February 28, 2014

5 Tips to Overcome Mindfulness Overload. ~ Jenna Lockridge


I just mindlessly ate an entire pint of almond milk ice cream while reading articles about mindfulness and pondering what I might write myself.

I was actually shocked to look down and see that I had devoured the whole thing.

The irony is not lost.

Hopefully you’ll forgive my moment of humanity and read on.

Part of the problem with mindfulness, for me at least, is that there is now so much information on it! What to do with the thousands of oh-so-good tips and tricks on how to be mindful?

Here are five ways to find peace with the mind-boggling array of mindfulness out there.

1. Give yourself permission to consider all things, but don’t require yourself to absorb or internalize everything you see or read.

Now that we have the internet as our guide, anyone can post a view. Properly informed or not, endless perspectives now sit only a click away. As you read through articles or watch health videos online, be aware of the viewpoints you are being exposed to. You don’t have to agree with everything right away, or ever. Even if it’s presented by a doctor. Or someone famous. Or beautiful.

Consider all things, but internalize selectively. Make sure it serves you well. What you put in you eventually becomes you.

2. Get away from studying mindfulness.

For us studious types, the theory can sometimes overshadow the practice. And mindfulness is nothing if not a daily practice.

Leave your laptop, go outside! Frolic in the sunshine (if there’s some where you live—us Texans are still waiting for ours to return). Lie in the grass and watch the clouds for an hour. Take an outdoor day and allow yourself to have no agenda except to experience, enjoy, and relish the beauty around.

3. Don’t obsess about “correct” food.

As a devout vegan myself, this is a huge one to write. But here is my conclusion: there can be a lot of anxiety, obsession, fear, guilt, and shame surrounding the natural health/wellness community. An arbitrary correctness at the cost of peace and internal harmony is never worth it.

You will not instantly age 10 years if you stop eating all raw foods, garlic and onion and nightshades and whatever else you want to insert here are not going to poison you, and if you eat some meat and dairy, your arteries will not immediately close off (gasp…did I mention I’m vegan?)

Seriously. Just chill. Enjoy your community. Those are the people around you. Not the food. Because as beautiful as broccoli and berries and bowls of salad are, people are what make life worth living. So stop trying to be a food perfectionist and go celebrate the beautiful humanity around you.

4. Practice the yoga that feels right to you.

With such a wide array of styles to choose from, choosing a class to start with can be incredibly daunting. Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, Hatha, Restorative, Gentle, Power, Yin, Flow, hybrid classes…the list is endless.

How will you ever know what is best for you? What if the chatter in your mind is pressing you to focus on yoga for weight loss, but your heart and soul really just need to be quieted in a blissful and sacred Restorative experience? Don’t ignore the heart’s desires—if you do, they will only grow stronger and eventually be impossible to suppress.

Sample a few different types and teachers, and then pick the ones that are in harmony with your body, soul, and spirit. Don’t allow yourself to get drawn into yoga as a competition with anyone else, or even yourself. Yoga is about nourishing your whole self, all of you, right where you are now. Your true self today is beautiful. It is enough. Honor that.

5. Limit yourself to free yourself.

Too much of anything—even good things like reading EJ articles—is not healthy. Overwhelming yourself with information, new recipes, 15 new yoga sequences, varying (conflicting) opinions on diet and nutrition, parenting must- and can’t-do’s…it’s exhausting!

Every night, I have to tell myself to shut off the computer, put down the cell phone, and go to sleep. I am still learning myself how to apply the limits. When we’re kids, it’s easy—all limits are set for us, there’s nothing to think about except to follow the rules our parents set.

As adults, we really have to parent ourselves in a sense. We are the ones who must enforce our own limits on electronics, information absorptions, socializing, spending, and the like. Limit the information on mindfulness.

Because only then are you free to actually experience it for yourself, and to weave your own unique tapestry of a mindful life.

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Editoral Assistant: Karissa Kneeland/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant journal archives

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