What is a Prepared Mind and Why is it Important?
None of us know what challenges are coming our way or when. What is certain is that they will come. In the past, I was a worrier (well, actually, I still do my fair share of worrying) and I thought that if I could imagine the worst case scenario’s around potential challenges or crises that I would always be prepared for the worst and be okay. Since studying Positive Psychology with the Whole Being Institute, I have changed my mind and my approach to being prepared for challenge. Now, I practice and surround myself with positivity and my life is filled with daily rituals that I know I can lean on in those crisis times. I do believe we can prepare ourselves in advance for whatever comes our way. I also believe that we may never be as prepared as we would hope to be. However, I am committed to practicing.
I work with many people on a daily basis that are in some state of crisis whether pain, sickness, or challenges that are affecting their well-being and their health. I help them with my tools of acupuncture, herbs, massage, and positive encouragement. When appropriate, I point out their strengths that I’ve listened to and witnessed as resources for their own resilience in the face of challenge. I also share practices they can use to nurture their well-being in other areas than the challenge they are navigating.
How do you prepare yourself? Or do you wait until the crisis arrives and figure out how to best approach a solution? As I said above, I believe in preparation. Those of you who know me, likely know that I have a passion for Positive Psychology, how it has changed my life, and the good it has to offer for living my best life. I use many of the proven principles in Positive Psychology as the core to my being prepared.
Positive Psychology, while acknowledging what needs to be changed, focuses on what is working and what is good in life. Having regular practices where we take the time to focus on the good and all the ways life is working leads to a resourceful foundation that shores up my cache of positivity in the face of the less than positive that is part of life.
Two of my core practices that help me navigate the abyss of fear and anxiety of challenge are mindfulness and gratitude.
Mindfulness practice or actively noticing, as Ellen Langer refers to mindfulness, is a practice I can do anytime. Through mindfulness, I focus on what is and what I am aware of in the moment. As a meditation practice, my focus may be my breath or relaxing areas of my body that are tense. Mindfulness helps me be more engaged in the present moment and calm. Jon Kabat Zinn has been a pioneer in using mindfulness meditation in hospitals and healthcare settings. What we know from research is that mindfulness practice lowers anxiety and depression as well as provides health benefits such as lower blood pressure, faster healing, a stronger immune system, and clearer mental functioning. We also know that the benefits mindfulness meditation last long beyond the time spent in meditation. Even 10 – 15 minutes a day has lasting benefit.
Gratitude is another practice that helps me to notice what is good and what is working in my life. Gratitude is a practice I have done daily for so long, it is now as much a part of my life as getting dressed in the morning. I finish every day with a list of what I am grateful for and I notice each thing on my list with a heartfelt sense of being grateful. No matter what the circumstances of any given day, there is always something to give thanks for.
Through these two practices, that are a core of my daily life, I find that I am better prepared and able to ride the waves of life’s challenges and crises.
There are many ways to prepare ourselves for what comes our way. Another readily available resource, that many of my clients use, is the internet. When we find ourselves faced with a diagnosis or health challenge, gathering information or knowledge can be a double edged sword, especially on the internet. The internet is an infinite wealth of information that everyone has access to — both useful information as well as less than useful information. Most of my clients come to see me well armed with information from diagnosis, symptoms, treatments (allopathic and complimentary) and the side affects of drugs they may have been prescribed. As one of their healthcare resources, I listen to the information and cull out what may be useful and what isn’t helpful as we discuss a plan of treatment.
I do believe knowledge is a good thing when it comes to understanding and navigating your plan for healing. I also believe there can be too much information that fuels fear, anxiety, depression, and a downward spiral that, instead of being useful, begins to worsen our experience, preventing healing from progressing or even beginning.
We need balance when facing a challenge or health crisis. I want both my daily positivity practices, that gather momentum for a healthy life, as well as information that will help me ask helpful questions of my healthcare providers in designing a healing plan that suits me.
All of this leads me to another question – an even bigger question – that I’ll address in a later post: “What is healing?”
For now, I’ll let you ponder your answers to this question and stay tuned for my thoughts and stories on healing. Have a lovely day!