Posted in Mindfulness, Practices

Overcoming Distraction with Mindfulness

Are you struggling to overcome the distractions showing up in your day-to-day? Have trouble staying focused because your thoughts are pulling you in multiple directions? Finding it difficult to keep your attention on what’s in front of you?

In the world of smartphones, social media, and instant gratification, you are surrounded by an infinite number of distractions. Beyond the screens of entertainment and minute-by-minute updates, there’s also the issue of the untamed mind being programmed to swing from thought to thought.

It’s within the nature of the mind to wander, anticipate, think, or keep moving in some way or another. Rather than resisting the ebb and flow of your thoughts in times of distraction, it may be a more powerful practice to direct your attention outside the mind and into the body.

Noticing You’ve Become Distracted

All change starts with awareness, becoming aware of what is already happening or unfolding in the present moment. Shifting your attention from the mind and into the body first requires becoming mindfully aware of where your attention has been placed.

To be mindful of distraction is to notice it with acceptance of what’s caught your attention or how long you’ve been distracted; it’s letting go of expectations and assumptions about the process of learning to focus.

Distraction is the mind’s reaction to a lack of direction. If you want to focus you need to choose something to anchor your attention into. By tuning out of the thinking mind, which often moves at a rapid pace, and tuning into the body, which can be tangibly experienced through physical sensations, you are able to anchor your attention into a feeling or even the breath.

Grounding Into The Body

The mind may be where distraction takes place but the body is the vehicle that plays it all out. In other words, while the mind is taking you on trips to the past or into the future, the body is often left unattended in the present moment. If the mind wanders long enough it’ll find itself circling negative emotions, which elicit sensations of constriction or tension in the body.

For instance, when you have an anxiety-producing thought you may clench your fists or maybe it feels like your chest area got incredibly tight. This is the body’s response to your thinking. The longer you stay distracted in the mind, the further from grounding into the body.

Grounding begins with an anchor, the breath being a wonderful place to start mainly because it’s always waiting in the present moment for you. Paying attention to the breath is also a neutral focal point, an example of the ebb and flow that’s happening within your body. Whether you’re tuning in or not the breath will continue to flow, but it can offer great insight once you are paying attention.

Let’s go back to that anxiety-producing thought. Along with a tight chest and clenched muscles you may notice you haven’t exhaled in quite some time. If you are breathing you may notice it’s shallow and quick, rather than deep and smooth. The quality of your breath cycles, inhaling and exhaling, is an indicator of your levels of stress or calm.

Practice Tapping Into the 5 Senses Mindfully

While the breath is one of the most powerful and profound ways to choose focus over distraction, it also may be challenging for those who have never done breathwork or meditated before. Another way to ground into the body is to tune in through your 5 senses: touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing.

This is a common practice offered to people suffering from high levels of anxiety as well as stress, frustration, or moments of overwhelm. By having a tangible and practical focus on each of the senses, it may be easier for you to shift from overthinking to simply paying attention to the present moment.

The beauty of this practice is that even if you ask yourself these same questions each time you feel overwhelmed, you’ll get different answers each time. Just like mindfulness, each moment is a fresh unfolding of something new.

Ask yourself the following questions changing the number of senses as you please:

What is one thing I taste right now?
What are two things I smell right now
What are three things I feel right now?
What are four things I hear right now?
What are five things I see right now?

By tuning into your senses you are automatically grounding into your bodily sensations. Your bodily sensations are leading you out of the thinking mind and into the here and now. It’s in the here and now that you can make shifts in your attention by deliberately deciding where to focus your energy, and making more focused choices.

Let’s Review

If you’re having difficulty focusing or battling distraction, you most likely won’t be able to think your way out of it. To do anything mindfully is to bring your full awareness to it, without judgment, anticipation, or expectation for things to be different. Therefore, choosing to become aware of what being distracted looks like for you is a good place to start.

Once you’ve noticed distraction in the mind you can also notice how it may be showing up in the body. For some, this may look like tension in the muscles, while for others it may show up as constricted sensations of tension. However distraction arises within the mind it’s a wonderful opportunity to become aware of the body. Rather than resisting the fluctuations of the mind, it’ll be more beneficial to bring attention toward the body and work from a practical focal point.

