Key Ingredients for Mindful Living

Key Ingredients for Mindful Living

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Andrea M. Chartier MA, LMFT-A

Mindful awareness fuels self discovery and when the road of lifelong wellness gets rocky, it helps to soothe yourself with positive self care practices. How do you do this?  Integrating consistent self care patterns into your lifestyle is the first step in any type of protecting, healing, restoring, growing or solving.

How do you begin down this path? Change needs awareness so, all perspectives mentioned in this post are rooted in this awareness called mindfulness. Combine awareness with discipline and practice and you set yourself up to do some great things for your life.  You’re worth the time and effort.  I promise.

Over time, I have noticed what does the trick at interrupting negative patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior by:

  1. cultivating greater present awareness
  2. positive reframing.

Defining key terms focuses your attention and helps you to refocus if your mind happens to wander, which it will.  Kindly redirect your mind to the present topic, which today is:

Self careidentifies any intentional act to preserve or restore ones physical, mental, emotional, and social/spiritual wellness.

Let’s also define the one process technique I’ve chosen:

Reframe (n).: to establish another way of understanding or viewing anything to being more 

adaptive, useful or meaningful; a different perspective or processing lens 

With awareness, now let’s apply the technique of reframing to our understanding of self care.

1. Food/Diet —> Nutrition

Nutrition (n). the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth

Let’s face it.  Not all food is created equal.  And if it’s food created by splicing, enriching, cooking, tweaking, modifying and enhancing, something has been sacrificed.  Nutrition.  By choosing to learn about food through a nutritional lens, you can bring more awareness to what your body needs to grow and heal.  For instance, when I see a head of broccoli, I see iron.

The word diet has become packed with negative sentiment.  For myself, diet brings up ideas of restriction and loss.  Notice how I am addressing words as being symbolic.  Words are placeholders for experiences, images, thoughts and feelings.  The words we choose matter.  What does diet, food or nutrition mean to you?

2. Sleep —> Rest

Rest (v.) to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength 

Exhaustion has become a national status symbol.  I heard this perspective while watching Brene Brown recount eavesdropping on the elevator conversations of lawyers all morning long… in the name of research.   As a qualitative researcher based out of Houston, she has spent over a decade casting light on the emotions: shame, guilt and fear.  You can access her witty, funny and insightful talks at  Look for: The Power of Vulnerability.  And Brene, truly, truly thank you.

You can learn to rest yourself through meditation or simple mindfulness practice.

Resting your mind and body can help you develop the ability to hold and release strong emotions and feelings without becoming drained by them.  Many people suffer with tense feelings when they do not sleep well or enough, highjacking any chance to rest at all.  This pattern can be correlated to increased chronic, mental and physical illness.  Through meditation, you may also discover that letting go of the idea of sleep will guide you there more quickly. You might experience having more energy even if you’re not getting the full 9 hours of sleep most human bodies need to experience creative, energetic, focused and productive arousal states.

3. Exercise —> Movement

Movement (v.)  an act of changing physical location or position

Many of us have become rigidly patterned around the idea of exercise.  3-4 times per week for 30 minutes.  We gotta get to the gym, on a treadmill, or kill our zumba class.  I’m not saying exercise is bad, I’m saying free, unplanned, unstructured movement is essential.

If you are already doing the mindfulness bit, you might notice that your body just wants to move.  Jump and twirl, shimmy and shake and stretch.  Do it at the office, home, or school.  Movement has an exhaustive list of benefits from releasing years of trauma and tension to helping access the flow states which many entrepreneurs crave for idea generation.  I find Zilker park right here in gorgeous Austin, Tx. to be one of the most inspiring places to feel, see and do movement.

4. Social Support—>Empathy—> Connection 

The word social support is already positive and can be expanded on.

I was unable to locate a suitable definition of connection for the intention self care.  Instead, I sought relationship science father, Dr. Daniel Siegel’s understanding of connection.  

Have you ever felt lonely in a crowded room or that painful disconnection and feeling of abandonment in seemingly intimate relationships? Often times we miss connection with others because we do not understand that we are fueling disconnection instead.  Practicing empathy is a way to cultivate being with others in a way that feels connective.

Being empathic requires that you be vulnerable.  Brene Brown helps us to understand that vulnerability is a powerful choice.  When we begin to embrace vulnerability as good, we may then experience that connection we all crave.  

Going from one version of yourself to a healthier version takes time.  If you are on a path to enhancing your wellness, communication and relationships, what I have talked about today has helped guide my clients and my own journey.  A simple word reframes help you to understand how the language you use affects you. Cultivating more awareness for your language can support the kind of lasting change you desire.  Please consider me a resource and reach out with your perspective for some open dialogue.  I hope you find value in this post.  Thank you for reading. If you would like assistance in learning and practicing mindful living, you can read about personal growth counseling or make a counseling appointment. We are here to help! Additionally, if you liked this post and would like to read more about growth, you can check out What is Self Compassion? and Activities to Promote Self-Esteem.