The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Episode 109--Meditate & Mingle: Awareness Of Your Problem Without Fixing It

October 25, 2023 Billy Lahr
The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Episode 109--Meditate & Mingle: Awareness Of Your Problem Without Fixing It
Show Notes Transcript

Ever wonder what a Meditate & Mingle session with Billy is like? 

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Billy:  Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. I'm your host, Billy Lahr, an educator, personal trainer, meditation teacher and overthinker who talks to experts who specialize in social and emotional learning. Mindfulness, physical and emotional wellness, cultural awareness, finances, communication, relationships, dating, and parenting all in an effort to help us better reflect, learn, and grow so we can live a more purpose-filled life.

Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with me through The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. Thank you for tuning in wherever you are. The purpose of this show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half using my no-BS GPS guide to finding more purpose and passion in your life, because I am sick and tired of people telling you to follow your passions, because that is complete and utter nonsense. Purpose and passion are destinations, not starting points. So if you need some direction in getting to that place in your life, join the Mindful Midlife Community at and get my free six-step roadmap to living your life with more purpose and passion. I also share how practicing intentional and mindful living over the last 10 years has helped me navigate the trials, tribulations and successes of my own midlife crisis. Being more intentional and mindful has helped me process my ruminating thoughts, anxiety and stress in a much healthier way, by reducing my emotional reactivity and impulsive behavior, which, in turn, has helped me improve my relationships and communication with others, as well as be more consistent, disciplined, patient and productive in meeting my goals. So if you're interested in learning more about how mindfulness can help you get more out of life, join my Meditate and Mingle sessions every Monday evening at 8pm Central Time. And hey, if you're curious what one of these Meditate and Mingle sessions is like, you're in luck because for the rest of 2023, I'm going to feature a few of these Meditate and Mingle sessions on the show. That way, you can either follow along with the guide to practice and reflect on what came up for you, what was difficult, what surprised you and how you'll use this practice moving forward on your own time, or you can go to and click on the Meditate and Mingle banner at the top and sign up for future sessions. I would love to see you there. Not only is it a great way to cultivate a mindfulness practice, but it's an opportunity for you to connect with people from all around the world whose experiences may resonate with yours. This week's session is called Awareness of your Problem Without Fixing it, and our intention for this practice is to recognize that oftentimes, when we think about where there is discontentment in our lives, the natural habit is to correct it. The mind goes into fix it mode. This often results in circular thinking, where we try in vain to solve a problem and, although reflection and goal setting are often useful, the obsession we experience is not In fact. I would say this is one of my biggest struggles as someone who often overthinks and seeks perfection. So this practice offers a technique to work with this fix it thinking. You can use it in any formal meditation practice and return to it at any point during your day when you notice the mind stuck on a loop of problem solving. So with that, let's get to this week's Meditate and Mingle session. What sort of mindfulness practices whether they be just little mindful moments that you've incorporated into your day or full on meditations have you incorporated in the last week?

Participant:  Actually sitting outside this evening and just being there, not doing any activity, just sitting there and just being there.

Billy:  What did you notice? What did you observe?

Participant:  That I needed it and that I've been craving, you know, rather than you know, going outside and walking, or always being active outside, this desire to just sit and be outside and just enjoy the surroundings, just to decompress.

Billy:  What's something that your senses picked up, that maybe you had taken for granted or that you hadn't noticed before, or just something that you appreciated while you were sitting there?

Participant:  The trees. I always appreciate those. I mean them. I mean it's the same backyard we've had for years. So it's the same, but it's always different.

Billy:  It can provide a different experience every time you're back there, right, yeah, so just kind of sitting with what that experience is, with what is Wonderful, thank you. Thank you for sharing that I can share.

Participant:  Yeah, go ahead Again. This week I tried to think about eating mindfully. As I was telling Billy last week, I have a habit of eating really fast and not really like taking time to enjoy the people I'm with or the food I'm eating. It just was like almost like I'm doing it like it's fuel and I'm just kind of like shoveling in the food. So I tried to like slow down and pace myself. I even told my spouse that I was like I'm going to try to eat mindfully this week, and so she called me out a couple of times when she's like oh, it doesn't seem like you're being very mindful while you're eating. And I was like oh, yeah, you're right.

