Let’s put our phones away and be people again.

A few years back, my daughter and I went to Six Flags. We spent the day going in and out of the water park so we rented a locker for our stuff. Including our phones. We had a great time! It was a little cloudy that day, so the park wasn’t very crowded and the lines were not as long. There were posters everywhere advertising the special Six Flags soda cup you could buy for some ridiculous price. I can’t totally remember but it was like if you bought the $20 cup, soda refills were only $3 or you could buy the $40 cup and soda refills were free. That is nuts to me, but anyway…. Literally EVERYONE had this cup except us. Every ride at Six Flags has a numbered cup holder near the cubbies where you can put your stuff and every cup cubby had like 10 or more cups in it. (On a day that was not very busy.) So all day, everywhere we looked, there were people staring at their cell phone screens drinking out of their crazy huge expensive soda cup. At one point when we were near the front of the park, they had a very mono toned man make an announcement on the loud speaker to ‘Hurry and get your Six Flags soda cup’ As, the announcement was happening and everyone around us was on their cell phones not speaking to each other, sipping their soda….. I started screaming to my daughter “We are in WALL-E!” I just wanted to get out of there!! (Anyone who HAS NOT seen WALL-E, It’s an animated film about the what the future could be like) See a clip HERE.

Don’t get me wrong, I think technology is great. I actually don’t know how we could ever go back to a time where we couldn’t bring our phone with us. And hello… the internet is amazing. Remember a time when we couldn’t look up any answer the second we thought of the question?? Omg, we used to have to go to sleep thinking and thinking and wondering…. Maybe look it up at the library or ask real live people. Now most of us have a phone that’s basically a little computer and we keep it real close, all.. day… long…

It makes me sad when I take my kids out to eat and we look around and people are on their phones and not talking to each other. Why have friends or a family if you don’t want to enjoy every minute you can with them? Read THIS interesting article where they link customer complaints in a restaurant to cell phone use. Stop using your phone and look at the menu. Stop taking pictures of your food and eat it. Crazy idea, eh?

Phones are also being linked to health issues whether you’d like to believe it or not. I just read an article about a group of students who placed trays of seeds near wifi routers and other places. The trays near the wifi routers did not grow. Yup.  Read about that HERE. Now, think about how many people sleep with the cell phone near their head.

Also there are many many articles you can read about how technology is the reason why time feels like it’s going by really fast. Ask someone who doesn’t use a smartphone or a computer if they feel like time is speeding past them. Read more about that HERE.

I am absolutely not saying I never use my phone. Of course I do, it’s a smartphone also.

What I am saying is, I don’t have it glued to my hand 24/7. When I’m having a meal with my family, we put our phones away. When you are at a restaurant with your family, put your phones away. When you do, you will see how we are living in a WALL-E world and you will really start becoming more mindful of your phone habits. You can do it. I have faith in you. Put down your phone and talk to your friends and family with your face and your real voice. Play an actual board game with real people. Go bowling, go to the beach, blow bubbles, lay in the grass and look for shooting stars. Go to the beach, walk around the mall, volunteer your time to help someone in need.

Don’t let the last thing that’s said about you be:

“Wow, she like really loved her cellphone.”

 

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Mindful Thoughts on People…

What is it like to try to be mindful? I say ‘try’ because we are all human. I try so hard to be mindful of every person and every situation. I give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to imagine how people are feeling or what they could be going through. Even kind, caring and compassionate people can snap. They can yell or be mad. People are people.

Someone once said to me:

“Everyone has someone who loves them.”

That might seem stupid to some….. Of course everyone has someone who loves them!!! Think about it again. Think about the most rotten person you can think of. (I’m not giving ANY examples) from your life or world history.

“Somebody loves them.”

Then I think, why are they like this?  Did something bad happen to them? Were they hurt?

You just don’t know.

 

EVERYBODY is going through something you don’t know about. Just stopping to think this thought is being mindful. Think it before being sassy to the waitress who keeps forgetting to check on your table. Think it before yelling at your kids for making a mistake. Think it before you bug out because someone is not calling you back. Take a deep breath. Take a couple. Now, what if that waitress had a death in the family, but HAS to go to work because she can’t afford to miss a day? What if your kid made a mistake because they are being bullied and are too scared to tell anyone? What if that person who isn’t calling you back is depressed. What if they are expecting you to call them back?

There are so many what if’s in the mindful mindset.

To be mindful, you need to question things. Put extra thought into things. Focus your energy into it. Be present. I always taught my kids that if you are feeling angry, you should pause and think about what you are going let come out of your mouth. Will it make you feel awful? Will you hurt someone else?

