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11 Ways to Practice Mindfulness without Meditation
Since recovering from the worst day of my life, I’ve mapped out the exact methods I’ve used to create lasting change in my own life. That’s why I’m excited to announce my brand-new weekly self-help podcast, “Catching Your Breath.”
Changing my life hasn’t been easy – nothing worth doing is ever that easy. But learning to silence my inner-critic, practice self-care, and cultivate a courageous life of vulnerability has transformed me from the inside out.
I know these methods work in creating a life of substance, depth, peace, and intention. You can do practical, actionable things to build a life of calm right now. It’s not just a dream – you can map it out and quickly feel the waters of inner peace wash over your soul.
You can actually go to CatchingYourBreath.com right now and click on the podcast link at the top of the page to listen to the intro episode right now, plus a bonus episode on dealing with holiday stress. The first official episode airs January 1st. I hope you’re as excited as I am!
So, why the change?
In a word: clarity.
As I went through the process of writing Catching Your Breath, I slowly but surely became as clear as I’ve ever been on who I am, what I believe, and what I want to do with my life.
The short and sweet of it is this: I’m a human. I believe all people matter. And I want to spend my life helping others embrace the sacred journey from chaos to calm.
The previous podcast was a little confusing for folks because we covered everything from general self-help tips to politics to religion and abuse and spirituality to meditation and Bible study and everything in between.
I think people weren’t quite sure what to expect.
So, with the launch of “Catching Your Breath: The Podcast,” you can expect 30-minute episodes, laser-focused on self-help, self-compassion, and self-care. I’m going to take the principles from the book and make them as practical and action-oriented as possible for people just like you. I’m also going to be creating a weekly action guide for each episode: a free download you can take and apply to your own individual situation in the form of journals, worksheets, and checklists.
If you’re living an extraordinary, ordinary life, I am going to teach you how to cultivate calm in everything you do. Think of it as a weekly breath of fresh air.
How does that sound?
If you’re ready to shift your thought processes and begin the journey from chaos to calm, I’d love for you to join me.
Here’s what I can tell you right now: the process of transforming yourself is going to take time. Don’t rush it. The sacred journey from chaos to calm doesn’t happen overnight. You need to reinforce positive messages within yourself, and you have to do it frequently.
Over time, the positive thoughts will take center stage and push the negative ones out, or at least, make them show up less often. It’s all about learning to retrain your brain.
Don’t get discouraged if you revert to your old ways when you’re first starting out with changes like this. Remember, you’ve been thinking and living this way, probably your whole life. This negativity and the destructive thoughts have been ingrained in you for a long, long time.
Breaking habits like this will take time. It’s not impossible. But changing habits takes some effort on your part. No magic habit-changing pill will suddenly turn you into a positive person who looks for the silver lining in every scenario you face.
You just keep doing the hard work and keep an open mind. Better days are coming, friend. Don’t be afraid of the changes.
When I started writing Catching Your Breath, I knew I’d have to get really honest. No pretense. No masks. Strip it all away and get nekkid.
So I did.
And since the book released in October, I’ve had what Brene Brown would call a “vulnerability hangover.” So, I’ve been pretty quiet about my personal life lately, choosing to focus on creating courses and self-help topics, rather than the deep things that roll around in my soul on a regular basis.
It’s safer that way, I say to myself.
Just market yourself as the expert.
You won’t offend as many people if you’re not so personal.
You’ll ostracize yourself less.
Give the personal stuff a rest - you deserve a break.
As a result, I’ve been avoiding my emotions. I do it really well.
I’ve chosen to listen to and encourage others in their pain and confusion and sense of being “stuck,” while ignoring my own needs and watching my soul wither in the process. Pouring myself out, and wondering why my cup feels constantly empty. One friend calls it "compassion fatigue."
The emotions bubble up, and I swallow them back down and move forward.
Keep writing. Put your ass back in that chair and get to work, mister.
