Welcome to the fourth, fifth, and sixth weeks of my mindfulness journey! In this blog post, I'll be sharing my experiences and reflections during this period of the course. These weeks have brought about significant growth and positive changes in my mindset and approach to life.
During Week 4, I noticed a remarkable improvement in my ability to be present with my thoughts. Instead of fighting or suppressing them, I have learned to accept and observe them without judgment. This newfound skill has allowed me to become more aware of my emotional reactions and respond with greater clarity. I am encouraged by the balance and calmness I feel as a result.
However, I still find myself being reactive in moments of conflict, which is something I continue to work on. Additionally, managing stress, anxiety, and depression remains an ongoing challenge. I understand that perfection is not the goal, but I am committed to improving and becoming the person I aspire to be.
Throughout these weeks, I have encountered specific incidents that have highlighted my progress in the course. Previously, situations that would have triggered anxious spirals now allow me to sit with and accept them. I've also learned to appreciate the present moment instead of being consumed by frustration or rushing through tasks. These small but significant shifts have been eye-opening for me.
In terms of formal practice, the yoga sessions and seated meditations have been instrumental in cultivating mindfulness. I have experienced both calmness and challenges during these practices. Yoga stretches targeted areas of tension, providing relief and promoting a sense of tranquility. During seated meditations, I have encountered triggering thoughts, but I have consciously chosen not to engage with them, allowing me to maintain a positive state of mind.
Informal practice has played a crucial role in my daily life. Whether it's dealing with arguments, anxiety, stress, or self-doubt, the Breathing Space technique has been a valuable tool. By taking a moment to stop, observe, and redirect my thoughts and emotions, I have learned to respond more mindfully and compassionately in various situations.
Moving on to Week 5, the formal practice continued to deepen my mindfulness journey. Yin yoga sessions grounded me and provided relief, while the "Turning Towards" meditations empowered me to accept emotional discomfort and gain a broader perspective. Despite distractions, I managed to maintain composure during yoga sessions and practiced turning towards positive and negative emotions, resulting in an improved overall mood.
Informal practice logs during Week 5 showcased the application of mindfulness in everyday scenarios. From walking the dog to managing stress and sitting at a desk with a headache, the practice of stopping, observing, and finding pleasant aspects brought about a shift in mindset. I embraced gratitude, compassion, and acceptance, leading to relaxation, mindful responses, and a deeper appreciation for the present moment.
Week 6 further solidified my mindfulness practice. Formal yoga sessions and a lake meditation helped me address anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. By engaging in these practices, I found calmness, mindfulness, and acceptance. The stretches specifically targeted and alleviated physical tension, allowing me to navigate challenges with greater equanimity and openness.
The informal practice logs in Week 6 highlighted the application of mindfulness in various interactions. Whether it was conversing with suppliers, customers, or loved ones, the practice enabled me to navigate emotions and communicate more effectively. Despite experiencing frustrations and defensiveness, I witnessed the positive impact of mindfulness in fostering calmness, understanding, and resilience.
In conclusion, weeks 4, 5, and 6 of this mindfulness course have been transformative for me. I have made significant progress in being present with my thoughts, managing emotions, and approaching life's challenges with mindfulness and compassion.
- Getting Started
- What do you notice already starting to happen? What are you encouraged by?
- I’m noticing that my ability to be with thoughts is improving and I’m no longer trying to fight with or suppress thoughts. This has helped me be aware of my emitonal reactions and to STOP when necessary, so that I can approach the situation with more clarity. I’m encouraged by my improved ability and by the fact that I generally feel more balanced and calmer.
What is not happening yet – what are you still struggling with
- At times I can still be more reactive to conflict than I’d like. Along with this I believe I can continue to improve in dealing with my stress, anxiety, and depression. Of course, I don’t expect to ever be perfect in any of these areas but I’m aware that I’d like to continue to improve to achieve my vision of the person I want to be.
