I was stalking January 7th, 2020 like all these celebs are stalking Beyonce’s IvyPark wardrobe delivery. It was my first day back to normalcy after a year of wonderful time spent helping my sister plan her wedding and a surprise cruise for her husband’s birthday the first week of the year. I had been counting down the days and had my entire month laid out.
On the very day I was to reset — January 7th — it snowed in D.C. I was out at a dinner meeting and on my way home, my car slid and I lost control. It did 360 ° circles three times. I didn’t panic but I just asked God to help regain control. Mercifully, there weren’t any cars coming at me or in front of me. Only a miracle I didn’t slam into the wall of I-66. Black ice is a thing, you know.
Then on Thursday, after a solid 75-minutes workout, I decided to go the extra mile and push a bit harder. I was side shuffling per my coach’s routine and rolled my ankle. I heard it shatter like a perfectly glued mosaic quickly unraveling. Now I’m on crutches and out for the count for a few weeks with no immediate sign of being able to workout or drive, let alone stand for more than 5 minutes.
I was initially really frustrated. After a string of a few mishaps starting last October, I was ready to get a grip and get back to a centered mind and body. And then it hit me. God was talking to me, saying what I now know was “yeah, B, you prayed and asked for the ability to focus on all the things that will build you up; that will amplify your efforts and help grow your empire.”
Ultimately, I accepted it and welcomed the opportunity to really reset. I know this down time is purposed on me to establish a true sense of mindfulness.
In only one week of sitting mostly idle, I remembered the importance of mindfulness, or the art of being present. Not only is mindfulness key to personal success, it also helps maintain an equilibrium that invites positivity even in the most inconvenient circumstances.
Here are 6 ways I know can help you be mindful of yourself and your circle of everything.
This may sound so very cliché as even I had kind of written off the idea of meditation. I pray a lot and often. However, meditation is the practice of stopping and intentionally shutting out the noise and centering your mind. It’s not as easy as it sounds. We’re busy. We have work, kids, family, goals, workouts, dinner to cook, etc. Life and its demands is real. In all our obligations, our minds and brain literally fog up with all the noise.
When we pause, we really do allow for peace and clarity to enter.
Work on stopping and stepping away from whatever you’re doing at the same time every day. Center your body in a perfect line, close your eyes and breathe. Try to paint white noise. Smile if you have to. Start small and brief and then work your way up. There are apps which help with getting you started.
PUT PHONES DOWN
Be like Erykah Badu and make them put the phone down.
Say “yes” to this several times day. Put the phone down. Put it on silent. Walk away. Ignore it. Scientifically speaking, we are obsessed with our phones. No doubt social media and the cool features on our devices keep us glued and looking for all the glory, but it also divorces us from the moments and people that really matter. How many conversations or detailed nuances have we all missed because we were on our phones when we should have been present in the moment?
Our phones are keeping us from being fully engaged with whom we’re spending time and that can create resentment as well as loss of connection. In a world where life happens so fast, think of how precious that very moment is. We’ll never get it back. Be a part of it. Fully.
No phones at the dinner table. If you’re a foodie like me and have to document everything you eat (first, why?!), you can still do that. Just commit to doing it when you’re alone or before the food has hit the table.
Snap away in the first 3 minutes and then stop. Put it away.
Have your party agree to put phones away during your visit. I promise you the reward is far greater than any text, email, IG post, news alert, etc. Barring a true emergency, it can all wait.
We are emotional beings and most times it gets the best or worst of us. Before you respond to that testy text, suggestive DM or inflammatory email or comment on your page or timeline, pause and think first. If we pause to think before we speak, we can enjoy peace in our hearts for having responded in a true way, exactly how we meant, without having to later retract or apologize. Thinking first also gives us time to evaluate having to even say anything at all. We already know how priceless silence can be.
A friend noted once I’m always on the go, moving as fast as the flight of the bumble bee. Really. He also noted that in my moving so fast, I lost things here and there: my keys, my sunglasses, my chap stick (doesn’t everyone?), my phone, and that if it weren’t attached, I’d lose my head, too. I had to reflect. Not all true, but I can see how he’d come to that. Though that specific time was riddled with extraordinary circumstances causing some mental exhilarance, I’m working on slowing down, generally. Physically slowing down; not just in my busyness but in how I walk, talk, and think.
Our minds need time to adjust and process information. In order for healthy outcomes and to have total control of our actions, we need to pace ourselves. Slowing down ultimately gives us more energy to pour into the things really meriting the sprint.
This step is tricky and incredibly crucial. Recently, talk of mental health and inner peace mentions having to step away from toxic people in our lives. Sure, that’s true and necessary. However, we must also acknowledge that we, too, have toxic tendencies. It’s not always the other person. Acknowledgement is not only essential when it comes to toxicity. It’s essential in all areas of our life. When we acknowledge that which is, we can start the beautiful process of living.
CREATE EMOTIONAL CONNECTIONS
Another friend told me once “honesty invites intimacy.” My initial reaction was ‘oooh, dats too much.’ But, it’s true! Since we know and acknowledge we are emotional beings, we should know that human connections are vital to our existence and our mental well-being. Allowing ourselves to be emotional with the people we care about and love means we are being vulnerable. Vulnerability isn’t always comfortable but it fosters honesty and deepens our connection. We weren’t created to be alone so having those intimate connections to people helps us connect to ourselves and in turn helps us open up our hearts and mind to love, compassion, consideration, empathy and so many things we need to thrive.
Connecting can be anything from weekly phone calls to your grandmother; a monthly brunch with best friends; a group chat with your siblings or tribe. It can be as simple as a text letting them know they’re on your mind. Don’t over think it.
When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there? ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Life is busy, yes, but we owe it to ourselves to be present and aware of the beauty all around. We deserve to be emotionally and mentally healthy. Mindfulness is one of many practices that can help us live our best lives. B! Present, good people.
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.