I took a little break from my monthly newsletter: the fires and constantly leaving town to escape the smoke (only to have it follow me everywhere I went!) inspired some reflection. I ended up reconceptualizing my intentions for Mindful & Well Education, and writing a new mission statement:
Mindful & Well Education guides youth and adults toward mind-body harmony through mindfulness & heartfulness, natural wellness, and connecting with their true selves.
So, what does “connecting with our true selves” mean, and what does it have to do with mind-body wellness?
To illustrate this concept, I’ll offer up a series of journaling questions you can answer for yourself or with your teen(s)/students. (By the way-- while you may think you know all there is to know about journaling, this NYT article may offer some surprising benefits and insights. Journaling truly is medicine!)
When you were a kid, what were your passions or interests? What made you feel giddy or happy? List all you can think of.
If you went to college: when you reflect on what you majored in, does it feel like the right choice? If not, who or what influenced you to specialize in this subject?
What are the top three most important values to you in life?
If you didn’t have to go to work or school and your days were completely free, what would you do?
If absolutely no one relied on you or expected anything of you, what career would you choose, or how would you spend your time?
If you could live anywhere, where would that be? What is your soul’s happy place?
If any of the following describe you, write a little bit about why you think that is. Really try breaking them down to find the root explanation:
Do you think of yourself as a people-pleaser, or someone who avoids confrontation at all costs?
Do you compare yourself to others a lot?
Do you experience a high level of anxiety when speaking in front of groups?
Do you worry about what other people think of you?
What holds you back from being yourself around your friends? Your family? Others?
If you were born into a different era, what time period feels most akin to your soul? Why?
Who is someone you really look up to-- perhaps even feel a bit envious of? Why do you admire this person? What qualities do they possess?
To take this one step further: after answering these questions, create a profile for your “true self.” If you like visual art, draw your true self or make a collage. If you’re into lists, list their qualities. Whatever works for you to imagine this highest, truest version of self. Also, if you have a teen and think they would feel comfortable enough doing this journaling and profile-creation with you, this would be an amazing bonding experience! I really believe that learning about our authentic self is key to a happy, healthy mind and body. Not following what our heart is telling us causes a lot of emotional tension-- regret, shame, avoidance, etc.-- that weigh heavily on us and usually bring about secondary symptoms like anxiety, depression, or physical pain. For example, I used to think I was a city person. I lived in a few big cities around the world and would always plan my travels around visiting metropolitan areas. It took a few years, but I finally started to notice how stressed out, frustrated, and fatigued I was on trips. Not the feeling I was aiming for on vacation! I began incorporating more small towns and rural areas into my itinerary and would always have a way more memorable experience in these places than the big cities. San Sebastian > Madrid. Atlas Mountains > Marrakesh. San Juan Islands > Seattle. Eventually, I moved my life out of busy Silicon Valley and into Santa Cruz-- a much more appropriate sized town for my true self! When I'm clear about my deepest values and wants, life flows more. Things happen more effortlessly. I feel more open and accepting, and this allows my nervous system to relax and be in the present moment.
We are constantly invited to be who we are. - Henry David Thoreau
The more we can help kids and teens get clear on their true interests, the better off their mind-body wellness and development will be throughout their youth. The easier the college decision (or not to go to college decision) will be. The healthier their relationships and social life will be. And the less likely they will be to fall into peer pressure that does not serve them.
If you’d like personalized resources or coaching in mindfulness and wellness practices, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also subscribe to the monthly Mindful & Well newsletter below. I’m always available to answer any questions you have, by email or in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!
May you have a month filled with intrepid authenticity. ;)