What's the F***ing Point episode 22: Bryanna Dee on living in the gray area

SEASON 2 IS HEEEERE, and my Enneagram 7 ass is jumping up and down with excitement!! It is really taking a lot of effort not to completely abuse exclamation points right now. 

I have big plans for this year with the podcast, and I'm so grateful that you're joining me on this journey of exploring some of the most fascinating topics and ideas about being a person in the world today.

My guest for this episode is Bryanna Dee, the host of the podcast Shadowlight, which explores similar topics as this show (sooo if you love one, you'll probably dig the other) but through Bryanna's unique lens. Her views on wellness and business are informed by her own life path, which includes a chaotic upbringing, loss, law school, experience working in the criminal justice system, and so much more.

We had a really deep and honest conversation about the difficulty and necessity of exploring wellness-related work in the context of privilege and social justice, and how we can view the concept of manifesting with acknowledgment of social issues that are outside our individual control.

You can find Bryanna online at her website BryannaDee.com, her Instagram @bryannasayingthings, and Shadowlight wherever you listen to your podcasts!

To listen to the episode, stream from the player below, or subscribe in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your fave podcast app.

About Bryanna Dee

Bryanna Dee is the host of Shadowlight podcast. She is obsessed with helping people improve their lives through radical vulnerability and honesty. She uses her podcast and consulting business as mediums to guide and inspire others to integrate and to love both their light and their shadow, to find softness in their resilience through adversities, and to speak up and share their stories.

And remember that taking 30 seconds to leave a review right from your phone gives you major karma points :D

Mentioned on This Episode:

  • As always, if I forgot anything from this list and you can’t find the link you want, just comment here, shoot me an email, or DM on Instagram!

do i really need to meditate daily to feel calmer?

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“I know meditation is ‘good for me,’ but how important is it really? And do I have to do it everyday?”

I hear some variation of this question frequently, so I thought I'd share my “answer" to it here on the blog.

People may ask this question when they feel like they have tried and “failed” at some kind of meditation practice, or perhaps they haven’t yet tried because they “just know” they would fail. They might be looking for permission to not meditate without feeling guilty about it, or to understand how to overcome the blocks they’re experiencing when they practice.

A meditation practice doesn’t have to be rigid / all-or-nothing. 

Despite my firm belief that meditation is a powerful healing tool for a long list of physical, mental, and spiritual ailments, I do not meditate every single day. And on many of the days that I do, it’s only for about 10 minutes. I tell you this to be clear about the fact that I do not pretend to be “perfect” when it comes to this practice.

I certainly admire people who do commit to never missing a day, and sometimes wish I could be one of them. But I also know myself well enough by now to understand that if there is an expectation of “perfection,” I will usually feel intimidated and easily discouraged when I don’t “measure up.” Perhaps you relate?

Some people are motivated by seeing evidence that they’re keeping a new habit/behavior going everyday without missing a single day and thus “breaking the chain.” If that’s you and it’s working, then more power to you! For me, though, the higher the number gets, the greater anxiety (about possibly breaking the chain) and obligation (to not break the chain) I feel — and as important as certain practices are, I don’t want one of my primary motivators to be fear/obligation.

At this point in my life, I’m happy being a “frequent” meditator, and if you have found that the black-and-white thinking of “everyday or why bother” has gotten in your way, please let this be encouragement to find the gray area for your own practice.

The same principle applies with the length of time. Some of the most beneficial meditations I have done are the occasional two-minute mini breaks during the workday. To just sit and breathe for a minute — even with the temptation to check email again, take a social media break, or “get one more thing done” before the next meeting — is an incredible act of self-care, and I also believe, enhances brainpower and focus.

So instead of telling yourself, “if I can’t sit for 10 minutes, it doesn’t even count, so why bother?” — give yourself permission to have mini practices, and know that this does not make you a “bad” meditator!

Also, remember that “meditation" can mean a lot than just sitting in silence with your eyes closed.

