Hi I'm Lauren! You may have stumbled across my website and asked yourself what's the story behind Mindful in Love?
Well one of the key motivations was seeing firsthand how integrating mindfulness into my daily life transformed the relationship I have with myself, and in turn with those around me.
Through experiences with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and in particular Relationships OCD (rOCD), a subtype of OCD (and yes it’s a real thing- as I will discuss further below), I found it difficult to separate myself from all the different thoughts, feelings, and sensations I was experiencing due to a sense of urgency 24/7.
Around others, I would find it difficult to relax or "be myself". I would worry about what to say, how to say it, and then ruminate for hours on what I could have said differently. Fear and judgement were hard wired in my brain and holding me back from living in a way that aligned with my values. I judged myself for each and every thought, feeling, and sensation I was experiencing. I judged myself for simply “being”.
As a result, I was not really present or connecting with myself or others, which was what I wanted most, but didn't know how!
Fast forward to 2015, I began to practice yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. In a short amount of time, I observed the benefits of tuning into my breath and body and becoming more aware of my thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Over time, I started to separate them from myself and became more relaxed and present in conversations.
I was so inspired by these practices, that I decided to enrol in the 200hr Teach Your Truth Yoga Teacher Training with Nigel Walker to deepen my personal practice and explore the possibility of teaching.
A lot of what I learned from the training (e.g. mindfulness, breathing techniques, active listening) changed how I approached my relationships and interactions. For example, in dating, I would meditate or practice mindfulness on my walk to the restaurant or cafe. During the date, I was more present in conversations and able to hold space with more curiosity and compassion even if I was disinterested or unfamiliar with the subject.
Practicing mindfulness became very challenging in 2019 when I entered into a more serious relationship which triggered my experiences with rOCD like never before, especially when the honeymoon period ended. Any thought of uncertainty got stuck in my head and kept coming back, leading me to investigate every thought, feeling, and sensation like it was my day job. I craved feelings of "infatuation", and "passion". I was obsessed with finding 100% certainty that my partner was "the one" - constantly googling and mentally checking and comparing my feelings 24/7. I believed any form of innocent doubt was a sign to leave the relationship. Mindfulness felt impossible.
Through therapy I came to understand mindfulness in a deeper and new way. I was able to separate myself from what I was experiencing and realize I was being triggered by irrational beliefs that were holding me back from experiencing deeper love, with myself and others. Some of these irrational beliefs included "I must be in love with my partner all of the time", "I must love everything about my partner", "I must think about them all the time ", "I must put 100% into my relationship at all times".
One of the tools that helped me manage OCD through mindfulness was the Mindfulness Workbook for OCD by Jon Hershfield MFT and Tom Corbo MFT. The book breaks down mindfulness of OCD into five categories:
Thoughts are thoughts, not threats
Thoughts as words
Feelings as feelings, not facts
Sensations are sensations, not mandates to act
Through exploring mindfulness in this context, I was able to humanize my experiences and understand them more as different coping mechanisms that needed attention to heal, rather than knowing them as a constant form of suffering. It gave me the opportunity and privilege to rewire my brain with compassion, understanding, and curiosity, rather than sticking with ego, judgement, and fear.
By coming back home to my “true self”, I am able to hold space for myself to be seen and belong as I am, wherever I am, while also doing the same for others. I have come to embrace uncertainty and see love for what it is- an intentional choice, not a fleeting feeling.
My well-being practices and teachings have completely transformed. I am now able to sit in the seat of a true observer, witnessing the different thoughts, feelings, and sensations and not paying attention to one over the other. For example, in hip openers, I used to focus on the strongest sensation present (i.e. the hips). I drew my attention to other sensations I would have not otherwise noticed, such as my finger tips or my right big toe. Often times during an OCD cycle, we can be so caught up in the sensation that it becomes hard-wired, habitual, and automatic. We often feel stuck and like we don't have a choice- but we do, we just need to get to a state of awareness where we can rewire the brain! In this way (and it takes work) we can get unstuck on how we think things "should be" and embrace "what is".
Now say you don't have OCD or another anxiety based condition, you may be asking yourself well how does this relate to me and what can I learn from this mindfulness stuff? Well do you sometimes find yourself being misguided by your ego or past wounds? Most humans do at some point. I believe that mindfulness can help bring anyone back home, no matter how far the journey is back.
Mindful in Love insights and practices aim to support you and other like minded individuals on a journey towards greater awareness, compassion, and understanding. I am so excited for us to share this journey together to build more meaningful and long lasting connections, no how big or small, near or far.
So, what are you most looking forward to on your mindful in love journey?