Billy:  So. So then, how did that change how you were eating, like in that moment? How did it change? What awareness did it bring to you?

Participant:  Yeah, I think I was like oh, I'm going to take a bite, then I'm going to put my silverware down and take a moment to enjoy it and also like converse with my spouse and then I'll take another bite, versus just like shoveling in the food, and it became more of a shared experience dining versus just focusing slowly on the food in front of me.

Billy:  Excellent, excellent. You know when we talked about love languages on the podcast at one time, and quality time is one of the love languages and the now I'm blinking on the name of the author here at this moment, but he suggests that it's not about. You know, watching a TV show isn't really quality time. It's actually engaging with your partner. That's where the quality time actually is, and so I like how being mindful while you were eating actually turned into quality time that the two of you could spend together. So thank you for sharing that. I appreciate it.

Participant:  Gary Chapman.

Billy:  What's that?

Participant:  The Love Languages, Gary Chapman.

Billy:  Thank you. Thank you, Lilly. Yeah, yeah, I forgot about it. I was having a brain fart there.

Participant:  I read all his books. It's very, very good book.

Billy:  Yeah, I really enjoyed it. It taught me a lot about you talk about awareness, those were all the things and it actually brought to light what was missing in a relationship that I was in and I was like, oh, this is why I'm feeling sometimes my love bucket is empty because I'm not getting this from my partner, and so then we had a conversation about it and, yeah, it was really eye-opening to have that conversation after reading that book.

Participant:  Yeah, I think some people get divorced, maybe because of the mismatching of that language.

Billy:  And I don't even know if it's so much a mismatching as it is not having a conversation about what their love languages are, not understanding what the love languages are, but then also not being willing to listen to that other person's love language, and it's actually what kind of was the end for the relationship that I was in? She was just like that's just not stuff that I do and that I'm not really willing to do, and I'm like OK, thank you for being honest with me about that. I think I need to be with somebody who will do those things. It was an amicable split because we were able to communicate in that way. But yeah, I just think that when we're not aware of our own love languages and then we don't take the time to have a conversation with our partner's love language, that that really gets in the way of having a meaningful, deep relationship. I was having a conversation with a woman named Barbara Churchill and she was saying Billy, how can you quantify the cost of not living intentionally, how can you quantify the cost of not living mindfully? And she was trying to speak to it in the sense of how do you communicate that to CEOs? And if $3 million walked out of your company, you'd know You'd want to make sure that you did everything you could to make sure that that $3 million didn't leave. Well, what if you get divorced and your partner takes half of your money and you are very well to do? That's possibly $3 million, and not to say that your partner is a gold digger. But that person is the gold standard, is gold to you. So are you just going to cut that in half because you're not living intentionally, you're not living mindfully, you're not having these conversations about your love languages and what fills those up. So I thought that came to mind. She was just talking about it in the CEO sense, but I think in relationships, what is the cost of not living intentionally or mindfully? So thank you for bringing that up, Lolis.

Participant:  Can I chime in here? I feel, like love languages. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable with requesting the love that I want. It seems a little bit selfish or a little. I get a little bit caught up in the self-consciousness of that. And one thing that's helped me and I'm really grateful to my partner she kind of reframed it for me as saying I can give her opportunities to be compassionate to me and I can give her opportunities to understand me. And the example here is that I'm not somebody who likes to show weakness or likes to show when I'm suffering or being negative. And this week I've been feeling really lonely and it's not because I don't have family or friends, I've just been feeling and I'm just working on Zoom all day, just not making new friends and just kind of stuck at home. I'm doing long distance with my partner right now and I mentioned it to her and she was like thanks for telling me and it's not like she did anything different or I expected her to do something different, but just the presence of somebody who cared kind of reflected to me that I'm probably not giving myself much compassion and I'm not expecting compassion from other people and I'm just really grateful to have a partner that saw me in my moment of weakness and showed me compassion, and it's cool because that's not a love language that I even notice about myself or expect from others, but it's something that actually turned out to be really important to me this week, so that's something that this conversation made me think of.