This might be a strange way to describe it, but my soul feels sad. Sort of like the grape that’s been left too long in the noonday sun without access to whatever gives it life and fullness, and all that’s left is a wrinkly raisin.
And who really likes raisins?
I’m not in a dark place. I’m mentally well. I’m healthy. I’m happier than ever in the roles that matter most in my life: husband and daddy. What I’m struggling with is my lack of feeling connected to a larger community. My friend Stephanie says the desire to belong is innate, and she’s right: I’m feeling like I don’t belong. And that makes me sad.
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great…” -Maya Angelou
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Living in the middle is a real struggle.
The natural question that follows is, in the middle of what?
It feels like being in the middle of everything, and nothing. It’s a feeling of being “stuck”. Of fitting everywhere and nowhere all at once.
I feel in the middle politically (socially liberal AF, but fiscally conservative). One part of me is incredibly passionate about social justice and matters of equality. And the other part of me is so sick of the fighting and protests and all the yelling.
There’s a side of me that wants to shut down all my extracurriculars, work my predictable 9-5 job, pay my bills, and be left alone. No more sharing. No more trying to help. No more believing that I might have something to say. But there’s another side of me with a real desire to lead and encourage.
My strongest desire of all? To belong.
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Theologically, I’m in the middle of not knowing. One the one hand, I’m desperate to believe in the Eternal Something that is greater than me. And on the other hand, I don’t want to debate theology. I’d really LOVE to belong to a small group of some kind, but I’m so scared of getting involved because we live in a time when everyone feels the need to poke holes in your perspective and try to “save” you. I'm not looking for that.
I just want to belong somewhere, just as I am, Billy Graham.
I’d really like to go to a Christmas Eve Candlelight service this year, but I’d like for no one to assume that it means I believe in a virgin birth or worship White Jesus. I’d love to sing, “O Holy Night” and embrace the beauty of Advent. But if it’s just for the sake of nostalgia, is that okay?
I miss the days when Brennan Manning's Ragamuffin Gospel was tangible and as refreshing as a glass of sweet iced tea. I could sense God with me all the time, even in the midst of the mess. And as much as I’d love for my spiritual life to feel that sweet and simple again, right now it doesn’t.
I know in the deepest part of my being that I’m still loved by God (whatever that means), that I am the beloved. I think my problem is that I get stuck in my head way too often, and don’t allow myself to live from the center of my heart. I really struggle to just let my mind rest. It’s not easy for me to let my spirit breathe. I’m always trying to figure out the formula. (And what if there isn’t a formula at all?)
I think this could be the greatest gift of a safe community: the invitation to get out of our own heads and live from a place of love. But people are scary!
Oy, the struggle is real.
Finding myself in the middle - more hungry for kindness than to be proven right - is a really lonely place. All around me, everyone is taking sides. Fighting for their particular thing, and many of them are just and worthy fights. But I don’t see many people being willing to simply stand in the middle, choosing to listen to the angry ones as well as the wounded ones. Yet that’s precisely the place where I feel called: to respect and embrace the humanity of everyone.
This shit is not easy.
I don’t want to fight anymore. I’m exhausted from all the ways we’re told to care about every single thing. I’m tired of every ant hill being turned into somebody’s mountain. I’m bone tired from all the demonizing of “the other.” My soul is weary because I genuinely believe there is no “other,” just a thousand different faces, born of the same Source. That we all belong.
There is no “other,” just a thousand different faces, born of the same Source. We all belong.
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All We Need is Love
I also don’t want to have to prove myself to you. I don’t need my theology or politics to be right. I also don’t have a desire to prove you wrong. There was a season when I wanted to fight, but these days I just want to love and be loved in return. I want to sit around the table and break bread and drink grape juice (or pizza with Jack and Coke) and embrace our shared humanity. I want to look you in the eyes and find our common ground. I want to love people til it hurts, but I’m not sure where I belong right now. I don’t know what to do with that.
Isn’t a sense of belonging central to our humanity? In the most tribal parts of our brains and heritage, don’t we desperately need the assurance that we belong somewhere? Is there a place, community, or shared conversation, for those of us who land in the middle?
