Mindfulness – Trend or Way of Life?

Mindfulness Mag Collage

There has been a lot of discussion in the last few years about this thing called “Mindfulness”.   In this world of smart phones and free wi-fi, it can be challenging to find stillness.  The more busy schedules get, the more we are expected to multitask, eat on the go and rush through life, the more Mindfulness is desired.

What is it exactly?

Mindfulness is “being present and aware in a moment without judgement”. 

That’s it.  Getting still and letting our nervous systems settle is critical for balancing ourselves.  If you can sit up in a chair with feet on the floor, place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.  Close your eyes.  Feel your belly, then your chest, rise and fall naturally, listening to the air come in and out of your lungs.  As you repeat this, try counting to five on the in breath and down from eight on the out breath.  Then repeat for a few, slow, deep breaths.  Do this for a minute any time you need to reduce anxiety, calm down and focus.  This is a great breath pattern for settling down to sleep at night as it is calming.

A lot of scientific research has shown that Mindfulness helps improve focus and concentration and reduce stress and anxiety.  And the most beautiful thing about it is it’s just breathing.  And, we have our lungs with us from the moment we are born until the moment we die.  They are always with us and they are free.  Finding our breath puts us in a happier mood, helps us sleep deeper, reduces anxiety, helps our hearts be healthier, and improves our air intake among other benefits.

It’s as simple as taking one, slow, deep breath to deepening the Mindfulness Meditation experience to three, then five, then 10-20-30 minutes.  More experienced meditators can meditate for an hour or more.  The Dalai Lama meditates for something like seven hours a day.

The beauty of Mindfulness being trendy in the information age of smart phones, the Internet, tablets, and iPods is that there are free and low-cost apps available to guide us through Mindfulness meditation.

Some of the more popular apps are*:

  • The Mindfulness App (free)
  • Headspace (free)
  • Calm (free)
  • MINDBODY (free)
  • Buddhify (Price: iPhone, $4.99 and Android, $2.99)
  • Insight Timer (free)
  • Smiling Mind (free)
  • Meditation Timer Pro (Price: $0.99)
  • Sattva (free)
  • Stop, Breathe, & Think (free)

Additionally, there are hundreds of free guided meditation videos on YouTube and Vimeo. 

Some of my favorites are:

The Honest Guys’ 10-Minute Guided Meditation is great first thing in the morning right after you wake up.

Yoga Nidra Body Scan Meditation is great if you have a little more time.

And this one from Michael Sealey is good any time to help reduce anxiety and stress:


Do you Plog?

Have you heard of “Plogging”?  It is a phenomena where people go jogging, bring a bag and pick up trash along their route.  “Plogging” is essentially a combination of the word jogging and the Swedish words for “pick up” (plocka upp).

Today’s challenge is to give it a go!  Try “Plogging” in your neighborhood and see how much you pick up on a 10 minute jog (or walk, if you don’t like to jog/run).  You can do this as you walk into a store, run an errand, or just go out for exercise.  Bring a bag to collect your finds.  For bonus points, recycle any items that are recyclable in your treasure bag.  You’ll be amazed how much litter and recyclable items you find!  Burn calories and be proud you helped clean up the environment.

I find myself constantly picking up litter…as I walk my daughter to school, as I walk into a store, or while I walk my dog.  This is something I do.  Sometimes it annoys my family, but I don’t mind.  A few times, while walking through a parking lot and picking up litter on my way in, people have said “you inspired me to pick up trash”.  And then there were two people doing it.

Here’s a video about plogging, but you can find many more longer ones.  I just figure your time is valuable, so this is a brief one.  Now, get out there and start plogging!


Have a pet?

Here are some options for today’s challenge:


  • Switch to biodegradable friendly poop bags, like these:


BioBags actually compost!

The “Doggie Dooley” is just one way you can compost your dog’s waste

  • Look into composting and see if it might work for you.  There are special composters for this type of waste that can be used in non-food garden beds.


  • Cat litter – switch to an eco-friendly cat litter, like these:
100% Biodegradeable Kitty Litter!


  • Many bedding for smaller pets can be composted and are often made of recycled materials.
  • Look into composting other pet refuse (bird, hamster, etc.)

If you don’t have a pet or already take care of your pet’s waste in an eco-friendly way, do one of the Optional Challenges.



Do you know how if you do a circuit workout and can’t or don’t want to do one of the work outs you can do 10 burpees?

Sometimes during this 21-Day Challenge the challenge of the day may not apply to you or you just can’t do it that day, so we’ve come up with some Optional Activities to choose from on those days.