My top 10 mindfulness quotes

It seems that quotes are everywhere these days from coffee cups to T-shirts to Instagram. They are omnipresent in everyday life and maybe a little over ‘done’. YOLO tattoo anyone? I must profess though, that I still love to read a good quote and treasure the feeling it gives me. In an age where religion is not necessarily the default choice, many of us still wrestle with the time old struggles that our consciousness brings us. Who are we really? What is our purpose? How do we make sense of the challenges and difficulties that we face in life? Quotes offer meaning in a relatable soundbite. You don’t need a philosophy degree to understand them and spirituality is optional. Instead, you can find solace in the sense that you are not alone in your struggles. That others have trodden a similar path and won. Quotes offer direction and meaning when we’re feeling undecided, providing confidence in our convictions and even sometimes giving us the strength to face our own critical inner voice and march forth anyway. I wrote about a particular quote by Anais Nin (in ‘You have a right to experiment with your life’) that had inspired me to change my career.

 

I therefore wanted to share with you my top 10 mindfulness quotes that have inspired my mindfulness practice. I’ve found them particularly useful when I’ve veered off track to some extent or needed help to focus my intentions and behaviour. Often, I’ll write them down in my journal. Taking my time to write and draw around them meditatively so my gaze will be drawn to them for the next week or so. Other times I’ll write them on cards and put them on the mirror or kitchen surfaces so I see them as I go about my day. Hopefully this list can inspire you too.

 

Top 10 mindfulness quotes

 

1.

1. Maya Angelou quote

 

This is such a beautiful reminder to keep a beginner’s mind. When I start to get that Groundhog Day feeling, I think of this quote and it reminds me to look for the fresh beauty and joy in every day. That there’s always something new to discover, even if it’s just a lopsided grin from a loved one, a new podcast or a plant in your garden. Being grateful for the small discoveries can make every day special.

 

2.

2. S.C. Laurie quote

 

I remember writing this in my journal (in fact I have it open right now to copy) during the middle of the night. I was in a particularly dark phase of post-natal depression and unsure what I was doing or where I was going. I’ve never been a particularly depressive person, so the feeling of my irrational thoughts and emotions taking over was especially scary. I just wanted to be my normal self, in control and level headed as normal. But I couldn’t; so I read this quote and I surrendered to the fear and the sadness. I hit the bottom and realised I was still here. Still breathing. Still loving. Still coping. And there was hope. New ideas and possibilities started to emerge. The good moments and the good days started to increase in number until the fear and the sadness were diminished. Fleeting, transient and less forceful.

 

This quote will now forever remind me to accept and welcome in all of my emotions. That mindfulness is not an endless state of positivity, but by welcoming the more difficult emotions, you can journey through them more peacefully.

 

3.

3. Thich Nhat Hanh quote

 

I can be distracted at times. My to-do list is long and sometimes I just want to zone out watching something on television or scrolling through social media. This quote creates a beautiful, visual reminder that when we are generously attentive towards our loved ones, it helps them blossom. It motivates me to focus my attention on them because I want them to know that they matter. That they are seen and heard and beautiful in their own unique way.  Deborah MacNamara has written a great piece about this and how it develops children’s self-worth. I think the same could be true of all people, young and old however.

 

4.

4. Thich Nhat Hanh quote 2

 

I’ve talked previously (in ‘Taming my doing brain’) about the fact that I’m a ‘doer’ by nature, constantly striving to achieve and get things done. This quote reminds me of one of the central pillars of mindfulness, which is ‘non-striving’. It gives me the confidence to embrace where I am now and stop chasing the end goal. When your sights are constantly set on the final prize, you never really end up happy, because how many of us actually reach that perfect place? Often, even if we do reach that end goal, we just set another and so we’re in perpetual state of dissatisfaction and yearning. As the Dalai Lama said “There are only two days in the year when nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

 

5.

5. William Shakespeare quote

 

This quote reminds me of the grounding power of nature. That listening to the rain, watching the stars and feeling the grass all have the power to connect me with the present moment and the wider Universe. Making me feel part of a larger, organic whole, rather than a disconnected pin ball bouncing around an overly stimulated machine. It reminds me warmly of being in the garden with my youngest the other day. I’d carefully prepared her feet with wellies and we came out into the garden. As we got out there, she simply kicked off the wellies and stood there smiling, feeling the grass between her toes. So I followed suit. We gardened bare foot, feeling the grass, the soil, the rocks and the pavement beneath our feet. Beautiful.

 

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6.