In this wobbly, uncertain season of my life, what I’d love more than anything is to belong to a community where safety, empathy, and kindness are the foundation of everything that happens, where we have honest conversations around the issues that really matter. And sometimes we just sit and rest in the knowledge that every little thing is gonna be alright.
I’d love to have access to regular doses of honesty, stillness, and a community that embraces one another exactly as we are. No “man” with all the answers. Just friends who sit around on couches or at coffee shops or bars and listen. Listen with the goal of learning, not converting. Listen from a place of curious compassion. Listen so we can love better. Listen because we genuinely care about the soul of another. Listen, because we’re sick of all the talking points. Listen because everything and everyone belongs. Just listen.
I’d like to land there - softly, quietly - without a lot of fanfare. And just be welcomed, gently.
I don’t know where I fit. But could I sit next to you?
6 Tips for Starting Over – Rather watch instead of read? Click the video below!
Before we ever move into the New Year, we have to let go of our yesterdays.
Letting go of anything can be painful. You may need to let go of a person or an idea that you’ve held on to for years, but now know that they’re negative forces in your life and you must let go or suffer consequences.
Before you take action to rid yourself of yesterday’s baggage, you must be willing to accept the changes that your new beginning will bring. You need to open up to the possibilities that lie ahead and not hang on to the bad memories and actions of the past.
You may be letting go of some bad habits in your life such as unhealthy eating, smoking or saying goodbye to a job that no longer holds a bright future for you. Intellectually, you may know that you have to let go in order to experience progress, but actually taking action is difficult.
When you’re finding it hard to let go of negative areas of your life and make way for new beginnings, here are a few tips that might help:
Accept the past. Whatever you’ve done or been in the past is history. Only until you accept that past can you let go of it and set yourself free to move on to a better future.
Take action by meditating. Meditation may not seem like action, but when you meditate, your brain is working overtime to bring clarity and focus to your life.
Set your goals for the future. Nothing helps get rid of the past like looking toward the future. Align your goals with the life’s purpose you see for yourself.
Don’t think of yourself as a victim of the past. Terrible things may have happened in your past, but when you continue to see yourself as a victim, you’re hanging on to yesterday rather than letting tomorrow guide you down a path of new and better beginnings.
View past mistakes as opportunities. The horrific mistakes you’ve made in the past can be a springboard for making you a better person.
Visualize yourself as the person you want to be. No matter how you want to change from what you were in the past, you’ve got to let go of that old image to begin creating the one you desire.
Believe in yourself and that you can let go of all of yesterday’s regrets and mistakes and make the future brighter. You’re only given this one life, so treat each day as if it was a gift. Unwrap it carefully and with excitement.
This is the kind of thing I’m doing in my 12 Days of Giveaways.
Today’s giveaway is an additional 8 Steps to Starting Over. It’s a brand-new PDF that will help you make 2019 your best year yet.
There are 11 more days of giveaways, so don’t forget to sign up right now. The link is in the description for this video, plus I’m putting it in the comments below. Sign up for FREE, transformative self-help content, right in your inbox!
And don’t forget that my Catching Your Breath Academy sale ends tonight. If you sign up for the annual plan before midnight tonight, CST, you’ll save an additional $40 off the already discounted price.
What is the Catching Your Breath Academy?
As a VIP subscriber, you will gain access to my exclusive courses. Each month, you’ll receive a new self-guided course, based on proven self-help principles.
As a reader of my blog or books, you will now receive added content that only VIP members can see. And can I tell you something? You are going to LOVE these transformative and easy-to-digest courses!
As a subscriber, you gain immediate access to the Catching Your Breath Community on Facebook. Each new member shares an introductory post to build a sense of belonging.
As a member of the Catching Your Breath Community, you’ll have access to other members who are actively working to create calm and success in their personal life. The potential for new friendships and powerful partnerships is unlimited!
