Aaron Engelsrud

Mindfulness Journal - April 16, 2021 - Day 18 of 365 My meditation today focused on my breathing and how thoughts can impact the breath. When you are not actively thinking about your breath, it just works—air in, air out. You don’t even recognize that it is happening. However, when you start paying attention to the breath, you find that each breath is different. Each chest rise is more or less than the last, and the volume of air and length of intake continually changes. Anxiety can cause you to breathe differently. Exercise can make your lungs work harder. Everything you do can impact the automatic process of bringing air in and out of your lungs. Yet, we very rarely even think of what is happening. We are not present enough to recognize the subtle changes in our bodies. Mindfulness helps me bring this presence back to other parts of my life by allowing me to focus on the simplest of things and let everything else pass by.

Mindfulness Journal - April 15, 2021 - Day 17 of 365 Today I focused on applying my mindfulness techniques to my stretching routine. Today’s routine was long and I use the breathing and focus techniques to help make the time and stress of stretching pass a little bit quicker. It worked very well and I was able to find clam while improving my flexibility. Big win.

Mindfulness Journal - April 14, 2021 - Day 16 of 365 I worked overnight last night at the fire station and got very little sleep. As such, when I went to meditate this morning once I was done, I was concerned that I was just going to fall asleep. What I found was the opposite. I was able to focus better, concentrate more fully, and follow the prompts more easily. Today was a good day.

Mindfulness Journal - April 13, 2021 - Day 15 of 365 I started the day off today with some headspace and found some calm. Excellent.

Mindfulness Journal - April 12, 2021 - Day 14 of 365 Today was not a very productive session, and that’s ok. I’m good with it. Part of learning mindfulness as a skill and practice is learning to accept that some days will not feel as relaxing or calming as others. Some days may feel like a bit of a chore, one more thing that needs to get done in an already busy schedule. I hope that I’ll have less of those days and more of the calming and productive days that I have come to enjoy, but I need to be willing to accept whatever comes. Tomorrow is another day, and the blue sky is always just beyond the clouds.

Mindfulness Journal - April 11, 2021 - Day 13 of 365 I was able to keep my meditation practice on point today and gained some solid understanding from the process. Today I added in the concept of understanding my meditation practice’s intended outcome and who I am aiming to benefit from this work. This understanding is essential as it expands the importance and necessity of this process as I am no longer doing it solely for my benefit. Others will profit from my effort. Through this process, I can improve the lives of those I love and care about.

I am enjoying this process.

Mindfulness Journal - April 10, 2021 - Day 12 of 365 I was up early this morning and able to meditate in a quiet house. Today’s focus was on identifying why I am working on mindfulness as a practice. What am I hoping to gain from the time I am spending in meditation? I’m sure everyone’s answer to this question is a little different. For me, the answer lies in finding a way to be more confident, more present, and better able to deal with daily life stress. Anxiety and worry have always been issues for me. Finding ways to deal with these stressors more productively would be a significant improvement. Meditation and mindfulness are one way I can attack this problem.

Mindfulness Journal - April 9, 2021 - Day 11 of 365 Today was a good day. I had a medical procedure (a spinal injection for low-back pain) and found myself a bit anxious. I used my breathing focus to find calm and let my anxiety pass. A great application of mindfulness that helped me a lot.

Mindfulness Journal - April 8, 2021 - Day 10 of 365 Today’s meditation focused on working to gain an understanding of what types of thoughts cause you the most distraction. What are the ideas that you find the most difficult to let go of? Typically I find that the most challenging thoughts for me are all the things I have yet to accomplish. I get caught up thinking about the next thing I need to do and what I need to do after that. I’ve lost all focus before I know it, and my mind is halfway down the street. I’m hopeful that a better understanding of where I lose focus and what I find challenging to recover from will improve my overall mindfulness.

Mindfulness Journal - April 7, 2021 - Day 9 of 365 Stuggling to find consistency in my morning routine. Today was disrupted by some overnight work requirements and lack of proper sleep. While I was able to get my meditation in it felt rushed and not very helpful. Morning is key.

Mindfulness Journal - April 6, 2021 - Day 8 of 365 I had a very good meditation session today, though it was mid-day rather than early this morning. I’m finding that I am getting better at not only letting go of thoughts as I’m meditating, but also better at refocusing once my mind wanders off. The time goes by so fast. I am enjoying this process.

Mindfulness Journal - April 5, 2021 - Day 7 of 365 Today’s meditation was an exercise focusing on my mood or the emotional quality of my mind. The truth is that often we are not aware of how we feel because we are so busy doing things or thinking about various things. We miss identifying the very emotions we are feeling because of the busyness of our minds.

I think I often intentionally miss the emotions I am feeling intentionally. If I don’t acknowledge that I’m angry, I don’t have to deal with the anger. During this short meditation, I realized that I am mad a lot of the time, and I rarely deal with that anger. Anger comes at me in waves, and I usually try to ignore it or push it aside or carry on as best I can - but I never deal with it. I’m not sure how to “fix” this problem or if I can, but I hope that identifying it will help me better deal with it more readily.

Mindfulness Journal - April 4, 2021 - Day 6 of 365 Today was Easter and a busy day. Finding time to slip in meditation was not easy with family coming over for brunch and a lot of activity. I failed to get up early and get it done before the house woke up on top of everything. So, I was stuck doing this evening in a very active home with a lot going on. All of this left me with a sub-par meditation, but I still found some calm and a resolve to get back after it in a better fashion tomorrow.

Mindfulness Journal - April 3, 2021 - Day 5 of 365 I am halfway through the ten for ten beginner program, and I am enjoying the process. I find the increased guidance in the daily meditations helpful, and the tips included are beneficial to keep me on track. I’m looking forward to moving on and continuing the journey. Once again today, I completed my session first thing in the morning in a quiet house. A peaceful and calm place is the only way it works for me. I find myself to be too distracted and unable to focus otherwise.

