🤡A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 20. Embracing your inner weirdo🤡

What things do you avoid because you have become attached to a particular label or idea that you have about yourself?

I always label myself as shy and awkward. I get nervous infront of large crowds and I stutter when I am under pressure. 

These labels and ideas can become part of who you are- how others see you and how you view yourself. This can prevent you from growing, from shedding out-of-date dislikes, habits, and behavior.

Exercise:

What is on your list of things to avoid? Choose something from the list and try experiencing it as if it for the first time. 

Giving presentations to large crowds and any other form of public speaking. 

Explore it with as many of your senses as possible. Pay attention to any resistance that arises in the form of thoughts, memories, emotions, and bodily sensations. Tease out your experience. What do you notice? This not about forcing yourself to like it- you stil may not- but rather to see it with fresh eyes. 

Thoughts:

 Everyone is staring at me and judging me. Why am I so awkward and cringey. 

Memories:

 I stuttered handing over in that meeting. I forgot the words of a prayer on my confirmation. I always go roaring red in the face and can’t make eye contact. 

Emotions: 

Embarrassment, anxiety, nervous, apprehensive, overwhelmed. 

Bodily sensations: 

Tightness in chest, short of breath, nauseous in belly. 

This weeks exercise was about viewing the label or view you have of yourself in a different light. I decided to go the extra mile and face the label head on. On Wednesday I had to speak infront of an audience and tell them about myself and my single life. I done a lot of yoga and meditation in the weeks leading up to this event to keep me grounded. I done a million and one deep belly breaths beforehand and decided not to say out loud that I was nervous, even though I was. I didn’t want to feed into my emotions but I did acknowledge them to myself. Sometimes I find if you tell a friend you feel nervous, they feed into the emotion with you. “Don’t worry, no need to nervous, it’s ok, it is a scary experience……” They just help you overthink the whole “I feel nervous”, instead of just acknowledging the emotion and letting it pass. I try not to zone in on my emotions because I don’t want to magnify it and bring it to a head. It works for me anyway. 

This event was something I had never done before and naturally I felt apprehensive about the whole thing. I tried to stay away from coffee as this can heighten my anxiety levels. I organised and planned everything in advance i.e. Hair and make up. I made sure I was ready a few hours early so I wasn’t running around making myself sick with anxiety. I ensured I done everything at a slow pace and done my belly breaths all throughout the day. I know from past experiences that I tend to speak faster when I feel anxious. Therefore, I decided to focus on speaking slower and taking breaths throughout my sentences. 

Right before I walked on stage, I felt very overwhelmed by all the bright lights and I could feel anxiety raising just a little. I got to the top of the steps, walked towards the stool, sat down, had a giany belly breath and instantly I felt at ease. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone in the audience and just pretended I was a lot more confidence than I was. IT WORKED. Of course there were times when I got a bit awkward. A few years ago I would have given myself a hard time of this and spoke very negatively towards myself during and after the awkwardness. The whole event went great and I didn’t stutter once. I was as calm as I have ever been. 

I did also put some more ground work in. I find researching new ways of viewing myself and getting tips for building self esteem very useful. I found a video on YouTube and watched it while I was waiting around before the event:

https://youtu.be/0Tk82hEHNnY

It spoke about the Deutsch scholar and philosopher Erasmus and his view on humans. He believed that everyone, no matter how important or learned they might be, is a fool. He even viewed himself as a knit-wit. He described himself as shy, awkward, makes bad decisions, lets things fall at fancy dinners, says the wrong thing at the wrong time. It helped normalise these traits. 

“Being weird and awkward doesn’t make us unfit for society, it makes us just like the greatest scholar of the Northern European renaissance.”

The video also spoke about Pieter Bruegel, who painted the picture ‘The Deutsch Proverbs’. The painting shows many different parts of the human being. He wanted to send out the message that “We are all deranged”. 

