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

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 This can prevent you from growing, from shedding out-of-date dislikes, habits, and behavior.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


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

BEING PRESENT IN MIND AND BODY

no-wifi-talk-to-each-others.jpg

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



 

儭A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 17 儭

WRITING AS PRACTICE: EXPLORING INTENTION 2

This weeks exercise was a check in on how my mindfulness practice was going to help encourage learning and motivation. It began by a simple breathing exercise to help ground me and keep me focused during reflection. I used a quick body scan technique I learned at my medication course in the Dublin Buddhist Centre. I then began to ask my self “How does my practice serve me?”. I allowed my thoughts to come and go and repeated the question every so often for the next ten minutes. I jotted down whatever words or sentences came to mind for the next 30 minutes. I set my alarm for 30 minutes time. I didn’t judge what I was writing or think about it too much. It was just words jumbled together on a page. I didn’t read what I had wrote until the alarm went.

One must endure the caterpillar if ones is to become acquainted with the butterflies

-Antoine d Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince, 1943

Sooooooooo HOW DOES MY PRACTICE SERVE ME?

During the writing up of my thesis, I lost my USB stick. Any normal person would absolutely sh**t themselves. I didn’t. I knew if I freaked out I would make things ten times worse. I stayed calm and collected. I went straight home from the library and searched my laptop for the last draft I had saved. I found bits and bobs from here and there. I knew I was weeks ahead of myself so catching up would be an effort but it wouldn’t impact me as much as it would have if I wasn’t as organised. My calm reaction to this situation was definitely influenced by my mindfulness practice, yoga classes and new mind set.

Some words that popped into my head during this reflective piece were

RELAXED

PEACE

CALMNESS

HAPPINESS

CONTENTMENT

SELF AWARENESS

COPING SKILLS

ORGANISED

REFLECTION

Appreciation of life

Improved sleep

Yoga helps a lot

Opened my eyes to the world around me

Helped me appreciate the little things in life

Keeps me focused

Less sad, frustrated or angry moments- when I do feel these emotions they only come for small periods of time now

I can overcome stressful moments maturely and more grounded


If you have ever tried any of these mindful exercises yourself, HOW DOES YOUR PRACTICE SERVE YOU? Give it a go and see if anything comes to mind. You might be surprised as to the what words come pop up. The benefits of mindfulness practices can sometimes go unnoticed so its  important to check in with yourself every so often. I didn’t realize how much I have benefited from it and how its changed my outlook on life and my reactions to negative situations.

 

J x