Our guest on this episode is Jen Elmquist. She’s a psychotherapist who’s worked in the field of mental health and wellness for over a decade as a clinician, coach, consultant and faculty member at Saint Mary’s University. She’s also the author of Relationship Reset.
Why we intentionally chose mindset as the first episode for this podcast.
Jen defines mindset as being your thoughts and emotions that drive your actions. It sounds simple, but it can actually be really complicated.
How does your personal “why” play a role within your mindset?
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can both help and hinder us as we’re working toward our goals. Our extrinsic motivators often tend to be temporary, so if we’re looking to sustain long-term change, that’s where intrinsic motivators can become key.
As we go through the process of looking beyond aesthetics to obtaining a concrete sense of self, extrinsic motivation becomes less important to us. Mindfulness and meditation are two tools that can help us with this.
So often we put everything else before our own self-care. How can we begin to incorporate mindfulness and awareness into our daily lives? Because it is something that requires regular practice.
Most of the time we go through the day on autopilot; thoughts and emotions run through us so quickly that all we do is react. Mindfulness is pulling back and understanding what you’re thinking and feeling in a given moment and what you want to do with those thoughts and emotions so you can respond, not react.
How do we help people even just learn how to pause? If you’re not able to pause to understand what you’re thinking and feeling, what’s working for you and what’s not, you’re not going to be as engaged or successful in life as you could be.
We’re motivated by two primary emotions: fear and desire.
Fear can play a role in having a fixed mindset. However, we can learn to obtain a growth mindset, where we believe we’re in control of creating the experiences we want to have.
Change is inevitable. How can our mindset around change help or hinder us?
We often don’t see change because it’s gradual; it’s in hindsight that we see an accumulation of change. Seeing change through a window of a physical transformation is a powerful example.
One of the larger, more difficult changes to make is to overcome nurture, or the belief that you are a product of your environment, especially one that wasn’t healthy or positive. It takes work, but we’re all capable of shifting and growing to get to the place we want to be.
Meditation is just one form of mindfulness, but it can be extraordinarily powerful. Meditation strengthens your center of consciousness, and by strengthening that you have greater access to awareness — and mindfulness is all about awareness.
Research done at Harvard showed that after an eight-week meditation program, visible shifts occurred in the brain of the participants, both in the prefrontal cortex — our executive function center — our executive function center, as well as in gray matter, our emotional center.
Meditation is like mental hygiene. Just like brushing your teeth.
Outside of meditation, there are other ways to practice mindfulness. One of Jen’s favorite ways is to use her pulse to do check-ins throughout the day.
About Jen’s personal meditation journey.
There’s never been a better time to start meditating due to all the resources available now. It may be a spiritual practice for you, something you do in a yoga class, or could play into your tech interest by using an app or metrics-based tool.
The big piece for people to understand is that meditation is just the practice of working with your mind — it doesn’t need to be the very zen-like practice many envision it as.
Jen likens the movement of the mind to strength training. If you’re practicing resistance, the busier your mind is, the stronger it’s getting.
The Harvard research also found that those who went through the eight-week meditation program reported feeling less stressed, reacting in calmer ways, and being more compassionate and loving toward people.
One of Jen’s favorite meditation breathing mantras is to breathe in the word “pass,” and breathe out the word “through” — inviting your emotions to just “pass through” rather than always engaging with them.
What are some simple ways people can begin to bring more mindfulness into their lives?
The one non-negotiable, healthy-living habit that Jen incorporates into her daily life.
- Relationship Reset by Jen Elmquist
- The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
- Muse meditation tool
- The Work of Byron Katie
- How Healthy-Living Experts Do Morning Routines
- How Healthy-Living Experts Do Midday Routines
- How Healthy-Living Experts Do Evening Routines
- Ted Radio Hour: Shifting Time
- 13 Ways to Calm Your Mind and Boost Digestion