Your Natural State is Mindfulness

The benefits of mindfulness meditation have dated back to the earliest human life. Today, mindfulness has become a common term in our language, thanks primarily to yoga studios, wellness centers, and even mass media. So, what is mindfulness really about?MP900387543(1)

The term mindfulness can is actually easily misunderstood. Despite its name, mindfulness has nothing to do with the use of the mind in the usual sense. It’s not about thinking thoughts or being cautious, it’s simply a matter of being present and paying attention to what’s happening right now.

For this reason, I actually prefer to use the phrase “present moment awareness,” because it takes away any connotation of labor or effort. Being aware is the easiest thing in the world. In fact, I strongly suggest that it’s our natural state, prior to all the conditioning we’ve accumulated over a lifetime. When you were born and opened your eyes to the world for the first time, simple, unadulterated awareness, curiosity, and alertness spilled out. When you wake up each morning and open your eyes, the very same unconditioned, unfiltered awareness greets the day, before concerns, worries, plans, and schedules rush to set it. We may think of these activities as “mindful” because they require tremendous effort and extract a stressful toll, but, by contrast, “present moment awareness” is actually effortless and automatic.

Even though we may have forgotten how to be aware, it’s as natural to us as breathing. The practice of mindfulness is less about learning a new skill than about rediscovering a skill we already have. We have to uncover the skill that has fallen into disuse and been obscured by distractions, acquired beliefs, and habitual negative patterns of thinking and feeling. When you sit quietly with awareness of your breathing, bodily sensations, sounds, thoughts, and feelings, you’re lending energy to the awareness that’s always already there. No need for extra effort, no need to tense up, concentrate, or focus. Just relax and allow your awareness to open to what’s happening right now.

If you engage in the practice of mindfulness with the understanding that you already know how to do it, you’ll save yourself time and struggle. Instead of a journey to a faraway, unfamiliar, place, consider it a homecoming. We may have scattered our awareness on so many distractions, worries, and concerns, but as soon as we turn back to find it, our natural, inherent state of awareness welcomes us home without reservation. Mindfulness is your birthright and meditation is an opportunity to reclaim it. So, do it.

*Stephan Bodian is a world-renowned meditation teacher, psychotherapist, and consultant specializing in stress management and positive psychology. He is the author of the Mental Workout programs, Mindfulness Meditation and Freedom from Stress, available inside the Mental Workout app on www.mentalworkout.com, among others.

One Healthy Interior Designer

Introducing, Marie-Christine “MC” McNally, interior designer, Hamptons-lover, kick-ass spinner, newlywed, and owner of Marie-Christine Design, LLC!

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did ‘life as you know it’ come to be? How did you get into interior design and what do you like best about it?

It’s been a slow and organic evolution. I started my adult life in the world of advertising and marketing. It was a great place to start life in NYC in my early 20’s — I loved the energy, the activity, and all the people I got to meet and work with. But, eventually I realized I wasn’t truly inspired by my work and slowly started the the process of finding what really drives me. I ended up leaving my career in advertising and going back to school for a post-graduate degree in interior design at the New York School of Interior Design. I have never looked back. After school, I landed an internship, and then a job with an amazing designer for three years and eventually took the leap to start my own business in 2008. Finding myself in the Hamptons happened much the same way. I started coming to the Hamptons through summer share houses in my early 20’s. Over the next decade, I found the pull of this place to be so strong, and realized it was my happy place. Over the years, I gradually started spending more and more time here. First it was Fridays, then Mondays and Fridays, now Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays whenever possible. While I still keep an office in NYC, and have to travel back and forth weekly, my husband and I call Sag Harbor home and I structure my life so that I am here as much as possible.

2. Is there any overlap between your love for design, which seems to involve simplicity, beauty, and functionality and your value for health, and wellness?

“Good design” in interiors and “good design” in lifestyle are so subjective and differ greatly from person to person. It’s all about finding what is right for you, what drives you, what makes you feel good, what makes you happy, and then making that your goal.

3. What piece of advice would you give to others about achieving goals?

Achieving your goals, be it professional or personal, is really all about overcoming your fears. But, if you believe you can do it, and you put the work and sweat into getting it done, I find it pretty amazing what we can all accomplish.

4. What is your favorite workout?

My favorite work-out is spinning! Nothing like getting lost in amazing music and the energy of a motivated group. It’s amazing to me that it consistently feels like fun instead of work. That’s why finding what you love makes achievement so much more attainable! When you enjoy it, you stick to it!

5. What’s your favorite weekend activity?

We have three large dogs at home and they all love to get out to play and run. They’re a wonderful motivator for getting outside and enjoying this beautiful place we live in. We are constantly taking walks on the beach or going for trail runs in the woods. Sunday mornings, sitting on the sofa, drinking my coffee, surrounded by my doggies and my husband is one of my favorite times. This is my time to re-charge.

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6. As a young woman, interior designer, wife, business owner, member of the NYC scene and the Hamptons community, etc., how do you maintain balance in your life?

Balance…? What balance?! 🙂 It’s hard. I often feel like a nomad and could easily get overwhelmed by all the moving parts. I think the key for me is to be organized so I can really maximize my time no matter where I am or what my task is. Also, being clear on my priorities is huge. On the bus into NYC, I use the quiet time to catch up on reading or email. In the city, I use the frenetic energy to keep me busy from morning to night, so I can get all my work done and get home. When I’m home, I take the time to re-charge and enjoy my family and friends. Working hard allows me to enjoy the downtime and enjoying the downtime is what allows me to work hard!

7. Any great healthy/balance tips for other busy woman?

You have to find what works for you. I really believe that different approaches gel for different people and it’s really important to keep searching until you find the right combination that works for you.

8. What food items do you always keep in your house?

Fruit and cereal! For me, cereal is a great snack and having fruit around gives me a way to get the sweets I often crave without going to candy (which I LOVE!). And coffee…..Lots of coffee….. 🙂

9. What is your favorite indulgence?

Naps! There is nothing like curling up in my comfy bed on a sunny afternoon for a quick nap.

10. How do you make health a priority in your home? My husband and I are both naturally active people with naturally active lives, so I feel lucky that we don’t have to make that effort, it just happens. We also both follow the same, “early to bed, early to rise” mantra, so we get lots of sleep. Other than that, we do our best to eat healthy, although neither of us really believes in dieting, depriving, etc. We just do our best where we can and it usually seems to fall into place!

11. What is your FAVORITE thing about living in the Hamptons?

It’s the life I have here that brings me happiness. My husband, our home, our dogs, and our friends make it what it is. It’s also about the natural beauty that I see everywhere when I’m here. It’s the villages, the beaches, and the lifestyle, the houses, the light, nature all around us…I leave here inspired every single time and am always so anxious to get back out to the Hamptons.

One Healthy Breakdown: Do the work and take the time to find out what really drives you, what really inspires you, what really makes you happy. Once you know, make it the priority and achieving all of your goals get so much simpler!