- Take a moment to see if you can recall a specific incident in your life that stands out that somehow relates to the work you have done so far in this course (if no incident comes immediately to mind, it might be helpful to review your informal practice worksheets). What was the situation and what happened?
- There have been times during these four weeks that would have sent me into anxious spirals and potentially lead me to panicking. Instead, I’ve been able to sit with and accept them for what they are. Additionally, there have been many times where I was able to STOP and appreciate the moment instead of being frustrated, rushed, and annoyed. For example, when taking my dogs down I’ve been able to appreciate the time spent outside with my dogs instead of trying to rush back inside to get back to work. Also, being able to be ok with having to wash a dish when trying to eat was quite eye-opening for me.
- Yoga II (4/29/2023):
- I entered the yoga practice with a calm state of mind, and it further enhanced my sense of tranquility. The stretches specifically targeted my right shoulders and neck, providing a great feeling. While some standing poses challenged my posture and strength, I managed to remain mindful and had a positive session overall.
- I began the seated meditation feeling neutral and calm. Throughout the session, I encountered a few triggering thoughts, but I consciously chose not to engage in a struggle with them. This ability to let go of such thoughts without letting them negatively impact my day is a significant development for me. As I write this summary, I feel relaxed and good.
- I approached the yoga practice feeling flustered and somewhat anxious. During the session, I noticed my mind had a tendency to wander. Without judging myself for this distraction, I acknowledged it and made an effort to stay present. Overall, the yoga session helped me calm myself and gain clarity, setting a positive tone for the rest of my day.
- I experienced some tightness in my upper back during the seated meditation. I allowed myself to fully acknowledge and be aware of my moment-to-moment experience. Whenever my mind wandered, I consciously brought my attention back, incorporating self-gratitude as a way to refocus.
- I had to confront feelings of anxiety and sadness during the yoga session. Although it wasn't easy, I made a conscious effort to stay present and not allow my emotions to overpower me. The stretching exercises provided some relief for the tightness in my hips and upper back, contributing to an improved state.
- I experienced a highly active mind during the seated meditation. It was challenging to maintain focus on my breath, but instead of judging myself for the difficulty, I chose to be grateful for recognizing when my thoughts were diverting. By gently redirecting my attention back to the present moment, I managed to navigate through the session.
Throughout Week 4, I encountered various emotions, distractions, and physical sensations during my mindfulness practices. However, I approached each session with openness and acceptance. These practices enabled me to cultivate mindfulness, gain self-awareness, and develop techniques for refocusing my attention. The overall result was a sense of calm, clarity, and resilience in the face of challenges.
Situation: Washing Dishes
- Realized the need to wash dishes before getting food.
- Frustration and anger initially surfaced.
- Noted shrugged shoulders and tense face.
- Muscles relaxed, and emotional reaction became more reasonable.
- Changed mindset, approached activity with positivity and appreciation.
- Avoided mindlessly washing dishes and engraining undesired behaviors.
- Enjoyed the satisfaction of stopping, finding a valued mindset, and continuing.
- Heightened emotions and tense muscles during an argument.
- Entered crisis mode.
- Noticed shrugged shoulders, consciously lowered them.
- Prevented reactive response driven by heightened emotions.
- Proceeded calmly and more reasonably after practicing breathing.
- Avoided poor reactions and potential regret.
- Recognized the need to manage emotional intensity.
Situation: Dealing with Anxiety and Stress
- Tight body and face, pacing back and forth.
- Mind racing with negative thoughts and worry.
- Stopped pacing, muscles relaxed.
- Decreased number and speed of thoughts, reduced intensity of response.
- Became calmer and more accepting of the situation.
- Learned to better manage and react to anxiety and stress.
- Striving for healthier and more productive emotional processing.
Situation: Receiving Bad News about a Family Member
- Instant feelings of sadness and anxiety.
- Body tensed up.
- Muscles relaxed and mind slowed down after breathing.
- Allowed feelings and emotions without letting them dictate the day.
- Acknowledged that difficult events happen and are beyond control.
- Practices aided in remaining calmer and grounded.
