Guest Contributor Mental Health

Finding Mindfulness in the Middle of Chaos

by Guest Contributor Pascale Atallah

We are heading towards the last quarter of 2020, and chances are you might be struggling to find mindfulness in the middle of chaos. So much has changed and looks different today, and we are all having to adapt to new ways of doing things. While this is heightened right now because we are experiencing it together and on a larger scale, the truth is, individually, we all experience chaos in our lives. That can be from giving birth, going through a breakup, moving, getting injured, caring for a sick family member… So when life around you is out of control, how do you find a sense of control and mindfulness? Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness does not equate drinking celery drinks, and sitting in silence for 4hrs straight. Mindfulness comes in small doses throughout the day. Here are a few tips you can use to create grounding and presence.

1- Re-define success:

The definition of success, in any area of our lives depends on the season of life we’re in and many times we forget to reflect and allow this definition to evolve. There are times where it’s easy to go to the gym everyday, hit our macros spot on, meal prep, meditate, journal, organize the house, play with the kids… <insert whatever is the equivalent of optimized success to you> and that’s awesome. But then again, there are times where that’s not possible. And here’s the thing, we can resist change, and stay inflexible to our systems, only to hit failure over and over again, or we can reflect and readjust our definition of success for our current season of life and to what’s achievable in the moment.

No need to have an all or nothing mentality. 


So in this season of life, and as we go into the colder weather, holidays, kids “returning to school” and the uncertainties that come with COVID, what is YOUR new definition of success? 

2- Create a “to feel” list:

Everything we want to achieve in life, is because we believe we will feel better when we reach it and many times we end up deferring feeling good, until our conditions change. We want to lose weight to feel confident. We want to create structure to feel in control. We want to lift weights because we want to feel strong. We want to earn more money because we want to feel freedom. We want COVID to end so that we can go to what feels familiar and comforting. With that said, have you ever achieved a goal, yet a few days, weeks or months later, found yourself obsessing over something new? What if I told you, that you could start experiencing the feelings, before the conditions changed? For that, start creating every morning a “To feel list”, and throughout the day, notice events that achieve this feeling for you. That could be the sense of comfort that comes from holding a hot cup of coffee. The sense of control you get when you organize your shelves. The freedom you experience from dropping your chores for the day and randomly exploring your neighborhood. Eventually, you will start feeling everything you want in your life despite what is happening around you and you will create your own sense of safety in the present moment. 

3- Build anchors throughout the day:


It’s so easy to get on auto-pilot and constantly live in the past or the future during times of chaos. By creating anchors throughout the day, we are able to bring ourselves back to the present moment. You might be wondering what an anchor is? It’s exactly what it sounds like. An anchor is a structure that is fixed, that disrupts your patterns and around which you build the rest of your day. For me, my anchor is training. Training brings me back to center no matter what is happening around me. For some, prayer is a way of anchoring. Other anchors are breathing, music/dancing breaks, mindful walks where you are unplugged from your phone and you pay attention to the environment around you, journaling, water breaks and meal times. 

4- Play:

When chaos strikes, we are quick to get in doing mode. We are swept away by the stress and the momentum of everyone and everything around us. It feels like we are in a constant race. The good news is, it doesn’t have to feel this way. One of the best ways to find presence in the midst of chaos, is to unplug and play!!! Get reconnected with your inner-child. Did you forget how to play? Find something you used to love doing as a kid: painting, playing and instrument, video games, puzzles, climbing trees… anything that will put you in a flow state and will capture your attention for a long period of time. 

5- Unplug: 

Whether it is the news or social media, in today’s world things have gotten out of control. We are previewed to an abundance of information meant for us to react emotionally to and in many cases without any truth or data to back it up. As humans, it is completely normal to find our energy split as we worry about what this or that can mean for us and for our future. While it’s important to be proactive and aware, it is also important to control what we give our attention to. By scheduling times to unplug and distance ourselves from the news and social media, we are able to recenter ourselves, create clear thinking and tap into our heart center.

6- Do something outside of yourself:

Photo credit Matthias Zomer

This past week-end Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away and I’m sure like me, you have been seeing her quotes all over the internet. One in particular stood out to me: “If you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside of yourself, something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you”. Volunteering and random acts of kindness are a great way to do that. So everyday, ask yourself, “who did I help today?”. It’s incredible what shift can happen when we take the focus away from ourselves.    

Today, mindfulness can be a scary buzz word that makes you think you have to dissociate yourself from your life and environment to experience it. That is very far from the truth. When we learn to bring all parts of ourselves and our energy to whatever moment we are in, we are able to navigate all sorts of challenges and experience the ultimate level of mindfulness. 

Which one will you try and what resonates the most with you?

Learn a bit about Pascale:

Pascale Atallah holds a PhD in chemistry and works as a sustainability advisor. She has mentored and coached many in the past 15 years to find balance in their lives. Using her extensive knowledge and tool-box which includes neuro-linguistic programming and cognitive behavioral therapy her goal is to educate people on how to build a balanced approach to goal setting so that they can fully enjoy the present moment while also pursuing a thriving future.

Audrey Wint Mental Health Physical Health Spiritual Health

Your Love Sign

by: Audrey Wint

With Valentine’s Day approaching it got me thinking about love.   More specifically, self-love. 

