Video: Mindful Goal Setting Meditation

In this mindfulness practice, we reflect on goals and how to goal set mindfully so that they are realistic and achievable for us, regardless of our physical and mental health status. When we practice values-based behaviours, we tend to feel better. Doing all of this mindfully can improve our overall well-being.

I hope you can make the most of it with your mindful goals!

Video: Yin Yoga for Hips (mini class)

In this 25 minute mini yoga class, I take you through a sequence of hip openers, which have helped me with my hip pain (and anxiety) over the past several years.

I hope this helps you to keep making the most of it!

Video: Daily Mindfulness – Clouds in the Sky

One way to create distance between us and our thoughts is to help move them along (which in turn changes the way we perceive our thoughts) so that we don’t get hooked by them. This is done through a visualization, imagining you are looking up at the clouds drifting by and you can just place your thoughts onto them.

Keep making the most of it everyone!

Video: Daily Mindfulness – Clouds in the Sky

This practice can help us create distance between ourselves and any unhelpful thoughts we have about our pain and illness. Unhelpful can include just dwelling on the fact that these occur for us (that often contribute to anxiety and depression).

Hope this helps you to keep making the most of it!

Video: Values-Based Activities – Why Try Yoga?

Yoga has a lot of different benefits for chronic pain and chronic illness and can be worth trying out. If you’re hesitant, I totally get it, I was for the longest time as well.

Keep making the most of it!

Video: Daily Mindfulness – Embracing Pain

Acceptance is hard. Embracing pain is hard. Especially for those of us who experience chronic pain. And yet, there is a lot of research that shows acceptance practices can help us manage pain much better. I have used many meditative (and non-meditative) acceptance practices on myself over the past several years and it has really helped me cope.

I hope this also helps you to keep making the most of it!

How to Practice Deep Breathing for Chronic Pain

I recently wrote a post on my meditation teaching blog about deep breathing and how to do so in a way that will stimulate the vagus nerve. This is really important for chronic pain as well. The Vagus Nerve, and specifically deep breathing to affect it, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, putting us in “rest and digest” mode. This often leads to a decrease in sensations of pain. (And if you also have anxiety, this may mean a decrease in both anxiety and pain for you). Check out the blog post here.

I’ll be back from vacation with some new posts next week! Keep making the most of it!

Video: Daily Mindfulness – 5 Day Meditation Challenge

Introduction to the challenge
Please subscribe to the Aligning Mindfully YouTube channel if you like the challenge!
More challenges coming soon

Meditation has been shown to help a lot with physical health and mental health. It can help with pain, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and more. It’s also difficult for most of us to get into a meditation habit. That’s why I created this 30 day challenge where we only practice for 5 minutes each day (and if you miss a day, that’s also okay). I’d love to hear how it goes for you and what you notice by the end. Full playlist here.

Just another way we can keep making the most of it!

My Favourite Self-Compassion Practices

We all struggle with self-compassion. I’ve written about it before on this blog, talked about it on the podcast, written guests posts on other blogs about it. I do self-compassion work all the time with my clients. And most importantly, I do self-compassion work all the time with myself. Self-compassion has been shown to lessen chronic pain, improve resilience, and keep us motivated – all of which are important when you have a chronic health condition. It can also help when experiencing trauma symptoms, anxiety, and depression. Being honest, while my pain is much, much less than it used to be, self-compassion has and continues to help me deal with it. More recently I’ve noticed the great effect it has for me during trauma triggers and anxiety. Self-compassion is also hard – at first – eventually it becomes a lot easier and more natural to do (though there is always effort to be put in). When I notice (using my mindfulness skills), I’m able to pause and ask myself what would be helpful now. More often than not I end up doing a self-compassion practice, which helps me regulate, centre, and continue on with my day.

Being self-compassionate allows me to do more.

There are tons of different self-compassion practices you can do. I do highly recommend the Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer. I bought it, used in on myself, and now use the exercises with my clients. Beyond the ones from the workbook, I have some other practices that I quite enjoy, use often, and really help. Without further ado, here are my 4 favourite self-compassion practices.

  1. Lovingkindness Meditation – this is actually a really old Buddhist practice that is used secularly now. It involves generating feelings of warmth and kindness towards ourselves and others (typically someone we care about, someone we feel neutral about, a difficult person, and everyone). We then repeat lovingkindness phrases, sending them first to ourselves, and then to each of the others. The reason I like this practice is because it is easier to send compassion to other people, and we still get to practice giving it to ourselves.
    Typical lovingkindness phrases include:
    May I be happy.
    May I be safe.
    My I be healthy.
    May I be at peace.

    But can include any phrases that resonate best with you.
    Try it here.
  2. Kind Hand – this is a practice I actually learned from a counselling textbook (ACT Made Simple) and find I use it a lot with myself because it’s such an easy gesture and quick way to offer myself compassion. (My clients tend to like it too). Basically you imagine your hand filling with the same kindness and care you offer others, and then place it on the part of your body you feel the most pain (emotional or physical) and let the kindness flow into it and then all around your body.
    Try it here.
  3. Heart Opening Yoga – this is working with the heart chakra, which helps with self-compassion and self-love. I’ve done this both as a vinyasa class and a yin class (I personally prefer the yin class, especially when I’m feeling anxious/activated because it’s more grounding). This usually includes a lot of chest openers, expansions and back bends to help us make room in the physical, emotional and spiritual bodies for compassion.
    I personally recommend Yoga with Kassandra on YouTube for some great practices (I’ll be launching my own as soon as I finish my Yoga Teacher Training).
  4. Compassionate letter writing or journalling – if you’re open to writing and/or like journalling, this can be a very effective practice. My former therapist had me do this once and I did find it helped (and of course, I’ve had my own clients do this as well). It can be quite difficult if you’re not used to giving yourself compassion, so I actually recommend trying any of the above 3 practices first. The formula for the letter is pretty simple:
    -mindfully write what happened – being open, curious, and nonjudgmental about your experience, thoughts and feelings (who, what, when, where, maybe why).
    -write some words connecting yourself to common humanity – we all experience pain, hurt, emotions, etc. and telling ourselves something like, “everyone feels this way sometimes” (etc) can help us remember that we are not alone.
    -write something kind to yourself – imagine what you would say to a friend who was struggling. What kinds words would you offer? Just write those down, offering them to yourself.

    Try it here.

Self-compassion is a powerful and useful practice. The more I integrate it into my life, the easier my life becomes. And of course I want the same for all of you, so that you can keep making the most of it!

Video: Daily Mindfulness – Compassion with Equanimity

Added from the work of Kristin Neff.

This practice is particularly good for anyone finding themselves in a caregiving role. This may be as a healthcare practitioner, doctor, nurse, or as someone taking care of an elderly parent, a partner or child who is chronically ill, or really any other caregiving role. Sometimes the best thing we can do is offer compassion to another, while also taking care of ourselves.

Keep making the most of it!