Episode 77: [The Three M’s] Mindfulness: It’s More than Just Meditation

While meditation can be a wonderful mindfulness practice, there are many other ways to practice mindfulness. In this episode, I’m sharing what mindfulness looks like for me and the mindful experiences I incorporate into my everyday life.

77: [The Three M's] Mindfulness: It's More than Just Meditation

Over the next three weeks, we're going to be taking a deeper look at The Three M's: meaning, mindset, and mindfulness, starting with today's episode on mindfulness. This series represents an evolution in how I talk about and practice the three M's in my business and my life since I wrote my book, ACT On Your Business: Braving the storms of entrepreneurship and creating success through meaning, mindset, and mindfulness.

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Show Notes

Over the next three weeks, we’re going to be taking a deeper look at The Three M’s: meaning, mindset, and mindfulness, starting with today’s episode on mindfulness.

This series represents an evolution in how I talk about and practice the three M's in my business and my life since I wrote my book, ACT On Your Business: Braving the storms of entrepreneurship and creating success through meaning, mindset, and mindfulness.

When we talk about mindfulness, the first thing that comes to mind is often meditation. And while meditation can be a wonderful mindfulness practice, there are many other ways to practice mindfulness that, for a lot of us, can even be better than meditation.

I’m sharing what mindfulness looks like for me and the mindful experiences I incorporate into my life. I hope you’ll take inspiration from what I’m sharing and find mindful experiences that work for you.

Topics covered

  • Why I’m doing this series on the Three M’s
  • How art and decluttering became mindful experiences for me
  • Defining mindfulness
  • What to do when judgment arises
  • Why meditation isn’t always the best mindfulness activity

Resources mentioned

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Well, hello, my friend. Welcome to the Coach with Clarity Podcast. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough, and I am thrilled that you are joining me today. Now, if you are a regular listener of the podcast, you know that we have spent the last three weeks replaying some of our favorite episodes of the show. And they're not just my favorites, they're yours as well. And in fact, I have received so many kind messages and positive feedback about these episodes in particular. So I hope you have enjoyed our brief pause in new content in order to share with you some beloved episodes, and I hope that you found them valuable. And now here we are. It's September. Fall is right around the corner, and we have some extraordinary episodes on their way to you for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.

