Like surely there is only so much one brain can handle processing, juggling, and coping with at one given time, right??
That was definitely ME this past few weeks. So much so that I didn’t even finish this email you are reading right now (it was supposed to be last Sunday’s Snack…but it turned into the one ball that I dropped.)
You see I wear A LOT of hats in my Mary Baker Wellness World. I’m a Life Reinvention Coach working one-on-one with clients weekly. I’m a yoga & mindfulness teacher and lead group and private sessions both in person and virtually each week. And, I’m co-founder of a small nonprofit called Be Well Therapy, Inc. which offers yoga & mindfulness for cancer recovery.
Last weekend we held our BIG Be Well Gala fundraising event, so on top of all my normal day-to-day juggling, I was juggling what felt like about 10 extra balls. Holding a Gala event for 120 guests is like a wedding and a 3-ring circus all rolled into one.
Can you say scrambled egg brains?
Oh, and I recently enrolled in a 10-week training that I’m working on to learn how to create a fully digital course and it’s INTENSE!
So how am I keeping my sh*t together, you ask?
GRACE, BALANCE, AND LETTING GO
Those are the words I remind myself when I start to spin out of control. When my inner perfectionist starts to demand WAY TOO MUCH of me, I stop and breathe. Instead of powering through, allowing myself to become completely spun out and as a result totally cranky and stretched thin - I stop.
Then, I ask myself what I need in that moment. It might be a walk, a nap, or a vigorous Crossfit workout. I stop everything that is making me feel crazy and I take care of myself.
This immediately puts me back in a state of grace (alignment with my heart) and balance both physically and mentally.
Next, I sit down and prioritize. What needs to happen? What are the top 1-3 items I must address and what can be allocated for a less busy day? I also block out time on my calendar so no one can interrupt me during my most productive times of day.
Finally, I remember to remind myself that “I am enough” (one of my go to mantras) and tell myself “good job” for what I did get done.
You see, I’ve learned that being my number one supporter and cheerleader gets me a whole lot further in life and in a much better mental state than that old voice that did nothing but compare, berate, and criticize.
Needing some help creating more life balance?
Let’s get on a call and get you out of chaos and into ease and grace!
As a coach, I try very hard to not give advice. I let my clients take the lead to come up with their own plan of action and I stand by to support, and on occasion, challenge and push them to keep moving forward.
BUT…I’m going to bend my rule a bit today by saying to you that you really need to be meditating! Like every day. It will change your life!
Don’t just take my advice, though. Here’s some awesome research findings on how meditation effects your brain (I LOVE BRAIN RESEARCH!)
Meditation Reduces Activity in the Brain’s “Me Center"
One of the most interesting studies in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down. Several studies have shown that meditation, through its quieting effect on the DMN, appears to do just this. And even when the mind does start to wander, because of the new connections that form, meditators are better at snapping back out of it.
Its Effects Rival Antidepressants for Depression, Anxiety
A review study last year at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. If this sounds low, keep in mind that the effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good. Meditation is, after all an active form of brain training. “A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing,” says Goyal. “But that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.” Meditation isn’t a magic bullet for depression, as no treatment is, but it’s one of the tools that may help manage symptoms.
Just a Few Days of Training Improves Concentration and Attention
Having problems concentrating isn’t just a kid thing – it affects millions of grown-ups as well, with an ADD diagnosis or not. Interestingly but not surprisingly, one of the central benefits of meditation is that it improves attention and concentration: One recent study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people’s focus and memory during the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. In fact, the increase in score was equivalent to 16 percentile points, which is nothing to sneeze at. Since the strong focus of attention (on an object, idea, or activity) is one of the central aims of meditation, it’s not so surprising that meditation should help people’s cognitive skills on the job, too – but it’s nice to have science confirm it. And everyone can use a little extra assistance on standardized tests.
Meditation Reduces Anxiety — and Social Anxiety
A lot of people start meditating for its benefits in stress reduction, and there’s lots of good evidence to support this rationale. There’s a whole newer sub-genre of meditation, mentioned earlier, called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness (now available all over the country), that aims to reduce a person’s stress level, physically and mentally. Studies have shown its benefits in reducing anxiety, even years after the initial 8-week course. Research has also shown that mindfulness meditation, in contrast to attending to the breath only, can reduce anxiety – and that these changes seem to be mediated through the brain regions associated with those self-referential (“me-centered”) thoughts. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to help people with social anxiety disorder: a Stanford University team found that MBSR brought about changes in brain regions involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety.
So, give it a try! And let me know how it goes and how I can support you in this new life changing habit!
HERE YOU GO!
Many days are “good” meditation days. Body settled, mind quiet-ish, and I am able to drop into a place of peace and stillness for at least a good chunk of time. Those days, the timer goes off and it feels as if I’ve only been at it for just a few short minutes. I feel clear, focused, and grounded.
Every day, no matter how my time goes by in my practice, I tell myself “thank you” and I always finish by pulling out my gratitude journal and jotting down three things that are at the top of my list that day.
Although I’ve been teaching yoga for well over a decade, I didn’t add in meditation as a formal practice until several years later. I started out by joining the 21-day meditation challenges that Deepak and Oprah used to do together. I would do a pretty good job hanging in there for all 21-days, but soon after I’d fall off the wagon and drop the daily routine.
Then, I attended a Chopra Meditation Weekend where I received my own personal mantra to meditate with along with a whole lot of great info on how to be a “better meditator”. Again, I stuck with it for a while and definitely started to notice more of the benefits appearing in my life.
It really wasn’t until I met my love, Andy, three years ago that I was really able to settle into a solid (almost) daily routine of meditation. You see, one of the reasons I agreed to go on a first date with him was that he shared with me that he was working his way through a transcendental meditation course at the time we met. I was like, “I gotta meet this guy! He’s into meditation!”
From the very start of our relationship we would sit to meditate at least once a day. Many days we’d walk to the Self Realization Fellowship Gardens and catch a second round. We’d sit on a bench in the shade, holding hands and settle into our breath. It was magical.
Now that we are settled into a more “real life” routine (as compared to the lovey-dovey dating days), we have a pretty solid morning routine that includes a brief stretching routine, a 10-16 minute meditation (no idea why 16 is our magic number), and time to write in our gratitude journals.
I can’t say enough about how lovely it is to have a meditation buddy! Accountability and encouragement are key in creating and sticking with any healthy habits. Grab your partner, a friend, or a kid and give it a try!
Meet Mary Baker ..LIFE COACH, YOGA TEACHER, MINDFULNESS GUIDE, RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST & PEOPLE PLEASER, FEAR CONQUEROR, TRUTH SEEKER, & DREAM WEAVER