What if you knew that you already have all of the tools you need to guide you to the right career, relationship, location, etc.? Well guess what, you DO! You are a very powerful creator with thoughts and emotions that can guide you towards what you want to create and away from things that do not serve you. By harnessing the power of your thoughts, you can completely transform your life. However, the first step is being aware of your thinking patterns and taking an inventory of your belief systems in regards to family, work, relationships, career, etc. Through metacognition (thinking about thinking) and mindfulness (being aware and present in the current moment) you can alter the direction of your life by altering the direction of your thoughts.
Metacognition & Mindfulness
What is metacognition? Metacognition is our ability to think about our thinking. We are not all equal when it comes to using this internal skill. Any time we reflect upon our thinking processes and knowledge- that is metacognition. It is our most powerful tool available to us for problem-solving, tackling challenges, improving communication in our relationships, and navigating paths to achieve our goals.
Metacognition is our most powerful internal tool to adjust our thinking and improve thinking outcomes. To get the most from metacognition, we have to train ourselves to focus its power and forge the discipline necessary to stay focused despite distractions (David DiSalvo, Brain Changer, 2013).
What is Stress?
The most common response you get when asking someone, "How are you?" will be "I'm really busy..." followed by their to-do list, activity list, and other things they are currently worrying about (spouse, kids, work, etc.). If it is an older/retired adult, the response will be a list of all of their physical ailments (my knees, my back, my blood pressure, etc.). This is oftentimes followed by a "I've just been really stressed." response too. Why is this behavior so common? It's common because people define 'stress' as being busy and/or worried which every adult either is or has experienced.
"Stress can be defined as the brain's response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived. They may be recurring, short-term, or long-term and may include things like commuting to and from school or work every day, traveling for a yearly vacation, or moving to another home. Changes can be mild and relatively harmless, such as winning a race, watching a scary movie, or riding a rollercoaster. Some changes are major, such as marriage or divorce, serious illness, or a car accident. Other changes are extreme, such as exposure to violence, and can lead to traumatic stress reactions." (NIMH.gov)
Most people are unaware of their own body's reaction to stress and how damaging it is to their physical and emotional health. Oftentimes people turn to alcohol or pills to calm their nervous system. When you get in touch with your body and allow it to guide you, then you realize it knows what to do naturally. Whenever you are stressed, the first thing to do is stay focused on the present moment and be aware of your breathing. Slow, deep breaths will get you back into a natural, peaceful state.
If thoughts got you into stressful feelings than better-feeling thoughts can get you out of it. Heart-centered breathing and calm, loving thoughts towards yourself and others will relax your body more than any substance ever will. You already have all of the tools you need to practice relaxation techniques. (Many smokers do not realize that it's the slow, deep breaths their body is craving- not the cigarette).
There are many different breathing, mindfulness, and meditation techniques that you can use to get your nervous system back into its natural relaxed state. As a mom, employee, etc. I have personally found that meditation can be absolutely life-changing in a positive way and has many different benefits for both your physical and emotional health. I practiced meditation (using free YouTube videos) for a few weeks until I reached a blissful, state of peace. Now that I've been doing it for a few years, I can quickly reach that peaceful and relaxed physical state.
There are many different ways to meditate, but I say keep it short and simple. Meditation isn't about clearing your mind, it's about relaxing the constant stream of thoughts and getting to a place where you connect with your Inner Being and God (Source energy or whatever term you prefer).
Some people choose to meditate on a topic or on scripture or whatever feels right to them. Sometimes I meditate on a topic or a question and then quiet my mind to allow impressions to flow. Sometimes I meditate with no agenda at all. The purpose of meditation for me is to slow down my thoughts so I can allow myself the opportunity to feel the connection to Source (God). Sometimes when I meditate I have no question or topic in mind- the purpose is just to connect with my Inner Being.
You can meditate at home or any quiet area without distractions. Choose whatever is most comfortable for you. You can choose to sit in the lotus position like the Buddhists do, but it's not necessary. You can do a walking meditation where you just quiet your mind and connect with nature. Many people find gardening to be a meditative practice as well. Only you know what feels best to you.
The purpose of meditation is to slow down the constant stream of thoughts and as Eckhart Tolle says "Be the awareness behind your thoughts and emotions." Your Inner voice is way more important than you realize. Thoughts are energy and they attract similar energy through the vibration you are offering. Positive thoughts lead to more positive thoughts. Worry/fear/guilt/shame are lower vibrations which is why they feel bad to you. Gratitude, love, compassion, happiness, and peace all serve you and feel good because that is your natural state of Well-Being.
There are plenty of free meditation videos and it just takes 5-10 minutes a day, but the rewards are infinite. I cannot stress enough how crucial meditation was and continues to be for my own journey.
I'll continue to add links to some of my favorite meditations, but I prefer light music when I meditate. Some people like guided meditations and some like pure silence. Whatever helps you connect with Source and your Inner being, that is what you should do. There is no right or wrong answer here- just preferences.
This is one of my favorite meditations from the great Dr. Wayne Dyer - enjoy!