Grounding into the body can be done through the vehicle of the breath, which is always in the present moment, as well as tuning into the 5 senses. By asking yourself to bring your attention to what you can smell, hear, taste, touch, and see you’re more likely to overcome distraction because it’s happening in the mind. Although you may not keep distractions at bay for a long time through this technique, it will be long enough to interrupt the cycle and provide your mind with a direction of focus.

The 5 senses can be the path into knowing your body and listening to its wisdom on a deeper level. By practicing this exercise during moments of stress, frustration, or overwhelm you’ll be developing the muscle of direction, which will ultimately weaken the muscle of distraction in the mind. Rather than fighting your thoughts or trying to change the fast past thinking mind, tuning into the 5 senses is a great way to get to know the body with loving kindness.

Practicing mindful awareness of distraction isn’t about taking it away altogether, but choosing to recognize its hold on you so that you can make a more deliberate choice. Remember, peace is always one choice away, that choice is always yours to make, and that choice begins with self-awareness.

Check out this episode on How to Overcome Distractions and Negative Thoughts
Posted in Uncategorized

Start Small. Keep Going

It’s May 1st! The sun is shining a little brighter now and it’s also the beginning of mental health awareness month, a perfect time for self-reflection and slowing down. In this blog, I’ll be sharing some unique personal habits and practices that help me keep my mental health at optimal levels.

Please know that these things work for me and may not be your jam. That’s okay, I still want to encourage you to find what works for you. Most of these ideas came after lots of trial, error, guesswork, and being completely burnt out. My hope is to save you time, make you laugh a little, and possibly offer some tips on how to keep yourself sane and grounded.

Check out this 4 minute video on how to treat yourself better.

What to do for the mind

Stillness and stimulation both have their significance and time to shine in my life. This means there are moments I can truly benefit from stilling the muddy water of my thoughts and allowing the inner turmoil I’ve stirred to settle. And it also means there are times when I need to stimulate my mind so it doesn’t fall into unhealthy patterns of thought/belief. Knowing when to meditate or play a video game isn’t an exact science, but there are a few key signs I look for to let me know

Meditation or stillness of some kind is the answer to overstimulation. So if I’ve spent hours around crowds, in front of screens, or even hyper-fixating on activity and losing track of time, I know my mind will benefit from resting. The constant movement becomes so familiar to me that at times stillness feels foreign, even wrong because my mind wants to keep going. That’s a pretty loud sign it’s time to chill, unwind, and decompress.

Stimulating the mind and focusing attention on something creative is the answer when I find myself in repetitive patterns that aren’t getting me anywhere, a long time of focusing only on work tasks, or I’m in a state of boredom. If I don’t redirect myself toward something that will stimulate my mind and give me something that’s interesting, challenging, or solution-based to do, I’ll most likely start moving from autopilot. It’s from this place I lose motivation, binge television shows, and find myself on the internet for hours with no destination.

What to do for the body

Movement and nourishment are the two choices I’m often neglecting when it comes to taking care of my body. I’ll just throw hydration in with nourishment because not getting enough water could seriously depletes me from the inside out, causing problems with focus and energy.

When I’m not doing yoga, going for walks, or exercising of any kind my mental health begins to decline rapidly. But it’s also really challenging to stay on top of my fitness habits. One of the hacks I’ve found that really improves my mood, elevates my energy, and gets my body moving all at once is dancing. I throw straight up dance parties in my living room when the weather isn’t great for a walk or I don’t have the stamina to work out. Listening to a playlist of my favorite songs through my headphones , or more recently tribal drums, and just letting my body do what it intuitively knows how to do. No judgement, just movement for at least 30 minutes breaks up my day and helps my body stay fluid.

And then there is nourishment, putting healthy food and drink into my body often keeping energy high and lethargy low. Some days I’m at the top of my game, other days I’m struggling to remember to drink more than 8 oz of water. Once the day gets away from me though it’s hard to reign it back in, so my practices start first thing in the morning with a green juice and some water, sometimes tea. My morning is reserved for fruits and veggies only, trying most days to keep caffeine and bread after 12pm. This way I ensure I’m getting nutrients, vitamins and minerals first thing and start my day strong.