In my post on the 3 types of mindfulness, I mention that meditation falls into the category of “formal mindfulness practices.” I would argue that most formal mindfulness practice can be called meditation — that ultimately, it boils down to intentionally stepping outside of your “normal” awareness of life and shifting that awareness fully into the present moment for a period of time.

That could certainly entail sitting in silence and being aware of the breath, and it could also include:

  • a walking meditation, bringing awareness to the subtle movements of the leg/foot with each slow step)
  • repeating a mantra out loud or silently
  • coloring freehand or in a coloring book with full awareness of the movements of your hand on the page
  • dancing freestyle to one or all of the 5Rhythms
  • a solo “eating meditation” going beyond typical mindful eating practices and being keenly aware of every taste and texture, allowing yourself to savor each bite slowly
  • a nature meditation, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and textures in your favorite nature spots — like watching the birds come and go at the bird feeder, or noticing the reflection on a pond ripple and glimmer
  • making a meditation of your favorite self-care practices, like a sensory-rich bubble bath or a self-massage with warm coconut oil
  • journal stream-of-consciousness, allowing whatever flows into your mind to flow onto the page, a la morning pages from The Artist’s Way
  • doodling to an instrumental song, allowing the music to abstractly flow through your hand and onto the page

And those are just some examples! If sitting quietly everyday is not your jam, it’s probably a good idea to be with and explore the discomfort that comes up for you when sitting with yourself. And it may also be helpful to give yourself permission to experience meditation in other ways.

When I think about expanding my idea of “meditation” to include the above activities, suddenly it seems a lot more accessible and enjoyable.

So to come full circle back to the question at the beginning of this post: Yes, meditation is an incredibly powerful tool to deal with living in the 21st century. Though a meditation practice is far from the only way to clear your mind and access a sense of calm, it is one of the best ways. Unlike shadow comforts that feel good or relaxing in the moment then leave you feeling drained, guilty, or “unproductive” (hello Facebook scanning and hours-long Netflix marathons), meditation practices remind you that you're alive.

I don’t believe you have to do anything every single day beyond eating and sleeping (ok brush your teeth y’all), but there are tons of nourishing activities you can do frequently that will help you to feel more grounded, connected, and balanced in your life the more you do them. (Showering! Meditation! Movement! Snuggling! Long talks with friends!)

If you’re looking for some new meditation practices, check out my free original guided meditations

What are some of your favorite ways to meditate? Share in the comments!

WholeYou podcast ep. 02 - morning routines & building habits

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Lauren Fowler and I are back for episode #2 of WholeYou: The Mind + Body + Spirit Show!

Thank you all so much for your support and comments on our first episode on body image and self-compassion. We really appreciate you taking the time to listen and share your thoughts. If you like the show, subscribe on iTunes to make sure you always get the latest episodes!

We decided to chat about morning routines for our second episode because this is a topic — and a self-care practice — that both of us are hugely passionate about.

Taking time in the morning (even just a few minutes) for self-care can be a powerful way to set up your day rather than rushing into emails and work first-thing. The beauty of it is that you can build a morning routine that will work for YOU and fits your unique needs and personality. So have fun exploring some of the morning rituals we mention, then create a routine that you enjoy!

Hop on over to Instagram and share an image of something from YOUR morning routine with the hashtag #wholeyou!

Lauren and I had a blast chatting in this episode about:

  • Our personal morning routines and how they’ve evolved
  • The power of movement in the morning
  • How to build a meditation practice
  • Why sleep is so important for morning routines
  • Why flexibility is essential for morning routines
  • How to build habits that work for you
  • How to discover your natural habit-building tendency – Are you a questioner? Obliger? Rebel? Upholder?

We’d LOVE to hear your thoughts, so if you take a listen, please leave a comment with anything you connected to or any questions or ideas you have. 

You can listen on SoundCloud below (streaming or download) or over at iTunes!

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Show Notes and Quotes

More from Valerie

More from Lauren

*Music credit for our mini theme song is Little Idea from Bensound.com. Thanks, Ben!