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And we are kicking things off with what I am calling The Three M's mini series. As some of you know, I wrote a book called, “ACT On Your Business”, braving the storms of entrepreneurship and creating success through meaning, mindset, and mindfulness. So guess what The Three M's are? That's right: meaning, mindset, and mindfulness. So over the next three weeks, we are going to do a deeper look into those three M's. And I'm going to be sharing my thoughts on them that I actually don't write about in the book. And it represents maybe an evolution in how I either talk about or practice The Three M's in my own business, and in my own life. And it was all inspired by something that happened to me just a few days ago, so I'm going to share that story with you. And then we're going to see how that leads into a discussion of one of the M’s, which is mindfulness. So in today's show, we're going to be looking at what mindfulness is and how it's more than just meditation, which is what many of us often think of when we talk about mindfulness. And yes, meditation is certainly a form of mindfulness practice, or can be at least. And it is a practice that I enjoy. And yet I know that there are many people out there who either don't like meditating or can't meditate, and they're looking for other ways to practice mindfulness. And so we're going to talk a little bit about what that looks like and how to do it. And so this is why I'm titling this episode, “Mindfulness: it's more than just meditation”. I'm also going to do something a little different for the next three episodes. I mentioned before that I'm viewing this as a mini series. And so these episodes may be mini episodes, they may be a little shorter than our typical podcast episode. So we'll see. I have an outline in front of me, but I don't script the show. I have a feeling though the show may be a little shorter than our typical 30 to 40 minute ones, which I am A-OK with. Because what I hope is that every single podcast episode is enjoyable, yes, but also actionable. So if I can share with you my thoughts, my ideas, and inspire you to take action in less time, then that's a good thing right? So let's see how the next few weeks go. Let's see if these are mini episodes for a mini series all about The Three M's: meaning, mindset, and mindfulness. And today, we're going to focus on that last one. First, we're going to put mindfulness in the spotlight and talk about how it is more than just meditation, and what mindfulness can look like in your work, in your life, and in your daily practice. So, I mentioned that the inspiration for this podcast mini series came to me last week. And actually I should really back up. I should really go back to actually about 15 months ago, when I signed up for a one day workshop at a local art gallery all about collage work. Now, I am not much of a visual artist. My background is in theaters, specifically musical theater. So I've always had a love of the fine arts and consider myself a musician and an artist. But I was never one for visual arts. I'm not much of a painter, or I don't draw particularly well. And while I appreciate art, it's not necessarily something I have created in terms of visual or graphic art. But collage has always interested me, and I have always been drawn to pieces that are mixed media. So when I saw there was a workshop about collage and how to create your own collages, I thought, “You know what? Let's do it. It's two hours of my time, not too much money. It supports a local art gallery that I absolutely love. Let's do it”. And I had such a great time at this workshop, and I created a piece that I got to take home that I was really proud of. And in fact, I have it on my mantel at home and I get to look at it every day. And it just reminds me of how much fun I had. Well, after that workshop, I got really inspired. And I thought, “You know what? I could do this just for fun, just as a creative outlet”. So I did what I typically do, I went and I purchased some canvases, and some brushes, and some of those sponge tipped brushes. I bought Mod Podge. And I started collecting papers, and little objects, and things that I thought could be really cool for collage work. And I got all of the materials and promptly put them into a drawer, and never opened that drawer again. And sadly, this is something that I have done with other things in my life as well. I've tried knitting, I've tried bullet journaling, I've tried all sorts of things. And I kind of get really into it for a very brief period of time, and then it kind of falls off. It's not one of my finer qualities. But hey, this is who I am. This is how I work. And so sadly, it happened to me with the collage work as well. I had this drawer full of materials that remained unopened for 15 months. And every time I would look at that piece of art that I created at the workshop on my mantel, I would think to myself, “I should really break that stuff out, I should really do another piece of art, if only for myself”. So flash forward 15 months, and the last 15 months well, for most of us they've been anything but expected as we have navigated a global pandemic. Personally though, I've also been through quite a lot of change. I lost my grandmother to Coronavirus in June of 2020. I had a major surgery in July of 2020 that had some complications that actually resulted in a second surgery, and a much longer recovery period. I saw tremendous growth in my business, which was incredibly exciting. And then had to figure out how to maintain that pace through 2021, as we were all learning how to live in a world where a pandemic was part of our daily life. And then in early August, my grandfather passed away. Now his death was not unexpected. And fortunately, I was able to visit with him 10 days before he died, and he was ready. He really missed my grandmother, he did not enjoy spending this last year or so without her and to quote him, “I'm ready to see my girl again”. So while I miss him, and while I love him, I also know that he was ready for this next phase of his experience, and that he's reunited with my grandmother. And even with that, I'm still grieving his loss. And I'm grieving all of the losses that I have experienced over the last 15 to 18 months. It's been a lot, as I know it has been for so many of you. And one of the ways I chose to deal with my grief was to declutter. And I know that may sound odd, and maybe it's Virgo season and all of that lovely Virgo energy inspiring me, but I just felt called to declutter. I decluttered my closet, I decluttered this area of my kitchen that had just become out of control. And the last thing I did, and I had been putting this off for months, but I have an area in a part of my house that could be an office, but it has become kind of the dumping ground for all of the things that we just don't know where to put. And I tackled it. I was like, “We're just going to declutter this”. And as I did so, two things stood out to me. Number one, while I was decluttering, I was completely and totally focused on the act of decluttering. My mind did not wander. I wasn't thinking about work, I wasn't thinking about friends, or relationships, or anything else that was going on. I was completely absorbed by the task at hand, which was figuring out, does this stay? Does this go? If it goes, does it get donated? Does it get trashed? And it took all of my focus and energy. And I thought, “Well, this is really interesting, because I've been dreading this decluttering process, and yet, it wound up being one of the most calming things for my mind”. And like many of you, who I know can relate to this, my mind rarely shuts off. I'm always thinking about something, and to be quite honest with you, it's usually my business. I'm always thinking about it. So to have these extended periods of time go by where I wasn't thinking about it at all, and the only thing I was thinking about was what I was doing in that very moment, that's mindfulness. And so I found that decluttering was a mindful practice for me. So that was revelation number one. Revelation number two was the minute I cleared out this office space, I realized, “Oh my goodness, this is the perfect space to do collage work. I've got drawers up here where I can store things. I've got a large countertop where I can spread out materials. I've got windows for natural light. Why haven't I've been using this space for more creative endeavors?”. So once I got everything out of the way, I was able to open that drawer that contained all of my collage materials, move it all upstairs, and for the first time in 15 months I created a piece of collage art. And you know what? It is not perfect. I look at it. And I think, “Oh, I could have done this. And I should have done that”. But the fact is, I did it. After 15 months of staring at something I'd created thinking, “Oh, I should do that, again. Oh, why am I not doing that?”