Self-Care and Inner Peace and Why They Are Critical for Your Health
Stressed? Exhausted? Uninspired? Unwell? Frustrated? Here, my friends, is the wellness appointment you wish you scheduled years ago
BOCA RATON, FL -- If you don't know Barb Schmidt, an internationally known and respected practitioner of mindfulness and meditation and founder of the non-profit organization, Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life, you will now.
And you'll want to.
Thanks to nearly 40 years of practice and spiritual retreats with our world's top mindfulness teachers, Barb is one of the many who inspire us all to be better. To grow. To change. To learn. To listen. To pause. To be.
Barb and her daughter, Michelle Maros, Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director, are about to launch a four-month virtual wellness series called The Self-Love Club. You can jump in at any time... and whether you can or can't, whether you want to or it's not for you, take some time to listen to my interview with Barb.
You'll thank me.... well, you should thank mostly Barb.... later.
Watch the exclusive interview here - simply click on YouTube arrow above
Paige Kornblue: Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's mission is to bring mindfulness teachings to the world with the belief that outer peace beings through inner peace. Why does it take so long for so many of us to realize that?
Barb Schmidt: "It's a really good question and I think it's.... we are not taught. We are not taught that we really, my whole addage is living our lives from the inside out so we are not really taught about being grounded from within and to check in with ourselves and how we are feeling and to question things in the outside world in a lot of ways, we really are always reacting to the outside world. This happens then we do this. This happens then we do that and so I think we're not really taught that as young people. We are not really taught that unless a tragedy happens or something really awful happens to us and we start to think 'Oh my gosh, what is this trying to teach me and what do I need to do here?' So I like to think truly as living your life from the inside out because the outside world is always going to be unpredictable, uncertain, difficult and unmanageable at times and all of the things we especially are feeling this year. So that's never going to change, that's the way life is so I like to think that if we can really start being grounded from within and knowing who we are, what we want, taking pauses throughout the day.... so that inner peace for me doesn't really mean stagnant or sitting still or being somebody that sits in a cave meditating all day long, inner peace to me means strength, power, empowerment, wisdom, clarity and understanding that I can take a pause and say no and then act instead of reacting.
At the end of the day, we've all got the junk on our shoulders or in our world. How do you break through, how do you balance that with all those feelings?
It usually takes something. It takes some event and sometimes the event that happens in our life can be more tragic than other times but it usually takes something to kinda wake us up or to jolt us out of the trance. If I think of all the teachings or teachers that I studied with for 37 years, all of them had some version or way of saying that we're not really fully awake, we're not fully here present in the moment and most of the time we're reacting or being like a ping pong ball being bounced all over the place because we're not really grounded in one thing that helps us kind of see more clearly that 'This is my path' or 'This is what matters most to me.' What matters most to you? We're not really thinking about that. And if we did think about that, most of the time we're not spending our time on what matters most. I like to help people see....get really clear on who you are, which is not always easy but it's important, we have to know who we are and that we are important and that we matter and get really clear on what you want and understand what matters to you and weave all that together in making a plan. If you're a business person, we have goals or ideas of where we want to go. It's the same with our personal lives. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? What matters? What do you want to spend time doing? I was looking at Harvard study recently that said '20% of our activities produce 80% of our results and I thought... whoa, that makes sense!' And so where are you spending 20% of your time because that's really where your results will come. That's a long way of saying... becoming aware. Waking up.
You mentioned covid-19 and this pandemic year struck us all whether we realize it or not, at different times during the year. Talk about the following Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life Instagram post and what's been your leading advice lately?
We are trying... we are all trying. You are okay wherever you are right now whatever that is because this is the most unpredictable traumatic time that we've all ever lived in in our lifetimes and we are all suffering a traumatic stress together. A trauma. A collective trauma in the world and in our countries and in our communities and in our families. This is a collective place where we've never been before. I tell people that whatever you're doing is enough and know that it will pass. Nothing in life lasts forever... everything passes, even our emotions.
When you understand your emotions, they come and they go. The reason they linger or we get caught up in them or we start to live in the sadness or in the fear or in the regret or whatever it is is because we allowing the mind to feel the emotions and we are either ignoring them or we're pushing them down or repressing it. The word emotion comes from the Latin word emovere to move out. Emotions are to move out. It won't last forever.
You tackle so many topics... wellness, grief, isolation, inner peace, relationships. Do you see a difference in men and women finding that peaceful mind, peaceful life?
