Understanding Mindfulness (A Guide For Beginners)

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Mindfulness is a buzz word right now.

You hear it everywhere and you know it’s good for you, but there’s not much follow up on how to get started or why it’s important.

Essentially, theres a lack of mindfulness around the term mindfulness and we’re just gonna change that right now.

Mindfulness is AMAZING. Studies say it has effects that benefits our health in many different ways, including chronic illness managementanxiety, and even enhanced cognition, just to name a few!

It can help us heal, stabilize, and propel forward into a life we love and it’s simple, effective, and completely free to use.

So why isn’t everyone using it?

Again, there’s a lack of awareness of what mindfulness really is, so let’s start there.

What is mindfulness?

According to dictionary.com, there are two different (but similar) definitions for mindfulness:

“mind·ful·ness — ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs/ — noun

  1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. “their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”

2. 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, used as a therapeutic technique.”

So basically, it’s a conscious decision to bring your attention to the present moment.

And it makes sense that we experience so many benefits from mindfulness because the activities that bring us to the present are what we seek the most…

Think about it. What makes you focus on the present?

For most of us, it’s activities like painting, playing an instrument, going to a festival, dancing, swimming, spending time in nature, heck, even putting on make up!

The things we love to do the most have a direct line to a mindful mind… you just have to be aware that you’re being mindful so you can get the full benefits of it.

If you like the idea but don’t know where to begin, don’t fret — this is the fun part!

Mindfulness comes from training yourself to be present. Meditation is the advanced version of this, but that’s a too much to start.

Pick an activity that you know you have to do daily. Maybe that’s doing the dishes or taking a walk. As you do it, make the intention beforehand to be present as much as possible during the activity. Notice the sights, smells, and sounds around you. Notice how you feel physically.

If your thoughts start to travel to anything else, don’t get mad… this is all practice (and you’re not in competition with anyone else!)

Just bring your attention back to the present. Doing that over and over again (yes, your thoughts will travel A LOT, it’s totally normal in the beginning) will strengthen your control over your brain, lower stress levels, and allow you to experience your life (instead of a perception of your life).

Mindfulness can benefit you in so many different ways and has ZERO negative side effects. You can choose to do it any time, you don’t need to carry anything, and no one can ever take it away from you.

It’s your power, and if you choose to use it, it may just change your life into exactly what you’ve always dreamed it to be. All you have to do is be mindful of your mindfulness and you can’t lose…

So the real question now is, when are you getting started?!

Why It's So Important To Find Your Tribe

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It’s Friday night.

You went to work, worked out, and now you’re at home while your friends are all out partying.

You could have gone with them. They invited you, after all, but the thought of spending another Friday night at the bar suddenly seems like a waste of time.

It’s not that you don’t want to be social, you just don’t fit into “the scene” anymore. Suddenly, those late nights of alcohol induced dancing and screaming small talk with strangers over the DJ have felt more exhausting than anything else.

Plus, recovering the next day is getting old FAST.

That’s part of growing up, and it’s a good thing, but it also means it’s time to find your tribe.

At your core, you are just energy. It can be manipulated and transferred, but we don’t think about our energy and how it relates to your life.

What you spend your time doing and who you’re doing it with have a HUGE impact on the life you create. Your energy takes on the energy of your actions and, even if your current friends are good people, it’s important to notice if they’re moving forward with you.

“You become like the five people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully.”                 — Jim Rohn

Finding your tribe means meeting other people who think like you. It’s a group that you belong to that’s filled with like minded connections that energize and inspire you.

So, why is it SO important to connect with these people?

When you’re growing, mentally, physically, and emotionally, you start to crave connections with people who will support you through those changes.

People who understand what you’re going through and are on a similar path.

People who just get it.

It’s important to connect with your tribe because, when you find those people, you start shifting your energy into the person you want to become.

The crave for change means you’re ready to take a step towards the life you want to live and anything that prevents you from that starts to feel like a waste.

Finding your tribe positions you for success. It puts you in the space to connect with people and opportunities that can help you level up to the health, happiness, and success you desire.

“Surround yourself with people who make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through.”                                                                                    — Karl Marx

When your Friday nights are filled with activites that feel fun, productive, and soul fulfilling, your energy changes. You don’t hesitate to talk about ideas that feel exciting or get teased for self care that you need to pay attention to.

You are free to be the person you are because you’ve surrounded yourself with people who will love, respect, and probably admire you for it!

You don’t have to cut out old friends, but if you’re feeling stuck, consider making time for new people, new adventures, and new opportunities.

Your tribe awaits. Are you ready to shift your energy?

The Secret of Going From Panicked To Productive

So, I'll admit it - I used to have a panic problem. 