. I shook off the cobwebs, and I got it done. And I'm so proud of it, even with all of its imperfections, because it was exactly what I needed to do in order to reignite that creative spark and get back to myself again. And the practice of creating that piece was also a mindfulness practice. Because guess what, while I spent 90 minutes on this little four inch by four inch canvas creating a collage, it took up all of my focus, and time, and energy. I was completely absorbed by the task in front of me. I didn't think about work. I didn't think about my kids in school and what they were facing, and would we be going into lockdown? And how would I manage that? I wasn't thinking about all of the other things on my to do list. All I was thinking about was, where I wanted to put this piece of tissue paper. And would this be a good place to incorporate some of the old ticket stubs that I've collected? And what do I want to feature in this part of the canvas? All of my attention was on what was right in front of me, in the present moment. And that my friends, is mindfulness. The definition of mindfulness I always come back to is the one created by Jon Kabat Zinn, and he describes mindfulness as awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, non judgmentally. So within that definition, it really encapsulates everything that mindfulness is meant to address. So we are paying attention, we are fully aware, we are fully engaged. And we're doing so with a level of intentionality, that's the on purpose piece. So it's not that our thoughts are just kind of coming and going, and so forth. No, we have a purpose, and that is to pay attention to the present moment. That's that next piece of the definition. So we're not worrying about what's yet to come, we're not dwelling on what's already happened, we are in the moment. And we do all of that without judging ourselves, the people around us the world, we do so from a place of open acceptance. And that is exactly the experience I had while I was decluttering my house, and while I was creating this collage piece, I was fully engaged, I was present in the moment, my attention was placed on only what was in front of me. And for the most part I was doing so from a place of non judgment. Now, I'll be honest with you, that's the hardest part about mindfulness for me. And I think it's probably the hardest part for most of us, is to turn off that internal critic. That part of our mind, that is always judging. And it's there for a reason. It's doing its job. It's trying to keep us safe. And a lot of times it goes overboard, and it creates judgments when really we don't need that noise. And I'll admit that at times while I was decluttering, I would think to myself, “Oh, why did I buy this? Did I really need another one of that? Is it okay for me to get rid of this even though so and so gave it to me?”. Yes, there was some judgment going on. And even in the moment though, when I recognized myself doing it, I would just stop and I would return to the basics. Do I want to keep this or not? If I want to keep it, where does it go? And if I don't, does it get donated or trashed? Done, move on. And yes, even when I was creating that collage piece, there was some judgment that would come up. Pretty simple stuff. Like, “Oh, maybe I shouldn't have put that piece of paper there”, or “Oh, I already glued that down, I wish I had moved at first’. And even still, when I would notice that I would say, “Well, what's done is done, let's return. What happens next?”. So even in an ideal mindfulness practice, we will get distracted. Our inner critic, our inner judge may come in and try to tell us that we're not doing things right. And our job is simply to notice and return to the present moment, to return to the practice at hand. And I have to tell you, I did not engage in decluttering, or in creating this piece of art, as a mindfulness practice. At least not at first, that was not my intention. And yet during and after, I realized just how powerful a mindful experience it was for me. And in many ways, it was more mindful than my meditation practice. Which again, meditation is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. But it's not the only way. And for many of us, it's not the ideal way. I am always getting distracted when I'm meditating. My brain just goes all sorts of places rather than staying in the present moment, or focusing on my breath, or noticing what's going on in my body, or whatever it is I'm placing my focus on for that meditation. My brain hears meditation and just goes “Oh, time to go on full alert”, and all of the thoughts that you can imagine just come flooding in. And so as much as I love meditation, and as much as I value it, it's not always the best mindfulness activity for me. It's fascinating to me that decluttering and art are the two things that of late I have found to be really supportive of my mindfulness practice. Because both of those allowed me to cultivate a deeper awareness through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. So moving forward, when I want to practice mindfulness, yeah, I may do a meditation or two. I may also look around my house and ask, “Alright, what needs to be decluttered today?”. Or maybe I'll head upstairs to my newly cleaned out art space, and create something new. All of those are perfectly valid forms of mindfulness, and all of those I know will support me in my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. I certainly don't talk about decluttering or creating art in “ACT On Your Business” as mindfulness strategies. But if I ever get around to creating a second edition of the book, I guarantee you I will be sharing this story in the chapter on mindfulness. And I will be talking about untraditional ways to practice mindfulness in your life as well. And with that, let's head into this week's Clarity in Action moment. This week's Clarity in Action moment is brought to you by the Coach with Clarity Membership. Now, we've talked about the membership a lot on this podcast. And in fact, it frequently sponsors the Clarity in Action moments. I am so proud of the membership because it brings such extraordinary value to the members. It includes four live calls every month, that include co-working, Q&A, guest expert trainings, and hotseat coaching, where you can get coached by me live. And then we use that session to look at what it means to be a powerful coach. So members have the opportunity to critique my performance as a coach, to ask questions, to notice what works, to suggest other ways that we could have coached the client as well. It's such a powerful experience for all of us to grow as coaches. And in addition to those live sessions, members also get access to the Coach with Clarity Toolkit, filled with trainings, and templates, and guides, and an attorney prepared contract that you can use in your business with your clients. So it is a value packed membership. I am so proud of it. And, October will mark the second anniversary of the membership being available to the general public. So that is a huge milestone. And to celebrate, I am going to be giving the membership a bit of a refresh. We're going to be reorganizing some of the content, making the portal more user friendly so you can access all of the resources much more easily, I'll be revising a lot of the templates and guides within the Toolkit. It is basically going to get a facelift, and I am super excited about that. I will be focusing October, November, and December of this year on refreshing the membership. Which is why I will be closing enrollment on September 30th. Now I have never done this before, the membership has always been open for enrollment. It's what a lot of people call “An Evergreen Program”, meaning we don't have a cart open and a cart close. It's always open for enrollment. So for the first time in the history of the membership, I will be closing enrollment on September 30th. So if you've been thinking about joining the Coach with Clarity Membership, September is the last chance for you to join this year. And when you join, you will be locking in the 2021 rates. So as long as you remain a member in good standing, you will pay the same amount for the rest of your membership, even when rates go up. Which they will in 2022, after the refresh. So when you join now, you'll get access to all of the content and you'll benefit by being a part of the refresh and getting access to all of the brand new Coach with Clarity 2.0 materials as well. Plus, you will not be subject to the increased rates in 2022. Now is the best time to join the Coach with Clarity Membership, and in fact, this month is the last chance you'll have to become a Coach with Clarity Member in 2021. The doors will not open again until 2022. So don't wait, head to CoachwithClarity.com/membership to learn more and to join today. I cannot wait to welcome you into the Coach with Clarity Membership. 