Billy:  Well, that's actually a perfect segue into what our practice is, because our practice this evening is called Awareness of your Problem Without Fixing it. And I know that I'm someone who has had to kind of reprogram, wanting to fix things for other people rather than just listening. And it just sounds to me like your partner said thank you for sharing Rather than trying to fix it. Thank you for sharing. And what's funny is when you were telling me that, I was like oh, I have a solution for that, but I don't need to give you that solution unless that's something that you actually want. You didn't ask for it. I was in my head, so I had to actually be intentional about not sharing the solution with you because that's sort of my default. But I think that's again when we're being mindful, we're practicing mindfulness, we can be aware of when our brain is slipping into default mode and say, oh, hey, wait, what was actually said, rather than what is our impulse, what is our compulsion. So it's a great transition, because when you think about where there is discontentment in your life, the natural habit is to correct it, even for yourself. Your mind goes into fix it mode and this often results in circular thinking. Isn't there that saying, where it's like the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. Although reflection and goal setting are useful, the obsession you experience is often not, and I can speak to that because, just with having a hyperactive and a hyperanxious mind, it's easy for me to get into those loops, as I imagine it is for a lot of you. And if we use a formal meditation practice, a mindfulness practice, we can actually return to any kind of practice like that. We can return to awareness at any point throughout the day, especially when we're noticing, when our mind is stuck in that loop to problem solve. So that's what this practice is about this evening. And as we're practicing, I'll ask you to bring kind awareness to why you chose to attend this evening's meditation, how your belly, chest and head each feel during the meditation, the emotions that arise during the meditation, the body, the positive or negative narratives you tell yourself during the meditation, the fact that many others may be experiencing similar thoughts, feelings and emotions as you experience during this meditation, how you might feel with having increased awareness, and when you can apply this increased awareness in your day-to-day life. And so let us begin by getting into a comfortable position, either sitting in a chair and a dignified posture, with your back away from the back of the chair, chest proud, feet flat on the floor and hands wherever they're most comfortable, or, if you prefer, you can lie on the floor with your feet on crossed, falling away from each other, arms at your side. Now that you've found a comfortable position, I invite you to close your eyes or, if it's more comfortable, you can simply lower your gaze. Now let's take a moment to settle in, using our breath with a long, slow but even inhale through the nose and then slowly letting that air back out, at the same slow, even rate, through the nose on the exhale. Take a few deep breaths like this, inhaling slowly and evenly, focusing on filling your belly with air, then slowly and evenly gently letting your belly fall on the exhale and now find the natural rhythm of your breath, still taking in the air through the nose and filling your belly with that air and, on each exhale, letting the air pass through the nostrils gently while softening the belly, using these breaths to quiet the mind by just focusing on each inhale and each exhale, allowing yourself to simply just be and now turn your attention to your thoughts and bring to mind a problem you're working to solve. Is there something specific you want to figure out or fix? Just notice the issue for itself and not your thoughts about it, not the narratives you're telling yourself about the problem. Just see the problem as it is, seeing the problem clearly rather than focusing on a solution for it. And, with the problem in your mind, notice any discomfort you feel around it. Notice if there are any physical sensations that come to your awareness as you sit with the problem. Notice if there are any emotions attached to it. There may be some fear of the unknown or insecurity or a desire to plan something. And whatever your experience is, look at the issue with tender awareness. There's no need to judge yourself or beat yourself up or jump right into fixing the problem. Just be with what is. If there's discomfort there, so allow that to sit and, as you rest in awareness of the problem to be solved, begin tuning into the mind and the body, noticing if there's any tension Again, so just noticing where that is. Recognize when the mind jumps into the desire to fix the discomfort by saying to yourself fixing, and with the intention of meeting your experience with patients, offers yourself a few phrases of mindful care you can repeat in your mind. I see this discomfort. The mind wants to fix it. I will just sit with this problem and now take a minute to ask yourself what can be done. You don't need to come up with a clear, step-by-step plan. Let's offer the simplest solution possible. Allow the basic solution to arise and don't dive more deeply into the story. And, as we bring this meditation to a close, allow yourself to come back to your breath, feeling the air pass through the nostrils on the inhale and, on the exhale, expelling the air evenly and naturally through the nose. When you're ready, I invite you to open your eyes and take inventory of the sensations of your body and bring awareness to your surroundings. Let's take a quick break to reflect on what came up for you, what surprised you, what was challenging and what new awarenesses are present within you. And then, when we come back, you'll hear from the group about what came up for them and how they plan to use this practice moving forward. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Finally, please spread the wealth of free knowledge and advice in this episode by sharing it with the people in your life who may find this information and my mission to help others live a more purpose-filled life valuable. My hope is that these conversations resonate with others and inspire people to live their best lives. Thanks again, and now back to the show. So what came up for you? What was challenging? What was surprising? What did you notice? What's a new awareness? You had Go ahead, debbie.