Start small with your habits

Taking care of your mental health is a long-term venture that wants you to make tweaks and changes as often as necessary. Whether you incredibly in tune with your mind-body or you’ve begun paying attention for the first time, your efforts toward wellness are like deposits into your future. Keep going, keep figuring out what works, let go of what doesn’t, and remember the point is to improve your mental state not add chaos to it .

Here is a list of simple small habits to either start paying attention to or begin implementing to improve your mind-body wellness:

  1. Notice your mood today.
  2. Sit in a sun spot to recharge.
  3. Dance your stress away.
  4. Look up at the sky and take a break from working.
  5. Take a walk.
  6. Drink water.
  7. Journal your thoughts.
  8. Be still in your body.
  9. Pause for a deep breath.
  10. Notice how your body feels.
  11. Read a book that captivates you.
  12. Find a podcast that keeps you interested.
  13. Say some affirmations in the mirror.
  14. Have a cup of tea.
  15. Clean or organize your clutter.

Save as a reminder!

Let’s Recap

This blog is a quick glimpse into my small habits that help maintain optimal levels of mental and physical wellbeing. It’s not about having the perfect health and doing the “right thing” when it comes to your mind-body wellnes.

So whether you have been on top of all your mind-body needs, or you’re just becoming aware of how to take care of yourself, small habits lead to big changes. It’s the consistency of self-awareness and deliberate action that builds the momentum toward the changes you want to create.

Practicing self-awareness and observing your behavior are active steps toward growth and healing. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to, just remember to focus on what can be done today while connecting to the bigger picture of tomorrow.

Start small, keep going, make your mental health a priority today.

Posted in Personal Growth

These Habits Are Keeping Me Grounded

May you be well and your soul at ease.

There’s been a good amount of change over the past couple of months that has thrown me off kilter a few times. Locating to a different town in a different part of the state has something to do with that. You know that feeling of staying at a hotel? It feels like nothing is yours so you tend to keep everything in its place. Or at least I do.

Now that I’m entering the fourth week of living here this place feels like our home. One of the things I noticed that makes that possible is blocking out time for whatever needs my attention. It’s so freakin simple but when I don’t do it everything gets complicated.

Time blocking my responsibilities and disciplines helps ground me into my purpose each day, especially because these days have been filled with time. For the past 6 months I’ve taken time away from my business to focus on my values, truths, and the conscious lifestyle I’m building. When there are classes, meditations, and programs on your task list it can be easy to know what to do next because it’s reliant on someone or something outside of me.

In my opinion, it’s easier to show up for outer accountability than it is when I’m doing it for myself. Without having a job outside the house rather than taking care of my home and family, I’m literally flailing with no guidance. Enter time management.

If you’re like me, then from time to time you suffer from time blindness a.k.a. having no concept of the hours in the day and how much you can realistically get done. That shows up for me on the days I think I can get food shopping done, clean the kitchen and bathroom, cook lunch, wash the produce and marinate dinner all within 3 hours.

It’s crazy when I type it out but honestly, my brain thinks I’m the little engine that could, as long as I’m thinking it can be accomplished. Even if all of that is possible to get done in such a small time frame, there’s no need to rush juggling so many tasks.

So what’s the solution to time blindness, rushing, and pushing through your responsibilities?

Thanks to one of my best friends for pointing out this insanely obvious trick when planning your day: put it into zones! All of my daily and weekly to-dos are categorized by a zone for instance creativity, shopping and prepping, teaching, cleaning, etc.

Rather than thinking about how many hours I have left before, during, or after a task, I dedicate a specific amount of blocked-out time to each task. Following this routine makes sure my day is filled with realistic responsibilities, instead of building a wishlist of never-ending things.

One of my core time blocks is for contemplative and meditative moments. The minimum amount of time blocked off for this is an hour, this way there’s plenty of time for yoga and reading while ending with a nice seated meditation. If I have time on my side that day I’ll spend a little more time on the cushion before starting my day.