Each month, I’ll host a live video in the Catching Your Breath Community, where you can ask questions and have a chance to be coached by me on a topic you’re passionate about. Just imagine the power of someone watching your progress and being personally invested in your success.
In addition to the community, accountability, and coaching, you’ll receive five exclusive self-help articles each Monday, written by me, focused on the current month’s topic.
How it Works:
Members receive approximately 25 lessons per month (1 per day, Monday – Friday). You also have access to community, accountability, and coaching via the Catching Your Breath Community on Facebook.
Friendship is an interesting dynamic. At her high school graduation, my father-in-law told my wife that if she could look back in a few years and count her true friends on one hand, using all five fingers, she should count herself truly blessed. Lindsey comments now on just how odd her father’s statement seemed at the time. But fast-forward about twenty years, and the old man was right.
It’s easy to think we have lots of friends, especially in a social media-driven culture, when you have a few thousand followers on Facebook, and even more on Twitter, but when it comes to real life, we mostly all have lots of acquaintances. Maybe they are acquaintances we are especially fond of for a season, but look at these quotes on the meaning of true friendship:
The last one is my favorite. All sorts of things happen to us that shake and rattle the carton, threatening to crack us. But the true friend chooses to see you entirely, and love you because of, not in spite of, your imperfections and quirks.
Do you have a friend like this?
The ugly truth: chances are, less than 1% of your “friends” on social media are real friends, willing to weather the storms of life with you, sit with you when everything has crumbled, and help you rebuild when you are penniless and desperate.
These days, we are consumed with busyness, bombarded with noise, and the notifications on our smartphones are like a dripping faucet in a silent house, convincing us that the only way to win is to play the comparison game with everyone else. Unfortunately, doing so ensures that everyone loses. We are miserable and exhausted. And despite the fact that 68% of Americans now use Facebook – and 88% of those 18-29 use any and all forms of social media – we are still lonely.
Good news: there is one person who travels with you through every hill and valley, stays with you in the dark night of the soul, and knows your every secret sin and silent hope. That person stares back at you in the mirror each morning, begging you to be his or her true friend.
You may wonder why it is important to believe in yourself. The simple answer is that no one else will. Your spouse and your family will believe in you to a certain extent. However, when times get tough, family support tends to wane. It’s not that they don’t love and care about you. It’s just they stopped believing in you.
While this doesn’t always happen, it happens often enough to cause conflict. An example is when a spouse or parents initially give you support on a new venture. When the venture doesn’t work out as they believe it should, they start to question whether you should continue with it. If your belief starts to weaken, you may take on their way of thinking.
The reason beliefs start to weaken is due to a fear of the unknown. When you start a new venture, everyone is excited for you and will tell you to give it your best shot. However, when the prospects of the business become murkier, that excitement turns to fear.
The problem is the path towards success for these ventures is not a straight line up. Having some bumps in the road is normal. In fact, this is what defines the success of the enterprise, and the people who are taking risks. It should be welcomed and not feared.
The fear of the unknown may start to creep into your psyche. It’s easier to listen to your family and friends tell you to dissolve your venture because it is failing. They will continue down this negative path until you decide to stop. If you do choose to give up on your business, they will tell you that it wasn’t meant to be and that starting a business is difficult.
That time is precisely the moment that you shouldn’t stop. People never get ahead by quitting. If you believe in yourself, you would have had the conviction to see it through. You would have the appropriate guidance to give you strength to surge ahead. You could have done all of it while telling your family and friends to have some faith. A firm belief in yourself would give you the courage to stand up to them.
Whatever venture you decide to pursue, know that only by continuing will you make it work. Think of Thomas Edison’s contribution to the lightbulb. While he did not invent the lightbulb (contrary to popular belief), he made ones that lasted longer. Imagine if he decided to quit after he ran into a few stumbling blocks early on.
You are the only constant throughout your whole life. Are you going to be a friend or foe? A true friend, or just an acquaintance? Are you going to show yourself compassion when life tries to break you, and celebrate every small victory? Call me crazy, but the greatest gift you can offer yourself is the gift of true friendship.
