Conversations With Cheryl is the newest addition to With Cheryl and feature interviews with different experts in their respective fields on topics that are important to YOU, including mindfulness, job searching, and more. Each series will feature interviews with 3 different experts and will be go live on the last Monday over 3 months!
You can check out the Part 1 of The MINDFULNESS Series here and keep reading below for Part 2, featuring yoga instructor, creator of Simply Soulful, soon-to-be holistic practitioner in Massage Therapy, and my long-time friend, Jeanine Donohue.
1. What does mindfulness mean to me?
Mind(full): Our minds are full and we have to find peace with that exact notion.
Once we recognize our minds will always be full and that a constant dance and song will perform daily, we can begin to find a place of acceptance and become a better observer of all that is within our minds. We can begin to see it for exactly what it is—a dance and song that we choose to be a part of or not.
Once we have this sense of awareness, it will also become evident that we can either move along to this dance and song or allow it to move passed us so we can begin to re-orchestrate.
2. How has mindfulness impacted your life?
Mindfulness, which started through my yoga practice 5 years ago, has allowed me to better understand how to be an observer of my own mind, which also led me to start observing the dance and song internally and externally that I mentioned above with more acceptance.
We live in a world of constant stimulation, coming at us from many different directions. To be able to stay centered in our body, spirit, and mind as everything moves around and through us is a practice worth investing in. As I learn more and more everyday about what I need to stay centered and mindful as my own life observer, I find that I am able to better embrace, accept, and be inspired by my internal and external observances rather than overwhelmed and fearful of them.
3. What is your favorite mindfulness tool?
My go to tool is simply my breath. I take 3 long and deep breaths anytime I feel that overwhelming and fearful state we all know. I do this for a minimum of 3 breaths but can extend it to how ever long I want and feel comfortable sitting with my breath for.
Each breath holds a special purpose for me, too:
Breath 1 helps me to identify that I am feeling overstimulated in a particular situation. This can be purely internal due to emotional or mental dancing in the mind or caused by an external situation with another person or experience.
Breath 2 is a reminder to myself that I am my own person. Whether an internal or external experience, any degree of anxiety can cause one to lose themselves for a moment. Connecting with breath allows you to come back to yourself. The second breath is similar to that feeling-the back to home base breath.
Breath 3 is my final “pause for perspective” which is a beautiful phrase a very close friend of mine shared with me recently. Pausing for perspective can help you think before you speak, check in with yourself on how you are treating others, and observe the dance and song in your mind. Taking this last breath allows you to slow down, observe, pause, and then respond to yourself or the situation versus react.
3 breaths in and 3 breaths out—that’s the truest magic I’ve ever worked with!
4. Why is mindfulness important for everyone to practice?
I believe mindfulness is important for everyone because it allows us to be intentional with ourselves and those around us. It is very easy to live this life in the world we are in unintentionally. There is nothing wrong with having unintentional moments which seem spontaneous, care-free and synchronized. I personally love moments like this, but in order for them to be enjoyable carefree moments versus feeling like you are losing control, you need to be conscious of how you live before and after those moments.
We all will experience life differently which is why you can’t whole-heartedly say there is one way to be mindful, one way to conquer anxiety, or one way to input more intention in your life. All of our centers are different, the dance and song in our minds and lives are different. This is why being mindful is observing YOUR mind and no one else’s. It’s coming to understand what makes you feel good and not so good—and more importantly, how to balance them. There are some rituals that naturally will support us all no matter where we are on this journey. A few are:
- Get out in nature.
- Move your body.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people and situations.
- Be vulnerable. Ask for support if you need it.
- Feel your SHIT! We all have it. We are human.
- Allow yourself to be alone and break down in your own arms.
- Realize your potential. We all have extreme potential in this life.
- Allow yourself to be alone and break through your own heart.
- Share your experiences.
- Love yourself.
If we are going to fill our minds with anything, let’s let it be centered versus chaotic. If we are going to dance and sing, let’s let it be rhythmic and fun! If we are going to practice mindfulness, let’s let it be a practice that is as I like to say: simply soulful.
5. What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone who is just beginning to practice mindfuless?
Be patient, study yourself, and do research on the vast growing mindfulness community and the many options available for guidance when starting a practice. Whether you are turning to movement, breath work, books, podcasts, a coach, or group experience, educate yourself on as many tools as you find interesting.
When starting a mindfulness practice, we can sometimes get caught up in whatever person or tool comes across our paths first. There are so many great options available, but the main focus when starting your own mindfulness should be YOU. You must decide what feels good and create your own practice. You need to step back from different options and opinions and make sure it truly resonates with you and fulfills the parts of your life that you are seeking more support in. By doing this, you will attract exactly the right tools and leaders to support you even more.
WITH CHERYL READER QUESTION: How do you maintain focus on the present when the past and future always creep in?
Let it creep in.
That’s how I stay focused in the present. It allows us to realize that memories have helped us get to where we are and that dreams are what motivate us to move forward—both keeping us inspired.
However, we have to practice moderation here as well because unfortunately, the past and future won’t always be inspiring. So, we simply moderate.
There is a sweetness to reflection and analyzing, just as much as there is sweetness in planning and dreaming. The key is to recognize when situations of the past and future are fulfilling to you and made you feel good versus when they are starving you and making you feel deprived.
This is all easier said than done. This is where the breath comes in. This is where starting practices and routines that fill you up in the present and can support your past reflection and future dreams is important.
We need to be passionate about the present and use the past and future as tools to set us free, not locks that keep our thoughts and ways in boxes.
Jeanine flows full time as a yoga instructor yoga at Cocomotion Yoga and Movement in Miller Place, Patchogue, and East Setauket, New York. She is also studying to become a holistic practitioner in Massage Therapy at the New York College of Health Professions in Syosset, New York.
Jeanine is also the creator of the blog page, Simply Soulful, which consist of content pertaining to self-initiation, body expression, and creative collaboration. Here she pin-points everyday situations and feelings that rise up for us all and delivers a balanced perspective from personal experiences and environmental and social experiences.
Jeanine’s hope is to continue to combine all of these disciplines and create further opportunities to share and self-educate people about how we can initiate and inspire ourselves as individuals, while also feeling centered and open to better co-create and interact with those around us in this world.
- Follow Jeanine on Instagram.
- Check out her blog at SimplySoulful.co.
- And, for yoga classes and workshops, check out Cocomotion in Long Island, NY.
…And remember #StaySimplySoulful