On Christmas morning 2017, my dad gifted me a one-year daily mindfulness calendar. It was one of my favorite gifts of the year. My dad isn’t big into Eastern philosophy, so for him to pick out something like that for me was really special.
That daily calendar sat down with me at my new job in January of last year, and it was with me the entire journey from contractor to full time employee at the company I’ve always wanted to work for. At times, it was an incredibly stressful year, including more work and responsibility than I’ve ever been given and the pressure of securing something long term by showing what a good investment I was. These daily mind, body, and soul quotes became sacred to me.
And over the course of the year, I realized something: If you want to make mindfulness a bigger part of your life, small reminders work wonders. By building the daily habit of sitting down at my desk (with my ritual drip coffee, add almond milk) and turning the page on my yoga calendar, I was reminded every day to slow down, breathe, appreciate, and/or accept.
Every day, I would tear off the top sheet to reveal the new day’s words. If the words from the day before were resonant, I would slip the little sheet of paper into my desk drawer. At the end of the year, I shuffled all those saved slips of paper into a pile and had a year’s worth of true inspiration in my hand.
My Favorite Mind Body and Soul Quotes
As I was reading through the quotes again, certain themes sprang up. I started parsing the slips of paper into little groups and actually tossed quite a few during this process. I wanted to make sure I only shared that which could be easily distilled into a valuable quote that I could share with the world.
Read on for the quotes that spoke to my mind, body and soul in 2018.
Relating to others and building empathy
1. “What if religion was each other? . . . If forests were our church? . . . If wisdom was self-knowledge? If love was the center of our being.” -Ganga White, author and founder
This full quote was beautiful, but I wanted to tease out a seemingly central lesson: Value and learn from your relationships with nature, others, and yourself. Put that above the teachings you may draw from an ancient book or from the pulpit of a church.
2. “Ask questions . . . into the heart of a person causing you pain or difficulty. What is unique and beautiful about this person? What might be the good intention behind his or her behavior? Where does he or she hurt? Your work is to find a way to open your heart to this person.”
The older I get, the more disgruntled humans there seem to be in my life. This powerful exercise helps me empathize with each individual (whether a grumpy colleague or an aggressive commuter) and see how their actions are likely fueled by central human needs that I, too, share. Understanding someone’s pain turns any interaction into an opportunity for connection.
Practicing self-love and self-care
3. “Your practice is to create change from within by clearing your mind, connecting with your true self, and acting from a place of wisdom. But the beauty of this seemingly ‘selfish’ practice is that when you do your inner work, others around -- particularly those to whom you’re closest -- experience the positive effects of your work firsthand.”
One more time for the self-care skeptics in the back! Taking care of yourself is not selfish. In fact, I argue that it is selfless. You cannot fill up someone else’s cup from your own empty pitcher. Fill up said pitcher by spending time doing the things that help you connect to and know yourself. Once you support yourself psychologically, you’ll be best positioned to pull others up along with you.
4. “The ultimate guilt-busting strategy is an apology. The person from whom you’re seeking forgiveness is always yourself. Think of this as asking forgiveness from your higher self.”
If you have lasting shame or guilt in your life, this quote is for you. Forgive yourself for mistakes or transgressions of the past. Don’t forget to identify the learning and vow to do better next time. But forgive yourself, and know you remain a good person, no matter your mistakes.
Easing suffering by practicing non-attachment
5. “Start each morning by saying, ‘I intend to treat each part of this day as an offering by living it as best I’m able.’”
I suffer when I feel like I’ve let someone down. Especially at work. I can ease this suffering by appreciating the work I’ve done each day, the person I’ve showed up as. As long as I start that day with the best of intentions and a desire to bring value and light into the world, I’m good.
6. “When faced with a challenge, a helpful mindset can be found in the concept of non-attachment to the fruits of one’s actions . . . From this perspective, everything you do becomes an opportunity for practice . . . Joy comes from the act itself, not the result.”
I suffer when a blog post I spent hours on gets less than 30 views (so read up, y’all!). I can ease this suffering by remembering how incredibly satisfying it is to find myself in the state of flow that blogging brings me. I can relax into the joy of writing about positive psychology and getting to share that with my friends and family.
