The Journey to Know Thyself

It has been some time since I posted but writing on the topic of Know Thyself has been a priority. I have been working on a book to Know Thyself through Nature and Nurture, using tools of meditation, mindfulness, and journalling. One of the biggest questions that has come up as I have shared what I am doing is why the topic of Know Thyself.

I believe that each of us have instances that disconnect us from ourselves. There are life events such as trauma, scenarios that lead to people pleasing, relationships, work situations, school situations, and simply life that constantly throws new scenarios, opportunities, input, and challenges towards us. Depending on what is happening we have the best of choices and time to reflect on how that fits with who we are or a variety of reaction and actions up to and including survival mode.

I don’t know anyone that was raised to take self care time to make sure they know who they are from a young age and take time to make sure they are acting, reacting, and making life choices that keep them connected with who they are. What I have both experienced and seen in others is following life opportunities as they arise. A prime example is a job that is either a necessity or appears to be the perfect job. Weeks or months later the shine has worn off and going to work tears the individual apart mentally and physically. I spent many mornings crying my entire way into and from a corporate job that I had. Other examples include: Visiting a family member has you physically dreading the experience or worse yet you numb out with drinking to deal with the experience. Hanging out with a friend that everyone else loves in your life, makes you feel miserable because you don’t want to do so.

All of these instances are feelings telling you that you aren’t living in accordance with your truth. That certain people and situations are not feeding your soul, but eating away at it. Know Thyself is self care, self knowledge and personal power. It is not a stagnate part of you, but one that is mutable and ever-evolving, as you are ever growing and changing your self knowledge and self awareness should. By making the self care to Know Thyself a part of your awareness and checking in with yourself and having the tools to Know Thyself a regular part of your self care routine I believe that each of us can create a life truly connected to who we are and what has meaning to us. This in turn leads us to a life filled with relationships and opportunities that feed us, in stead of eating away at our soul.

Knowing who we are and what we want or need makes creating personal boundaries, personal space, self care, and speaking what we need for ourselves in loving kindness (sometimes firmly) a lot easier and a lot less scary. I spent too many years trying to find a reason why I felt one way, but well-meaning family and friends told me I should be happy living XYZ way. I was miserable with the life I was living. People told me I was ungrateful because I had what everyone dreamed of. When I explained they weren’t my dreams, I was told I was selfish. No, I was being honest about my truth, but I wasn’t in a place to be seen and heard. However, I could have saved myself so much heartache if I had known that it was okay to not want what others want. It is okay to have different dreams. It is okay to want a different way of life.

We all need to Know Thyself and how to express that in loving kindness. Then we need to find ways to live in alignment with who we are and what we want. I believe that if people Know Themselves more and live out societal and familial expectations less, we would have a lot more happiness and loving kindness in the world. After all, it is difficult to live and share loving kindness when we are not happy with ourselves and our personal situation.

I hope you continue to join me in the journey to Know Thyself.
Irisa

A Valentine’s Weekend Guide in Pandemic times

Social events are stressful at the best of times. The pressures that come along at Valentine’s day are high in pre-pandemic culture. Now, reflections on relationships plus all the changes in socializing have a lot of people stressed out.

The best advice that I can give is to breathe. While going out, dating and sex are fun this weekend doesn’t have to be about any or all of that. Focus on love and loving kindness. You don’t have to have a partner or be spending time with them this weekend to be in the presence of love.

If you are single or by yourself this weekend, you can still fill your weekend with love and loving kindness. Who loves you more than you? Who knows you more than you? If you don’t feel all that loving towards yourself at the moment, this is a fantastic opportunity to take yourself on a date. You don’t even have to leave the house.

Are you in a relationship and spending time with someone or multiple someones? Good for you, but you still can take time either for yourself or loving time in your relationship(s). Also, you don’t have to leave the house and spend a fortune.

Some honest self reflection can tell you what will make you feel most loved at this moment in your life. A journal and meditation can help you with this. Start out with a simple breath meditation:

Breathe 1-2-3
Hold 1-2-3
Exhale 1-2-3

Breathe 1-2-3
Hold 1-2-3
Exhale 1-2-3

Breathe 1-2-3
Hold 1-2-3
Exhale 1-2-3

Then focus on the question: what will make me feel loved?

Anytime your mind wanders from that question, breathe and bring that question to the forefront. The journal is there for you to write or draw anything that comes to mind. It may be images or words, thoughts or feelings.

