Growing Gratitude 

Garden of the Mind

When I am struggling with anxiety, this Bible verse has come to mind many times in my life and reminded me to be still…

Psalm 46:10 

Be still and know that I am God…

When I am reminded to be still, I also can calm myself by “knowing” or reminding myself that:

  • God loves me.
  • I am child of God.
  • I have a loving family.
  • My dog is a wonderful companion.
  • I am alive and well.
  • No weapon formed against me shall prosper. (Isaiah 54:17)
  • I have a safe home.
  • I have a dependable vehicle.
  • I am mobile and independent.
  • I have many gifts and talents.
  • I have friends who love me. 
  • I have a heart for helping others.

Wow! After writing those few positive things down to affirm that life isn’t spinning around me in chaos after all or that I’m not failing at everything (the opposite of what my anxious mind tells me) I start to feel lighter and more hopeful…and less anxious. 

Writing lists of gratitude or keeping a gratitude journal has been a trend for many years now. Oprah is a believer in this practice and usually by the time it catches on in self-help/pop psychology it becomes eye-roll worthy when suggested as a method of self-care. Many nod their heads and say “oh yes, I’ll do that one day”…but then life gets busy and one gets caught up in their anxieties all over again and forget to “be still and know.”

If you are struggling with anxiety, stress, busyness, etc. try this exercise below if a list or a daily practice of gratitude journaling is too much:

  • Write down and/or visualize just one positive thing in your life. 
  • Clear out all the other negative thoughts and focus on this one shiny thing. 
  • Feel all the positive feelings that emanante from this positive object, memory, person, or experience. 
  • As other thoughts trickle into your mind, let them pass, wave to them if you need to, but focus on your positive thought. 
  • Meditate on this thought for at least 1 minute, but stay focused on it for as long as you like. 

How did this exercise make you feel? Please share in the comments if it helped you in any way. Do you keep any type of journal? Do you have a habit of expressing gratitude or try to cultivate a thankful heart in other ways? 
💜👩🏻‍🌾

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Midnight Mindfulness

Garden of the Mind


I read lots of self-help articles when I’m in bed with insomnia that help me sometimes. Some of these articles have experts who explain that that living in the present moment leads to an increased sense of contentment.  I am working on mindfulness and figuring out if it works for managing anxiety and overall contentment.
Last week, my therapist walked me through a mindfulness technique during our session:

  • We chose a point in the room to focus on.
  • We took slow deep breaths in for the count of eight
  • held the breath for the count of eight
  • and then released the breath for the count of eight 
  • remember to breathe from the diaphragm-not shallow breaths in the chest alone
  • Repeat 8-10 times or just as many as you need unless your mind calms. 

This was not the first time I had been taught a similar technique for managing anxiety. I needed a refresher since it had been about 6 years since my last lesson. 

My therapist told me to use this exercise to become more mindful and we would talk more about mindfulness in our next session. 

Mindfulness. What is it exactly? 

 

How do you practice mindfulness in your life? Please comment. I’d love to hear from you. 💜👩🏻‍🌾

Like dandelion seeds, scatter your cares in the wind.

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This is so true! I hope that whatever may be burdening you is released today! Just as you would blow on a dandelion and watch the seeds scatter and fly away in the wind I hope you can harness the power of your mind, body, and spirit to help whatever is weighing you down become lighter and disappear. It could be as simple as taking a few minutes to visualize your ideal self, getting out in the fresh air, or saying a prayer to get you one step closer to emotional freedom.  I’m going to take my own advice and get away from the screens and do at least one or two of these things today! 

When I was going through a very difficult time a few months ago struggling with panic attacks and depression I started doing visualizations and meditation for stress relief.  I talk about that in another post.  I have returned to the visualizations almost nightly and found myself to sleep a lot better. 

When I was in the stress pit I didn’t realize how much life was weighing me down.  As the quote above says, I only realized exactly how much stress I was carrying when it started to release its grip on my heart.  It took making some life changing-decisions such as resigning from my job, many prayers and hours of therapy to get to the place I am in today.  I am not where I ideally want to be, but I am at least in the ballpark garden walls.  