Participant:  Okay, I was going back and forth between a couple issues, so I had one in the forefront but one in the back of my mind.

Billy:  Are they related?

Participant:  No, not at all.

Billy:  No.

Participant:  I was in the process of being worked through and the other one was just kind of a. I'll deal with it when I'm ready.

Billy:  What does that look like? What does that mean? When you say I'll deal with it when I'm ready, does that mean that it's not something that's an emergency, or that it's not something that's urgent, or is it something that has just been lingering for a while and you're like this does need to get done? I need to address this at some point.

Participant:  Yeah, it's been coming to the surface as something to address. It's not urgent but it's important.

Billy:  How much time do you find you're spending and how much energy do you find spending on these two issues?

Participant:  And the first one that's in process too much. It's the kind of issue where too much thoughts being poured into it and problem solving.

Billy:  So what was it like then to just sit with it here this time?

Participant:  Yeah, I was just told myself it's time to just let it go and just see what comes of it.

Billy:  Did you find that you were had to fight the urge to resolve it or to come up with a solution?

Participant:  Leading up to tonight.

Billy:  Yes, Okay, but you're able to sit with it.

Participant:  And all the drama addiction, this idea of there's drama addiction people can be addicted to drama true thought there's a lot of that going on, got it, but now it's at a point where it's just kind of wait and see.

Billy:  Did this help? Kind of process. A next course of action, then, or at least just make you comfortable with hey, I can sit with this, I can sit with this problem.

Participant:  Yeah, I feel like and it's something my husband and I've been working on together about a situation with a relative. I think we're both at a point where, okay, we did what we needed to do. Now let's just, we're kind of just, it's kind of a wait and see. So, yeah, I feel pretty calm about it.

Billy:  It's possible here, then if you start ruminating about this situation or feeling anxious about the situation, you can refer to this meditation here and be like you know what. I'm just going to sit with it rather than try and resolve it or come to some solution. We're just going to sit with what is in this moment.

Participant:  Thank you, yeah, thanks. Thank you for that, yeah. Luke, did you want to go ahead? Yeah, I was just thinking that. There are a couple of things that came to mind, but the main one that I kept thinking about I kept thinking about how much time and effort I've thought about solving this challenge or problem like the right way, so I don't mess it up. I was like that's just putting too much weight and like I was like I should just pick one simple action to take and if it works, great. If it doesn't work, then try something else. But instead of trying to think through all the options of how to solve this problem the best, I should just stop making it so complicated and just do one thing.

Billy:  And so how did that feel? You know, letting that go as you were processing through it.

Participant:  It made it feel less overwhelming. I think sometimes we make our challenges more complex than they are and we think of all the things like related to them and ruminating rather than just taking a small step.

Billy:  And how willing are you to accept the simple solution and let go of the perfect solution, because that's always the challenge.

Participant:  I think there's a fear of maybe the simple solution won't work. But I mean, I guess if it doesn't work it's no different than being in the situation I am now. So might as well just try a simple solution and if that doesn't work, maybe go back to the drawing board and try another simple solution. Instead of trying to calculate all the different risks and consequences of failure, maybe just start easy and see how it works.