Something would happen that I wasn't expecting and my thoughts go straight from 0 - 60. I get hot, nervous, and can't think straight. Everything is BAD and I usually end up crying on my bedroom floor.

Sound familiar? 

I didn't think my panic problem was relatable (in fact, I thought it was something I should be ashamed of), but as I started seeing more clients, I realized how common this thought pattern was!

I spent years focusing on stress management (including emotional management) because I needed it desperately. I had no stress management skills and struggled every time something unexpected happened. 

Through breathing exercises and perception shifts, therapist appointments and meditation retreats, I learned how to practice stress management to help me through difficult situations. 

And while it worked wonders, it took a lot of patience and work! I completely understand why people (specifically, my clients) don't want to put in the energy...

So you can imagine my intense HAPPINESS when I was listening to an audiobook for my coaching practice and fell into a fast track process to go from panicked to productive... or as outlined in the book, "going from Oh Crap to Okay."

The book, Just Listen by Mark Goulston, was written to help you develop listening skills. He is a psychiatrist with an impressive history of being able to guide people out of crisis situations and I was so excited when he gave these simple step by step instructions. When I heard it, I couldn't believe how clear it could be. I stopped the tape and listened to the chapter 3 more times and I knew - I had to share this information! 

Truly, I wish I'd had this from the beginning. One clear exercise that could take me from that feeling of panic back to reality. Imagine being able to respond to stressful situations in a calm and focused manner? It would be life changing! 

I've worked so hard to find that control and I'm really excited to share this technique with you!

So, are you ready to hear the mental steps of going from panicked to productive?? Here we go!

How To Go From Oh Crap to Okay

 Phase 1: Oh Crap!

This is your reaction phase. Your immediate reaction to crisis situations. Essentially, it's your moment of panic. According to Goulston, he says its absolutely vital to put words to what you're feeling. Don't deny your feelings, don't say "everything is okay", just start putting your emotions to words. Does the situation make you feel afraid? Angry? Sad? Take a moment to become aware of your emotions. 

Phase 2: Oh God...

This is your release phase. Once you can put words to your emotions, this is where we let it go. Close your eyes and slowly breathe through your nose until you feel yourself relax and let the feeling go. 

Phase 3: Oh Jeez.

This is your recenter phase. Letting go of the emotions through breathing is key because in the "Oh Jeez" step, you go a little deeper. Once you've gone through the Oh God stage, try a multi level breathing exercise to bring you to a place of full relaxation. Goulston recommends repeating "Oh crap, oh god, oh jeez, oh well, and okay" until you are in a deep state of relaxation. 

Phase 4: Oh Well!

This is your refocus phase. Now that you've put yourself into a state of relaxation, your frontal lobe can think clearly and efficiently. Take this time to figure out, what can you do to control the damage? 

Phase 5: Okay. 

This is your re-engage phase. Now that you've calmed down and figured out what you need to do - TAKE ACTION. Be productive and put the plan from phase 4 into action to fix the mess you're panicking about. 

Just like everything else in life, this will feel awkward and difficult in the beginning, but the more you focus on it, the easier it will become. In fact, if you practice it enough, your brain will eventually learn to make these steps an automatic reaction to crisis situation. 

So, there you have it. This is a great method to follow if you're just starting out and looking to manage stress quickly in the middle of difficult situations. 

I'll be putting this practice to action and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it too! Comment below and let me know if you'd use this, have used it, or are going to try it out! 

With love & light,

Carolyn Rachel

 

How To Stop Hating The Process & Have Fun Losing Weight

Does Motivation Really Help?

Every time I've ever gone on a diet, I had to pump myself up like crazy the day before. I'd go out and got a stack of health/self love related magazines, buy a giant haul of fresh foods from the market, and stay up all night putting together recipes and meal plans. 

Every single time, I refused to allow one negative thought to come into my brain. This was it. After almost 2 decades of trying and failing, I was finally going to lose the weight. 

But after a few days of being perfect, weighing myself daily, and feeling a surge of confidence... a familiar little voice popped in my head. 

"You've been doing SO WELL, you deserve to cheat. Just a little bit. What's one meal?" 

I'd try to shake the thought and do anything else, but the longer I ignored it, the louder it got. The thought of food would take over my brain whether I was hungry or not and, no matter how many glasses of water I drank, I couldn't shake the idea. I desperately wanted relief from the hunger in my brain and my resentment grew with every healthy meal that couldn't satisfy my urge.

Before I knew it, the motivation would dissipate and I'd feel miserable. I just wanted to be normal and happy, to be able to eat food without gaining 10 lbs overnight, and I hated the amount of effort it took just to "be good". 

So, I'd give up to the urges which usually led to a binge and a whole lotta self hate the next morning.

What Was I Doing Wrong?