Thanks to my mental health conditions I have issues with motivation and self-esteem often.  When I read others’ blogs about struggling with these issues it makes me feel more normal and for a moment makes me less hard on myself.  I want to release the burden of self-doubt and fear of the unknown today. What burdens are you carrying that you need to release?  What suggestions do you have for releasing stress, emotional burdens, etc.? 

I hope you have a care-free Saturday! 

These ARE the good old days.

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These are the good old days

I was driving yesterday through the beautiful spring scenery listening to the radio and heard a message about enjoying life where we are today.  It talked about not trying to fast forward through life waiting for the next stage to bring us happiness, fulfillment, peace…

I am working on breaking myself of the habit of thinking things like:

  • I’ll be happy with myself when I lose the weight.
  • I’ll feel accomplished when I get 1,000 likes on Facebook.
  • I’ll feel peace when…

What thoughts like this do you have in your mind?  How are they holding you back from being happy, fulfilled, peaceful, today? 

Have you looked through any old photos lately?  I have.  When I look at myself 10 years ago I don’t see the same things (flaws) that I saw when I first had a photo taken/printed.  At the time, I usually saw fault with the muffin top protruding through my shirt or my bad hair day. Now, I see the feelings I had that day and the memory that was made.  A field trip with family, the last birthday I celebrated with a loved one, the happiest days and the seemingly mundane days.

The message on the radio yesterday included a story about a man who was feeling exasperated and exhausted raising his children and has a conversation with an 80-year-old friend who tells him how she would love to hear her house filled with the pitter patter of little feet and rock her children back to sleep again.  Those days were precious and fleeting…and so are these.

What I took away from the message was to enjoy each day and see the happiness, fulfillment and peace in it even if you do not feel happy, fulfilled, or peaceful. Here’s my first try:  Today I am happy that it is spring, I am fulfilled by the fact that I had a creative thought today and actually followed through with it, and I have peace that God will take care of me whatever the future may hold.

Whole Heart Gardening

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I know that the first few posts I have written here have mostly been about the garden of the mind, but I have plans and ideas to write about the whole heart: mind, body, and spirit.  I’m trying to limit my computer use each day so that I can get some housework non-blog related tasks checked off of my to do lists, so hopefully categorized (body, mind, spirit) pages will appear with handy posts on things related to but not necessarily revolving around mental health.  I believe that our bodies and spirits are tied to our mind in numerous ways, so it just seems natural to have the site divided this way.

If you would like to see something specific in bloom here leave me a comment or email me at heartgardening411@gmail.com.

Several months ago, I started using visualization and meditation to cope with anxiety, lose weight, motivate myself to eat healthy foods (when I really love pizza and cheese-covered Mexican food and crave chocolate and pasta).  I was able to do a nightly visualization for about three weeks and I felt like I had been brainwashed (in a good way!).  I was walking around spouting positivity and telling everyone who asked me how I was how this awakening was life changing.

Then, we went on vacation.  It was a great vacation, but as you know vacations break routine and there is usually some pretty awesome food that is not the most healthy thing you could put in your mouth.  After we got home from vacation I never listened to my visualizations again.  My stress level increased, my anxiety was dominating my life again and depression started to creep in since I gained the weight I had lost over the few weeks of enlightenment.

Last night, for the first time since vacation about six months ago, I put my ear buds in and pressed play on my evening visualization.  It helped me relax and calm my mind before bed and actually feel a little happier after a stressful day. I also slept and didn’t have the usual crazy vivid dreams I’ve been having in recent weeks so it felt like I really slept and didn’t run around playing pretend all night.  So, if you are looking for something like this check out The Gabriel Method at: http://www.thegabrielmethod.com/

Hopefully, I will get back into this old habit of visualizing and meditating and relight the spark I once had to talk about the body and spirit side of heart gardening.