Probably 85% of the people that come to workshops or been on Zoom or follow me on social media that follow me or Michelle on Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life are women. I have a lot of men too, and they interact beautifully but it's a different interaction, a little more of a step back. Women go all in with their emotions and go all in with their questions and they go all in. Because we are always caretakers as women, because we are always giving and because we are always trying to figure it out...we have not been able to feel and be present in our full humanity as women. That's just the truth, in the workplace and everywhere. With covid especially... we're trying to work, we're trying to take care of the kids, we're trying to teach the kids, I mean we're trying to do it all. What I've heard from women is 'How do I manage all of this? How do I do all of this? What do I do? What can I do to take care of myself? Which is not something I hear from men very often. Women really are asking that question right now because they're realizing in this day and in this time, it's become very apparent that we're not taking care of ourselves because we're running out of gas. We're running out of energy. It's like that slow burn when you leave your light on in your car overnight and your battery is dead in the morning. We are like that slow burn because we are not recharging at the rate we need to given all of the stress and the trauma and the grief that's happening.
You've worked with experts in the field for 37 years. Where do your teachings come from and how do you do it?
It's why I titled my book 'The Practice.' No one has ever really asked me this in that way and I love this. If I think back on my time, my story and going into treatment for bulimia when I was 28 years old in 1984 and learning meditation and all of the therapy and group therapy and yoga and mindfulness.... '84 in Naples, Florida, who would have thought?... but the thing that I learned there besides unearthing all of these things that were inside of me and some of these techniques, the thing that I learned there was that I actually mattered as a human being and that not what I do and not what I look like, the clothes that I wear or the car that I buy, all of the outside things can never bring you the happiness, it really matters who I am, what I want and what I think about myself and understanding that I matter and that I'm important. When I left treatment I was on this massive search because knew two things - that I had to keep that going because I was so taken by that, that I mattered and could actually be happy.... and then the second thing that I knew I would die if I relapsed into the disease of bulimia.
I was like a dog with a bone. I got out of treatment and started 'what do I want to learn, who's teaching meditation and what do I want to learn.' I think what happened to me is I became so ravenous with reading and learning and going that when I came out and wrote the book in 2014 and actually started teaching at FAU in 2002 and 2003... I realized that what had happened is I took teachings of all of these great teachers like Thich Nhat Hanh, Deepak Chopra, the Dalai Lama, James Finley and a lot of unknown ones you may have never heard of, Pema Chodron, Tenzin Palmo - lots of teachers and hundreds of retreats with them, online but mostly in person. I realized that what matters most, if I matter, is me finding my own practice that works for me.
What's important for us is to find a practice that works that we can sustain every single day even if it's just a little piece. I remember being at a retreat with the Dalai Lama in 2007 and someone asked him a similar question... 'How do you meditate for so long and how do you do this?' He said 'Better to meditate five minutes every day than 20 minute once a week. Because it's the meditation and practice that gets you where you want to go.'
You have to have a practice. I would say find your practice and practice it and find your community (which is what we are here, things we do here, which is what I have on social media)... find your community and enter it. Be with those people. Be real. Be raw. Don't be ashamed or afraid to be exactly who you are. And then find your teacher. Start reading books. Find those three things that will sustain you every day.
What do you think of this, what I think is an awesome explosion on social media, in magazines, newspapers of just everybody sharing? Some days I'm feeling it and some days I so overwhelmed by it... but isn't it a positive that has come out of the past year?
I can't agree more. I think it's been revolutionary. I use a quote "The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit." When you look at the racial justice that has happening, the social justice is happening, we are really starting to come more together with a sense of understanding. What has to happen for us to live together in this country, world as well. And that's what I see a lot on social media, people becoming real with each other so they're bonding at a level that we've never done before. So we're breaking down all of those barriers. I think in the past we might have looked at our differences more than the ways we are alike and I feel like that's starting to reverse. I think we are opening up and awakening to the possibility that we can all inhabit this planet with care and compassion and we don't all have to look the same, we don't all have to speak the same, we don't all have to come from the same backgrounds but we can have the same deep respect and love and care for each other because we are human beings experiencing all of the same things in our own unique ways. I've always said social media is phenomenal. It just has to be used right, in the greater good for all and you have to be the one 'What am I going to go to and read and what am I going to pass on?'
Your workshops they continue this discussion. Let's talk about one that is around the corner, The Self-Love Club.
It was Michelle's idea! It's born out of some of the things we just talked about - how do we come together more in love and similarity instead of difference and anger and resentment because we've had a lot of all that built up for quite awhile, generations probably.
What if actually had a conversation in the living room via Zoom where we talked about maybe boundaries, setting boundaries, what does that look like, what does that mean....so that when people leave that talk, they get a really clear idea of what to do.
I think we have a misconception of what a boundary is... we think a boundary is to punish the other person. Not at all. So if we spent ten minutes talking about this is what boundaries are for and this is why and this is how you use them and this is how you can actually create them so it's more about getting deep into how does this one practice of setting a boundary or self-care and burnout, how do you become resilient (because resiliency is what leads us to success and happiness)?
