourselves in ever more challenging activities.” (Lyubomirsky, 2007). We can use mindfulness to become aware of our flow states. Reflecting on what we do and how we do it will allow us to be on alert for when our flow is decreasing. When we notice that flow is not present anymore, we can mindfully find a way to increase our challenges and take on more difficult tasks. What does that look like? Think of the person who has worked hard to learn how to cook several excellent dishes. However, as time goes on, the challenge and excitement of cooking these same meals repeatedly has decreased. This cook will need to find and try new recipes that engage their flow state again. 

When you become mindfully aware of the different parts of your life, remember that flow is possible. It might mean that you need to increase the challenge by learning a new technique or maybe you need to take a class to increase your skill level at work. 

To engage with my flow state, I am going to spend more time appreciating nature in the practice of outdoor meditation. 

Where and how do you Flow?

About Wendy

Wendy Vance, M.S is an educator, mentor, coach and soon to be positive psychology practitioner. She teaches success strategies and professional exploration topics at Montgomery County Community College in PA and University of Maryland Global Campus. Wendy is passionate about striving to live a flourishing life and sharing positivity in the world. Connect with her on mypositivecoaching.com and LinkedIn.

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Reflections from Pausing

Hey, Mindfuls! This was our longest break to date. We’re ever so slowly, and intentionally, getting back into the swing of things. So, as with our last pause, I thought I’d share some reflections with you.

Here are a few reflections from the pause:

Disconnecting
This seems like a strange concept in our fast-paced world. We’re on our devices and on social media without any breaks. Think about the last time you paused on notifications on Instagram or Twitter? Has it been a while? The need to “keep up-to-date” has most of us rushing to see and like the next event or post. Disconnecting allows us to reconnect to our own needs and focus our attention there. This doesn’t mean disconnecting all devices if you’re a point of contact or caregiver, but pausing notifications for a few hours on your social media apps may be helpful to your sleep routine, for example.

Stillness
Welcoming stillness is difficult, but a welcome experience. Making time to sit still, especially at the beginning of your day, can assist in setting the pace for the rest of your day. How many times have we rushed to get someplace, only to realize we’ve left something we needed behind? Slowly moving into your day with intention can remind you to focus on the present in all of your interactions. We aren’t still to make more time for productivity, but rather to invite ourselves to ground into our own energies.

Rest
We aren’t resting to be more productive either. We’re resting to take care of ourselves, mind, body, and spirit. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Rest allows us not only to support ourselves but, by extension, our communities. A rested mind is also a creative one. Take care of yourselves by creating a practice of mindful rest.

What do you notice about yourselves after a long vacation, break, or pause? Have you made any changes due to what you’ve noticed? Invite whatever arises with gentleness. Explore pausing and remember to rest.

Mindfully,

Amanda

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A Pause for Us

Hey, Mindfuls! We’re taking a pause! No rhyme or reason, we’re taking a pause because we’re trying to cultivate better rest practices in our own lives. We’ll take a pause from June 2nd until July 12th.

During this time, we won’t accept any speaking or writing requests. We’ll slowly respond to emails after July 12th for future events. No new posts or prompts on our social media pages until July 12th as well. We’ll truly rest during this time. 

Here’s some reflection prompts for you during our pause:

  • What would a pause look like for you right now? 
  • What needs to pause in order for creativity to thrive?
  • Are you making enough time for rest in your schedule?

Explore pausing and remember to rest. 

Mindfully,

Amanda

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For the Good of the Order Resources

In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, mindfulinlis partnered with renewerslis founder Kaetrena Davis Kendrick to lead For the Good of the Order, a collaborative LIS well-being event.  Every Wednesday in May, renewerslis and mindfulinlis joined together for five minutes to take some time in community and slow down for short renewal and awareness practices. 

Here are the resources from those events!

Week 1: Reflection: “Be Away!” 

Practice: Sound Healing 

Resource: Samuel Grimes on Where Did “Tibetan” Singing Bowls Really Come From?

Week 2: Do not work in urgency!

Practice: Singing Bowls

Resource: Tamara L. Goldsby, Michael E. Goldsby, Mary McWalters, and Paul J. Mills on Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study

Week 3: Honor your emotions

Practice: Box breathing

Resource: Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Art of Mindful Living

Week 4: Practice self-compassion

Practice: Body scan 

Resource: renewerlis 

For the Good of the Order recordings are all available on the Mindfulinlis IG page. View them at your own leisure. Remember to rest!

Mindfully,

Amanda

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Permission to be Human

I remind myself that I have the “permission to be human” often these days. Many of us have been challenged in ways that we never anticipated in this pandemic. We have struggled through losses in so many different areas of our lives. It can feel overwhelming as we face each day, not knowing what to expect. We are forced to confront the unknown and need to flex our emotional muscles to navigate a new landscape. As I take each day as it comes, I keep in mind that I do not need to be perfect. I can make mistakes. Most importantly, I give myself the permission to feel my full range of emotions from anger to sadness to joy and everything in between from one moment to the next. 