One of my love languages is cooking for those I love. My kids are missing spreading love to others so I told them we could bake this weekend. They are super excited about that. Continuing with the foodie theme, I purchased boneless pork ribs, a favorite of my husbands and he is looking forward to time cooking for us. Me, I plan on savoring time with them and then taking time for a long, hot, uninterrupted shower and working on the book I am writing on Know Thyself. Know Thyself is a lifelong passion that you will be hearing more about.

There is absolutely nothing fancy about this coming weekend for us, but there will be activities that express our love and down time to do things that we love. Expressing love to ourselves and each other will be the focus of our weekend. Hopefully, we will feel more connected to ourselves and each other after this weekend.

Be mindful of how you can give yourself loving kindness this weekend. If you have someone in your home with you this weekend, in what manner can you express loving kindness? What loving kindness do you want or need to receive from those in your home?

I hope that you have honest self reflection on the love that you need this weekend and can communicate that need to yourself and those in your life with loving kindness and be received in love.

In Loving Kindness,
Irisa

Mindfulness and Goals

As the optimism of the New Year Resolutions fade, let’s focus on how we can use the practice of mindfulness to maintain and achieve our most important goal for ourself in 2021.

The practice of mindfulness can guide your on the journey to attain the goals that you wish for yourself and your life. Comment with the number one goal that you wish for yourself this year and we can discuss how mindfulness can help you achieve this goal!

Comment below or come to the facebook community that is just beginning!

https://www.facebook.com/SmartSassyTribe

Mindfulness + Observation = Awareness

Mindfulness is a skill that we have within us. Like many skills, we need to nurture and cultivate them so they can continue to improve bringing more value to our life. Where does one begin to cultivate mindfulness?

First, we have Observation + No Judgement = Mindfulness. After a period of observation without judgement that skill becomes a part of who we are. Did we slip and forget to not judge? Did we act or react without observing the situation? Totally cool, just take a breathe or five until we can slide back into our vibe of mindfulness.

Once you have this established practice of mindful observation without judgement in your life an automatic awareness is built into your life. Fantastic right! Now what? So you have been observing without judgement and that has made you more aware of what is happening in your life with habits, relationships, and the actions and reactions of yourself and others.

This awareness is where we begin to make mindful choices. Choices can be scary, especially in the times that it feels as though we have no good choices. However, being aware that we have a choice to continue as we are without making any changes or make a change that is mindful of our true self is honest self awareness.

Honesty with ourselves though mindfulness can and will bring massive change to your life. This change starts with internal awareness of yourself, your life moments and the actions and reactions that you give. The honesty begins when we are not only aware of the action or reaction that we are giving to a present moment, but when we begin to act or react in a way that is aware and authentic to who we are and what we want and need.

This can be done with loving kindness because we are first observing, then acting or reacting without judgement. Removing judgement from our moments allows us to make space for awareness of the emotions that we are feeling and sharing with our actions and reactions. Sharing anger becomes intentional and not reflexive. Expressing joy becomes a choice instead of suppressing your light.

How can you live in mindfulness today?

What mindful observations have you made about yourself or any one situation today?

Are these observations in alignment with your loving kindness or not?

I hope these prompts aid you in your path of mindfulness.
Irisa

Mindfulness Begins with Observation

The Little Things? The Little Moments? They aren’t little.

John Kabat-Zinn

Majority of our lives are made up of the small, the mundane, the unnoticeable. Hollywood and the shape of modern American society have set expectations that life is full of large noticeable moments. Imagery of sun glinting off our smiles indicate health and stress free living. I don’t know about you, but when I step out the door I am not taking any moment to pause. I typically am concerned with keeping the toddler from running straight across the street to pet the neighbors dog (cars be damned!) or the overzealous puppies from darting out the door.

Photography, videos and advertisements have taught us what perfection should look like. Social media has brands for all parts of life from hot mess moms to Pinterest moms. When is the last time you saw a mom with messy hair, sleep deprivation and pajama clad wandering the late night market for cold medicine for a kid on social media as the new trend?

I call bullshit. What all of that has done is set us up for unrealistic expectations so someone else can promote their thing (which I don’t fault anyone for promoting their thing). However, that is not an accurate representation of daily life. Life is messy, chaotic, confusing, and emotional. There are productive and focused moments. There are moments where you lose your train of though because the voices of Donald and Goofy float in from another room accompanied by a child’s giggles … this is a moment. A real, live beautiful moment. Did it derail my train of thought, yes. Is it worth hearing his laughter and joy? Absolutely.

