February: A Month of Mindfulness

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Hi friends, welcome to 2016! I’m sure all of you have rolled around the idea of a New Year’s resolution more than a few times over the past weeks, and like so many of us- just haven’t settled on what you want to do and how it can fit into your life. I have been doing the same thing and wanted to share my thoughts in hopes that you might find some inspiration.

Last year was a very busy, emotional, and tiring year for my family and I. There was a lot of loss and grief, as well as a lot of incredible new beginnings. There were a few disappointing false starts as well and SO MUCH CHANGE. I have to admit, I am grateful that last year has come to a close and I have the opportunity to start fresh with a new perspective. With all of the chaos I felt very out of control at times and found myself really desiring the comfort of gentle routine and self-care in a way that I couldn’t quite maintain amidst it all.

I wanted to wait until January was over so that I had time to settle into the year, get 2015 well and good behind me, and have some time to plan out a strategy for success. This year, I made a promise to myself that regardless of what challenges and joys 2016 brings, I will not let my healing rituals and routines slip away. I decided that the month of February will be dedicated to reestablishing this as a norm in my life. They say it takes 30 days to create a habit, and with the extra day February brings us this year we get pretty close!

I am fortunate to have a partner in crime that is excited to embark on this challenge with me, and strength comes in numbers, so I invite all of you join us! Take a few minutes, take a few deep belly breaths and imagine what your life could look like if you slowed down and introduced a handful of healthy habits. Your needs are likely different than mine, but I bet you can come up with something that you’ve been meaning to incorporate into (or drop from) your life.

My idea is a lifestyle overhaul. There are a lot of aspects of life to look at, and food is always a good place to start. I have a fairly clean diet, but finding the time to eat slowly, be mindful, and appreciate sharing food with people that I love can be a challenge. I could be eating the most nourishing meal in the world, but if I’m doing it while sitting at my desk, reading email and doing 15 other things, then its benefits are dramatically reduced. Unfortunately I’ve let this become a pattern in my life over the last year and I want that to change. The same can be said of sleep routines; busyness is addictive and cramming one more to-do in before bed can be tempting. This leaves us wired before bed, we get less restful sleep and for less time in which to do it. This can create a cycle of stress, exhaustion, insomnia, and caffeine consumption. This cycle can also creep into my life when I’m not paying attention, and it’s time to ditch the coffee and slow down. I have my own health challenges, as we all do, that I struggle with when my life gets out of balance, and just like anyone, I am not always great about taking my herbs and getting to my acupuncture appointments. It’s time to shift that trend and get back to self-care.

At first I was calling this a “cleanse month”, but the more I sat with it the more I realized that sounded very forceful and rigid to me. A “cleanse” implies lots of rules to follow and is all about deprivation of the “bad things”. That’s not going to work for me. I need February to be about softening and melting back into a gentle routine that feels supportive and maintainable. When we try to “cleanse” we do great for a few days, power through hunger, force ourselves to avoid the “bad” things and we rebound back to old comfort foods and habits as a reward as soon as we hit the finish line. I invite you to think of February more as a month of mindfulness. Yes, we’ll strive to drop some destructive habits, but all is not lost if we don’t have a “perfect” day.

The idea is to sit with what is, to slow our breath and our stride to meet ourselves where we are, and to feel whole in this place without wishing we were otherwise. This looks different for every one of us, but I invite you to investigate what this might look like for you.

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Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

• making shifts in thinking about self (self judgment, criticism, not being or doing enough)
• fitness goals with a commitment to nourish and be compassionate with yourself above all else
• committing to slowing down and incorporating mindfulness routines into your day/week/month (yoga, meditation, walks, tea time, acupuncture, massage, time for friends who nourish us, time for reading, writing or art)
• cleaning up the food we feed ourselves and learning to enjoy the process of creating it
• reaching out to professionals for health challenges we are struggling with and learning to making space in our lives to allow the changes to happen
• making time for play and for the people we love
• learning more about a topic we’ve been curious and excited about, feed our brains something new
• making sure that we carve out enough space around bed time so that we can not only be fully engulfed in dream time but so that we can also be fully recharged for our waking life. If we don’t sleep fully we can’t wake fully

Send me your ideas or share them in the comments below or email me at hayley@rainandshinepdx.com! I’d love to hear what you’re thinking.

I will be posting here with updates a few times each week to keep myself on track and to share challenges I come up against on my journey towards establishing habits. I’ll be answering questions, as well as offering support and insight for anyone who is wants it. The blog will be linked to our facebook account too, so you can also stay tuned in by following us at https://www.facebook.com/rainandshinepdx, if you prefer. I am so excited and honored to work this path towards health with you all. In addition to sharing stories, I’ll be posting about specific foods, practices, therapies and all sorts of things that I find to be helpful in hopes that you do too.

I sincerely hope that you find some inspiration in this month and choose to follow along with your own plan. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are two very good ways to slow down and ground yourself into a commitment to mindfulness and holistic health. If you’ve been feeling out of balance or unwell in some way, mind, body or spirit, these can be incredible tools to help come back to yourself and restore your sense of vital health.

In the spirit of support and new beginnings I will be running an exciting special for the month of February. If you come in for an acupuncture appointment before February 29th I’ll give you a complimentary gift certificate for a new patient acupuncture consultation and treatment to give to a loved one. I can’t wait to see what kind of positive changes we can create together! I hope to hear from you soon!

acupuncture

-Hayley Gardner LAc

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