I AM HUMAN

I AM A SPIRITUAL BEING

I AM OK

This idea is often contrary to what we may see, hear or read about, especially in social media. You may have heard of the term, “toxic positivity.” Perhaps you even have some family or friends in your circle that hold this mentality. Essentially, toxic positivity is the belief or mindset that one should maintain a positive outlook when the situation is difficult, challenging, uncomfortable, or just downright toxic. Do you know someone that exhibits continuous positivity without any acknowledgment of just how hard life can be?  Or maybe you have individuals in your circle that deny the difficulty in navigating certain circumstances or people that can cause stress. It can show up when someone advises you to just “get over it” or to “look on the bright side.” This toxic mindset can be detrimental to our physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

Did you know that focusing only on positivity while dismissing negative experiences and situations can even backfire? Research shows that “people who try to increase their happiness often end up feeling worse” (Catalino, Algoe, and Fredrickson, 2014). It is not helpful to focus solely on the positive to the exclusion of ignoring and invalidating the negative. This “good vibes” only approach can leave us feeling that our real emotional experience is not valid and that there is something wrong with us. Our acceptance of the full range of emotions, both positive and negative, is the key to navigating this pandemic as well as opening us up to a greater human experience. When we acknowledge our negative emotions and situations, we can then receive support from others, find meaning and purpose in our lives, and experience mindful awareness of the present moment.

Humans were built to have a total emotional world. We are evolutionary powerhouses! Part of our “superpower” is the possession of “negative” and “positive” emotions. Negative emotions are not “bad.” They have their benefits just as positive ones do. Think of emotions as creating spirals. These spirals can go either up or down. Positivity spirals up. Negativity spirals down. Depending on where your emotions land at the moment, you will experience different action tendencies. 

Negative emotions are narrowing. Narrowing means that there is a focus on a specific action or result. Their action tendencies are useful in many situations. For example, the feeling of sadness or depression may indicate the thought of losing something important. That may lead to the action of needing to mourn something or someone in your life. The feeling of anger may indicate the thought of a violation of rights (I have been harmed), which may lead to fighting back. A good example of using the power of negative emotions is the Black Lives Matter Movement that responded to the challenges in 2020. BLM is a political and social movement formed to protest police brutality and violence in black communities. Anger is a useful negative emotion to fight against the wrongs and injustices in this world.

When you permit yourself to be as human as you are, you invite a richer experience. This experience will be filled with joy, pain, and sorrow. That is life. As we practice mindfulness in our daily lives, we can learn to embrace and appreciate all of life’s situations. Through our acceptance of ourselves and the rejection of “toxic positivity,” we can grow from the challenges. We are here to learn lessons to reflect on and share, give ourselves to those we care about, support causes, and receive loving-kindness and help from others. 

How can we show up for ourselves and others more authentically? The graphic below gives us a place to start. Our goal is to focus on how to respond within ourselves and for others in a way that supports and accepts the complete human experience instead of minimizing, dismissing, or negating parts of ourselves. Rejecting “toxic positivity” allows us to be genuinely seen and heard…permission to be human.

About Wendy

Wendy Vance, M.S. is an educator, mentor, coach, and soon-to-be positive psychology practitioner. She teaches success strategies and professional exploration topics at Montgomery County Community College in PA and the University of Maryland Global Campus. Wendy is passionate about striving to live a flourishing life and sharing positivity in the world. Connect on her website at mypositivecoaching.com (sign up for free workshops) or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/wendyvance

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Rush to Return to Normal? How Mindfulness Can Help!

The last year and a half have been exhausting and for those of us who have been fortunate to make it to this point in the global pandemic; that has affected so many lives. It’s important to take some time and reflect. Vaccines have been approved and distributed and with increasing numbers of people vaccinated there’s been this push to “return to normal”. We’ve heard it and if you practice mindfulness then it’s important to be critical of what that actually means. What was “normal” in our pre-pandemic lives? What did we love and appreciate in our lives before and what do we love and value now? Has there been a shift in your way of thinking and how you approach things after living through a horrific and traumatic global pandemic? In some libraries (mostly public, but some academic libraries) have been in-person work only a couple of months into the pandemic. Some of us have been fortunate enough to be able to continue to work remotely throughout the pandemic. At my institution and in the state I live in, we’re returning to pre-pandemic life in the fall. I’m appreciative that our University Libraries department is giving us some leeway, but I also know there’s a staff/faculty divide over who has to be back fully and who’s allowed to continue to work remotely some of the time. 

