Women’s Wellness 11.1.19 – 11.3.19

My heart is full from the privilege of spending a weekend retreat in the redwoods with an amazing group of women. This experience fills and fuels me.

I’m grateful for everyone who attended and brought wonderful warm energy to practice Gratitude Writing on 11.1.19. It was a grounding way to kick off a wonderful Women’s Wellness weekend with self-care, connection, nature, kindness, and new experiences.

On Saturday afternoon, participants at Write The Story Of Your Life thought outside the box about their life visions. I was grateful to witness and hear about where attendees were on their various journeys. It was inspiring to see what was important to each person and to share in new insights and awareness.

Inklings Annual Gathering (Inklings Book Contest Update)

Celebrate creativity, writing, community, and young writers with me on August 4, 2019 from 1 – 4:30 pm at the Santa Clara University Recital Hall.

Along with a celebration for the newly published young authors (the winners of the Inklings Book Contest) in the 2019 Inklings Book, the afternoon will be full of inspiration and hands-on writing workshops.

RSVP here.

Using the 3 A’s in Mindfulness Writing Practice

Here are some writing prompts to use in a daily writing routine. This practice can support you to attune with what is real, true, and present for you in the moment. Becoming present with body, emotions, and thoughts with equanimity is valuable for consciously living with peace and freedom from mind traps.

I am aware that
I feel _____________ (physical body sensations, emotions)
I think ____________ (thoughts)

I acknowledge these feelings and thoughts.

I free myself from ____________ (ex: judgment, denial, overanalyzing, desiring something different, trying to change reality)

I accept that these feelings and thoughts are present now.

Levels of Experience/Perception

Experiences and perceptions have multiple levels.

The first level is the direct experience. In the direct experience, sensory input is perceived using the senses. (I feel cold. I smell salty air. I hear lapping waves. I energetically sense openness) Emotions are observed in the direct experience – calm, fear, sadness, anger, joy.

The second level is the thoughts about what is occurring. The thoughts may include stories. “I wish…, I believe…, I am…, I think…”

The third level is the emotions that arise due to the thoughts. (If I believe “I am weak,” I may feel sad, angry, or afraid. If I believe “I am strong,” I may feel joyful and expansive.)

We may not be consciously aware of the thoughts and beliefs (stories) we hold. This can lead to reacting to situations (and emotions) out of patterns.

Making a choice to respond consciously requires awareness of the pattern. Awareness is the first step. This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness allows awareness. Mindfulness allows being present equanimously with the direct experience.

Once we become aware of the direct bodily sensations and emotions, we can understand which thoughts are stories, and which are actually reality. We can free ourselves from distress caused by unhelpful beliefs and thoughts from the third level.

In the direct experience, bliss, connection, and flow exist. Mindfulness is a key to the direct experience.

(We create our reality. The creating occurs in the second level. Read about creating empowering beliefs for more.)

The 4 Basic Emotions

Emotions are valuable. They are a map of the heart. They allow intuitive messages to be heard and understood.

Can you identify your emotions? Can you hold space to feel your emotions without numbing or avoiding them? I’ve found that many of my clients and workshop attendees have difficulty with this.

Emotional literacy is a topic close to my heart. It is a skill I only learned more recently how to practice. Being able to identify, understand, and process emotions is highly valuable. It provides emotional freedom.

Take a moment to pause what you’re doing in this moment and check in with your body. Are you feeling happy, sad, afraid, or angry?

These are the 4 basic emotions. Most experienced emotions are a shade or combination of these.

During your day, check in with yourself. Take a centering breath and ask yourself what you’re feeling without judgement. Notice what this gives you.

Creating Empowering Beliefs

Stories are thoughts and beliefs we hold. Stories are lenses to perceive the world. Coaching and journaling are tools to help become aware of stories which might limit or cause us undue suffering. Unexamined stories can be fraught with assumptions or cognitive distortions.

Creating empowering stories is a powerful skill. It can cause a shift from feeling powerless to feeling uplifted.

Consider this belief: “Life happens to me.”
Thoughts might include: Because life happens to me, it doesn’t matter what actions I take. The outcome is out of my control and I cannot change it. I don’t think I deserve what happened to me.

Consider these beliefs: “Life happens for me.” “I choose how I respond.” “I create what I desire.”
What thoughts do these beliefs support?

Which beliefs feel better?

Examining disempowering beliefs is a wonderful journaling practice. Becoming conscious of the beliefs and values we hold can shed light on why we react the way we do.

What are the 3 A’s of Mindfulness Writing?

Awareness is the experience of becoming conscious about reality. This can use the 5 senses (seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting). It can also involve emotions and thoughts.

Acknowledgement is the act of recognizing awareness. Writing is a powerful tool for acknowledgement because we’re forced to bring names to things and acknowledge them as we write.

Acceptance is a state of mind which acknowledges reality. It is the opposite of denial, judgement, analysis, desiring something different, and trying to change reality. Read more about acceptance here.

Example of how the 3 A’s are used in mindfulness meditation:
Event: My mind has wandered during meditation.
I become aware that my mind has wandered.
I acknowledge that my mind has wandered. (Oh – my mind has wandered. I’m now thinking about dinner.)
I accept that my mind has wandered.
Having come into acceptance, I can decide a course of action. (Ex: I can choose to calmly bring my mind back to the present.)

“Acceptance” in Mindfulness Writing

Acceptance is not the same as approval.

Acceptance does not mean consenting to suffering.

Just because something is “real,” I don’t have to like it, approve it, or leave it as it is. Acceptance is a valuable experience. It allows me to understand what is true right now. With this, I can then formulate a course of action if necessary.

Acceptance is:

  • The opposite of denial.
  • Nonjudgement.
  • Not actively fighting reality.
  • Validating the way I feel.
  • Recognizing the way I feel as a passing experience.
  • Being aware of what is real and factual. (And separating this from thoughts and feelings about it.)
  • Knowing whatever is true right now is okay because it ALREADY IS. (It is fruitless to try to change reality.)

Why Mindfulness? (Stillness vs Action)

There is much noise in today’s world. Many voices compete to tell us what to do, how to do it, and why we NEED to do it this way.

When I’m still, I believe I “should” be moving. When I’m moving, I question if the action I’m taking is the “right” or “best” one.

Action is great. However, the value of pause and introspection can be overlooked.

Mindfulness is an opportunity to bring focused awareness to the present. To accept what reality is without needing to take immediate action to “fix” or change.

Tuning into the sensations in my body, emotions, and thoughts with nonattachment and equanimity allow me freedom from uncomfortable feelings which arise from my belief that I need to “take action” and “figure everything out.”

Being aware of, acknowledging, and accepting the present moment gifts me with space. In the space, I can experience the joy, peace, and beauty of life in the now.