I will start with this disclaimer: Sunny mindfulness doesn’t need to be cheerful.
One of my favorite things to do is when it’s not roasting outside, is sit in the sun and get a warm Vitamin D bath. Last week I turned sitting into the sun into a mindfulness practice. So let’s get started.
Find a place, any place that is sunny, where you can comfortably sit or stand.
Get comfortable, but not so comfortable that you fall asleep.
Start with three deep breaths. All the way into your belly. Make these good, long breaths to help your body slow down.
Roll your shoulders, and gently shift your head from side to side. Wiggle your arms at your side, wiggle your toes and stretch out your legs. Now relax.
Notice where the sun is falling on your body. Is it everywhere or just certain parts? How does it feel? Is it warming you up or do you barely notice it?
Wherever it feels good, breathe into that space. Focus on the sensations in your body by scanning your body from the tip of your toes to the top of your scalp.
Enjoy this moment. Be grateful that you have time to stop and be present.
Listen to the message of your body. Notice where you feel pressure, aches, warmth, coolness, any feeling at all. Notice it, but don’t worry about it. All you need to do now is enjoy the sunshine.
Stay here until you want to move into the next moment of your beautiful life. Once that moment arrives, take a deep breath. Visualize the air moving down into your belly filling you up with delicious oxygen. Watch as it moves up your stomach, through your lungs, into your throat and then set it free.
Wish yourself well, thank the sun, and be on your way.
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As I embark on an adventure in Costa Rica, I have started journaling what I need for the next six weeks. Whether you are going on an adventure or just need more support in your daily life, I encourage you to start journaling. Write and manifest the support you need for your emotional and physical health.
What do I need to feel loved?
Am I receiving sufficient support from myself?
Which of my needs require support from others?
Who can I call for support when I feel sad or apathetic?
Which people in my network are able to support specific goals?
How can I reach out to my support system? Via phone, text, email or in person?
How much alone time do I need and how much socializing do I need?
Which self-care tools do I enjoy the most?
Do I need to set stronger boundaries? If so, where?
These are just a handful of questions that can help you focus on what you need. You don’t have to answer all at once, but the deeper you dive into your self-care/recovery work the more you benefit. This is a journal prompt you can do more than once. Bookmark this page in your journal to remind you that is okay, in fact it is necessary to feel supported and to ask for support when you need it.
Peace and hugs, Leah
If you like this journal prompt, you can read more on my Patreon page. You can have access to even more once you become a patron. Be sure to check out the rewards you can receive when you pledge $3 or more each month.
Despite the years of heart-work I have put into healing, life is bumpy and I feel it. Things happen that cause me to feel sad and concerned. It’s a slippery slope that I’m well aware of. If I don’t take action, I will slide down into that dark valley of depression. Phuck that! I spent enough time down there, now I’m scaling mountain peaks!
One way I can do this, is by listening to my body and honoring what I need. Sometimes I need to rest and sometimes I need to move!
So yesterday when I woke up feeling sad, homesick and a little queasy, I chose movement as my boost. I walked around the park, played a few favorite songs, and stretched along the way. By the end of the walk, I was feeling balanced again. Once I start moving, my body gets happy and then it tells my mind to get happy and then I can focus or face off on what is most important. Movement has been working great the past few years. I dance more, sometimes even in public, I stretch regularly and I move when my body feels tight.
I also rest when I need to. So if your low energy or sadness is spurred by being everything and doing everything, make yourself slow down. Take a nap, go to bed earlier or sleep in later. Your body needs to rest! The older you get, the more rest it needs.
If you’re serious about depression, you also need to watch what you consume. Soda is out and vegetable juice is in!Eat vitamin rich foods. Especially make sure you take Vitamin D & B. Those can really help your energy level.
So if you are feeling low energy, listen to what your body needs. Healing depression is a whole-self journey. It’s mental, physical and emotional. Let yourself explore what feels good and what wears you out. Decide for yourself what you need, don’t just rely on what works for someone else. Healing starts with you!
PS. If you want more support, I created a free e-course to help with depressionD.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression. Its FREE, you don’t have to sign up or pay. I created it because I know the pain of depression.
I’m an artist & writer on a mission to bring healing arts into the mainstream. If you would like to support my heart work, please consider becoming a patron at Patreon.com/Loviedo. For $1 a month, you will support the following projects:
When I decided to take control of my life by healing my depression, I let go of several hard-worn habits that caused me to feel bad. Along with these habits went a few friends as well. Previously, my life was centered around instant gratification, fun and material gain without much depth. That made me feel miserable. It actually exasperated my depression because I was just focusing on short-term joys. As I began to focus more on hobbies and interests that gave me a sense of accomplishment and inner peace I deposited my old interests in the memory bank.
Well wouldn’t you know, when I changed, my friends didn’t magically change along with me. We quickly grew apart though I tried to hang on to them for longer than I needed because comfort is addicting and change is scary. A few of those friends I still keep in touch with, but we’re not as close as before because we have such different life pursuits.
Before I left on an extended vacation (a gift of unemployment) two years ago, a wise friend gifted me the book “Steering by Starlight” by Martha Beck. This book of self-realization resonated with me immediately. So much of it is full of ideas and actions I’ve been working on and that have helped me along the way. Her encouragement to look at the stars and be our own “Stargazer”, “Mapmaker” and “Pathfinder” is fantastic. I recommend getting a copy. Along with what I knew before opening the book I’m also learning new actions to help me stay focused on my true North. In the last chapter, “Leading Your Life” she talks about the fact that just because we change doesn’t mean everyone around else will embrace the changes and in fact some may react strongly against our new self. Her advice for this stage of our growth process is “sustaining calm, fearless affection” in our relationships.