When thinking about this rush to return to pre-pandemic life and how mindfulness can help with the transition, here are my goals in using mindfulness to help with the transition: 

  • Be intentional: My goal is to be patient with myself and others and to communicate that effectively. If something makes me uncomfortable then I will try and communicate how I’m feeling. 
  • Focusing on my awareness: Being in the moment and aware of my surroundings. If something feels out of place, observe and adjust. 
  • Practicing slow-living: While doing my work and doing the daily things in my life, instead of rushing through the tasks to check them off my list, I slow down and enjoy the task and think about what I’m actually doing, what I enjoy about it and what I don’t really like about it. 
  • Taking care of myself: I want to expand the definition of “self-care” and move more towards thinking and communicating what I need in order. 

One of the most important things to consider when being rushed is to stop and think critically about why you’re being rushed. Then take a step back to observe your surroundings and then make decisions on what’s best for you. My goal during the “return to normal” is to think about what’s going on around me and how this works for me, my life, and my family. 

About Mallary 

Mallary Rawls (she/her) is a Humanities Librarian who strives to practice mindfulness in her everyday life. 

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Amigos Conference Keynote Resources

Hey, Mindfuls! Thank you for exploring mindful practices with us this morning during your conference. Please explore these resources at your own pace and time. This will remain open on the website as long as you need.

Land Acknowledgement 

Native-Land

Mindfulness & Wellness Resources

Audre Lorde Books

angel Kyodo Rev. Williams, Lama Rod Owens, Jasmine Syedullah Ph.D. Radical Dharma

Thích Nhất Hạnh Books | Foundation | Resources

NAMI 

LIS Resources

Michelle Reale Becoming a Reflective Librarian and Teacher

BIPOCinLIS Community Record 

Coalition for Library Workers of Color

LISMentalHealth

Renewerlis

While you’re here, please explore our website a bit further and learn more about our work. We look forward to hearing and learning from you all. Remember to rest!

Mindfully,

Amanda

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Exploring the Unknown

Hey, Mindfuls! 

I’ve racked my brain about what to share this month. Should I discuss living abundance, reflective practice, or something else? The list goes on and on, until I realized this was the message, the unknown! Sometimes, we just don’t know what to do or where to go, and that’s okay. We cannot expect ourselves to always have the answer. Nor should we. Where’s the joy in that?

We need to explore the unknown with open arms and be open to possibilities. This doesn’t mean that we should throw caution to the wind (always look on both sides of the street before crossing). However, we can start to investigate things that excite us, makes us nervous, or things we’ve been curious about but haven’t thought about in a while. Dig into exploring without judgement and reflect on what comes next. 

Some reflective questions on your journey:

  • What are you still learning about yourself? 
  • What else needs to be explored?
  • What about your job don’t you know? Are you interested in learning more or need extra development in a particular area?

Explore the unknown and remember to rest!

Mindfully,

Amanda 

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Negative & Positive Emotions + Mindfulness

By Wendy Vance 

Did you know that mindfulness can increase positivity? By practicing mindfulness, we can become aware of our emotions in a non-judgmental way. Negative emotions and positive emotions have benefit to our human existence. Did you know that our negative emotions developed to keep us safe? As we have evolved through the centuries, our emotional world has also matured. Negative emotions served to narrow our experience. For instance, when you feel fear, you want to escape. When you feel anger, you want to attack. When you feel shame, you want to disappear or perhaps feeling sadness will cause you to want to withdraw. These emotions and actions have stood the evolutionary test of time. Our ancestors needed these negative emotions to react to threat and to do that quickly. Missing the bad was life threatening…whereas missing the good was not. Fortunately, through mindfulness practice, we can counter this strong negativity bias within our brains.

We are also gifted with positive emotions. Our positive emotions are broadening. They allow us to experience actions that make us want to build, to grow and to expand. The resulting actions from positive emotions are not narrowing. People will experience them in many unique ways. Some actions that may occur from joy could be to feel free or playful. The emotion of interest may lead us to pursue exploration. Experiencing the state of contentment can lead to the action of savoring. Savoring may involve cherishing, delighting and appreciating our positive encounter. Lastly, when experiencing the emotion of love or tenderness, we may act in all the ways I just mentioned and even more.

When you are mindful of your emotions, the key is knowing when you need negative emotions and when you need positive ones. The practice of mindfulness can help you to induce the emotional state that you want to experience in that moment.

For most of us, the goal is to increase our positive emotions and to feel them often. How can you do this? The easiest way is to schedule “positive events.” Remember, the brain quickly habituates to positive occurrences and emotions and holds on to negative events and emotions much stronger and for a longer period.  In order to counteract this evolutionary tendency, we need to infuse ourselves with positive events frequently. Two ideas to add or continue in your mindfulness practice are to savor your experience and deepen your gratitude practice. 