Finding time and the present moment
7. “Try this practice the next time you feel yourself rushing. Stop. Stand or sit totally still for one full minute. Say to yourself, ‘I have all the time in the world.’”
Big topic on my mind right now. What’s the freaking rush? It’s so freeing to shed the sense of urgency that pervades modern work-life. Here’s more on how to learn patience in life (from yours truly).
8. “Practicing contentment doesn’t mean that you stop striving, but rather, that you live with more acceptance of what is, celebrating the good in each moment.”
Let this quote dispel the myth once and for all that finding joy in the present moment makes us complacent. Contentment and drive are not mutually exclusive. I can be joyful in a moment, even if I am reading a book about how to accelerate my career or lead a healthier lifestyle. Because I’m probably reading that book in a moment bursting with blessings, like warm candlelight nearby or something as simple as a roof over my head. Find the good to celebrate in each moment you can.
Gaining clarity of self
9. “The sky is luminous above the clouds -- pervasive, limitless and free . . . Whenever you catch yourself engaging with mental “clouds,” simply shift your identification from the clouds to the sky itself. Realize that what you’ve been seeking is what you already are and always have been! Big Sky Mind opens you to seeing that your true nature is this awareness within.”
When I named my blog “Blue Sky Mind,” I didn’t realize that “Big Sky Mind” was a concept in yogi circles. Needless to say, it was a favorite upon discovery. A blue sky mind is one without limiting, cyclical, negative belief clouds. We all have a blue sky mind waiting to be relaxed under if we simply shift our internal perspective.
10. “I ask myself daily: ‘What is worth my time, attention, prana, love?’ The insight that comes from this inquiry is like a torch leading me through the dark.” – Sean Johnson
Carefully curate the people and activities that you give your time and energy to. We all have 24 hours a day. There’s simply not enough time to live a fulfilling life while tolerating toxic or energy-draining elements that threaten said fulfillment. Invest in people, places and activities that bring you joy.
Processing your life through mindfulness
11. “Witness your thoughts and emotions. Without judgement, be present with whatever comes up. If fear is present, make space for it and then allow it to release.”
My life coach just shared a releasing exercise with me that is almost exactly this. I tried it recently to help ease some sleep anxiety (a post for another time), and it worked really well. The practice is even more effective when you write down the thoughts or emotions, followed by the words, “I see you. I release you.”
12. “Once you’re in bed for the night, mentally go back through your day in increments of thirty minutes . . . Notice any feelings that come up as you go through the catalog of your day, then let them go.”
You might consider pairing this exercise with the Berkeley-approved 3 Good Things exercise that I’ve come to love and rep on BSM.
Working through life’s difficulties
13. “If you accept the inevitability of life’s twists and turns and find the opportunity for growth in the struggles you face, you can prevent the unnecessary, self-inflicted suffering that comes from feelings like guilt, blame and regret. You can’t avoid hardship in life, but . . . you can learn to see that your true self remains unchanged -- and so you can find peace and ease even amidst life’s difficulties.”
This quote is a soothing balm for my often anxiety-chaffed soul. Things will go wrong in life, but we don’t have to hate ourselves or the world in response. We can simply accept those moments, welcome them even, because they do not change the essence of who we are and merely provide better contrast for the equally inevitable moments of joy that life brings.
14. “Once you’ve noticed your reactive, negative thoughts, you have a chance to turn them around . . . [From] ‘These kids are driving me crazy’ . . . to ‘Isn’t their energy wonderful?’ Even if you don’t fully believe it, your effort to change your thinking will calm your stress and might even inspire a feeling within of love or compassion.”
Try reframing the situation. The opposite direction is spiraling further into your dark thoughts, so what do you have to lose? You can do this with your romantic partner, best friend, or your manager at work. Everyone around you does something that likely drives you at least a little crazy, but peeling back the motivations on those annoying habits can reveal some deep, positive character traits about a person.
What are your favorite mind, body and soul quotes?
This is by no means an exhaustive list! If you’ve got a favorite quote, I’d love to keep adding to this post. Send me a message or drop yours into the comments, and I’ll happily add solid additions over time.
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