“Instead of defending ourselves by counter attacking and riling up our ego-induced anger, we should recognize that our loved ones are in fact scared of losing us and unsure how to deal with that fear. They probably aren’t purposely trying to be mean. By staying centered and choosing reassuring words we can calm their fear and lead them along with us on the journey.” Read more of Martha’s advice on her blog: http://Marthabeck.com
My book, “D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression” is available through Amazon; available as both an e-book and a paperback.
If you’re suffering from depression I strongly encourage you to seek help. If you can’t afford a therapist find a supportive mentor, teacher or healer who can help you discover inner peace. Healing is possible IF you are open and willing to commit to a self-care plan.
Healing my depression has been my Persephone’s journey from a cold winter to a spring rebirth. After seventeen years, it had been so long since I felt any sense of pure joy, of deeply knowing myself. If you haven’t been depressed I can’t explain with words how debilitating it is. Being depressed for so long caused me a menagerie of problems and illness that continue to affect my life to this day.
Every time I hear of someone who killed themselves by suicide because of their depression, I realize how extremely lucky I am to have found a healing path. In honor of the lives lost and all those who carry that weight, I have created a free e-course to help people start their healing journey.
Even if you only have a feeling that someone is depressed, you should share this with them. You just might save their life.
Statistics show us that 1 in 4 people in the USA suffer from depression. That number is too high! I know we can lower this number f we are open to being more compassionate and less judgmental of mental illness. Let’s heal together! Are you with me?
Creating this e-course has taken years of diligent work and I’m so excited to share it with the world! I’ve spent quite a bit of time and money to get here, including becoming certified in mental health first aid, research, advocacy and outreach. If you would like to support this healing work, please consider becoming a monthly patron on Patreon. For as little as $3 a month, you can fund the program and support future creative healing projects, like my upcoming book about creating a self-love revolution.
Whenever you start to feel unwanted feelings or need a reason to get up out of bed it helps to have healthy reminders that inspire you.
Write yourself love notes and leave around your house, room, office space, even your wallet.
Find inspiring poems and quotes that give you a sense of healing and purpose.
Cover your walls with art and colors that brighten your mood.
One of my favorite writings about emotions is ‘The Guest House’ by Rumi. A good friend and mentor shared it with me and I read it often to remind me to allow myself to feel what I need to heal.
“This being human is a guest house. Each morning a new arrival. A joy, depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of all it’s furniture, still treat each guest honorably. She/He may be clearing you out for some new delight.” – Rumi
There are different methods for mindfulness and my favorites usually center around being very still and silent. I also love taking mindful walks which allow me to see what I usually rush past. Mindful walks are especially fun in new places. What better way to connect with a place then by consciously looking, feeling and listening to what surrounds you?
Grounding is helpful when I’m feeling anxious or rushed, but need to be present. Often before I began in the garden I practice grounding so I can focus on being present and enjoying the activity instead of contemplating every single little thing that needs to be completed. To ground is rather simple. Start by noticing your breath. Is it rapid, all over the place or slow and steady? Began slow, deep breathing. I find that taking three deep inhales and exhales helps me ground.
From here I choose one of my favorite breath movements or affirmations:
Visualize your favorite place: Bring it to life in your mind by focusing on as many little details as you can recall. Perhaps it’s a mountain meadow full of flowers, your favorite café with walls covered in art or a sanctuary space you retreat into. It can even be a place you’ve never visited. Use your imagination to create and bring to life a safe space. Your mind will drift this way and that so to stay in this safe space you can try focusing on your breathing.
Notice your breathing. If it is erratic or you’re feeling anxious, slow down your breathing. Sometimes it helps me to mentally say “Breathe In/Aspirar” with each in breath and “Breathe Out/ Espirar” with each out breath. You can also count your breaths. I like to count to 100 and then count backwards to one.
Use repetitive intentions: I choose a word or sentence to describe my intention and mentally say it with each breath. For example you can choose to breathe in awareness. So with each breath say “breathing in awareness” followed by “breathing out awareness”. If I’m having trouble falling asleep because of all the thoughts in my head I mentally repeat the sentence “Rest in silence and stillness.”
Make noise: Create a humming noise like “Om”. I like to use this when I cannot concentrate because it forces me to consciously continue making the noise. Sometimes I will need to do this for a few minutes and then I can focus on my breathing or counting.
Use movement meditation: If you have a lot of energy like I do or if you’re feeling very unsettled, try a walking meditation. I love to do this when I feel a lot of pent up energy. I choose two to three words to continuously repeat, I carry a bracelet of wooden beads to move with my fingers and I pace back and forth in my room or walk around a park. This creates a rhythm to help me stay focused.
Circle Affirmation: My peaceful thoughts become peaceful words, become peaceful actions, become peaceful thoughts, become peaceful words, become peaceful actions, become peaceful thoughts…
Now if you’re feeling grounded you can start a new task or continue on with your activities. If you’re still feeling ungrounded then start over with the deep breaths or try sitting/standing in silence.
“Awareness of the present moment clears away mental obstacles.”