• Clara Blanchette

Mindfulness: The What, The Why, The How


Hello people!


How are you doing?


Mindfulness. It's invading the internet. And why has this occurred to people here in our society, so late? Don't ask me. Personally, I think for years people were mindful, but we simply wouldn't identify it the same and weren't at the same level of consciousness. So I thought it was my duty to give a chat about it today since it's now been part of my daily life for quite a bit. I can tell you it wasn't easy at first to stick to a natural basis of meditation. Before, if I would miss a day of meditating, I would kind of feel angry at myself for not doing so and would judge myself. Of course sticking to it will make you realize a lot of stuff and conscience will maybe lighten up your way of living life, but if you constantly judge yourself for not meditating, it won't lead to anything. Surely and slowly, I noticed that, in a way, it was crazy to judge the past for not meditating which is the goal not to do, and which in meditating, you realize how useless it is to stick to our old ways of being harsh on ourselves.

The what:

I feel so blessed to have discovered this whole world of conscience early and hope that other young peeps will discover it as well. But know that it's never too late for you to start. For example, even my grandma only recently started practicing at 80 years old, isn't that amazing? I feel like for years I thought of meditating as, you know, doing signs with your hands and just breathing in and out, and doing yoga poses on a cliff next to the wall of China, and it's probably is what other children thought of before knowing the truth. But to me, mindfulness is being conscient of your daily life, enlightening the blurry vision we have of life. Even though we think of life as it has always been, I kind of see it now as if we have been looking through a pair of blurry glasses and that you could just enlighten it. For example, when I animate meditations, I like to give the example of, when doing a body scan, to slowly wipe off the vapor on a glass, as if your body was


the glass, and you were trying to wipe it off and see clearer. Though it's important to know that mindfulness is not about seeing beyond the universe and dancing with rainbows but really about staying here and being present to see the experience of our lives, simply as it is.

It's also important to know that mindfulness isn't just about sitting and meditating for hours. There's a whole world of different practices and areas where it can help.

Here's a quick video I saw and I love. It's simple and funny, it's simply true, and to try to give you a better idea about what meditation is and in what situations it can help:

https://vimeo.com/148145963

the why, benefits + Scientific Effects:

- Practicing mindfulness would "increase in thickness of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with complex behavior, decision-making and shaping personality." according to Scientific American's article on Where's the Proof That Mindfulness Works.

- Mindful Schools: "Studies find that youth benefit from learning mindfulness in terms of improved social-emotional skills, and well being. In turn, such benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life. For example, social skills in kindergarten predict improved education, employment, crime, substance abuse and mental health outcomes in adulthood."

- the words from the article: about the author; Jon Kabat-Zinn, his studies and researches: "mindfulness meditation training for people with chronic pain and/or stress-related disorders, on the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on the brain and how it processes emotions, particularly under stress, and on the immune system; on the use and effects of MBSR with women with breast cancer."

- "Mindfulness practice can benefit familial relationships."

The how:

Everybody has a different way of experiencing mindfulness and a different way of integrating it in their daily basis. For me, it was to find a gap in my routine for a 5-10 minute meditation. On week days, it would be just before going to sleep, because in the morning, it was practically impossible for me to meditate in between getting ready for school. In the weekend, my schedule was more relaxed, and so in the morning was a great opportunity for me. Of course, there are days where I didn't meditate, and it takes a while to accept the fact that you can't always do so and that you just have to listen to your body. If your mind is constantly working and you can't bear it, we might have the instinct to tell ourselves that it's not the day to be conscious. But contrarily to that, it is a great day to be conscient about your mindset. Mindfulness can also be integrated in other times of the day without actually taking the time to sit down. Taking a few moments to close your eyes and enjoying the moment is something you can do several times in a day.

Some people come to me and say: "Oh, I could never meditate! My mind is like a hamster running on his wheels, non-stop." And I look at them and say: "That's exactly why we meditate. We try to bring peace to our minds while we try not to frustrate ourselves to stop thinking." And that's the biggest issue. To stop being mad at ourselves if we think. As Andy from Headspace says, you have to stop running around with a hammer trying to eliminate all thoughts coming by, as we usually try to do, but gently touch it with a feather to simply see it disappear. Or if you want another idea, place your thought in a small paper boat and soothe yourself while knowing that it will gently float away. But eventually, that's the hard part. And it takes some practice to be able to peacefully accept your constantly-thinking mind. But the expert in anything was once a beginner. But I can't say I'm an expert. No, no. Far from that. I've been integrating mindfulness in my life for about 1 year, and I certainly am not an expert. But I still can see small changes in my daily life that create a bigger change. For example, mindfulness brought me the capacity to manage my emotions better and to know myself better as well. Sometimes I would wake up during the weekend and not be hungry. Usually, I just ate since it was the "normal time" to eat. But then, I took a step back, mindfully analyzed the situation to know how my body was really feeling, and noticed I just wasn't hungry. So I ate later, when I really was hungry. Just those small moments where you take a moment to see how your body's feeling might change quite a bit your perspective in life.

But where do I meditate?

To start, it's better if you meditate in a quiet space. Try to find somewhere to be alone. Outside would be great, or inside next to a window. I personally adore when sunlight goes through my window while I meditate. I feel blessed and can see and feel the strong soothing light, eyes closed.


