A Beginner’s Guide: 4 Things I Did To Bring Mindfulness Into My Stressful Life
I’m one of those people who [used to] live in their anxiety. But now, I’ve gotten a little better at taking care of it and taking care of myself before it starts. Almost anything can immediately stress me out if I feel like I’m out of control or when I start circling about whether something was the right decision. It weighs heavily on a soul I tell myself I’m nurturing while throwing stressors on it.
I had always been curious about mindfulness and spirituality, but growing up in a Catholic home, I was always nervous it was “against” my religion. Finally, last year, when New York City stressors finally got the best of me, I found myself wandering into a crystal shop. From there, I started an exploration into what my version of mindfulness would look like over the next year as a true beginner in the space. Today, I am still not remotely close to an expert, but I wanted to share my experience for anyone else that’s going through a similar life stage where they’re seeking some type of release for their anxiety.
I had no idea what to expect when I walked into my first crystal store. What I did know is that I immediately felt at peace, even in a place that felt so unfamiliar to me. The vibes of everyone in the store radiated hope and the scents lingering between the walls soothed my heart. I had briefly read about crystals before but was still unclear. I circled the table three times before finally picking one up. Nothing. I tried two more, thinking I was doing something wrong.
Finally, I found one that instantly warmed in my hand. I smiled. I continued my search, hoping to find 1-2 more to learn about. By the time I found my second crystal, the first made my palm profusely sweat. I knew that meant I really needed that one. In the end, I walked out with a Botswana Agate, a Blue Calcite, and an Amethyst.
I still wasn’t sure what to do with them but I was excited to read about them. I was shocked by the agate’s healing properties – it was exactly what I needed. And the caliphate? I was looking for a job at the time so a stone for communication was a no-brainer. Plus, everyone can use the power of an amethyst in their lives. These stones now sit on my window sill, or in my pocket if I’m traveling. I’ve gone back to the crystal store a few times when there was something more I needed. I’ve cleansed them and while I can’t pinpoint their effects, I know I feel more at peace with them near me.
In one visit to the crystal store, I splurged on a chakra healing oil. With its overpowering lavender appeal, it smelled like the end of a yoga class when the whole world melted away beneath your mat. This is something I use with my meditation practice, during breath work, while traveling, and in a stressful moment at work. It’s truly scented magic. I now also added incense to my morning routine. While coffee used to be my savior, this smoky ritual calms my nerves and helps me prepare for the day. This might not be common practice, but it’s my own and it feeds my soul each new day (still paired with coffee).
There was a point last year where I felt like I had hit rock bottom – a quarter-life crisis. I was constantly stressed and taking it out on the world. I was researching ways to clear my aura after a horrible psychic experience and started considering the art of Reiki. I was nervous but intrigued. It was also expensive but I was desperate for a semblance of harmony and balance. I bought a Groupon and entered into, what I consider, a turning point in my spiritual journey.
The full experience of Reiki is something that requires an article on its own. What I can say, is that, while I didn’t see colors or visions, the cleanse had affected my heart and soul on a very deep level. As a natural skeptic and a naïve hopeful, I ended up hugging the healer and sat in my car for fifteen minutes releasing all the energy that had had its time in my heart. I let go.
This is by far the hardest part of my spiritual journey because my thoughts are constantly racing. I try it, stop, try it again, and stop again. I often feel discouraged when I get distracted or when I let the outside world seep into the one in my mind. Through a recent group meditation, I learned I’m not the only one that struggles with this. It’s normal. It’s okay.
The key is not to point blame at yourself and add to the anxiety. Forgive yourself. Practice. It’s the comforting routine that will eventually lead to a clearer mental path.
Even if it’s a short stint of breath work before doing something you know is going to be stressful. Now? This thing for me is commuting in New York City. It’s known evoke anxiety and psychologists even agree about meditation as a solution! Before? It was driving in Miami, where if people were more mindful they might avoid stressful events like more traffic accidents. This could not only save lives but reduce the financial toll distracted driving is taking on society today. I’ve struggled with meditation but doing it in a group helped. The best one yet was a sound meditation. The frequencies of the gong help transcend you to a calm place in your mind and it’s truly an experience that lets you float with your breath.
Thankfully, I had discovered yoga years ago during a traumatic breakup. It saved me then, and it continues to save me now. I’ve come to absolutely need yoga in my life. If I don’t go once a week, I feel my entire body and mental state is off. It centers me and helps guide me through the daily flows of the weeks and months. I discovered my favorite yoga studio in NYC when I first moved and it never disappoints. Although, another is a close second thanks to the colorful and community-oriented atmosphere. Every time I attend a class, I am transformed into a better version of myself by the end of it.
Yoga helps me relax, focus on my breath, dance within movements, and really practice self-care in a healing way that also keeps me in shape. Power yoga being my favorite, I still greatly enjoy vinyasa, yin yoga, and restorative (typically on Sundays).
While I continue to embark on this journey, I look forward to learning more along the way about mindfulness and about myself. I’m excited to have opened up to this spiritual adventure, and the tamed anxiety is proof that it is working. As a final thought, it is important to note is that anxiety and stress are normal and they should be talked about. Breaking the taboo around mental health is a conversation we can all be a part of to lead us to a more mindful and more manageable future.
From a beginner, I wish you luck on your own journey.
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