Additional note: I’ve been using some Headspace sleep meditations to fall asleep while working overnight at the fire station. After a call, I sometimes find it challenging to fall back to sleep. These meditations, particularly the “switching off” meditation, work very well for me, and I find I fall asleep very quickly (less than 5 minutes) when using them. Good find! I wake much more rested ad feeling much better.

Mindfulness Journal - April 2, 2021 - Day 4 of 365 I recently started reading Andy Puddicombe’s book on mindfulness. The section I read last night before bed discussed how, at times, the mind could seem very busy, and trying to tame it and find a clear space is difficult. Likewise, this morning my mediation was focused on paying attention to how much work it can be to not think about your thoughts.

The concept of finding the blue sky beyond the clouds is helpful to me in overcoming this challenge. There is always blue sky (a clear mind) beyond the clouds (thoughts of all kinds), and if you just let the clouds pass, you will find the blue sky. Today was a good day.

The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day

Mindfulness Journal - April 1, 2021 - Day 3 of 365 I failed to get up early and get things done while the house was quiet today. So my only option was to meditate tonight in a busy home with too much going on. I would say it was not very productive, but I think that would be an understatement. I guess every at-bat can’t be a home run. I will be getting up early tomorrow and finding some peace - and hopefully for the next 362 days.

Mindfulness Journal - March 31, 2021 - Day 2 of 365 Today I had an interesting experience during my meditation. Several years ago, I was going through a difficult personal time, and I was using Headspace, particularly the beginner sessions, to find some peace. Those were the same beginner sessions I am going through now.

This morning during my meditation, I experienced a flashback of the anxiety and pain I felt all those years ago. I could actually recall the room where I was and the details of what was going on. I’m sure the process just dug up some crap in the back of my mind and brought it forward. The difference now versus several years ago is that I recognized it for what it was and moved on. I didn’t get caught up in the thoughts. I merely saw the cloud, let it move past, and found the sunny sky beyond. Today’s session proved to be very calming and peaceful.

Mindfulness Journal - March 30, 2021 - Day 1 of 365 I recently finished up the course I was working on within Headspace, so I was looking for a new one to start. Today I decided to start the year-long Headspace 365 journey. My goal is to stay consistent and complete this course in 365 days, not miss any days, nor do alternatives. Completing this challenge will take commitment and persistence.

Day 1 - The first few weeks will be a bit of a review as I go back through the basics courses. Today started the first introductory course - 10 for 10. This part of the program is ten minutes a day for ten days and covers mindfulness basics. I am looking forward to this review as it will get me well centered for the coming journey.

Mindfulness Journal - March 29, 2021 Today was my 40th consecutive day practicing mindfulness. Being consistent and persistent with this process has been the key to really finding its power and usefulness. I’m thoroughly enjoying the process and look forward to continuing to make progress.

Mindfulness Journal - March 28, 2021 Last night I used some mindfulness techniques to help me fall asleep. I often have to work overnights where I have an opportunity to sleep in between calls (I’m a firefighter/EMT). There are times when I struggle to fall asleep when I am on-call - you know, a different room, a different bed, etc. Last night I initially struggled to get to sleep. However, by simply using some mindfulness techniques, I fell asleep in less than 5 minutes. Plus, my rest seemed more peaceful than usual. I’m very excited about the possibilities this opens up.

Mindfulness Journal - March 27, 2021 During my meditation this morning, I focused on limiting my expectation to achieve something through meditation. Instead, I should let the process happen and be satisfied with whatever comes out of it. There are times I think that my expectations are too high going into my meditation sessions. Instead of simply focusing on the quiet time and enjoying the mental silence for what it is, I bring in too high expectations that detract and distract my mind during the process. My unrealistic expectations bring in extra mental noise that interferes with the process.

Mindfulness Journal - March 26, 2021 Today was day 10 of the Pro Level 1 course in Headspace. As such, there was a lot of quiet time. All in all I’d say my effort here was a success. The silence is getting easier to manage and I’m getting more comfortable with bringing the focus back when I get off track. Enjoy the silence!

Mindfulness Journal - March 25, 2021 This morning, after a long night at the fire station, I took some time to meditate as soon as I got home. The house was quiet and peaceful, and I was able to focus on my breath. I’m amazed each day as to how time seems to warp while concentrating on this action. Some days, 10 or 15 minutes seem to go on forever. Other days, the time flies by quickly. Today was a short day; it was over before I knew it. I still ended up relaxed and feeling good.

Mindfulness Journal - March 24, 2021 I actually started today’s meditation earlier in the day, but due to lack planning, kids, and schedules I was unable to complete it the first time. On a second attempt later in the evening I was able to get through it and the meditation went very well. I need to get back to my morning schedule where I know I will be uninterrupted.

Mindfulness Journal - March 23, 2021 While this is my first journal post on mindfulness, I’ve been reasonably consistent in my practice for the past several months. I’m looking at this as an opportunity to record my mindfulness journey and let others know about the process and what it can do for you. For transparency, I’m using the Headspace app routinely to guide me through my daily meditation (though I have tried Calm as well), and I enjoy the process very much.

On day seven of the Pro course in Headspace, I am working on getting more comfortable with silence. The guidance and prompts are getting fewer and further between as we progress. Today was a challenge. I found my mind wandering away frequently, lost in random thoughts (one of which was to start this journal), and generally having difficulty focusing on my breath. This isn’t bad nor good. I’ve learned to accept these days for what they are. I try to learn from the wandering of my mind rather than fight with it. Mindfulness and meditation is a daily process that has different results each time.