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Mindfulness Thoughts from a Non-Meditator

breathing habits meditation mindfulness present running self improvement Apr 19, 2021

“Meditation isn’t about escaping my thoughts. It’s about feeling myself exist.” -Annie Forest


First- Have you read the last two blogs about Mindfulness and Meditation? Click HERE and HERE to check out those posts.


Second- When I read that quote I had to take a step back and consider the implications. The idea that Meditation isn’t about escape or reaching some plane of existence where everything is magical and illuminated is so comforting. That meditation and mindfulness can be about self awareness, intuition and presence takes away so much pressure on the practice. It also brings me back to a very specific time in my life.


Annie shared her story of fatigue, injury and personal relationships. Well, reading her story it really resonated. About a decade ago I was in a very toxic work environment. Without going into too much detail the place left me exhausted, underappreciated, depressed and angry. All. the. Time. I was just a mean person. I snapped at my family and that was before I pushed them away, I alienated myself from most of my friends and made excuses that I needed to work instead of going to important events. 


I still regret not taking a weekend off to fly out to a friend’s wedding. I have no memory of what I even did at work that day, but to miss a celebration because of a job I hated….


Worst of all? I despised who I was, what I looked like and how I felt. So I let myself escape into work because I was good at it. I had job offers many places around town for the same position and I knew I was good at what I did. It allowed me to escape and to feel like I had competency in at least one aspect of my life. 


A few years ago my mother was very ill, deathbed ill. Before I traveled to take care of her for a few weeks I took a walk and I really thought. I paused and listened. I listened to my heart, my brain and the body I was living in. It took some time but eventually I found my way through a complete body, career and outlook change. Because the thought that I had lost so much time to a job that made me feel disgusting and life is not endless, terrified me. I envisioned a different future, an existence that I enjoyed. 


Now. Hearing that story you may ask, what the hay does that have to do with meditation and mindfulness.


Remember Annie’s words? 


“Meditation isn’t about escaping my thoughts. It’s about feeling myself exist.” 


I’ve been acting that way for a while now, without really having a word for it. When I go running, I like to think of it as my own form of meditation. I think. And I think A LOT on my runs. I allow myself to ponder strategies I might want to take with clients, maybe the dinner I want to cook later and I sort through those sticky financial situations. I envision and process personal relationship issues and the feeling of loneliness I often get without a partner. Most importantly my thoughts allow me to feel more organized. 


When I get done with my “meditation runs,” I feel calm yet energized, centered and also ready. What I don’t feel? Anger at situations I cannot control, displeasure with my body or my performance. And I don’t feel alone. I feel like me. 


So what am I getting at? Mindfulness and meditation is what you need it to be to feel like you. Pay attention to this because it’s important. 


If you go around in life without being able to know yourself, how can you know anyone else? We are social creatures, and being able to connect with others, our environment and our lives starts with the relationship we have with ourselves. If you like being around yourself, loneliness isn’t debilitating and being alone is restorative. 


Welp, great. You now know the answer to why mindfulness, (or should we call it self-awareness...) is important, now that leaves us with how the hay do we get started?

    1. Get to know your body. It is hard to look internally if you don’t feel like you have control externally. So touch your skin. Feel your hair. Move every joint in your body and without judgement. That’s the important part. Start small and hold your own hands and explore the sensation.
    2. Take a personality test!!! Yes. Do it. A few months ago the Forest Coaching team did this and I gained so much insight into how I work best, and what my own preferences are. Surprise...I like schedules and “am a Champion of due diligence, resources, and efficient systems and processes.” After taking this test my anxiety levels dropped significantly. I know that following a schedule is best for how I work, I am not what anyone would call “spontaneous.” This assessment was pivotal in helping me create healthy boundaries with work and life. 
    3. Be curious. Hope is great, having hope and expectations for a specific outcome has its place, however, in the search for mindfulness curiosity has the power to allow for exploration without end. Are you the same person you were one year ago? A month ago? This morning? Hoping for an end or an outcome in the practice of mindfulness is kind of like hunting for snipes. The process and the practice are the goal.  


  • Hunt for skills, not PRs. If you’ve ever taken a kettlebell class with me, you know that I constantly say that strength is a skill. That movement should feel good. That speed and distance is not the truth of running, walking or hiking. Skills and adaptability within a practice are liberating. I may not be able to press the heaviest kettlebell, but I do know that skill work is far more beneficial in longevity in my sports than brute force. 


  1. Listen. And this is a departure from Annie’s encouragement to listen to your own body. Do that. When you’re ready. If you’re struggling with listening to yourself, listen to those around you. Look them in the eye and allow the content of their words, body language and the rhythm of their voice to connect you with their experience. Create empathy for others to nurture that same skill internally. 


As Annie mentioned, meditation is inconvenient and hard. So let me ask you this, which is more difficult, living each day to get to the next or waking up and experiencing the world and yourself as you are? Start small. Start where you are and be curious. 

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