Also, out of behavioral habit, I take out the parts of my juicer and assemble them first thing in the morning. It technically falls under the block of food and prep, but over time it’s become a constant opportunity for a mindful practice, connecting me to the fruits and veggies.

For my mental health to reach or stay at an optimal level, my mind and body need my attention first thing in the morning. If my first precious moments are given away to the lives and desires of other people,It’s my way of setting a foundation of focus, discipline, and groundedness so that if/when the day gets away from me I’ve got a morning practice to remind myself of. This is also why I put my juicing or breakfast time in with morning rituals, mindful consumption is a great way to take care of yourself.

Next, I block time out for “homemaking duties” which change from day to day but for the most part have the same rotating responsibilities. Some days I’ll block out 9-11 so that I can shop, clean, prep, and then make lunch, while other days are chill when all I need to do is sweep the floors and wipe down counters. It’s not so much what has to get done that throws me off, I can deal with things changing day-to-day, it’s not blocking off time to do it.

Seriously if I know what to do but haven’t been given time restraints, well then nothing gets done or what could easily take me 20 minutes will now extend to four hours.

Another block I use is study and creativity, giving me ample time to write, record, edit, read, teach and do all of the fun little practices that help my creative mind expand. When it comes to studying or learning a new subject I like to give myself about 90 minutes otherwise, I’ll stop paying complete attention and start drifting into space.

But for creativity, I like giving myself a few hours because after years of creating content and shooting videos I’ve learned that the more warmed up you are the better the footage. Rather than being rigid while recording just to get it done sooner, I choose not to feel rushed in the creative process, nor do I want to hurry up and memorize meanings while learning whatever topic I’m currently studying.

I love learning, especially now that I design my own curriculum, so why would I want to rush into knowing what I could slowly be learning?

Feeling calm, grounded, and present are important intentions used when showing up for each block. Whether I’ve done it a hundred times or I’m doing it for the first time, each task deserves my undivided attention with a fresh pair of eyes. Unless there is a time to start and stop, my mind will be wandering into all of the other things that need my attention.

And you know what? That’s okay.

It’s taken a really long time to accept who I am and how I operate, instead of trying to fix it. It isn’t easy for me to remain disciplined on things, no matter how much I logically understand their significance and meaning. Making juice because it’s healthy or meditating for my mental health doesn’t happen without an immense amount of effort, will, and consistency.

Of course, there are days when I fall off track, and rather than beating myself up for falling short, I focus on not extending the days to weeks. Because at some point I have to stop beating myself up and start building myself up, it’s as simple as how to respond when things don’t unfold according to my plan. It’s in these moments that the practice of mindfulness is ready to help me ground, center, and begin again.

TLDR: Let’s recap

This is what’s currently working wonders in my life so I wanted to pass it on.

Time management hack: break it into zones and stick to timelines. If you know creativity takes more time than cleaning, schedule accordingly and give yourself a break. Just because there’s 24 hours in a day doesn’t mean each moment needs to be planned out.

Learning to factor in my challenges: Recently I’ve been accepting some of the neurodivergent challenges I’ve had all my life. It’s brought me to the empowering point where I accept what cannot be changed, focus most of my efforts on what I’m great at, and leaving room for where I tend to really struggle. Since building it into my routine I anticipate obstacles with a welcoming point of view: sure it sucks that I have a short attention span but that won’t stop me from honing in improving focus with daily zones.

Focus on the comeback, not on the fall-off: This piggy-backs off of factoring in my challenges. The more aware I become of my patterns the more accepting I am when I find myself playing them out. For instance, if I plan too many activities in a short span of time and completely overstimulate myself, I’ll focus less on why I did this for the millionth time and focus more on how to ground my mind-body back into the present moment.

And now it’s your turn for weekly insights:

What areas of your life could you block out more time for?

Maybe it’s something major like a deep cleaning or studying for an important test.

Maybe it’s something smaller but just as important, like a self-care day or making that hair/nail/massage appointment.

Whatever it is, there’s something about you that deserves your attention. So this week notice some of your habits, get curious about their level of effectiveness, and practice some self-compassion for just how much you’re getting done.