Billy:  Yeah, the simple solution can become low risk, high reward, because it sounds like even if you try something that's simple and if it doesn't work, it's kind of like a zero sum right, but at least you tried something simple for you to move forward towards a solution to it.

Participant:  And I feel like I've mainly just been avoiding this problem, just because I'm like, oh, this seems too big, and so it's just like, rather than taking any action, it's just avoided, and that's probably worse.

Billy:  What was it like to sit with the problem? Did you sense it anywhere? Did you feel it anywhere? What were some of the emotions that are tied to the problem?

Participant:  I think just sitting at it and not trying to solve it, just sitting with the problem, that kind of felt relieving. It's like, yep, this is the problem. It's not trying to get a perfect solution.

Billy:  Good, great, thank you. Thank you for sharing, lola, so you want to share.

Participant:  So I have not been doing the meditation because I was not calm. So actually I joined today because I just want to have that feeling of emptiness, Because I think in my brain or in my life I always put the issues challenges on one side of me as a human and another side is the emptiness that I have always looked for in the Buddhism thing. So actually just now I joined this, Billy, I just want to hear your voice, the sound that I told you always make my brain calm. So, I go back to that moment of emptiness when I hear the sound again like familiar sound. But I don't really listen to what you are telling us to do problem whatever solving I don't. I just think it like a wean blow and I was in emptiness where I feel calm and I feel like some energy injection or something. Just I just want to feel that kind of calmness, that's all.

Billy:  Yeah, yeah, no, and I think that's important for people to understand is that and I would reframe it rather than the emptiness you came for one thing? Because when we talk about mindfulness, we're talking about intentional focus. In your intentional focus, it doesn't sound like it was the actual words that were coming out of my mouth, but it was just the sound of my voice, something that is familiar to you, that you can go back to when you are in those moments of stress, when you are in those moments of trying to problem solve or what have you, things that are stressful in your life. And that's one way to practice mindfulness that it doesn't have to necessarily be about the words that are coming out. Yes, so you can get something from that, but you might just need to have that anchor and you and I have talked about that before that for you, my voice is that anchor, which I always appreciate. I always appreciate when you tell me that you like hearing the sound of my voice, because I've had so many students in the past tell me that they don't like the sound of my voice. But I think that that, like I said, one thing that I want to do is demystify what mindfulness is for people and for you it's hearing the sound of my voice, which is something that's familiar. For some people it's sitting with the breath. For some people it's sitting with the sounds in the room or the hum of a fan. That, then, can be a focus. So I would say that it's not necessarily the emptiness so much as it's the singleness of your attention. What do you want? The one thing, because it sounds like as you're stressed out with a lot of things that you have going on. You're shelving all of those things, like their books, and you're just taking one book and you're opening it up. Maybe the book just has one word or, in your case, just has the one sound that you're looking for, and it's not a blank page, but it's a page with just one item that you're focused on. I'm glad that you come here for that and that you recognize because that's important Someone I can't remember actually it might have been you, debbie who said this that we hydrate with mindfulness. Was it you who said that that we see mindfulness as like drinking water, that when we're thirsty, when we're dehydrated, that we recognize that we need to drink something. Can you actually explain that, because you did such a really wonderful job of explaining it?

Participant:  We talked about that. I'm a health and wellness coach and so when I work with people on how to incorporate mindfulness into their life, I help them kind of break that feeling that they should set a time 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes at night to meditate and if they don't do that they fail at mindfulness. So we try to overcome that limiting belief and, just like Billy said at the beginning, did anybody incorporate mindful moments throughout their week or day? So it's hard to remember for many people to take those breaks and pause and just be, notice your senses. And so people ask how do you remember, aside from setting an alarm which people ignore? People like to ignore because they can be very annoying? It's equating the need to take a mindful break to needing water and a lot of people are trying to drink so much water throughout the day and so equating, you know, the need to hydrate and nurture your body with water with the need to take little mindful breaks throughout the day to nurture your soul.