Incorporate your five senses to generate the act of savoring. 

This will help you to infuse the experience with positivity. One of my daily mindfulness practices occurs each morning. In order to start my day with savoring, I enjoy the positive experience of deeply breathing in the delicious roasted scent of my coffee, slowly sipping the warm liquid, and feeling my hands around my favorite mug. Savoring involves slowing down and experiencing every little part of an event.

Increase positive emotions through gratitude. 

You can cultivate gratitude further by reflecting on three good things that happened for the day and what you did to contribute to those good things. By taking the extra step to practice reflecting on your personal contribution to the gratitude experience, you will increase the awareness of joy, peace and connection that is other centered.

What are some ways that you prioritize and generate more positivity in your life and mindfulness practice?

About Wendy

Wendy Vance, M.S is an educator, mentor, coach and soon to be positive psychology practitioner. She teaches success strategies and professional exploration topics at Montgomery County Community College in PA and University of Maryland Global Campus. Wendy is passionate about striving to live a flourishing life and sharing positivity in the world. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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What’s Nourishing You?: Developing your own nourishment plan

Hello Mindfuls! Ingrid here. Let’s talk about how to nourish ourselves and how to develop a mindful nourishment plan for when times are easy, difficult, or just are.

nour·ish·ment /ˈnəriSHmənt/ the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.

mind·ful·ness/ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs/ a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations

Nourishment is necessary for good bodily function, health and development. Mindfulness in short calls us to the present moments of life without judgement and is a constant process of reflection. Both mindful practice and nourishing yourself are deeply personal processes that can change over time due to any number of life milestones and phases.   

In order to develop a well-balanced plan you have to have an awareness of how you are at your best and how you are when things aren’t going as well as you’d like. Remembering to hold both versions of yourself without judgement. This can be challenging because we are taught that things are good or bad and then project that judgement onto ourselves. You as you are, are neither good nor bad, you just are. With that understanding recognize that sometimes life can go well or awry (and that both can happen at the same time). Mindfulness asks us to notice, reflect, and if warranted hold or release. Having a plan to nourish yourself through the eventual ups, downs, and turnarounds of life helps to keep us balanced and engaged with life. 

For me having a plan to fall back on or to return to when things are not going well or even to keep centered when things are going well helps keep me present in my body and inhabiting my own mind. A mindful nourishment plan can help rebalance your life. A well-developed plan is one that not only includes the thing that you need, but is also flexible and agile with room for growth and change. The ways in which you nourish yourself can help you to return to yourself. Self-awareness allows us to recognize when you are not okay. The willingness to speak that truth to yourself and to others gives you the ability to return to or adjust to your plan. 

Here are some questions to consider as you develop your own personal nourishment plan:

  • Who am I? 
  • Now imagine or remember the last time you were appropriately nourished …
    • When did you feel the most satisfied? Describe that feeling.
    • What are the key elements of a nourished you.
    • Here are some examples of mindful actions/elements for a well-balanced life.
  • Develop the plan 
    • What are some “staples” you can keep on hand?
    • Remember that everything you do is in service to the life that you want to live.
    • At different times you need different things. i.e. hormonal shifts, illness, busy times at work, deadlines on projects, travel … How can you honor the phases within your plan? 

In short: 

As you make a nourishment plan that works for you increase in awareness of yourself and how you function. As you grow in that awareness of yourself, hold an non-judgemental view of that self. Life changes…honor yourself and others as you go through the inevitable ebbs and flows. Create and have a plan that can grow and change as you grow and change. Reflect and release. 


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MindfulinLIS Profile: Jamia Williams

Before 2020 I enjoyed planning my days, weeks, and months so that I could incorporate self-care, professional development, family, and friends time but once the pandemic occurred I had to put a lot of my plans on hold. Honestly, after the second week of March, I found it hard to practice mindfulness because home and work became one busy place.  So it took me some time to get back to mindful practices.  Since my worlds collided due to quarantining I had to take many breaks and be present for my family when they needed me.  In addition, I had to be gracious with myself when I needed more rest than normal or when I felt like I was not being productive.  I had to keep combating these negative thoughts. Following the Nap Ministry and mindfulinlis during this time has helped me tremendously. Reflective journaling and affirmations have helped me through this weird and difficult time. I had to be intentional with my time and truly stay in the moment and to allow myself to work through my emotions.  I had to be okay with the rage that I felt and I took the time to process those feelings. Lastly, I am grateful to be on this journey of self-awareness, self-love, and community building. 