When I was younger I was so into the flow of things that I got in trouble for being different. I wanted to sit and watch the sun on a leaf instead of being in cheer. That wasn’t the image for girls my age so off to cheer I went. Social Imagery has a powerful impact on perceptions and expectations. These perceptions and expectations can take the place of personal realities and norms if we are not mindful of our truth.

Gorgeous photography, trending news, apps and the like are fascinating. They serve as a distraction from our everyday and give us things to discuss with co-workers and acquaintances which can help with relationship building. However, the distractions can warp our perceptions of ourselves.

Mindfulness assists us in bringing us back to our life and our moments. When we accept that our life will have more small moments than large a relief can wash over us. Carrying a constant expectation that life is going to have a string of major changes/announcements/moments is asking ourselves to constantly be ON. Instead of being ON, be mindful.

Cultivating a practice of mindfulness will increase the likelihood of finding the opportunities that are in front of us as they are instead of looking for opportunities with a preconceived notion of how they should appear. The more we can focus on the moment and see it for what it is the easier our life will be. Removing preconceptions from our lives is a game changer.

Suddenly, we aren’t worried about doing things the way someone else said we should but finding the solution for ourselves that aligns or fits with who we are and how our life flows. Mindfulness matters. Mindfulness brings awareness to ourselves of what is or is not working. By identifying how we are feeling in the moment we identify what isn’t working. Once we acknowledge what isn’t working then we can make the shifts and changes needed for peaceful living.

Simple ways to begin mindful living:

  • Observe how you feel when asked to commit to something. What is the first answer that runs through your mind? What is the answer that left your mouth? Do they match?
  • Observe if you have a default answer to any commitment question. Are you the person that will always say yes or are you the one people ask for a short time and then stop because they know the answer is no? If you have an auto-default on answering, why is that?
  • Observe your physical body when speaking with people or doing tasks. Do some people leave your body feeling tight and sore? Are you relaxed with most interactions? What do you think your body is telling you about your interactions?
  • Observe your mental state when doing tasks or interacting with people. Does a task wear you out or leave you energized? Do you get grumpy and bitchy or remain calm? Is there dread or peace associated with this task?
  • Observe your emotional state when doing tasks or interacting with people. Are you worn out at the thought of having to interact with this person? Does a social event fill you with dread or peace? Do holidays have you buying a bottle of whiskey and making an escape plan before going somewhere? Does this invitation feel like an obligation you must do or fill you with joy?

Pick one place and begin your observations with mindfulness. No judgement just observe. I recommend that you take the time to journal your observations. This will allow you to notice trends and patterns.

Take a breathe. Reflect. Be Mindful and reclaim your life.
Irisa

Mindfulness & Words

Just for today, pause before you say your words. Take one small moment to reflect on the words that are in your mind.

  • Do these words feel heavy or light?
  • What emotions do the words convey?
  • Are these words making you feel good about yourself?
  • If these words were said to you, how would you feel?

This exercise in mindfulness can change so much in your life. Words are the most powerful thing we have at our disposal. Our words convey emotion, truth, reality, perception and so much more.

Each of us has said something and instantly regretted it. If you had taken a moment to speak, would you have uttered those words or changed the way you said what you needed to say?

Words shape the world around us. Our children believe and internalize what they see and hear. What they hear you say to them, about them, shapes their perception of their self. This perception further shapes their self image and relationships with their self and others.

Your relationships are shaped by both words and actions. Do your words and actions match? Are you in alignment with your thoughts and expressions?

Taking a mindful moment before speaking to check in with yourself and see if what you are saying and what you are feeling match can change everything. If you are saying yes to a commitment, but your body and mind are screaming no through feelings such as anxiety, tension, irritability, etc. Then why are you saying yes?

Use these clues to find truth in your life. If each of us used mindful moments to connect with ourselves and consider how our words and actions do or do not match, the world would be a better place. We can start making profound changes with little moments.

Honest with ourself is the most profound change we can make. Understanding that we really do have choices and freedoms is profound. Matching our words to our actions is the best gift we can give ourselves and our society.

For one hour, I want you to practice mindful moments in speaking. This could be the most terrifying, exhilarating, freeing experience of your life. Be completely honest with yourself if your words and emotions line up.

If they do, great keep doing this and making sure you are living your most authentic self, but take the check in one step further. What are you conveying into the world? Is it anger and hatred or loving kindness and compassion? What do you want to convey with your words and actions? Hope or Despair? Change or compliance?