“The key to greater confidence is not to reassure ourselves of our own dignity. It is to grow with peace of the inevitable nature of our ridiculousness. We are idiots now. We were idiots in the past and we will be idiots again in the future.”

I remember I spoke to my friends about the event a few days before and I explained I was worried that they would make me out to be weird and stupid. One of my friends responded “Julia, it will be you who will make yourself out to be a weirdo because you are a weirdo. I don’t think you need help with showing the audience that you are one”. This strangely made me feel at ease. It really didn’t matter if I was made out to be a bit foolish or weird. Naturally as a human being, I am weird and foolish. This experience will not make me more or a less a fool. Being weird and foolish is the norm. Each and every one of us is a complete fool. This gave me greater confidence that day. 

Message: Self acceptance is key. Accept your weirdness and accept the fact that no one is prim and proper and everyone makes mistakes and acts absolutely ridiculous sometimes. 

Reflection: This weeks exercise has helped me immensely. The event was obviously a bonus but my god I have learned so much about myself. The label I had of myself as “shy” and “awkward” has completely lifted and I now see myself as a weird, confident, complete freak and I absolutely love it! 

J x


🦋A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 19. 🦋Being Present in Mind and Body🦋

BEING PRESENT IN MIND AND BODY

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Technology has taken over basic human interactions. Instead of admiring a sunset with a loved one, we take a picture of it and upload it to Instagram. We watch movies with friends and spend half the movie with our heads in our phones updating our news feeds. When we are somewhere else mentally, we might as well not be present physically. When we are not present with someone, they may feel neglected and ignored. 

At Christmas time, my phone got robbed and I was forced to use an old block of a phone with a grey screen and a memory that could hold 20 messages in my inbox at a time. But it had internet access….. NOT. I spent 3 weeks without internet access on my phone. If I needed to check emails, I logged onto my laptop and done it the old fashioned way. I spent a lot of time in my own head. I learned a lot about myself during those 3 weeks. I realized how much I “thought” I needed my phone and how much time others spent on theirs.

One evening my best friend came to visit and we sat down to watch a movie. She stared at her phone for the first 30 minutes. I could feel my blood boil. I asked politely for her to put her phone away as I thought it was rude of her. She laughed it off and continued watching some random Snapchat story on her phone. I didn’t understand why she even bothered to come visit and watch a movie if she was going to sit on the couch on her own for most of the night. I never felt so alone. That was me before my phone got robbed. It made me realize how many amazing opportunities or memories I had missed because I was on my phone or I was busy taking a picture of the memory. From that night on, I always tried to make more of a conscious effort to put my phone down when others were talking or when I had allocated a time to do an activity with someone.

This weeks exercise wanted me to stay present with friends, family and colleagues with these simple steps: 

  • Turn off your phone and put it out of sight. Having it on the table next to you gives a message that something may take precedence over your time with this person.
  • Notice where your mind goes. Every time you are aware of it drifting off, bring it back in the same way as you do when you meditate.
  • Notice whether any particular emotions are arising- perhaps restlessness or the wish to be somewhere else. Whatever comes up, acknowledge it, tune into the body, and explore any sensations that accompany it.
  • Practice Listening Mindfully (Week 10’s exercise).
  • Reflect on how being present with someone both physically and mentally affects the encounter and the relationship. What do you notice?

Reflection:

The same friend came over again the other night and I purposely left my phone upstairs. We didn’t watch a movie, we just sat there and chatted and it was amazing. We laughed loads and spent genuine time together. At one point I had to go grab my phone so we could double check a date for the next time we were planning to spend time together. We just sat there an listened to each other. I was nice not having any distractions for a while and I felt grateful that I had someone who wanted to sit there and be present with me. I was worthy of their time and they were worthy of mine.

