HELPING SELF-GROWTH: BOOK REVIEW OF “EVERYDAY MINDFULNESS” BY MELISSA STEGINUS

We become so fascinated by our infinite potential to achieve anything and everything in life, that in our engrossment we often forget about our fragilities. The problems arise when we get challenged by life’s complexities and we become lost. We lose our compass, the compass of life. We realise we are no longer as resilient as we thought we were. Nonetheless, our desire to feel fulfilled and connected again perseveres.

We strive in vain to find a way out of our disposition. But, lack of skills and knowledge, as well as distractions, prevent us from utilising our inner abilities. We become frustrated, and frustration makes us emotional, emotions drain our energy and without energy, we are lost. Not knowing how to recover, we remain in a vicious circle. The pandemic to an extent has exposed some of our fragilities, as we struggled to adapt to new routines.

Many of us have witnessed, during this pandemic, people for whom resetting and redefining their life (in accordance with the new normal) had become a daunting task. Undoubtedly, depression, stress, and anxiety have become the hidden pandemic, or the real pandemic. The sufferers are advised by loved ones to take steps to bring their old self back as if it was an easy task. This is where the problem lies for the sufferers. Taking steps seem too big and an undoable task when you are surrounded by anxiety and low self-esteem.

The symptoms commonly exhibited by people suffering from a combination of Depression, Stress, and General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) include:

  1. Constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension
  2. Decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities.
  3. Loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity
  4. A change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
  5. A change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  6. Restlessness or feeling slowed down
  7. Decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
  8. Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt

If there’s anything that life teaches us, it is that our struggles are never-ending; we continuously strive to improve our life.  But then one may ask; what is life?! Life is time and time is finite. Time is your most valuable resource, says, Melissa Steginus, the author of a book entitled, Everyday Mindfulness: 108 Simple Practices to Empower Yourself and Transform Your Life (TCK Publishing, 2020). Time “is what your life is made of, after all—and you’ll need to invest a whole lot of it into yourself in order to see your desired results!”.

Melissa Steginus is a mindfulness teacher and productivity coach, she writes that “mindfulness is about paying attention with intention. Powerful things happen when you take a moment to fully observe your thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and surroundings.” I agree mindfulness is a useful tool for those suffering from depression, anxiety, and stress. It is one of many paths towards starting the healing process.

Self-healing in this case is all about the tools. The author attempts to empower the readers, and enable them to self-heal. As I have often written, what we often lack is knowledge and skills. Steginus’s book is enlightening and highly engaging, it covers nearly every major mindfulness-related subject. The book has 108 lessons divided into six chapters:

  • Chapter One: Physical
  • Chapter Two: Emotional
  • Chapter Three: Rational
  • Chapter Four: Spiritual
  • Chapter Five: Occupation
  • Chapter Six: Network

It is a step-by-step guide on how to benefit from mindfulness and making improvements in daily life. The reader is encouraged to practice one lesson daily, starting with deep breathing and a good night’s sleep. These simple but vital exercises require the reader to come out of their automation mode or comfort zones and realise the benefits of things we rarely appreciate and we often take for granted. The most important point is not to skip any exercises. As Melissa Steginus says, attention builds connection, and paying attention to our mind and body’s needs is part of the rejuvenation process.

The rejuvenation process requires that we be true to ourselves as that guarantees return on investment. Sometimes we overlook the fact that it is the little things that matter the most. Sometimes it is the little things that deliver the biggest punch, things like gratitude. “Gratitude is a wonderful catalyst for happiness and fulfillment”, she says. Expressing gratitude for all the things that we are blessed with, such as clean water, a home, family, and friends. The author advises that we reflect. “Reflection is key to acknowledging personal progress, identifying opportunities for growth, and figuring out how to best move forward.” The book is full of wonderful tips and advice like “use your evenings to prepare for tomorrow.”

The tip I found useful is about self-talk. She correctly says, “the messages you repeatedly tell yourself become the narrative you believe about who you are, what you can do, and what you deserve. These narratives impact (or can entirely determine) your self-esteem, performance, and relationships.” No doubt about it. Similarly, we also need to identify our feelings. I found it difficult to count how many feelings I experienced on an average day. The question she asks in the book is “how many feelings do you think you experience on an average day?” I was intrigued to find out but I lost count.

I will share one more of her useful tips, she writes that you begin your day without distraction by practicing a short morning routine that’s simple and centred on you. Or, simply take five deep breaths, stretch for five minutes, then make and eat breakfast sitting down at the table without technology or distractions.” I must confess, I used to have a habit of getting up at the last minute and then hurry, without breakfast, to my university so I do not miss my lesson. Nostalgia.

If you are looking for a practical guidebook on mindfulness then this is the perfect book for you. The author’s experience in the field has made it possible for her to introduce mindfulness to the reader coherently and comprehensively. In my opinion, anybody and everybody can benefit from this book. Mindfulness is essential if we are to strive towards restoring the mind.

 

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By Khalid

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