Feeling burnt out? Worn down? Old negative habits cropping up that you just can’t seem to get a handle on? If your mind has been racing with a never-ending to-do list or your stress is simply feeling out of control — it may be time to shake things up a little. When life gets busy usually the first thing to get put on the back burner is taking care of our mental health. The thing is, when we fail to slow down, it catches up to us and can negatively affect our well-being. So today, I invite you to be inspired by these five quotes that will hopefully set you on your path to take the steps you may need to live a more mindful and joyous life.
Before moving into the quotes below, If you’re interested in learning more about Mindfulness at Ashton College, learn more at the link here.
1.“When you really pay attention, everything is your teacher” — Ezra Bayda
According to research, our attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds today. In some ways, this comes as a startling statistic, but in others, not really.
With technology constantly knocking on our door saying, “hey, check me! I’ve got something interesting for you! New post! New post! New message!” it is no wonder that we now have the same attention span as a goldfish.
And the saddest thing about this all? While we are busy being distracted, we miss the opportunity for our greatest lessons. With strengthened attention, we can look up long enough and listen attentively enough for us to witness magical moments. The moments when our parents share their wisdom with us, our kids discover something new at the park, or the changes in nature from winter to spring.
In meditation, we turn down distractions and create the opportunity to challenge our attention. We do this by staying focused, be it on our breath, on our body, or a mantra; noticing the details that often go unnoticed.
2. “Let go and flow is the formula for a joyous life” — Deepak Chopra
The ability to let go is a key skill both in preventing oneself from getting into and stepping out of unhelpful cycles.
A story I love that illustrates how our clinging to the past causes our suffering goes as follows:
A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a young woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side. The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to go near a woman. Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey. The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.
Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?” The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”
This story illustrates how much of our pain is the pain that we choose to hold on to. By carrying our anger, resentment, and shame, from the past, we create pain in our present moment. The act of letting go and moving on is powerful for finding freedom from our suffering.
3.“Acceptance is not passivity. It is a courageous step in the process of transformation.” — Jack Kornfield.
What does it mean to accept in the face of adversity? Does it mean giving up? Defeat? Weakness? In the practice of mindfulness, the answer is no. Mindfulness leaders identify acceptance as one of the four principles for mindful transformation of difficulties.
In the practice of acceptance, we put down our boxing gloves and in doing so, we can begin to truly address our challenges productively and proactively.
When we walk around without the openness to accept the realities in our life (our health, our relationships, our career, our identity), we carry a load on our backs that otherwise would not be there. As an avid backpacker, I can attest to the lighter your pack, the easier it is to navigate the terrain. In the practice of acceptance, we start the process of unloading the weight on our backs, to get to our desired destination.
Although challenging, and often counter-intuitive, by accepting the situations in our life, we can loosen the grip of resentment, anger, and sorrow, and as such have more energy and vitality for peace and presence.
4.“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn
There is no shortage of times that we miss moments of magic that are right in front of us, simply because we’re consumed by our thoughts; the smell of fresh air, the taste of a meal, the smile of a friend, or the words of a loved one.
The practice of mindful presence is one of becoming fully alive to the now. Where the thoughts of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow become background noise to what is occurring in the now. Becoming mindfully present requires that we tune in to the power of our senses. Connecting with what we feel, hear, taste, smell, and see in the present moment.
In mindful presence, there is an invitation to start to pay attention, on purpose, without judgment, in the now. And the wonderful thing is, we can do it at any time, with any activity during the day. What does it feel like to wash the dishes? To do the laundry? To walk your pet? To lay on the couch with your partner?
5.“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges” — Bryant McGill
What does calm feel like for you? Perhaps it is the feeling of lying on the beach with a book in hand or skiing down a mountain with the wind rushing past you, or maybe it is sitting and having a meaningful conversation with a friend.
In the practice of meditation, we sit to cultivate calm. We remind ourselves that there is nowhere we need to be, nothing we need to do, and nothing that we can or should control in this moment. In this practice, we begin to train our mind and body to release the past and relinquish the future.
Through this training, we can learn how to face the challenges life presents us with a greater sense of calm and clarity. Which in turn, is better for our health and the health of our relationships. Just like going to the gym to get bigger muscles, we must show up regularly to our seats to strengthen this practice in our daily lives.
Written by Andrea Zimmering