We’re all conditioned to roll over and receive—pay for, even—the daily barrage of negative messages wrapped innocently around images of summertime fun.
We’re not sexy enough, strong enough, smart enough, or successful enough. We don’t have the six-pack abs, or the perfect ass. We need to “earn” the margaritas and “work off” the weekend desserts.
What would happen if we just decided to stop accepting this madness? Filter the noise? What would it feel like to wake up and simply decide to turn the dial? Change the station? (Or better yet, start making our own kickass life soundtrack.)
What would be possible if we realized this whole time we were ordering off the short menu, when we could have been feasting from a banquet?
If you’ve witnessed yourself falling prey to the typical seasonal battle cries yet again (Get swimsuit ready! Lose weight fast!) forgive yourself that first reaction, because it’s hardwired in all of us. Thanks to primal brain (reptilian brain), we humans instinctively react to any fear-based messages (e.g. Lose unwanted pounds!) with an adrenaline surge and call-to-action.
The good news is we can get out of reaction and move into response by practicing a thing called mindfulness.
How? It’s pretty simple. Notice your automatic first reaction. Wait. And then consciously choose your second thought.
Mindfulness happens in that second thought. And mindfulness is a brain diet guaranteed to make us feel lighter.
This summer, we can mindfully choose responses that will lift us up rather than weigh us down. Just for today, try practicing these techniques to lighten up:
1) Travel Light.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” ~ (not) Lao Tzu
To live in the present, practice packing light. The burden of where we were, the worry over where we will be—all of this past/future stuff is extra baggage. We don’t need it, and it’s keeping us from enjoying fully and moving freely in this moment. Lose the baggage.
2) Create Space.
“Leave one shelf open for possibility.” ~ Darcie Purcell
We can take a moment to think about the best memories of our life so far and ask ourselves: Were these times perfectly orchestrated and planned down to the last detail? Did adventure, passion, or peace unfold following a tightly-crafted agenda? Or, did the best times seemingly spring forth out of nowhere—the times we were spontaneous, inspired, laughing, in love? The day we were detoured, or the time we dared to go off-script? Memorable moments and inspiration come when there is space. Spontaneity needs space. Creativity needs space. Surprise needs space. Passion needs space. And transformation needs space. The same way we might practice leaving space in our stomach (versus eating until we’re completely full), we can practice creating space in our life. Visualize an empty shelf—maybe even hang one. Protect that shelf. Keep it open as a portal for future memories to appear.
3) Say No.
“No makes way for Yes.” ~ Danielle LaPorte
The same way we keep a shelf open, we make space for our biggest yes’s by saying no more often. No is a complete sentence. We don’t need to explain why we’re not drinking the cocktail, not eating that food, not going to the party, or turning down a date. If simply saying “No” feels too abrupt, try, “No, but thank you for asking me!” (And smile and mean it.) We can notice our desire to explain our answer, resist acting on it and stand firm in the space we just claimed. Visualize that shelf uncluttered and wide open. Say no to protect space for something unexpected and amazing.
4) Release Expectations.
“Expectations are resentments under construction.” ~ Anne Lamott
Dropping expectations is a perfect lightening-up practice because it eliminates the burden (or illusion) of control. The truth is, we are not in control of circumstances or people outside of our selves. We don’t ever know what will happen next. But as we practice traveling light, creating space, and saying no, we can also practice releasing expectations and allowing things to unfold as they will. It is often the case that things turn out even better than we could have expected.
5) Notice Fullness.
“There is no greater abundance than enough because one never has to struggle for more or less of it.” ~ Josh Becker.
We are sexy enough, strong enough, smart enough, and successful enough. We are enough. This moment is enough. Rather than staying stuck in the primal brain pattern of noticing what is wrong, absent, inadequate or scary all the time, we can make it a mindful practice to notice the good and practice gratitude.
We are ready to lose unnecessary weight in life. Be present. Make space. Say no. Let go. Be full.
Look for it, and you’ll find and feel lightness everywhere.
Author: Lorna Bennett Samatas
Images: Used with permission from Mitchell Manz Photography
Editor: Toby Israel; Katarina Tavčar