Until next week friends, enjoy your moments.

Posted in Mindfulness, Personal Growth

One door closes, another one opens

It’s the Sunday after my 30th birthday.

As I write this I’m reminiscing about my homemade baked goods yesterday as I adjust the cheap tablecloth my laptop is sitting on. Right up until our first guest arrived I was baking my first attempt at a 2-layer cake which was a major highlight for me. Although the steps were simple it was the follow-through I was proud of, I have a tendency to get excited when making the fire but sustaining the flames proves difficult.

But there’s something about this place, my new home, that’s proving to be different altogether. And I think I’ve figured out why.

Yesterday I threw a 90s theme 30th with long-time friends at the brand new townhome I moved to at the beginning of the month. Add to that the confidence-boosting haircut I got the day before I moved, you could say I was vibing high.

My home and heart were filled with good vibes the day of the party. From the moment I woke up to the end of the day the energy was funny and loving. My friends got the most intentional and heartfelt gifts I could have received, right down to the wording in each card. At the end of the night, as Ivan and I were cleaning up all the food and saying our goodbyes, I paused to express gratitude for all that I’ve been blessed to receive. That’s when I realized something.

As everyone packed up food and headed to their cars, I realized the party wasn’t the only thing that had ended that night. The anticipation I’ve held for over a year in my heart has officially stopped because I got everything I asked for.

I baked a 2 layer funfetti cake, yellow cupcakes with chocolate icing and banana muffins.
Posted in Personal Growth

My Truth About Productivity (spring 2021)

I cleaned the bathroom today. Which to some probably isn’t as big of an accomplishment as it felt like for me. After putting it off for so long, and coming up with excuses as to why another day would work best, I finally had enough of my own shit. And I’m not even completely done, or at least satisfied with the tub. I just read online about using a broom with liquid dish soap to scrub without hurting your back and knees.

Mama needs all the efficiency she can get.

But as I write this now the sink, toilet, floor, and bathroom have been scrubbed and sanitized. There’s nothing I can’t accomplish with some good music, magnificent dance moves, and a little bong hit. I’ve come to realize it’s more about the mood and intention setting than the actual task itself, half the battle is the attitude you bring to it.

Having it all “together” isn’t necessarily my strong suit but I show up when it’s time to in my own way. Trying to find a balance between personal life and homemaking, while creating offerings for my community, what a trip it’s been. There’s so much I’ve learned and yet an endless amount left to soak in. I’m taking it day by day because before I know it I’ll be looking back on this time with gratitude.

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There is so much wisdom to be absorbed from any type of housework or responsibility. No matter how tedious or challenging the task is, you can find your reflection in it. Like cleaning for example.

Cleansing takes place on the inside as well as the outside to make room for new and fresh opportunities. It always seems to rain when I need it the most. Maybe it won’t make going to ShopRite all that fun, but emotionally I need the rain today.

When nature cleanses herself she cleanses me too. I always feel called to go within, journal, document, dance, listen, and let something go- hence the cleaning. This isn’t by chance it’s by design. I love the rain.

Twerking and scrubbing a toilet, while it sounds hilarious, is also a powerful choice to make and a very intentional one too. While Beyonce’s Homecoming album played in the perfect order she intended it to, I felt in sync with the feelings flowing through each song.

Twerking while cleaning is a decision I willed into my experience. I wasn’t particularly enthused about this responsibility, considering how long I had been putting it off.

So instead of making it the miserable experience I built it up to be, I decided to bring joy into the unpleasantness of it all. Every day there is an opportunity to make a conscious effort toward making the best out of every situation. I chose to twerk.

I’ve decided to take my time in between cleaning to put on a performance in my bathroom or take a moment to just be in my feels. It’s all a part of the cleansing process anyway. After all, I’m not just cleaning the bathroom, I’m being cleansed too, even if I didn’t know it until halfway through Beychella’s performance.

Mother nature always shows up when it’s time to remind me what to do next. When I listen to her I am led to exactly where I need to be, the trouble is I wait too long and things get foggy.