If someone in your path is clearly cranky, sad, disgruntled or unpleasant. Find something nice to say. Compliment them. If that doesn’t work, just move on with your day. If making someone worse makes you feel better than clearly you have some issues you need to work on.

My biggest struggle is how busy and fast paced the world is becoming. I have no problems being mindful of all the people in a hurry everywhere I go. Whether I’m driving a car or pushing a shopping cart, I feel like I’m constantly getting out of their way. It just makes me sad when I have to see so many people rushing around, and for what? I am trying to learn to let that go. (I take A LOT of deep breaths) It is hard to live a life completely free of judgement. Sometimes we are judging when our intent is not to.

So, in your mindfulness practice…. Think and question.. Accept what you cannot change…. (I’m working on it too!) Try not to judge… Empathize…. You are here….   and so are they.

 

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts on Mindfulness Meditation

If you search the web for mindfulness meditation, literally a million things appear. Things have different meanings for different people. Mindfulness meditation to me, is paying attention to something in such a focused way your thoughts can go nowhere else. Be with your focus and you will be meditating in a way that is actually SO much easier than traditional meditation. Any time I just tried to meditate without a focus, my mind went nuts. Suddenly I’m thinking about the grocery list, my bills or what ever other stress I’m trying to forget about. Now all I can think about is how I don’t feel relaxed and I give up. Here are some examples of mindfulness meditation that are easy to do and very effective.

  • The Walking Meditation – There is no right or wrong way to do this. You can walk alone or with someone else. If you are walking alone, I suggest you do not listen to music. Listen to the sounds in the environment. Pay close attention to them. What are they? Do you like the sounds? Look at your surroundings. Stop and smell the flowers. Look at the bugs. Look at the different plants and how unique they all are. What does the sky look like today? What does the air smell like? Take slow deep breaths and be grateful that you are able to enjoy everything that is in your path. If you are walking with someone else, stay silent. Take turns walking in front of each other. If you are in front, do the walking meditation as if you are walking alone. If you are in back, you can do the same or you could focus on your partners footsteps. Match them if you want. This is actually extremely relaxing and doubles as exercise!
  • The Raisin Meditation – If you don’t like raisins, substitute for a different small fruit or nut. Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this. Get a small handful of raisins. Spread them out on a plate. Look at all their wrinkles. Look at the colors. Do they all look the same? Feel them. Squish them. Roll them in your fingers. Put one in your mouth. Feel it with your tongue. What does it feel like? What does it taste like? Is it changing when you just hold it in your mouth? Chew it slowly. Chew it until it completely dissolves in your mouth. How long did all of that take you? How do you feel? It’s pretty amazing how present you can be with something so small!
  • The Window Meditation – Find your favorite window that is most comfortable for you to sit at. The window can be opened or closed. See what you can see from the window. Hear what you can hear. Smell what you can smell. Be with each thing or feeling you have while looking out. Are there any animals? Sounds from your neighbors? Cars passing by? Focus your mind on noticing the things out your window. Pay attention on purpose to every detail you can see and feel.
  • The Cloud Meditation – We do this as kids and don’t even know how we are calming our minds as well. Find a relaxing place to sit or lay down outside. The beach is a great place for this! Just cloud gaze and see things in the clouds. Remember when you could look up and see a teddy bear in the sky that slowly drifts away and turns into something else or dissipates into the air? This is a great one to do with kids! Just make sure you put on your sunscreen and sunglasses on before staring into the sky!
  • The Candle Meditation – The candle meditation can be done anywhere that is safe to light a candle. Tea lights work well because you can easily hold it in your hand to see the flame more closely. Notice the colors, the movement and the size of the flame. It is more still or does it flicker? How many colors do you see? How many layers? Fire is actually a very calming thing to gaze into. This one is not recommended for children, irresponsible adults or sleepy people. NEVER light a candle and then go to sleep. Please be responsible and safe.
  • The Mindful Parent Meditation – Do you have children? Then you’ve already done this. You probably do it or used to do it everyday. Remember those nights rocking your little one? Rubbing their back and their heads. Smelling their hair, singing softly in their tiny ears. Thinking with such a powerful focus about how much you love them. Yes, my dear. You were mindfully meditating.
  • You can of course make up your own mindful meditation as well! You just need something to focus on. Something to be with. Something to be present with.

I hope my thoughts on mindful meditation inspired you to try it, opened your eyes or just gave you something to think about. Meditation is so good for our minds and our bodies and in my opinion, practicing mindfulness makes us better people.

Until next time…….

 

My Thoughts on Mindful Driving

Mindful driving….. Think about it. Being present. Paying attention on purpose. Sounds like what we should be doing anyway! I think fewer people than you think are actually present while behind the wheel. Here are some of my thoughts on what I observe and what I think about while on the road.