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MindfulinLIS Profile: Twanna Hodge

Mindfulness in 2020 is a constant struggle to be present, knowing what I can control, and taking ownership of my time. It is stripping away all of the unnecessary noise and expectations (internal and external). Working towards a life where I am always conscious of who I am, what I do, and how I progress towards my future goals are part of mindfulness goals. It is learning that ‘less isn’t more,’ that it is damaging. Creating and maintaining a mindfulness practice involves my communities and me. It includes boundary setting, being disciplined, active listening, employing empathy, and being open to others aiding me. I am engaging in thoughtful decision making. Being considerate in situations, doing what is necessary and right, and using my voice. 

In 2020 centering myself and what I bring to the table has become more critical than ever before though it takes great diligence and labor to do so. What has changed is a shift from the hustle and grind culture. I learned about the Nap Ministry earlier this year; I follow them on Twitter; it has been a balm, reminder, and guide in this world where everything seems to be unraveling quicker than one can understand. Mindfulness is challenging or seems nigh impossible when dealing with all of the demands-personal, work, service, emotional, psychological, physical, and more. Protecting my time, guarding my different capacities, and managing my commitments are necessary to improve my practice further. It is getting rid of decades of indoctrination about worth being tied to productivity, that one’s value depends on one’s deliverables, output, or what eone can do for others. 

What has stayed the same is accepting who I am and being open to the process. I am cultivating spaces that honor whom I am becoming—knowing that I am a work-in-progress. Mindfulness is an act of love for myself and others. 

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A Moment on Wheels

Hello Mindfuls! This is Ingrid. As I approach my birthday this month I reflect on one of my milestone birthdays where I was able to bring my mindfulness practice into focus. Moment by moment thinking is an integral part of living mindfully. When you are in the moment life becomes a meditation. Engaging in life with a mindful state of presence allows the mundane to become a growth opportunity. 

My 40th birthday was one such moment, I was pretty insistent that I wanted to celebrate it in a fun way.  It felt appropriate to return to a fun childhood pastime to usher in what I hope would be the next best decade of my life. So after dinner my friends and I headed off to the local rink.

Even though it was all my idea I was pretty hesitant about lacing up those skates. I hadn’t skated in over two years, but I firmly believe in doing things that I don’t do well with enthusiasm and an openness to have fun. As I finally got my skates on, took the all important Instagram photos and slowly made my way to the rink I heard a little voice say, “You want me to teach you how to skate.” Her name was Demi and she then informed me that she was looking for a friend. As in literally looking for someone to be her friend in that quite busy skating rink.

And I said, yes. I am not one to turn down a good lesson or a new friend. A little timidity came through in my mind concerned that I wouldn’t be able to hold myself up or that I’d fall down. I was scared that I’d hurt myself or make a fool of myself. I was afraid that I would get into everyone else’s way. I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it all around.  On those wheels I felt disembodied from myself.

Demi’s instruction became my meditation, bringing me out of fear into a moment of contemplation and reflection. Demi’s mantras brought me back into my own body and eased my mind. She taught me that:  

  • It is okay if you fall, ‘cause you can get back up; It is okay if you go at your own pace and look at you you just went the whole way round. You don’t have to take big steps if you don’t want to. You can take small steps, too. 
    • My focus moved from how well I was doing to the doing itself. I had control of the pace of things in that moment. As more skilled skaters of all age-ranges zoomed and moved around me I was allowed to slow down and change my rhythm to match my comfort level and sense of safety. 
  • Whatever you do, don’t look down! Keep your head up. Making sure to align your body with your skates.
    • Her coaching showed me that  my body would go where my mind went. If I looked down that is where I would go. I worked to align my body and mind with where I wanted to go and how I wanted to move. 
  • At one point my shins were aching and she informed me that I was supposed to feel it there and that I was working the right muscles. 
    • In the military, there is a saying that “pain is weakness leaving the body…”It is important to note that we should listen to our bodies because pain can be a key indicator that something is wrong and that we should address the issue rather than pushing through. This was not such an instance because sometimes pain is the beginning of a breakthrough. For the first time in a long time, I felt present in my body and the ache soon subsided as I became accustomed to the rhythm of the skating.

As she coached me through skating I thought of how my life wasn’t quite what I’d thought it’d be by now. It’s good, but not quite there yet. Demi reminded me of the power of presence, bringing an awareness to my own body and journey. That while I don’t always know the destination it is important to take in where I am and notice myself. Spoiler alert: it was never about skating.

Being in the moment and meditating on the words of my pint-sized coach redirected me from the despair of thinking that I had yet to live up to my potential into rejoicing because I am still here. That my journey is my own and that I can go at my own pace. Other people can rush around me and may even be ahead of where I want to be, but what is mine is mine. And more importantly what is meant for me is for me.

I could dwell on all the desires of my heart that have not been fulfilled or on focus my desire to be more fully present in all areas of the life that I have in hand. I can also be somewhere in between, but most importantly I can address and be with myself.  Ultimately, I learned mindfulness can return us to ourselves. 

