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Mindfulness: You Live and You Learn Author: Ashleigh Nalty, PLPC

I think it is safe to say that a majority of people can resonate with the saying “ I wish I knew what I knew now, when I was younger”. On the other hand, most of us are able to surrender those thoughts to clichés such as “you live, and you learn”. Although this phrase may be overused in a sense, it is important to highlight the fact that with living comes learning. Thus, for one to learn, one must “live” so to speak.

Growing up as an athlete was not always easy. In fact, it was a lot more difficult than people may assume. I remember the severe anxiety I experienced weeks before a big competition. I would begin to worry about things such as my eating, sleeping, studying and training habits. The nights before a competition would always be the hardest as I began to anticipate what my performance would entail the next day. Will I choke when it’s performance time? Will I fall? Will I injury myself? Am I not going to be good enough? If only I knew then, what I know now and that is mindfulness.

Many of us struggle with feelings of anxiousness and even feelings of depression. But it is important to understand that feelings of anxiousness stem from anticipating the future or some future event that will likely not happen. On the contrary, feelings of depression stem from dwelling on past events that we cannot change. One thing I have discovered with practicing mindfulness is the art of being present and living in the moment. It’s about embracing the current state of things and understanding that we can change how we feel and how we perceive our lives (for the positive of course) as early as…. NOW. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as easy as it sounds. But with practice, mindfulness becomes a way of life and a way of conquering things we once thought was unbearable.

As we navigate through the journey of life, we learn and acquire certain skills to help us cope with experiences we encounter along the way. I have learned that mindfulness has helped minimize the turbulence in my life and I would love to share four (4) tips for incorporating a mindful way of living.

1. STOP! Just STOP! Take a moment every day and just STOP what you’re doing- Take a moment every day and just breathe. Listen and control the sounds of your breathing. Close your eyes if you can.

2. This also requires you to STOP! But this time, engage all of your senses. What can you see? What do you hear? What can you smell? What do you taste? What are you touching? Take a moment and answer all the above questions.

3. Practice reframing something negative into something positive. For example, you may be upset at something that happened at work. Try looking for at least one positive thing that happened at work and embrace it as much as possible.

4. Spend some time in nature and try to enjoy the ambience. For example, go for a walk or simply lay in a park. While in nature, try answering the questions in tip #2. But just remember to BREATHE.

In short, I hope these tips encourage a more mindful way of living in order to not only minimize the anxiety that life may bring, but to enhance life as a whole.

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