I HATED the whole process and loathed that I had no choice. I felt trapped between doing something I really didn't want to do and something I knew I had to do. 

Notice how I said I just wanted to be normal. Happy. And for some reason, I assumed that would come from weight loss. I'd done something that most of us do - I attached an emotional association to weight loss that didn't actually exist. 

I could've pushed myself to lose weight, but it didn't mean I'd be happy once the weight was off. It didn't mean I'd be more confident, comfortable, or successful. The things I was looking for from weight loss, It turns out, didn't have anything to do with weight loss at all!

But when my MS flared, my mindset changed. Losing the feeling on my right side, the ability to walk for 4 months, made me appreciate the process because of where it would lead me. 

Suddenly, that green smoothie wasn't a replacement for bacon and eggs, it was a vehicle to walking without a cane again. Getting to the gym became easier because every time I could do an extra minute meant I was closer to getting my life back. 

I put myself in a headspace of working for a goal that made me happy and, even though none of the actual work had changed, it turned out that the only thing that needed to change, was my mind.

So How Do You Enjoy The Process?

When I was heavy, I was already happy. I loved my family, friends, boyfriend and degree. I had everything I wanted, I just couldn't figure out how to the conquer the weight and it consumed me. 

I felt like my weight was preventing me from being happy, so I prevented myself from enjoying my life. I put experiences on hold until I could hit my goal and refused to just allow myself to just enjoy the moment because I always had my weight on my mind. 

I was MISERABLE trying to lose weight, so how could I ever expect to have any sort of success from it? You would never work that hard to do something you hate...

So once I regained the ability to walk, I knew I needed to maintain motivation. The memory of my illness wouldn't be enough - I needed bigger goals.

I started choosing goals that I loved and actually wanted to train for. I wanted to travel, to ride in a bike marathon, and to hike mountains. Suddenly, my choices weren't based on the scale, they were based on my abilities, and I needed to make the same healthy decisions regardless of the goal. Food became a source of energy instead of calories and trying new and healthy recipes became a game. I decided to try one new "healthy-but-indulgent" recipe a week that would satisfy my sweet tooth, but that didn't ruin my path to success.

I continued to workout, but I started realizing how much I hated certain workouts. If I was going to love my life, I needed to spend my time loving what I was doing, so I chose exercises that felt fun. I tried yoga, hiking, swimming, hula hooping, boxing, dance classes - anything that would make me WANT to get my workout done. Now, I look forward to my workouts every week and I'm always up to try something new!

Lastly, and most importantly, I dedicated time every day to feel grateful for the process. I felt so grateful that my body was able to do these things and as I reflected on that, I got an instant boost of happiness. This kept me on track and allowed me to see the benefits of my work instead of on what I was "missing". 

Just Remember...

You are in control of your experience. When you sit in the mindset of a negative experience, you can only get a negative experience. So if you're ready to stop waiting for your life to be as amazing as you know it can be, use these tools to make happiness your vehicle to success and let the frustrations fall to the side. 

It's time to live your life, Without The Weight. 

With love & light,

Carolyn Rachel

 

 

 

 

The Reason I Don't Do Nutrition Coaching

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I lost over 145 lbs, but I rarely talk about food.

I know it’s strange, right? I eat a very clean diet and paused progression of my chronic illness through it, I have a certification from the worlds largest nurtition school, AND I love to cook!

So, what’s the deal?

Ok - I’m gonna tell you… but first, I have to be real with you. Food will heal you. It’s an incredible medicine, a natural source of fuel, and it can make you feel happy and whole with each bite.

But, food can only be the answer for you if you’re willing to change what you’re eating. And NO ONE wants to talk about that.

When I meet with my clients, it seems clear that they don’t want to change what they eat. They know what’s healthy and what’s not. In fact, I’ve never had a client that hadn’t been on some sort of diet before meeting with me and they have all the right knowledge, they just don’t put it to practice.

What they’re missing is brain training. And that’s where I come in.

I don’t really talk about food because even though food will heal you, health and healing don’t come from food. Health and healing come from getting yourself to make the actionable changes necessary to heal your body.

If you’ve struggled with food and eat the things you know you shouldn’t - something else is going on here. This isn’t about food anymore, it’s about how you’ve trained your brain.

Seriously. You’re basically a computer and your brain is your hard drive. Whatever you tell your brain is your truth, it translates to code and sends that message along your neuropathways, telling your body how to act.

Those responses become stronger and stronger the more you use them, which is why it can be so tough to break a bad habit, but there are exercises to rewire and overcome those responses.

If this is something that interests you and you want to learn more, message me or look into neuroplasticity for yourself. I certainly didn’t make brain training up, but I’m excited to be able to use it with clients and on myself to design the life I want to live.