How will you return to yourself? How and with whom will you be present? 

Mindfully,

Ingrid 

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Reflections from Pausing

Hello, Mindfuls! It’s been a while, but I’ve rested intentionally and ready to slowly come back to this mindful work. The path hasn’t been easy, but it is worthwhile. On this journey, after asking many of you to rest, I realized I hadn’t rested in quite a long time. Nor had I made much time for reflection as I had prior to the panini (pandemic). This time actually gave me a moment to make more time for myself, but also actively participate in the reflection process. 

Here’s a few reflections from the pause:

Observe more, react less

Any mindfulness based course will focus on how you react to situations and conflictions in your life. Whether we notice it or not, our reactions do affect our daily lives. I opted to observe more and speak less in meetings, social interactions (all Zoom sessions), and workshops. Observing more helped me step back from projects that no longer serve me and focus on what really matters. We don’t need to react to everything because someone else wants us too. Sometimes, just observing provides much needed clarity and awareness.

No excuses needed

We don’t need excuses to make time for ourselves. We just need to take a step back and pause. Of course, we all have responsibilities however, we don’t need to make up grand reasons why we can’t do something or be someplace. Simply saying, I’m not available at this time will suffice. No need to go into detail is required (unless you choose to do so). 

Intuition or bust

My intuition has never steered me wrong, ever. My reflection question this last month was: “what would happen if I actively listened to my intuition more?” Leaning into trusting myself has provided healing and grounding. I trust myself to make the best choice for myself at the time. I’m allowing myself to say no to things I have no interest in, while saying yes to things that excite me. Trust is a process, it’s not perfect, but I’m allowing myself room to grow.

Adding more pauses 

Setting aside more time to pause, whether planned or impromptu is important. None of us can be everything to everyone. I’m going to take more steps back, in order to be more intentional and grounded in this work. That means taking more time away. Expect more pauses from us and we encourage you to do the same. 

What do you notice about yourselves when you take a pause? What are you hoping to learn about yourselves? Whatever arises during your pauses, welcome it gently. Explore with openness and remember to rest. 

Mindfully,

Amanda

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A Pause for Us

After a few busy months filled with talks, conferences, webinars, and countless prompts we’re taking a much needed month long hiatus this February. We haven’t been away from our social media pages and now website for more than a few days at time. The time for a break is long overdue, and we’re taking it. We’ll take a pause from February 2nd until March 8th.

During this time, we won’t accept any speaking or writing requests. We’ll slowly respond to emails after March 8th for future events. No new posts or prompts on our social media pages until March 8th as well. We’ll be truly unplugged and resting. 

Practice pausing in your own lives. What would it mean for you to take a pause? What do you notice after you’ve paused for 10, 15, or 20 minutes? How would a longer pause shift your awareness or focus? 

Explore pausing, and remember to rest. 

Mindfully,

Amanda

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MindfulinLIS Profile: Lizeth Zepeda

To me, mindfulness is continuous and intentional check-in with myself and loved ones. During the 2020 pandemic, it has been tough to check-in with me mostly because I have avoided my mental health. Early in the shelter-in-place, I began to feel depressed and unmotivated to do anything. Since this was not sustainable for me, in April of 2020, I began to go to therapy, and it has been one of the best decisions I have made. I talk to someone twice a month that helps me make goals to work on my own physical and mental health.

As the pandemic lockdowns began, I lost the physical interactions with loved ones outside of my immediate household.  At first, I organized Zoom calls and game nights, but that began to be exhausting and feel dreadful. The Zoom fatigue is real, and even fun family moments began to feel like just another Zoom meeting. What works for me now is sending texts/memes to my loved ones and occasionally doing phone calls or Facetime.  I miss physically interacting with others, but I’m so grateful for the time I have with my partner, Liliana, and my dog, Monita.

During this pandemic, I picked up hiking and walking again with my partner and dog. We are lucky enough to live within walking distance to the Fort Ord National Monument, and we have taken the opportunity to be around the trees and watch nature change. I have also begun to do solo Yoga classes online, using the Down Dog application or taking lessons with my friend, Joey. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I take a Zoom Zumba class with my cousin Lizbeth who lives in El Paso, Texas. The Zumba is a fun and great workout, but my favorite part is connecting with my cousin, who I don’t see very often, and hearing about how she is doing.

My productivity has not been the same since this working from home situation began. Although I am so grateful that I can work from home, it has made it increasingly harder to concentrate, and it is hard to separate my worth from my productivity. Some weeks, I catch myself working too much and not having the work/life balance. I have learned that I have to set myself realistic goals and set boundaries. The work/life balance is something that I am continuously trying to work on, and I will be doing it for the foreseeable future.  I am also grateful for the BIPOC writing group I am in, where we talk about what we’re working on, cheering each other, and being real about our work.