What are some of the self-care practices you love to do?
I have several and they really sustained me a lot through this COVID-19 year and I feel like I highlight them all in my book and I talk them alot but nothing is greater than having a practice and you're being called to use that practice to the maximum that you could possibly use it and that it actually works.
I love to read. I will read every single day even if it's for five minutes. Some inspirational something. A book. A poem. A passage. A prayer. Whatever it is, I always read something before I go to bed sometime during the day but it's usually at bedtime.
Affirmations. A positive and a negative thought can exist in the mind at the same time. So when the negative thought starts coming and I start going down the rabbit hole, I have about four or five affirmations that I rely on that I've been using for so long that they just come to my rescue. I can be down in the pit of a rabbit hole and all of a sudden that phrase 'All is well in this moment, Barb'... will come and it brings me right back to the present moment. One of my favorite teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh said 'Be where your feet are.'
I meditate every single morning and I do a reflection meditation every night and walking. I really love to walk, not with headphones, not with anything. I love to just be in nature and go for a walk without any distractions of anything else coming into me. I'm just letting the environment and nature, take it all in.
Do five minutes. Do one minute or ten minutes. Find something that brings you joy and can nourish you and give you that nourishment and energy that you need now to go start again.
They tell you early on, as moms, 'Don't forget to take care of yourself' and so many of us forget or don't get enough of is stopping and taking care of ourselves.
And it doesn't have to be a big deal. I'm glad you said that. I'd love for people to understand that the breath is everything and if you just stop for one minute. One minute. It's really a practice.
One of the greatest teachers I studied with out of treatment was Herbert Benson. He's the pioneer of meditation and the breath. He developed that the breath is our relaxation response. If you take a breath you are actually aligning your nervous system, you're bringing your nervous system back into balance. You're taking care of your nervous system. You're like bringing yourself back to a state of homeostasis, like okay now I can start again. We just don't do that enough. We are just like go, go go. Even if you get nothing out of anything I say, just start learning how to stop and breathe here 14 times a day.
How do you walk the beginners through or insecurity about meditation?
I always say when you wake up in the morning, before you get out of bed, close your eyes again and just take several deep breaths and offer a prayer of gratitude. Every morning, I wake up, I close my eyes, I take several deep breaths and I say 'Thank you for the gift of this new day.' I close my eyes, I take another few deep breaths, I take my feet out of bed, 'Be where your feet are,'.... it grounds you in the present.
I do the same thing at night. I get into bed. I reflect a little bit to see what went well, what didn't go as I had hoped, where could I do something different or make a different choice the next time, and then I'll do my reading, take some deep breaths and say 'This day is done, I can't do anything else. I want to go into peaceful, restful sleep.'
There's research that explains there are 1440 minutes in a day and 1% of that is 14 minutes so if you can weave 14 minutes of mindfulness, two in the morning and two at night, 12 throughout the day... it actually has the capacity to transform the other 99% of your day and that is because you are taking care of yourself for 14 minutes in a way that is powerful. It is incredibly powerful to recalibrate your nervous system for 14 minutes.
What about when you're feeling so frustrated about something or so down or sad...when it's hard to do that and to take yourself into that place? How do you get there?
Two things, one is why it's a practice because it starts to become a routine.
Also, we have to acknowledge our emotions. There is an amazing woman, Jill Bolte Taylor, who had a massive stroke at the age of 37. She's an neuroanatomist and neuroscientist. She was literally almost brain dead and spent eight years bringing herself back to life and studying 'what happened to me, what happened in the brain and what happens' and her TED Talk is amazing. When she came out of this study, she came out of it saying it takes 90 seconds for an emotion to come and to work through our body. 90 seconds. We feel the feeling, we acknowledge the emotion and we let it move through our body unless, she says, we start fueling the emotion with thoughts... unless we start saying 'why are you sad today, Barb'... 'are you really going to cry every day'... judging ourselves, berating ourselves, making the feelings we're feeling so much worse than they really are.
I don't think we give ourselves permission to be okay with what we are feeling. We always want to judge it. I think that's our biggest road block. We are always judging, pushing them down, denying and I believe it comes out sideways when you start to yell at your partner or yell at your kids. Allow yourself to feel you feelings. Feel your emotions without judgement and then if you get caught in them, say that to yourself, 'what's happening right now that I'm caught in this, what's making me feel this way.' I will promise you it is your mind.
The biggest action we can take is to acknowledge it and stop judging ourselves for it.
How about one more affirmation to send us off?
I am enough. I am whole and I am worthy of everything that I desire in my life.
I am enough. I am whole and I am worthy.
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