If your words and actions don’t match up ask yourself why you are not allowing that to happen? Change your filter and ask yourself why you do this? Why do you keep your words and your actions from matching? Journal. Meditate. Take a run. Do what you need to and dig into your truth. Discover the core reason you do not do this. Once you know the reason, then you can take the next step into making the change to bring your words and actions into alignment with yourself.

With Mindfulness & Words,
Irisa

Mindfulness & Self Care

Today is interesting. I woke up feeling pretty wrecked from my monthly cycle, but still have to mom, teach school and coordinate life for three other humans. As such, I am trying a gentler flow for the day. We will see how it goes as focus is difficult with all the distractions and feeling pretty wrecked physically.

For those who don’t know what it is like for women or who are blessed to have gentle cycles; a bad month can feel flu like with the aches and pains, along with your lower abdomen constantly cramping and a tight lower back that feels like you worked out too hard or lifted something the wrong way. This is accompanied by headache, neck ache, moodiness and the constant feeling of having to use the bathroom. Then there is the expectation that you are to keep performing at top level instead of giving your body the rest it needs at this time.

However, since the current structure doesn’t allow for days off when we feel horrid mindfulness helps save the day. By being mindful of how my body is feeling I can review my task lists and see what I can rearrange. Today, physical labor is off the list. I will focus on the tasks that are gentle on my body and if things go well get to bed early.

Mindful moment. I pause to breathe and listen to my body. What is it telling me? I hurt, I am tired, my sinus’ are bothering me and I am thirsty. Okay, how do I remedy this? Thirsty, that will help with the aches and pains if I am properly hydrated. One of my favorite drinks is hot water with honey, fresh lemon and fresh smashed ginger. If I am not in the mood for something sweet I leave out the honey. So off I go to put the kettle on.

Teaching my children has revolved around the sofa and my heating pad. We are taking turns between group class topic discussion and individual time. A snack tray on the kitchen counter to handle the kids nibbles means that I do not have to get up every five seconds to feed someone. Now, art lessons give them a creative outlet and a break for myself.

Self care isn’t always easy, especially when we have responsibilities. Utilizing mindfulness can tell us what we need. Knowledge of our life and stepping back to objective in what we really need to accomplish versus what we feel we have to do can assist us in managing our day. This will help us with responsibilities and self care. Balance is hard. Sometimes we need to take it moment by moment.

While learning to embrace mindfulness and self care it is okay to take things moment to moment or task to task. Give yourself permission to be mindful and practice self care while you handle your responsibilities. Incorporating self care and mindfulness will slowly begin to shift your perspective, which will create subtle shifts in your life.

Cheers to self care and mindfulness,
Irisa

The Art of Relaxing

Not everyone knows how to relax. For some, attempting to sit still, relax and enjoy a mindless activity like TV is absolutely anxiety inducing. The list of what we aren’t accomplishing is running through our minds and the fear of being unloveable, not valued, and useless rises within us causing anxiety and panic. There are a lot of reasons that this can arise in adults. Mostly, it has to do with your childhood and early relationships.

Fast forward years to decades later and you are an adult trying to enjoy some down time. It is impossible and causes so many side affects. Anger and resentment that everyone around you can chill out but you can’t. So you are working on chores and getting more and more upset that others are not seeing the messes because you don’t want to look too closely as to why you can’t do what everyone else does.

Learning to relax is a struggle. I resent that I had been taught that my value in a relationship is tied to what I do for others. It makes unstructured quality time so difficult for me. However, I am fortunate to have people around me who understand the struggle and why I have this problem.

Gently, my partner is helping me with this. for months he has been encouraging, sometimes pushing, me to take time after the kids are in bed for myself. Just a small amount each time. It hasn’t been an easy path to try and learn to just let chores go and focus on my wants and needs.

Being asked what I want to do for myself is so very difficult. I wait for it to be devalued, so sharing it is terrifying. This weekend my partner got me to admit something I had been wanting to do. I have been wanting to rewatch a lifelong movie series that I love, but I haven’t been wanting to say anything because I know that he dislikes the first movie in the series.

Support can be amazing. Being reminded you are loved is amazing. We started the marathon and will continue through the coming week. These little things can make the world of difference to someone who was taught that their only reason to be loved was in acts of service.