There are some weeks where I feel better than others, but I am grateful for the loved ones that remind me of the joy, even when everything feels like too much

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New Year, Same Us.

New Year, new you? This sounds great, but what about the present you? The “you” you’ve ignored in order to usher in progress without dealing with the issues and traumas of the past? That person deserves to come into the new year as well. How do we welcome our old selves in conjunction with this ideal person?

First, we must let go of the ideal! There is no perfect version of ourselves around the corner. Perhaps there’s a more rested or mindful self, however, we remain imperfect beings. Our imperfections allow us to grow in healthy ways and find balance within our lives. As we explore our needs, through mindful practice, therapy, or a mixture of the two, we must allow ourselves to remain present rooted in our needs and feelings while gently reflecting on what truly matters to us. Reflect on the following, do you need a new you or a more rested and boundary setting you? 

Perfection doesn’t exist. Nor does a perfect version of ourselves in a new year (see 2020 as an example). We remain, we grow, and we learn from our mistakes. Aim for personal growth, balance, and release the need for anything else. We see you, and you matter this year and every year. 

Explore your present self and remember to rest.

Mindfully,

Amanda

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MindfulinLIS Profile: Amy Tureen

My mindfulness practice in 2020 has prioritized giving myself time and space to process feelings, thoughts, and emotions rather than compartmentalizing or repressing them. Pre-pandemic I felt an intense pressure to be “on” for 9+ hours a day. As a middle manager, I often didn’t feel like I had a right to emotional responses during the workday and would address my emotional wellbeing only before or after working hours. However, the transition to working from home following the outbreak of the pandemic blurred the line between “at work” and “at home” and, further, meant that I was visible to colleagues only via email, chat, and video conference. I had suddenly much more flexibility and opportunity to engage in mindfulness practices and address emotional upsets in or much closer to the moment in which they occurred.

In 2020 I have experimented with different mindfulness practices throughout the day, rather than restricting them to hours outside the standard operating hours of 9 to 5 or the weekends. My morning practice, which can now be longer due to the lack of a commute, currently includes prayer, tai chi, and meditation. I use a part of my lunch hour to either meditate or catch a 20-minute restorative nap that leaves me ready to face my afternoon revitalized.  My evenings, which used to feel at times like a check list of stress-abatement techniques, still include some guided visualization meditation and quiet time, but it feels like less of an obligation or chore. To some degree, I simply don’t need to decompress quite as much when I’m mindful of and, more importantly, actively responsive to, my emotional and mental wellbeing throughout the day.

Similarly, I have had the time and flexibility to monitor and track my energy levels in 2020 in a way I have not previously either been able to or inspired to do. I have used this information to restructure my days, pushing meetings to the morning (when I am most easily able to engage in attentive listening) and my dedicated project time to the afternoons and evenings (when I find it easier to write and think for long, unbroken periods). While my working hours now greatly exceed 9-5, the pacing and space between projects and meetings is less frenetic and better suits both my own energy fluctuations and a work/life balance that regularly incorporates proactive wellness efforts throughout the day.

Some of my new mindfulness practices are unlikely to survive the return to on-site library work, whenever that time comes for me, but I hope many will remain. I still believe individuals in leadership capacities have an obligation to be “on” at work, both for the good of themselves and those that follow them, but I no longer view the “always” in such black and white terms. I hope one of my mindfulness takeaways from 2020 is to build space throughout my day to engage in true mindfulness, rather than using it primarily as an end or start of day stress reduction.

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MindfulinLIS Profile: Charissa Powell

In 2019, Jenny Odell published her book, “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy”* and I heard her interviewed on several podcasts, including “Call Your Girlfriend” to promote the book. In one interview, Odell mentioned that she goes to a rose garden and just stares at flowers. In 2019, I kept thinking, “who has the time for that?!” It felt incomprehensible to me that year. 

Well, here we are in 2020, and I’ve found deep mindfulness, peace, and awareness in staring at nature. Trees, flowers, squirrels, birds, and clouds. I’ve spent a lot of time outside this year trying to trick my brain into thinking I went somewhere different that’s not my house, get a break from the eye strain from my laptop, and just have moments of stillness. I want to share a story about how I’ve practiced mindfulness with the crepe myrtle tree in my backyard. 

I moved into my house in the summer of 2018 and immediately fell in love with this fuchsia flowering crepe myrtle. Summer 2019, it flowered again. Summer 2020…I kept waiting for the crepe myrtle to flower. I started to realize that allllll the other crepe myrtles in my neighborhood were flowering. And I kept thinking, “why is my tree not flowering!”