  • People drive TOO FAST! – Slow down buddy! Why is everyone in such a hurry? Do you know how often someone passes me with some crazy speed or some dangerous maneuver and then I’m right behind them at the next traffic light? Literally all the time. I’m not some grandma driver either. Sometimes I go 5-10 miles per hour over the speed limit (if conditions permit) and everyday I have someone beep at me, pass me, or drive so close to my bumper I can see them mouthing swears and smacking their steering wheel. We have speed limits for a reason. I want to be safe. I want YOU to be safe. If you follow me that close, I will pull to the side to let you pass. But when you are speeding around neighborhoods or highways remember that there could be something you need to stop for. Something hazardous in the road, an adult or child riding a bike, an animal or another car. If you get caught speeding, you will pay a fine. If you kill an animal or a person, you could destroy a family and even your own life. Is it worth all of that to get somewhere 5 or 10 minutes faster? There is no excuse for speeding. Wake up earlier, leave your house earlier, or do you errands the day before. DRIVE FAST = REACT SLOW    DRIVE SLOWER = REACT QUICKER
  • Why are you passing on the right? – There isn’t a good reason for doing this and yet I see this happening every time I am on the highway. I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a truck that said “LEFT-Passing side ~ Right-SUICIDE”. If you are passing someone on the right and they decide to move to the right lane and they hit you, it is YOUR FAULT. Big trucks most likely cannot see you! So if you pass them on the right you are putting yourself, anyone in your car, the truck driver and all the people driving behind you at risk. Pass on the left or don’t pass at all. If you are in the left lane and a car wants to pass, MOVE OVER!
  • Put away all devices – The cell phone can wait. If you think it could be urgent, pull over (In a safe area) to answer the call or text. It will only take a few minutes to pull over preferably in a parking lot and not on the side of the road where you could be a hazard. Most accidents involving cell phones happen while simply reading a text or while texting only a word or two. Watch THIS VIDEO by AT&T with real stories of tragedy by people who chose to use their cell phone when driving. Don’t wait until a tragedy happens. Put the cell phone away now.
  • Stop signs have a purpose – They are put in place so we don’t crash into each other at intersections. They are a good place to take a deep breath as well. Don’t just stop and then go. Look in every direction and be mindful that not all people will stop. Not all people will let you go even though you stopped first. If you are at a stop sign and I haven’t stopped yet, please let me fully stop before you start flagging me to hurry up and go first. Stop at the stop sign and take a deep breath and let it out. If the other guy is in a hurry, let him go first. If it takes me 20 more seconds to arrive at my destination, I will be ok.
  • I am terrified to let my kids drive – Both of my kids are teenagers and recently got their permits. They are knowledgeable on traffic laws and I trust that they will make good decisions while driving. They see me drive and see the people around me speeding and making poor decisions. I am terrified for my kids to be on the road with these other drivers. I am drilling it into my kids heads that the most important thing besides following the rules of the road is to pay attention to other drivers. If you are someone who drives fast and or carelessly, would you want YOUR teens to be on the road with someone who drives like you? Probably not.
  • Sometimes I AM terrified to drive – I am not at all saying I am a perfect driver. No one is perfect. However, I do my best to pay attention while driving. With all the attention and focus, you SEE more. With all the craziness I see on the roads, sometimes I just want to stay home.
  • Pay EXTRA attention in parking lots – Why are people driving so fast in parking lots? The place where people are walking, and often with children. Parents are taking strollers and babies out of cars. Some are trying to back out of parking spaces. If there is no speed limit posted, you should never go more than 15 mph. You need to have a reaction time. If your child ran out in front of a car in a parking lot, wouldn’t you want the driver to be able to react?
  • Mindful Driving – It’s actually an eye opening experience. Slow down. People who drive too fast can’t react as quick. Look all around you. Look at everything. Fully stop at every stop sign or light. Pay attention to everyone else on the road. Put your cell phone away and turn off the ringer. Do you see someone on their phone? Avoid them. Is someone riding to close behind you? Let them pass. Give enough room between you and the car in front of you. Pay attention for crosswalks or people who are just crossing the road anyway. If you like to drive the speed limit or slower, stay in the right lane. If the light turns green and the guy in front of you isn’t going yet, wait before you decide to lay on the horn. Maybe he’s distracted by his phone, maybe he’s distracted by his thoughts. Be mindful of people trying to pull into traffic from parking lots. Let people in if it is safe to do so. Once YOU slow down, you see how fast everyone else is.
  • Life is Short – Lets enjoy every moment we can. If you are mindfully driving, you are making the road a safer place. For me, for you and for your loved ones. If you are moving too quick through life, you miss it. It goes by quick enough on it’s own!