Mindful Monday

I always assumed that the reason I was stressed, anxious, hateful, and angry was because I was damaged. That something in my brain would misfire and result in my negative emotional responses. I even blamed genetics, thinking that my fire-y temper was passed down from my father. I mean, we are the redheads of the family after all.

I didn't think I could change. When I would try, there was always something that triggered me to go off and I found myself reverting back to my former feisty-self. I was doomed to live a life where a dark cloud followed overhead every where I went.

Whether it was by accident or by divine intervention, I found myself on the Ted website and listened to a 10 minute speech on meditation (watch it here). The speaker stated that we all spend half of our lives lost in thought. Our minds are busy worrying about the past or feeling anxious about the future. It has little time to invest in the present and focus it's attention to our current needs. Essentially, our minds are being overworked and underpaid!

The speaker suggests that we should be spending 10 minutes a day to meditating and allowing our minds a mini-vacation from thought. So I figured...why not? I have tried everything else, why not attempt meditation?

The next morning after yoga, I gave a 10 minute meditation session a shot. Though my mind still managed to wander, I felt really good. Like a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" type of good. I continued the same habit every day that week and I became progressively more satisfied with each session. I am now meditating 5-7 days a week for 20 minutes or more.

Meditation has made me realize just how busy my brain really is. Even when I am not meditating, I am quickly identifying how often I lose focus because a thought that enters my mind. It is usually something in the future that I am anxious about. So when I catch myself worrying about those future events, I briefly acknowledge how I feel, then dismiss it. The universe will see me through it as it always does. I have overcome many struggles in the past and am still surviving. I will survive what is in store for me. If I don't survive, then I obviously should be enjoying my present. :)

Anyway, meditation has opened me up to many other activities. I thought if meditation could help improve my attitude, then what else is there out there that can improve my quality of life?

Here are just a few things I have found to put my mind at ease:

  • ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response - Some may find this strange. In all honesty, I thought it was odd when I first exposed myself to it. Just search YouTube for ASMR and you will be given a huge list of results. I enjoy it best when I use my earphones and not actually watch the video itself. It has put me to sleep on the hottest day outside on the hammock for a good hour. I would describe ASMR as an auditory massage. At times, it feels as though someone is actually whispering in your ear. It will send tingles down your spine. It's pretty nuts.
  • Binaural Beats - I was exposed to binaural beats when I listened to a sleep ASMR. To get the most out of binaural beats, you must use headphones or earbuds as one side will play one frequency and the other side plays another. Depending on the frequency, it promotes a certain wave in the brain that may encourage relaxation, meditation, sleep, dreaming, etc. You can learn more here. I downloaded a binaural app on my iPhone and can adjust the frequencies to my liking.
  • Yoga Nidra - This is much like a guided meditation. Perfect following any yoga session. If I can't quite get into my quiet meditation, I will resort to this because it helps get my mind away from any outside thoughts when I listen to someone's voice. There are many YouTube videos you can find that do Yoga Nidra.
So if you have ever felt like me: angry, anxious, or hateful, try any of the above. You may be surprised at what your mind can really do for you!

What are some techniques that you use to relax, become more mindful, and control negative emotions?

Have you ever tried ASMR, binaural beats, or yoga nidra? How was your experience?

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