Not the commercialized “TREAT YO SELF” kind of ‘self-care’ that may potentially leave you with buyer’s remorse, but the kind that at times can be difficult and hard to face. The kind that requires work, patience, vulnerability, humility, and honesty with yourself. That REAL self-love, you know that I’m sayin’? And if you don’t then I’m so happy you’re taking a moment to read this article.

I had a best gal pal give me a book by Anuschka Rees called “Beyond Beautiful – A Practical Guide to Being Happy, Confident, and You in a Looks-Obsessed World” that was accompanied by the sweetest love note a friend could write. This book dives into body image, self-perception, and being more than a body. 

Link to the book: 

Honestly, the book (and my friends sweet note) had come at a perfect time and continues to do so. And why you might ask? Because, “Feeling good about yourself is a basic human need. We all have an internal self-worth barometer that’s constantly being fed with new information from our brain and recalibrating exactly how good we feel about ourselves at any given moment.”

Self-love is like a garden that needs constant tending to.

For example:  The other day I turned on my Nike Training Club app to start a quick 30 minute HITT workout. About 10 minutes in I decided to pause my workout and drop down onto my mat into a child’s pose. I was listening to my body and came to the conclusion that I was judging myself because I didn’t feel present in my body. I was stuck in my head (Do you ever feel this way?).. But why? I had a quote by Cleo Wade stuck in my head, “We Honor The Dream By Doing The Work”.  

I wanted to feel present in my body, but I was stuck in my head asking myself “Am I doing the work?!” Instead of going through the motions to make it feel like I was “doing the work” it was time to turn inward to practice self-inquiry and ask myself:

  • What are things or experiences that keep me fueled and motivated to honor my dream?
  • What actions can I take to find balance to cultivate these things or experiences?
  • How can I fill my cup so that I can be there for myself and others?

Take this as your self-love sign and ask yourself these questions, bust out a journal, or even come up with your own self-inquiry questions. Please use this as a tool to start a conversation with yourself, others around you, or even on this article. 

As Ru Paul always says,

If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? 

-Ru Paul

Megan Spears Spiritual Health Uncategorized

Meditation for Women who want to clear their mind (but can’t).

by Megan Spears

I was 17 years old when I decided to  try a formal meditation class. I don’t remember if it took place on a Monday or a Sunday, at 5am or 5pm, but I do remember the smell of nag champa and the feeling of quiet reverence as I walked up the stairs to the space. I also remember, and will never forget, the  first bit of advice from the meditation teacher. He said, simply and clearly, directly to me, “try less”.

“Try less?”, I thought. “What the hell?”

I immediately became both frustrated and intrigued by the concept of trying less. I was so new to this practice; I couldn’t gauge my level of effort. It boggled my mind and stayed with me for several years, coming up randomly in my mind as a grew in my yoga and meditation practice.

I eventually (five years later) became a yoga teacher and started leading both power yoga classes and meditation classes. I purposefully did not cue “try less” in my meditation classes, simply because I hadn’t unpacked that cue for myself. I guess you could say I was sitting with it.

Photo by Molly Thrasher.

A few years into my teaching, I was invited by a fellow teacher to begin a meditation training with Dr. Lorin Roche and Camille Maurine. In this training, my teachers  shared the amazingly rebellious notion that neither have to try less or clear my mind in meditation.

I don’t have to clear my mind? Wait, what? Isn’t that what meditation is about?

No, ma’am. You sure don’t have to clear your mind or try less.

What I offer to you is what my teachers offered to me – the 8 Rs.

Rest. Release. Remember. Rehearse. Repair. Restore. Relax. Recharge. Remember that you’re meditating. Then Rest again.

Photo by Molly Thrasher.

Imagine this as you read along:

You settle into a seated position, or lie down. As you rest in your posture,  you feel your muscles release. As you release, you might remember why your muscles were tense in the first place. As you remember why you were tense, you then commence your rehearsal of the experience that made you feel tense. You problem solve, build a list of things to do, have that discussion that you’re putting off, budget your finances – all of this happens in your rehearsal stage.

(This is traditionally where you get frustrated and think you’re not meditating.  As your meditation teacher, I’m here to tell you that this is a part of the rhythm of meditation. Keep going.)

As you sense yourself in rehearsal, you might step out to jot down notes of who to call or what to do after your meditation. You might have a seriously creative moment where you finally solve that problem or think up the next best step in your business. When you come back, you will feel that you’ve repaired something – lightness ensues; you feel restored. Then you relax because you remember that you’re meditating. Sense your muscles, and the deeper layers of your awareness, rest again.

This cycle could happen 2-3 times in the span of 10 minutes. As you become aware of where you are within the 8 Rs, the time spent in each R may stretch or extend – you might find yourself in a restful state for a long time. 

Now I can appreciate the cue to “try less”. Rather than  pushing or over-effort, sense what happens when you rest into your meditation. With this understanding of meditation as a rhythm, we can appreciate and respect said rhythms. Play with the rhythms. You may start to look forward to your practice the same way you look forward to the first sip of your morning tea (or pourover cup of coffee, if you’re boujee like me). 

I hope you feel free to meditate knowing that you don’t have to clear your mind. Rather, develop a sense for what each R feels like for you.

Rest. Release. Remember. Rehearse. Repair. Restore. Relax. Recharge. Remember that you’re meditating. Then Rest again.

-Megan Spears RYT 500