Situation: Thoughts of Self-Doubt and Uncertainty
- Muscles tight, engaging in negative self-talk.
- Noticed muscle tightness and negative thought cycle.
- Some relaxation of tightness, acceptance of thoughts.
- Challenging but manageable experience.
- Recognized the tendency to be one's own worst enemy.
- Striving for improvement and better self-work.
Situation: Waking up Stressed with Racing Mind
- Shoulders shrugged, overwhelmed by thoughts and emotions.
- Mind and emotions not in the present moment.
- Relaxed shoulders, slowed down thoughts.
- Neutralized heightened emotions.
- Brought self back to the present moment, reduced stress cycle.
- Embraced the opportunity to address thoughts and emotions mindfully.
These informal logs showcase the experiences of applying the Breathing Space technique in various situations. From washing dishes to dealing with anxiety, arguments, and self-doubt, the practice of stopping, observing, and redirecting thoughts and emotions proved beneficial. By taking a pause, muscle tension decreased, mindsets shifted, and more reasonable responses emerged. These exercises facilitated a healthier and more mindful approach to challenging situations and fostered personal growth in managing emotions and reactions.
- Yin yoga practice.
- Grounded and aware of moment-to-moment experience.
- Stretches relieved upper back and neck tightness.
- Started the day with more clarity.
Turning Towards (05/08/2023):
- Initially resistant, but embraced the practice with newfound tools and self-confidence.
- One of the most powerful meditations experienced.
- Surprised by the ability to accept emotional discomfort.
Turning Towards (05/09/2023):
- One of the best practices encountered.
- Empowering journey from emotional discomfort to a broader perspective.
- A favorite exercise overall.
- Despite distractions, the practice remained relaxing.
- Maintained composure and avoided frustration.
Turning Towards (05/11/2023):
- Anxious and stressful week.
- Practice helped sit with positive and negative emotions.
- Improved overall mood throughout the day.
- Challenging yet grounding practice.
- Mindfulness maintained without self-judgment.
- Accepted when the mind wandered or expectations were not met.
These logs reflect the experiences of practicing yoga and turning towards discomfort. The yin yoga sessions provided grounding and relief, while turning towards emotional discomfort became a powerful and empowering practice. Despite distractions, the yoga sessions remained relaxing, and the ability to sit with emotions positively impacted the overall mood. Challenging yoga sessions were approached with mindfulness and self-acceptance, fostering personal growth and a deeper understanding of oneself.
- Situation: Walking Dog
- Not properly leash trained dog causing distress.
- Strong emotions of anger, frustration, and impatience.
- Physical sensations of tense body and face.
- Found something pleasant in the love for the dog despite the situation.
- After the process, acknowledged the limited time in life and aimed to find peace with the present moment.
- Situation: Stressing about Business and Expectations
- Experienced anxiety, despair, fear, and uncertainty.
- Physical symptoms of queasy stomach, shrugged shoulders, racing thoughts, and fast breathing.
- Shifted focus to gratitude for the opportunity to make a difference.
- While stress didn't disappear entirely, managed to relax and appreciate the situation instead of succumbing to fear.
- Situation: Sitting at Desk with Headache
- Felt frustration, impatience, and shame.
- Noticed shrugged shoulders causing tension in the neck and a headache.
- Recognized progress in being aware of the shrugging shoulders.
- Relaxed shoulders, performed stretches, and accepted the need for further improvement.
- Situation: Dealing with Emotional and Tense Situation
- Emotions of anger, impatience, confusion, and sadness.
- Physical symptoms of racing heart and tense body.
- Approached the situation with openness and empathy, responding compassionately.
- Acknowledged the power of the turning toward practice in stopping and reacting compassionately.
- Situation: Feeling Falling Short and Self-Doubt
- Experienced despair, shame, frustration, and confusion.
- Noticed pacing, racing thoughts, and neck tightness.
- Grounded self and focused on breath to be more mindful of thoughts and emotions.
- Realized that feelings are not reality, calmed down, and embraced mindfulness in the moment.