Will I be exhausted at the end of the day? Yes, but I’ll be lighter too. Lighter for taking care of my inner and outer environments, cleansing the old, and preparing room for the new. Springtime Aries energy at its finest.

Check out this 4-minute video on how to notice negative thinking

It’s Friday and it has been more on the productive side. Up at 615 for my mindful morning routine, followed by celery juice and grocery shopping before 8am. Coming home to make pancakes, bake banana bread, and get an hour of writing in before I’m off to babysit my niece and nephew.

At one time in my life, this was an incredibly normal morning for me, running personal errands and making sure Ivan’s got something to eat before running off to slay more duties. But this is not my normal anymore. In fact, I’m blown away that I had the energy and bandwidth to accomplish all those things today when not too long ago I could barely even peel myself out of bed for a shower.

It’s funny how through pictures and quick glimpses it can really look like people live a flawless life, completing tasks with ease and transitioning from wearing one hat to the next without breaking a sweat.

And it’s not necessarily a lie because it’s not like everyone claims their life is so simple. It just becomes an assumption of those looking in on the life you’ve displayed before them. That’s why it’s important that I express to my community that mindfulness doesn’t look like meditating every day and having your life completely together.

Sometimes it looks like your life falling apart and you becoming aware of how you’re responding to it. Sometimes it looks like the seasonal comeback after falling apart, where you’re just happy to be here and take nothing for granted because you remember how shitty it can be.

This week feels like the beginning of a transition into a better version of myself. Like my spirit is finally taking the reins from my ego, although she is kicking and screaming reluctant to let go of the oddly satisfying comfort zone that comes with depression. It’s wonderful to have the capacity to consider the needs of others while also being able to show up in a healthy and well-rounded way.

However, like I said, it’s the beginning of a transition out of bad habits into better ones. There’s a long road ahead and that’s okay.

One bad habit I have is procrastinating to the point of stress, angst, and anxiety to get things done in a timely manner. Food shopping is a great example of the lengths of bullshit I will go through to avoid responsibility.

I will be lazy and justify my procrastination for days until we SERIOUSLY need food. I’ve had rotting bananas inching their way toward the trash because I neglected them when they were bright yellow. I kept buying them hoping that I’d see them and be reminded of the smoothies and fruit bowl breakfasts that are so good for me. But that didn’t happen.

The beauty of the transitional week is slowly being able to start thinking of solutions rather than focusing solely on problems, like baking a banana bread instead of wasting food. I’m still a bit impulsive when it comes to doing whatever I want but I’ve begun to think through the consequences more.

Like making pancakes at 10pm because the munchies told me to, not wanting to clean the griddle so using a single pan, getting lazy halfway through because I can only make one at a time, and wrapping up the leftover batter for breakfast.

In this season I’m so fucking proud of myself for getting out of bed before 10am, having the energy, and putting forth the effort to shower and look good. Caring about my appearance, saying affirmations, and moving my body with intention rather than disgust.

During this season I’m happy there is fruit in my apartment to actually start to spoil, and I’m thankful for the perspective not to see a waste of food but a way to transform it into a sweet dessert. Celebrating the little things reminds me there is a bigger picture and I’m a part of it.

The more responsibilities I juggle the more I come to the realization that there will always be juggling, no matter the season. Sometimes I’ve got all my balls in the air and it’s magnificent to watch. Seamlessly gliding from one hand to the next, in the flow of productivity, creativity, and maybe even joy. Other times it’s like watching a train wreck occur in slow motion as the rails make an obnoxious halting sound.

Both of these versions are who I am, she’s phenomenal and a work in progress at every moment. So instead of trying to achieve this perfect looking life of organization and practicality, I recognize that there will be a season for that, it’s just not this one.

So if you’ve made it this far into my rambles of this week, bless you. Take a moment to remind yourself that “having it all together” is not a thing. It’s a construct we’ve made up in our minds comparing how things are to the way we believe they should be. Stop shoulding all over yourself.

How you are feeling, thinking, and doing, at this moment is your truth. Maybe it’s ugly, maybe it’s enjoyable, but it’s always yours.

So learn to love it, flaws and all.