Mirror: 10 Zen Self-Awareness Tips
One of my favorite Justin Timberlake songs is “Mirrors.” It ironically aligns perfectly with a former graduate school concept that I learned from C.S. Jung: “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Eager to awaken your mind, body, and soul to achieve more mindfulness? While this blog isn’t giving you a test or philosophical assignment, let’s feel more at ease with ways to foster more self-care into your life.
If you’re presently overloaded with the term, “self-care,” today’s article summarizes 10 Zen ways to easily integrate more self-awareness tips into our lives. I prefer to use self-aware since mindfulness experts praise it for conjuring less self-critical actions, words, attitudes, thoughts, and feelings by ensuring adequate sleep and listening to gut feelings (Dalphonse, 2017 p. 169) as some essential starts. Ready to look into your mindful mirror to reflect our 10 Zen self-awareness tips?
1. Turtle Time: No, not the Teenage Mutant Ninja characters. In other words, emulate a turtle to “slow your roll” as far as frantic life paces and mindless, mechanical, overdrive daily functioning. Studies prove that “Though we think we aren't doing enough, we are actually doing too much. I invite you to slow down, prioritize what matters most and make room for self-care” (https://www.essence.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/take-your-seat-throne/). Meltdown some of our manic needs for multitasking and really be present. Shine that shell and take some turtle time!
2. Say No: When we’re self-aware, we begin to place respectfully our own needs at the forefront. Ricks (2018) reflects on the older generation of women like her grandma as Ricks (2018) recalls, “I never saw my grandmother rest. From morning to night, she appeared to be in service: cooking and cleaning, helping and caring for others. She died of a heart attack at age 69” (https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/mental-health/i-stopped-playing-the-strong-black-woman-20180815). If we as men and women answer “yes” to every single work, community, friend, family, economic, or school request, we cannot retain even an iota of self-awareness. Using I-statements and answering “no” can help us to become more mindful, for example.
Next, Ricks (2018) then exemplifies this practice as she wonders how her grandmother’s life would have been different if she had said, "I ain't cooking tonight, everybody is on their own," or "I'm headed out for a walk," or simply, "I'm tired, and I need to rest" (https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/mental-health/i-stopped-playing-the-strong-black-woman-20180815)? How can you use this powerful example to enrich your sense of self-awareness and Zen this week?
3. Trippin: Go on a solo trip, even if it’s a day trip in your own city or town as a self-awareness practice. It doesn’t have to be as lavish as Bali or as costly as a cruise. Just visit a local museum, concert, botanical garden, play, park, café, or trail. Then journal or scrapbook about it!
4. Sounds of Silence: Surround yourself in sounds of silence as far as humans and indulge in the solitude with nature or relaxing music. Simply setting aside10-5 minutes of quiet time each day can generate more self-awareness. Add a bird feeder to your deck, tap a meditation app, or just soak in the sounds of silence!
5. Vacay to Play: Similar to my suggestion above, don’t skimp on your vacation days. Thomas (2017) furthers asserts that we should take those vacation days. Isn’t that why they’re called that? In turn, this basic tip adds more balance, health, and sanity to our lives, especially since “our culture celebrates martyrdom. Working hard at the expense of your own well-being is usually the dominant message in the workplace. No matter how much you love your job, taking a vacation is important. Having even one day off can provide a necessary reboot and the break in routine to jump-start a gratifying rest of the year” (https://www.essence.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/take-your-seat-throne/). Rest and play are essential parts of adult self-awareness that we seem to abandon too easily. Staycation, anyone?
6. Planning Pals: Sure, planning can be a pain, but the aches from not taking the time to proactively align your calendar can detonate one’s self-awareness and Zen efforts. Spradley (2011) reiterates the importance of getting your calendars balanced, not overbooked and also ensuring you aren't double-booking or scheduling events back-to-back. Even adding your hour for a massage, phone call with your BFF, or weekly workout class at the gym should be penciled in as non-negotiables. Zumba on Saturdays?
In sum, Spradley (2011) strongly encourages to simple “slot in some time to just kick back and recharge.” Be a planning pal for yourself, not just the others in your life. Let’s zip up our Zen!
7. Jigsaw: Nope, not the puzzles, even though they’re mindful and marvelous. Jigsaw means to divide and conquer your tasks, chores, and objectives into segments, much like you’d address a jigsaw puzzle. How do you jigsaw? Spradley (2011) reminds us not to plow through your entire to-do list at one time, as it can be toxic and exhausting. Instead, “You'll conserve energy for other things if you spread out tasks. For instance, make Tuesdays bathroom-cleaning days, Thursdays your laundry days and Sundays your weekly food-prepping days. You'll feel more productive--and still be able to schedule some fun time with a friend.” Sunday supper batch cooking rituals work for me!
8. Workout Wizardry: Speaking of jigsawing, apply that premise to your workouts and cast a spell on achieving self-awareness and Zen more mindfully. Spradley (2011) suggests that if you struggle fitting in your hour-long gym session, opt for this speedy daily routine that works multiple muscle groups and keeps you fit:
· JUMPING JACKS: 30 seconds
· PUSH-UPS: 30 seconds
· FULL PLANK ON HANDS: 30 seconds
· CHAIR SQUATS: 60 seconds
· FULL PLANK WITH ALTERNATING KNEE-INS: 30 seconds
· STEP UP TO BALANCE: 30 seconds each leg
Wave your workout wand to erase excuses and curb couch potato antics with this savvy self-awareness tip!
9. Back to the Basics: Get a blast from the blast and apply a more “back to the basics” approach to eating and sleeping to gain more self-awareness. According to “Mantra for Self-care” from Working Mother (2014), we all need to choose good, natural foods to regulate mood, sleep and health—and stress. Sidetrack stress and fool fatigue with foods like those containing serotonin-boosting vitamin B6 like bananas, sweet potatoes, turkey, salmon) and omega-3s (nuts, fish and/or supplements” (p. 20). Find your nutritional Nemo or Dory with omegas!
10. Attitude of Gratitude: Start keeping a gratitude jar, diary, or vision board. Thomas (2017) suggests how the mere act of expressing gratitude gives you a chance to improve “how you speak about inspiration and acknowledge people who have made a favorable mark on your life. We should know how blessed we are when faced with the biggest challenges and smallest triumphs” (https://www.essence.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/take-your-seat-throne/). Grab inspiration from “Thank you” by Dido.
Showing gratefulness also enables us to engage in more self-awareness. One tip from experts that I want to embrace is to “Make a short list of people who have helped you along the way and reach out to thank them” (https://www.essence.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/take-your-seat-throne/). Zen your self-awareness meter with You’ve got mail”
Dalphonse, S. (2017). SELF, AWARE: At a “self-care” course, the author learned not to mock this most superficially mockable wellness trend--and discovered how scraping her tongue can lead to joy. Washingtonian Magazine, 52(10), 169.
Mantra for Self-care. (2014). Working Mother, 37(2), 20.
Ricks, S. (2018). I Stopped Playing the “Strong Black Woman.” YES! Magazine, (87), 28–29. Retrieved from https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/mental-health/i-stopped-playing-the-strong-black-woman-20180815
SPRADLEY, N. (2011). 15 Ways to Find Time for You. Essence, 42(8), 148–150.
Thomas (2017). Take Your Seat on the Throne. Essence, 48(6), 126. Retrieved from https://www.essence.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/take-your-seat-throne/