I started researching why a crepe myrtle wouldn’t flower and came to realize this tree had not cared for or lovingly pruned for years, maybe decades. It was so overgrown with multiple other weeds and trees growing out of the base. All of a sudden, I had so much grace for this tree. This tree hadn’t been taken care of and honestly looked like it was being choked out by other plants. I changed from feeling resentful towards my tree for not flowering and instead stopped expecting the tree to do anything other than just be. 

Later in the summer, I was under the tree reading for almost an hour. While taking a break from my book, I just stared up through the branches for quite some time. After a LONG TIME OF STARING, at the very top of the tree, I saw a single fuchsia bloom. I can’t fully describe the joy this brought me. It was such a special moment, just my tree and me.

My crepe myrtle has taught me so much about mindfulness this year. I’m working toward having fewer and more realistic expectations, and to have grace towards myself and others when that doesn’t work. 2020 has had its share of frustrations. From internet issues to car problems to medical scares, I am carrying with me the lessons from my tree to be present, to work towards understanding when things don’t go the way I want, and to celebrate small (and big) wins. 

*I am now reading this book and it is amazing! Absolutely recommend. 

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MindfulinLIS Profile: Raymond Pun

Life has been challenging for me and everyone I know during this pandemic. To me, mindfulness means to be aware of and cope with changing situations. What has changed is that I have been more intentional about creating a workable “work” space at home. I finally cleared out my desk filled with books and papers and started decluttering during this time. It felt a bit liberating, to be honest. As they say in the movie Fight Club, “the things you own end up owning you.” I sense that having an organized “at-home” workplace can make work and life more manageable. 

I have been thinking a lot how I spend my time. Unfortunately, I keep packing the schedule up with things (or new work-related things) to do. Sometimes I feel like I am productive and sometimes I am not. I started a morning ritual: I go for a walk around the block and then make sure I get at least 15-20 minutes running time with my elliptical at home and take breaks in between meetings. I have to intentionally schedule breaks and manage my energy more than my time. I try to avoid reading emails during the weekend but it’s very difficult too. I actually try not to do any work-related emails during the weekend. My workplace has fostered this culture, so it has made me more conscious about doing work during a break time.

I am mentally prepared that this pandemic can go on for another year or so. I started listening to news podcast in other languages (Cantonese/Mandarin and Spanish) just so I get to hear other voices in other languages and what is going on outside of my own mind. I have also started attending zoom meetings with fellow library friends to talk about everything from work to Netflix shows to tarot cards! It’s been nice to use virtual meetings for social activities at times. Like everyone I know, it’s been very difficult to concentrate on reading for leisure. At times I try to read what I can and skip what I find to be uninteresting. Lately I’ve been reading Happiness: A Very Short Introduction. I received this book back in 2015 at a conference and never even cracked it open until now. Here’s hoping I learn a bit more about the psychological and emotional theories of happiness during this time! 

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Welcome

Welcome to the Mindfulinlis website and blog!

Thank you for coming into this space as we create something lasting and unique onto the interwebs! Throughout the pandemic, we thought about ways not only to sustain ourselves and our content. What would be the best way to content our ideas and share in a helpful, yet mindful way? Cue the website music [blast horns]. 

We’re excited about content including mindful perspectives and profiles from leaders in the profession in this space. Printable materials focusing on useful practices to deepen your connection within, while strengthening your roots in your community. One doesn’t thrive alone. As such, we’ve provided a resource page to connect you with others involved in communities of practice. This mindful space will remind us to pause and generate new reflective questions on our journeys in this world. We hope you enjoy reading it, as much as we have creating it. 

Big thank you to Ingrid J. Ruffin, Mindful Manager for all her work to make this website possible!

Explore the website at your own pace, and remember to rest. 

Mindfully, 

Amanda

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We’re Back

Hello Mindfuls! After some unscheduled and unplanned time away, we’re back! The need for more rest and downtime is called for during the summer months. Exploring nature, meeting new people, and finding peace within were the goals! As we move back into the hectic semester, we have to remember and find what brings us joy outside of work.

Thích Nhất Hanh’s book, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, shares a powerful quote on the need to slow down, “There is no need to put anything in front of us and run after it. We already have everything we are looking for, everything we want to become. Be yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. Just be.” This is not an easy task, but one to reflect upon. As I’ve repeated in this space often, time is yours.

Allow yourself time to explore without judgment. Cultivating any new practices takes time, understanding, and flexibility. Welcome the process and make it work within your needs.

Support for learning more about being here:

  • Thích Nhất Hanh – The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation 
  • Tracee Stanley – Radiant Rest Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation & Awakened Clarity

Reflective prompts for you:

  • How will you cherish your own energy?
  • What does time away from a project or job look like?
  • Where/What are some areas in your life that call for rest or a step back?

Take care of yourselves.

Mindfully,

Amanda