Will you join me today in friending yourself? Here are the requirements to be a true friend to yourself:
Speak to yourself with kindness in all situations.
Listen to your own needs and desires.
Don’t read your own press – good or bad.
Be patient with yourself as you recover from all that has wounded you.
Do whatever you can to care for yourself.
Only to the extent that you are willing to treat yourself with kindness and respect, will you be able to truly become a friend to others. Go ahead, friend yourself today.
According to a recent survey I sent out, my Tribe really struggles with shame and self-compassion. 32.5% of people who responded to my survey said their biggest need was more teaching around those two topics.
I struggled with self-compassion too, for a long time.
Usually, it stems from a lack of self-acceptance and an excess of shame and negativity.
We typically treat others well but struggle to treat ourselves the same way.
But can I tell you something? You can’t genuinely treat people well if you aren’t doing the same for yourself. Sure, maybe you can pretend for a little bit, But as people get to know you better, they’ll be able to see the shield you create for yourself. (One of the most significant components of my new program, 90 Days of Calm, focuses on self-compassion and self-acceptance. You can get all the details at 90DaysofCalm.com today.)
Here’s the thing: learning to love yourself isn’t easy at first. But as you begin to affirm yourself, you will start to feel better and better about who you already are.
Why Are We So Hard on Ourselves?
I think the saddest truth is this: we live in a negative world.
Turn on the news for any major metropolitan area and you will see daily stories of murder, abuse, and any other unthinkable tragedy. Just look at the gun violence and mass shootings we’re witnessing on a weekly basis, it seems.
Several years ago, a television station tried to broadcast only good news. The show was a flop. People expect news to be bad. We crave that open story loop (as Donald Miller calls it) and we want to know what happens to the “bad guys”.
I think this is one of the main reasons why we’re so hard on ourselves. Society has trained us to think with a negative spin. Our parents taught us to be cautious, which we interpreted as DON’T TRUST ANYONE. Sadly, it’s an immediate bias any time we meet someone new.
We can also be hard on ourselves because we fear the outcome if we aren’t. If we get our hopes up too high, we’ll be shattered when we’re wrong.
You do things at work because if you don’t, you fear that you’re boss will come down hard on you. Maybe even publicly. And nobody wants that kind of humiliation.
Any time I start processing thoughts around self-compassion, I hear the voice of my old buddy, Rev. Ed Bacon. It’s all about fear and love, Ed would say. Our fears are STRONG. And those fears are CENTRAL to how many of us were raised.
I’m not saying our parents were “wrong” or “bad” for raising us like this. They just did what they could with what they had. They were raising us the way their parents taught them.
Even in school, if you do something that other kids don’t like, you’re probably going to take some heat for it. Maybe they’ll give you verbal backlash – they’ll make fun of you. They’ll bully you. Or it might even turn physical. Unless you are the alpha personality, school can be a fearful, painful experience.
So maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “Is there a way to reverse this process and stop being so hard on ourselves?”
I’ve been working behind the scenes the past couple of months, rebuilding and rebooting what will become “Catching Your Breath: The Podcast”. It’s coming in January. I hope you’re as excited as I AM!
So, why the change?
In a word: clarity.
As I went through the process of writing Catching Your Breath, my new book, I slowly but surely became as clear as I’ve ever been on who I am, what I believe, and what I want to do with my life.
The short and sweet of it is this:
I’m a human.
I believe all people matter.
I want to spend my life helping others embrace the sacred journey from chaos to calm.
So, with the launch of “Catching Your Breath: The Podcast,” you can expect 30-minute episodes on self-help, self-compassion, and self-care. I’m going to take the principles from the book and make them as practical and action-oriented as possible for people just like you, living an extraordinary, ordinary life. I want to teach you how to cultivate calm in your everyday life. Think of it as a weekly breath of fresh air.
How does that sound?
And click below to listen to the introductory episode of Catching Your Breath: The Podcast (it’s only 8 minutes long).