Work colleagues on the other hand, I just cannot stay present with. It is much harder to stay present and actively listen when you and the other person and worlds apart and you have genuinely no interest. That’s kinda mean but that’s what goes through my head. I do try stay present as often as a I can but my mind drifts off and I get easily distracted or reach for my phone. I must try this exercise with a work colleague and report back. It is hard though when you’re working a 13 hour night shift and the same person is speaking to you the entire night. How can someone hold concentration for that long? ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………………….

Goal: 

Must try stay present at work. Stop being rude and staring at my phone in the company of others.

 

J x



 

A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 13

EXPERIENCING THE UNPLEASANT

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This weeks small exercise was about paying attention to experiences we don’t like. Noticing when there is a sense of resistance, of “not wanting”, “not liking”. Also noticing any thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations that come alongside this.

It recommended keeping a diary of these experiences. Write down what you noticed, what you experienced and reflect.

Would you normally have noticed any of this?

  • WHAT IS IT?
  • WHAT THOUGHTS ARE ARISING?
  • CAN YOU NAME ANY EMOTION?
  • WHAT ARE YOU NOTICING IN THE BODY? (BE SPECIFIC)

When something unpleasant happens, can you identify where you usually feel it in your body? How did this exercise compare with becoming aware of pleasant experiences?

I decided to reflect on an unpleasant experience of feeling ‘fed up’ in work one morning.

WHAT IS IT?

 I was feeling fed up in work. I did not want to be there anymore. I felt a resistance to wanting to move my body never mind do actual work.

WHAT THOUGHTS ARE ARISING?

 I hate this place. When will I move on? I don’t feel challenged. I need to move. I am bored. I really do not want to do anything today.

CAN YOU NAME ANY EMOTION?

 Sad. Frustration. Dread.

WHAT ARE YOU NOTICING IN THE BODY?

 A feeling of heaviness in my chest. I feel drained.  Slowed down. Stiffness. My body did not want to move. My face felt long and weighed down.

 Again, this exercise highlights the whole connection between thoughts, feelings, behaviours and bodily sensations. Another self awareness exercise. By zoning in and noticing these experiences we can start to control them more and more.

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J x

🌻Understanding Meditation 🌻

 Meditation quietens your inner self and allows your mind to focus on one thing at a time. But who the hell has time to focus on one thing at a time these days? We’ve so many other things to be thinking about!

 When I first heard of meditation I imagined ‘hippy’ type people with long hair and baggy clothes in weird positions chanting ‘OM’ for hours. Since then Iv learned that sitting in weird positions is only one type and that there are many more options out there. It can be done no matter what your are doing or where you are. We meditate by performing tasks mindfully with our full presence and attention. If you are giving an action or thought your full attention in a calm manner, this is meditation. Stretching, exercising, yoga, breathing can all be meditations. A new type Iv recently come to understand is praying. In all religions meditation is key. Prayer helps you focus on the present, quietens your mind, keeps you in a still position, may forgive negative thoughts and promote thankfulness and gratitude. I never understood religion growing up. I just seen it as different groups of people who all believed in different stories. As Iv matured Iv realised that most religions promote Mindfullness, meditation, positive mindsets, gratitude, forgiveness, and all that other stuff I seen as ‘hippy’ attributes. I’m not saying I’m going to go off and become a nun now and I don’t intentionally sit down and pray to God and rarely go to church but I suppose Iv just become more aware of what exactly religion is now after 18 years in school learning about it 😂😂

 By learning how to meditate we discover new ways to deal with challengers and cope with problems. Meditation reduces stress levels and helps people find purpose and meaning in life. This can be a great coping skill for those who experience mental health difficulties to attain by helping them manage their symptoms. It can give us more energy and even reduce our risk of a heart attack? Soooooooo many pros. The only thing that can hinder your uptake of meditation is your mindset. If you believe meditation is bullshit and won’t work for you then it won’t. Mind over mater and all that jazz. I suppose you wouldn’t be attempting meditation if you thought it was all bullshit in the first place would you? Give it a go. If it isn’t for you then so be it. But no harm in trying!

J x