6. Osho quote

 

Realising that my thoughts aren’t facts was such a lightbulb moment. I hadn’t really considered until that point that what I was thinking was the combined total of all my experiences and early conditioning to date. That the critical voice inside of me didn’t always have it right. Understanding that I could observe my thoughts without buying into them allowed me to respond to my emotions and triggers in a much more considered way. I didn’t have to tread the same path I always had. This quote is a good reminder that thoughts aren’t facts and they aren’t permanent. You have the ability to change your thoughts if you want to.

 

7.

7. Rachel Macy Stafford quote

 

Rachel’s writing is full of self-compassion so there are a number of quotes I could have chosen to remind me of the importance of giving ourselves grace and forgiveness. Allowing us to reflect and learn from our less than perfect moments in a positive way. I like this particular quote however for its focus on today. Today is the only day in which we can make a difference. Who we are becoming and what we do right now is what matters.

 

8.

8. Jackson Kiddard quote

 

I don’t think I realised how much control I liked to have until I was faced with two tiny humans with minds of their own. Learning to let go of my attachment to a specific outcome has been a blessing though and has opened my eyes to a much more relaxed way of life. Maintaining limits on the important stuff and letting the rest go has brought much more happiness than insisting on my way of doing things for the most part. I still need a reminder once in a while though.

 

9.

9. Mandy Hale quote

 

Letting go of perfectionism has taken some time for me, but I’m starting to get there. I was always driven by the desire to show a ‘perfect’ front, assuming that is what other people expected from me. That I wouldn’t be valued without being perfect. I’ve since realised that letting down my guard and not always being perfect allows people to get closer. What they really want is my time, generosity and kindness, not a spotless house, perfect clothes or amazing lifestyle. Ultimately, kindness is what matters most.

 

10.

10. Rumi quote

 

I guess there are many interpretations of this quote, but for me, it’s a reminder to place my attention mindfully. We are the sum of the people we spend time with, of the messages we listen to and the culture we embrace. Being mindful of how we place our attention means that we can be intentional about how we develop as a person.

 

So there are my top 10 mindfulness quotes. I hope you enjoyed them. If you have any other favourite mindfulness quotes, please do comment with them below. I’d love to hear them and I’m sure others would too.

 

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Q&A: How can mindfulness help when I’m feeling down?

This week I was sent a question and I think it’s really relevant to all of us at one point or another so I thought it was worth turning into a blog post. It also made me think that I could have a regular question and answer on the blog so if you have any questions, then have a look at the contact page and send them in.

 
Q. Some days I struggle with just having a bad day. It’s hard not to see it as a set back, or all my ideas and positivity not working anymore and instead just accept it’s a little blip and not the end of the world. But still it shocks me that I have these odd days where my energy is off as I know I’ve come so far. I think ‘I shouldn’t feel like this! I know I should be turning it around and flipping this on it’s head’ but some days I can’t! What do you do?

 
A. I think in your question you are already halfway to the answer. Often we think of mindfulness as being a progressive state towards enlightenment at which point we will have ‘reached our goal.’ The more I learn about mindfulness though, the more I see our lives as being in constant state of dynamic movement. We’re like a cruise ship passing through a different port everyday. Some ports we like and some we don’t like. Sometimes the weather is calm and blissful, other times the ship is buffeted by storms and big waves. Mindfulness is a tool we can use to help us navigate all of these places and weathers but it can’t ensure we stay in one place forever.

 
Emotional states ebb and flow and this is perfectly normal and natural. Our intention with mindfulness is to accept each emotion in the moment and allow it to be as it is without becoming too attached to it. My first mindfulness teacher told me ‘what we resist, persists’ (a Carl Jung quote) and this is often true of negative emotions. If we become too attached to making them go away, our brain starts to ruminate on ways to solve the problem and we’re taken out of the present moment and into the past or future. All this thinking and ruminating can actually make the bad mood hang around longer or even spiral downwards into a darker mood.

 
A practical exercise you could do in this situation is as follows.

 

 

  1. Take yourself back into the body with a simple meditation. This could be a 10 minute meditation or simply 3 mindful breaths. Whatever time allows.
  2. Use your mindful attention to identify what emotion you are feeling. Anger? Sadness? Boredom? Frustration?
  3. Use a mantra to acknowledge the impermanence of emotions. Something simple like ” I am angry, this will pass.’ You can repeat this as many times as you need.
  4. Be kind to yourself. Take a moment to acknowledge what you need. Would it be helpful to eat if you’re hungry or reduce your ‘to-do’ list for that day?

 
Rumi wrote a beautiful poem about how we can welcome and make peace with all of our emotions and I’m going to share it here.

 

rumi-the-guest-house

 

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~Rumi