THE COUNTDOWN IS ON! Catching Your Breath: The Podcast #comingsoon!
Most people look forward to the holidays with great expectations for family, friends and time to enjoy the seasons. The holidays offer great foods, much needed time away from work, and the opportunity to reconnect with loved-ones.
But for some people, the holiday drama can be more “Bah Humbug” than “God bless us, everyone.”
If the holidays cause you more stress than joy, here’s some advice that’s sure to help.
One of the most common reasons that the holidays become stressful is the expectation placed on families who are sometimes overextended emotionally and financially. The added burden to provide big meals, provide gifts, pay for travel and overextend the budget feels like a heavy weight. Families begin to stress just about the time they are putting away the Halloween decorations.
Despite the Hallmark channel’s insistence that families all love one another and that being together is all that matters, many families are fractured, busy and unable or unwilling to live in harmony. The key to having a stress-less holiday is all about preparation and setting boundaries. Sticking to a plan that allows for the fun parts of the season without setting the family up for failure is the best way to ensure that everyone has the best time possible, even if times aren’t perfect.
What Role Do Boundaries Play?
When children are small, parents set boundaries that are clear expectations for their conduct. As long as a child operates inside the boundaries, they are allowed to engage without any consequences. If they step outside of the boundaries, they are redirected back to what is acceptable.
Parents who place a high value on parenting engage their children in the process. They use logic and love to explain why the rules exist and why the consequences are important for failure to comply. The benefit of operating within set boundaries becomes knowing what is expected, why and understanding that there are limits.
Children raised with clear, consistent and appropriate boundaries tend to be better at self-regulating, delayed gratification and adapting to their settings as adults.
Setting boundaries about the holidays allows for the same outcomes as parenting. Preparing a budget and holding to it, decided whom to share the holidays with and negotiating what activities to participate in will create a sense of calm in a potentially anxious season. The key to making meaningful boundaries is to do it ahead of time.
Prior to the season, discuss the expectations, finances and opportunities available and make clear decisions about how resources will be used. Once the decisions are made, stick to the plan.
What Can I do to Prepare for Holiday Stress?
The single best thing that can be done to prepare for holiday stress is to acknowledge that it is part of the reason for the season. It is directly tied to the expectations placed on a family that are above the usual expectations of every day living. Just because the holidays are here, does not mean there is an obligation to overextend ourselves.
If you have unresolved chores, bills, family relationships that are strained or projects that are unfinished, do everything you can to get them managed before the holidays set in.
Clean your home or have a service come in and get things on track. Head to the dump, donate to the thrift store and clear out your clutter. Clean your garage, your gutters and your closets.
Refill prescriptions, pre-write your holiday newsletter, clear out space for the holiday decorations to come down from the attic and make space for what you need. Start picking up baking items or other staples that you know you are going to need now when you have a bit more time. Touch base with friends and family now and share that you expect times to get so busy that you want to reach out now so you won’t feel pressured later and they won’t feel neglected.
4 Tips to Reduce Stress During the Season
Make certain that self-care is a part of the whole family’s lifestyle. Adequate sleep, forms of exercise and down time are important in a season that is all about hustle.
Do not feel obligated to say yes to every invitation to give, attend a party or otherwise be involved. It is a perfectly acceptable stand to say no to the things that cause more stress than joy.
Stay in the moment. Remember the reason for your season. Whatever your personal reasons are for celebrating the holidays, remember to be present and enjoy everything you can about this year because this year will never be here again.
Give. The surest way to reduce stress is to freely and willingly give of yourself, your time or your resources for the benefit of others. This is different than giving out of obligation and with resentment. No matter your finances, your family dynamics or your time constraints, you can give in a meaningful way towards something that is bigger than you and will set your soul at ease.
Looking for more practical, actionable tips for dealing with holiday drama?
Join my free 10-Day Holiday Challenge, “How to Keep the CrayCray Outta Your Christmas” today! Starts December 3rd!