For this week's Clarity in Action moment, I am going to invite you to explore some non traditional approaches to mindfulness. Now, you may already have a solid mindfulness practice that works for you. And if that's the case, awesome. You know, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And I'm also going to encourage you to think about other processes, other approaches, other activities that could support you in your mindfulness practice. What's an unexpected, innovative way that you could bring mindfulness into your daily activities? For me, it was decluttering and creating collage art. What might that be for you? Now when I think about the decluttering, and the creation of art experiences I had, what unites those is the fact that I was fully immersed in an activity, and it required use of my hands. So I know for me that when I am fully engaged in something, and I am moving specifically with my hands, it's likely to be a more mindful experience. And I only know that through trial and error, through trying things out. So feel free to take inspiration from what I shared with you today, and feel free to explore and find out what works for you. And once you do, I hope you will let me know all about your experience. You can find me over on Instagram @CoachwithClarity and send me a DM about what activities you've been engaging in in a mindful way. Or you can send me an email, it's info@CoachwithClarity.com and tell me all about it. I really want to know and I would love to share some of your experiences on a future podcast episode. So, that is your Clarity in Action moment this week. Find a new, maybe untraditional, way of exploring mindfulness in your daily life. And I cannot wait to hear how it goes. Alright my friends, that's it for me this week. And it does look like this episode was a little shorter than past ones. So we'll see how the next couple go. It's always an experiment, right? And I hope you'll join me for next week's episode, a continuation of our mini series into The Three M's. And I think we're going to explore meaning next week, and how it's more than just values work. It's gonna be a good one. So if you're not already following the Coach with Clarity Podcast, go ahead and do so now. And that way you'll be sure that next week's episode will show up in your feed, and I can't wait to connect with you then. So until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.


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