The posture:

Eventually, if you meditate before going to sleep, laying down on your bed is an option, or even sitting upright, but if ever you fall asleep while meditating- which is totally fine- you'd probably rather laying down. Of course, when I woke up and meditated afterwards, I like sitting on my yoga mat or on a pillow to practice the meditation. But you could even meditate standing up, whatever feels right for you. Whenever you're laying down, your hands could be pressed and anchored on the floor to be fully present. Having your back straight is important, your shoulders as far away from each other as possible, but still relaxed. During the meditation, it's important to relax your whole and entire body, checking each cell and making sure that is, so you will appreciate the moment better. Or else, just try to relax and enjoy.

Where can you see the difference?

I have to admit, at first when I was asked this question, I was not quick to answer. But it's when I truly looked back that I saw the biggest change. How I truly saw it was whenever somebody would start a girl fight, if I can permit myself, like saying stuff they didn't really mean. When that would happen I would just back off. I would let whoever calm down by herself and I wouldn't get in the comments, which I would usually do. Backing off is what really helps. Another example is when somebody steps on my feet. Usually I would turn around and get frustrated without even analyzing if I was truly hurt. Now, I take a moment, see if I'm hurt and then turn around to see, normally, the person excuse himself or herself. Action-reaction. Back off, investigate into what the action was and then the reaction. if they make sense together. And the more you practice mindfulness, the more you truly see how it impacts your life.

Mindful eating

So, what clearly makes sense for me to add on my blog is this right? I know, from the beginning, you might be intrigued by the fact that I'm posting about meditation and mindfulness on a food blog. But since mindfulness has so many branches, it definitely landed on eating. Mindful eating is something I personally really have to work on. Sometimes, I scroll on Instagram while eating, I watch a movie while eating or I even write or type while eating. But as Lee From America says, food is one of the most spectacular wonders, so why ruin it by not even enjoying the food? That's why mindfully eating is great.


Discovering all the tastes in your food can be really surprising and at the same time, a wonderful experience. Eating mindfully is simply eating while enjoying the food and analyzing the tastes that appear on your tongue. Taking a few seconds to really enjoy what you're eating can make the whole difference.

Exercise:

Here's just a small exercise to help you understand a little bit better what eating mindfully feels like. Start by putting your food in your mouth, then analyze the texture of it. how it feels like on your tongue. If it's rough, smooth, hard or crunchy. Then, you'll maybe experience the flavor dissolving on your tongue, without biting it. And finally, when you do bite, the flavors explode in your mouth and you realize if you like the taste or not. Taking every flavor in consideration, that's eating mindfully.

My meditations:

I'm so excited to share that I've been working on some recorded meditations for you guys to enjoy and to see how mindfulness could impact your daily life. To access them, you have to click on the link and then open with Music Player which is with Google. You need a google account. I would love to hear your comments on this project and please share these meditations with your friends and family to expand the wonderful mindful world.

Follow the sound meditation (5 min, 20 s)

Meditation for younger kids (2 min, 30s)

R.A.I.N meditation (dealing with emotions) (5 min, 40 s)

Spread the light meditation (6 min, 10s)

Ocean visualization meditation (5 min)

Giving meditation (3 min, 10 s)

Breathing meditation (5 min)

Body scan meditation (5 min 45 s)

Sleep meditation (5 min, 30 s)

Méditation respiration/visualisation (français) (3 min 30 s)

Balloon breathing for smaller children (2 min)

Avant un examen (français) (3 min)

Happy kids (2 min)

A book to read:

- Truly life-changing, The Four Agreements is a book, which isn't necessarily about mindfulness but it definitely is in the same branches. I read this book in no time as it was so real. Not necessarily a light book to read, you'll learn a ton from this one written by Don Miguel Ruiz.

- I would also recommend this book by Jon Kabat-Zinn called Mindfulness for Beginners.

Mindful living Challenge:

Using my meditations above, let's try together 10 days of 5 minute meditations. Motivate yourself and take a few minutes to feel at ease and start or end the day at the right foot.

A book to read:

- Truly life-changing, The Four Agreements is a book, which isn't necessarily about mindfulness but it definitely is in the same branches. I read this book in no time as it was so real. Not necessarily a light book to read, you'll learn a ton from this one written by Don Miguel Ruiz.

- I would also recommend this book by Jon Kabat-Zinn called Mindfulness for Beginners.

nadia Lefebvre:

A yogi and mindfulness practitioner, Nadia Lefebvre is a teacher and coach worth to see and learn from. thank you so much Nadia for the 6 week course on mindfulness and for inspiring me everyday to live fully. Also, a million thanks for the tips and ideas for this post ;) Check her website out!

nadialefebvre.com

A giant thanks to Valérie Baillargeon

the one, time after time, always making my projects come to life with amazing pictures, the quality of these are unbelievable! The niceness of this lovely lady and her hard wrk is admirable, thank you so much! Visit her website at this instant: colibriphoto.com

Headspace:

Trying out an app to help you keep track of your conscient journey is a great way to motivate yourself. Headspace is one of those!


see my shirt? live today like it's your last, live mindfully.

Hope you enjoyed this post which I worked hard on. If you like the meditations, feel free to share this post. and if you think everybody could benefit from mindfulness, like the post as well. share the love!

Clara xoxo