- Situation: Headache Due to Shrugged Shoulders
- Frustration, shame, and impatience due to chronic shoulder shrugging.
- Physical discomfort in the form of tense shoulders, upper back knots, and headache.
- Calmness in the mind and absence of pain in lower back and legs.
- Relaxed, performed stretches, reduced self-judgment, and accepted the need for ongoing work.
These informal logs reflect the practice of "Turning Toward" in various situations. From walking a dog, dealing with stress and emotions, sitting at a desk, to confronting self-doubt, the practice helped in recognizing emotions, physical sensations, and finding pleasant aspects. It facilitated acceptance, compassion, and gratitude, leading to relaxation, mindful responses, and appreciation for the present moment. Through these experiences, it became evident that the "Turning Toward" practice has a profound impact, allowing for a shift in perspective and the cultivation of a compassionate and mindful approach to challenges.
- Yoga (5/14/2023):
- Approached the practice with a neutral mindset and felt calm afterward.
- Stretches alleviated tight muscles and promoted mindful engagement for the rest of the day.
- Yoga (5/15/2023):
- Started the day feeling anxious but was able to calm oneself and respond neutrally instead of emotionally.
- Lake Meditation (5/16/2023):
- Experienced another day filled with anxiety.
- The practice helped in calming down and fostering mindfulness in thoughts and emotions.
- Yoga (5/17/2023):
- Dealt with significant stress and uncertainty.
- Practicing yoga aided in self-calming and being mindful of reactive tendencies.
- The stretches specifically targeted and relieved neck and upper back pain.
- Yoga (5/18/2023):
- Entered the practice with high levels of anxiety.
- Throughout the session, gently acknowledged and accepted the presence of anxiety.
- Found solace in the fact that it's okay to experience such emotions.
- Stretching exercises contributed to alleviating neck pain.
- Yoga (5/19/2023):
- The day before an important event, experienced high levels of stress and anxiety.
- Utilized the yoga practice to relax, embrace uncertainty, and sit with the feelings.
These formal practice logs for Week 6 reflect engaging in yoga sessions and a lake meditation to address anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. The practices allowed for a sense of calmness, mindfulness, and acceptance. Stretching exercises specifically aided in relieving tension and pain in the neck and upper back. By intentionally acknowledging and embracing emotions, and utilizing mindfulness techniques, it became possible to navigate challenges with greater equanimity and openness.
- Talking to supplier about issues we’re having
- Intention: Seek assurance regarding the resolution of ongoing issues.
- During the conversation, experienced frustration and anxiety.
- Received sympathetic and helpful responses, acknowledging that the greenhouse is at fault, not the person spoken to.
- Feeling disappointed despite some reassurances.
- After the interaction, a slight decrease in frustration and anxiety, but they still persist.
- The situation remains stressful as the business relies on the supplier, and the service received is not as promised.
- Talking to customer about an issue with their order
- Intention: Show care and address the customer's concerns.
- The customer displayed understanding and appreciated the assistance.
- Overall, the interaction went well.
- The customer sought a replacement/refund and reassurance that their order would be taken care of.
- Experienced tightness in shoulders and neck, coupled with disappointment in the supplier.
- Feeling empathy for the customer and frustration with the supplier partnership.
- Discussing feelings with wife
- Intention: Express feelings respectfully and seek understanding.
- Initially, defensiveness was present, but both parties eventually calmed down and reached a peaceful conclusion.
- Mutual desire for understanding and validation.
- Initially felt defensive, uneasy, and tense.
- After the conversation, experienced a sense of calmness and felt understood.
- Observing the positive impact of the mindfulness course in navigating challenging situations like disagreements.
In Week 6, the informal practice logs highlight various interactions and conversations. Engaging with suppliers, customers, and loved ones, the practice of mindfulness helped navigate emotions and communicate effectively. Despite experiencing frustrations, disappointments, defensiveness, and anxiety, the practice allowed for calmer interactions, understanding, and the ability to address challenging situations with more resilience.