Billy:  And even you know, if you are really good about drinking water, letting just that sip of water, that guzzle of water, that in and of itself can be the mindful moment, just feeling how cool the water is, feeling, you know, water is kind of tasteless, but what is the sensation of the water? As in feeling how refreshing it is. All of that, then, is a mindful act. All of that is a mindful moment, a mindful practice. So, when we were talking last week I'm so glad you're here to talk about that because I thought that that was brilliant when you shared that. And so then, lilis, when you're in those moments, those high stress moments, think about, if my voice isn't always there, you know your breath is always there. So then, tuning back into your breath and letting that be your anchor, letting that center you in a mindful moment so that you can respond as opposed to react. And especially, you know, like I said, you've got a lot going on and kind of in unfamiliar territory. So, being intentional around those moments and connecting with the breath and, like Debbie said, taking those mindful moments and thinking of them as hydrating yourself and, if that is the actual physical act that you can do, using that as well.

Participant:  I just wanted to also use the example. Are you familiar with habit stacking?

Billy:  I am, yeah, but you can go ahead and I'll let you explain that here.

Participant:  So another way to look at drinking water every time you take a sip you can do something, a little mindful moment, so you stack. You're stacking mindfulness with drinking water as two different habits you're trying to build. So habit stacking is when, let's say, when you brush your teeth, you do some stretches. So you're doing two different things. That wants to build that routine with something new.

Billy:  That reminds me of when I used to mindfully wash my face. I've talked about this in the past but just having that clear, sonic brush and then putting it on my forehead and just washing my face forehead, right temple, right jaw and that was how I started every morning, because it slowed down all the thoughts that I had going into the shower. Thank you for sharing that as well. Any other last thoughts here before we close things out? All right, well, I want to thank you guys for coming. I am just happy to have you guys here and for me, the best compliment is a referral to your family and friends and colleagues who may find value in these sessions. You may see these sessions as beneficials, so if they're interested, the link is in the chat there as well. It's also in the email. You can share that with them and invite them to join you the next time you come. Have a good evening everybody. Thank you, thank you, thank you See you next time. Bye, good night, bye. 

Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. New episodes come out every Wednesday to help you get over the midweek hump. If you'd like to contact me or if you have suggestions about what you'd like to hear on the show, visit and click Contact Us. While you're there, don't forget to sign up for the newsletter to get free weekly meditations as well as free resources from our reflect, learn, grow program. You can also click on the show notes for links to the articles and resources we referenced throughout the show. If you want to check out my worldly adventures, follow me on Instagram at Mindful underscore midlife underscore crisis. My hope is that my trials, tribulations and successes will inspire you to take intentional action to live a more purpose-filled life. And, while you're at it, remember to show yourself some love every now and then too. Thanks again, and now back to the show. Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I hope you enjoyed this week's Meditate and Mingle session. What were your takeaways from this session? What new awarenesses are present with you now following this practice? How might you apply this new found awareness in your day-to-day life? Moving forward, shoot me an email at and share your thoughts If this session resonated with you and if you feel like cultivating a regular mindfulness practice will hydrate the mind, body and soul, just like Debbie said, go to and click on the banner at the top to get more information about how you can join our next Meditate and Mingle session. And if you're still unsure about this whole mindfulness thing, let me just remind you that mindfulness isn't about staring blankly at a wall and clearing your mind of all thoughts. It's about sitting in awareness with openness, curiosity, compassion and non-judgment. So if you suddenly become aware that you're not where you want to be in life, congratulations. You are practicing mindfulness. My job is to help guide you through that process so you can reflect, learn, and grow. And I've said it a million times before. But you know that progress is not linear. Our growth looks more like the stock market. Some days we're up, some days we're down, and we may not reap the benefits for a while. But if we play the long game and are consistent, disciplined, patient and self-compassionate, you'll see that your investment in yourself will pay huge dividends over time. If this episode inspired you to invest in yourself in a new way, please do me a favor and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. I would also greatly appreciate it if you would share this episode with the people in your life who may find some value in it. That, to me, is the biggest compliment you can give, and if you do it on your social media, don't forget to follow and tag us. Remember, the purpose of this show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half, and I hope this free and useful information provides some insight that will guide you towards living with more purpose and passion in your life. So, with that, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. 

May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. 

Billy:  Take care, friends.