Life is about finding the peace within. Emotional healing is about understanding and finding the peace within. Mindfulness and meditation can really help to find those. Give yourself the gift of 15 minutes a day. Do breathe work. Take a long hot shower. Do one thing that you can focus on for that period of time. Notice how you feel. Make a note of any memories or emotions that arise.

One moment at a time healing can happen.
In Peace,
Irisa

Mindfulness has helped me to learn about the things that bring me discomfort. By bringing awareness to my emotions and the source of said emotions, I have been able to make changes to bring peace to my life. Peace is a wonderful goal to have for our lives.

With peace I find clarity for my life. When I am in a place of peace life is less overwhelming. Less overwhelmed, means less anxiety and anxiety-related symptoms. Mindfulness combats depression and anxiety because you are focusing on the present moment; not reliving the past or worrying about the future.

Living in the moment is so very difficult. Corporate culture has us trained to multi-task. The school system teaches children to sit still, be quiet, and conform. Judgement surrounds us from all sources. Constant input is received from technology and noise. Expectation to be constantly available through technology makes it difficult to relax.

Prior to quarantine, I was finding myself overwhelmed with obligations and the pressure to stand up certain societal expectations. Quarantine forced a change in lifestyle that I welcome. I welcomed the chance to slow down, not the reason behind it.

This last year gave us a chance to be honest about what we were and were not missing from our lives. It gave us the opportunity to be very honest with ourselves about our wants and needs without judgement from others. There was a freedom and intimacy to that honesty.

Since then, we have had a cascade of changes in our lives that have brought about healing and growth. It has been a beautiful and difficult journey for each of us. Together, we have worked on ourselves and our family. Each day we grow closer.

This coming year will bring more changes, because that is what life does. Hopefully, we can continue to build on those changes and create the life that we want.

Blessings,
Irisa

Finding my rhythm is a struggle. I struggle with what my heart tells me is right and true for myself versus the ghosts of the past and current expectations on my behavior and actions. Where do these expectations come from?

A lot of the expectations that I hold for myself come from the first two decades of my life. The vital time when we are experiencing loving relationships. How those relationships interact, communicate, and express love are fundamental to how we perceive ourselves and our relationships as adults.

As I try to live my authentic self and truly live my best life; I am haunted by voices, images and experiences from my past. I spent so much of my childhood being told that how I wanted to do things was wrong. The things I loved where ridiculed, put down as a phase or deemed inappropriate due to my gender.

My first marriage was horrible. I was pushed into marrying someone I didn’t want to marry to gain my families love and acceptance. He proved to be a controlling narcissist who gaslit me at every turn. Every time I was on the verge of making a dream happen I was either forced to walk away from it to prove I loved him or in the case of the books I had written, my computer suddenly had corrupted files.

During my childhood I lived in fear. I lived being blamed for my families unhappiness and being told I owed them certain behaviors because of their sacrifices for me. Fundamentally, I feel unloveable and guilt ridden if I do anything that is not of service to others.

Nine years into a healthy relationship, I am finally learning to sit down each evening for me time. Do I still feel anxious and guilt ridden? A lot of the time I do. I know that I need to fill my well to be healthy for myself and my family. Does self care come with great difficulty? Yes, yes it does.

I am determined to use the support I have to embrace my truth and my needs. The peaceful feeling of “I am enough” and/or “I did enough this day” is how I know that I am living in my authenticity and not acting or reacting out of emotions.

As people, it is so difficult not to get stuck in emotions. Feeling your feelings and acknowledging them are vital to understanding where you are in your current life situation. The difficulty is to not be stuck in a reactive or expectant mode.

I have been using the practice of mindfulness to bring me to a pause when I find myself overwhelmed or suddenly surging with emotions. Begin by taking deep breathes until that tightness in your body begins to subside and you no longer feel squeezed from all directions.

Then just observe what you are thinking. Are you thinking about what just happened? Is there a memory from your past pushing its way into the present? Do you hear the voice of someone criticizing or scolding you?

Breathe again as you make these observations. If you see the past coming into the present, acknowledge that you have some things to consider and unpack from the past that are affecting your present. If you have time writing in your journal or jot some notes down about it so you can bring your awareness back to this moment, but know you can make space to visit these memories later.

Now, what is happening in the present moment? Respond to the situation when you are not filled with overwhelming emotions. Emotions are wonderful, but don’t let them control you otherwise you will be in for a roller coaster in most situations. Honestly, emotional regulation or lack thereof is why we see such extremes in toddlers.

Make space for yourself to be. The more you relax then you can be yourself. Find peace. Enjoy happiness.
Irisa